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How to Maximize Family Friendly Hotel Rooms With SPG

by on June 20, 2014 · 14 comments

in Family Travel, Sheraton, Starwood, Westin

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One of the challenges of family travel is finding accommodations for everyone. After our first daughter was born, finding a hotel that could supply a crib or a cot was fairly easy, but now that we have two children, the task has grown much harder.

Starwood properties, which include Westin, Sheraton, and several other brands, offer a healthy selection of family friendly properties, and can make for an excellent use of points.

Finding rooms for the maximum amount of people

Since the vasts majority of people seem to travel as singles or couples, families are not very well accommodated at most hotels. In North America, the problem isn’t so bad as many properties offer rooms with two queen beds, or a (king or queen) bed and a pull out sofa bed. American hotels are also fairly good when it comes to offering a cot or a crib at no cost. Finally, no American hotel will ever ask for identification of all guests during check-in.

In contrast, inspecting all guest’s passports is usually part of the check-in process at hotels in Europe and some other parts of the world. Also, when a European hotel offers two beds, they tend to be double beds which I find to be barely capable of accommodating two adults. Most infuriating is the practice of charging outrageous amounts for a rollaway bed. For example, here is a part of the terms and conditions of the Sheraton Milan Malpensa.

rollaway

As you can see, children under 12 can stay free with existing bedding, as is the case in most hotels in Europe. Nevertheless, those who dare request a rollaway will be charged 50EUR, or $68 per night! There are other hotels in that area that charge about as much for an entire room. To avoid this charge, children might find that they can sleep on a couch, or make a bed up on the floor. We have even brought a small pup tent with us for our daughter to sleep in on the floor, to her delight. Another option is to reserve a room that can accommodate a rollaway, but ask to have the charge waived.

Other ways to accommodate families

Many standard hotel rooms will simply not accommodate four people. Guests then have a few other options. One is to book  two adjoining rooms. Unfortunately, the availability of adjoining rooms is not listed on most hotel’s web sites, so you have to contact the individual property. Even then, you should make a note in the reservation that you require adjoining rooms, confirm that preference in advance, and again on the morning before arrival.

Another way is to book a suite. With the Starwood program, booking a suite with points doubles the price, so you might as well get two adjoining rooms. Suite night awards also cost the same number of points as a room, so there is little point in doing so if adjoining rooms are available.

Starwood Platinum elite members are eligible for room upgrades, including standard suites, but this can be a gamble. If the upgrade is available, that’s great, but if not, your family could end up kind of cramped. Therefore, you should inquire directly with the hotel if the it is booked full during your stay, to at least get a feel for their occupancy and your chances of a suite upgrade.

Finally, the Platinum continental breakfast option is only available to Platinum members and one guest, so children will have to pay for breakfast after a certain age, depending on the policy of the individual property. For instance, we would usually have to pay for breakfast for our six year old, but not our two year old. Thankfully, lounge access should be extended to all guests staying in a room reserved by a Platinum member.

What I look for in a family hotel

There are two crucial features I look for when booking a family hotel. First, it has to be close to a family destination, such as a beach or other tourist attraction. As any parent can attest, herding young children from one place to another takes time, so the closer you are to where you want to be, the better. Second, it has to sleep four comfortably. For our family, that means either two queen beds, or a king or queen bed and a pull out sofa bed. Some hotels will book four people in a room that has two double beds, but that’s just a little too snug for us. I also limited this list to Category 5 hotels and below. There are some great, category 6 and 7 properties, but the requisite number of Starpoints rises sharply when you go past category 5, and we prefer more nights in a mid-tier property to fewer nights in the most lavish accommodations.

couch and a door

This two-room suite at the Sheraton Cypress Creek with a sofa-bed and door makes both parents and kids happy!

Here are some hotel options in North America that represent good value with comfortable bedding for four:

Category 2- 3,000 points (Fri-Sat), 3,000 points (Sun-Thurs)

Four Points by Sheraton Biloxi Beach Boulevard. This property is across the street from the beach, and offers award nights in rooms with two queen beds.

Sheraton Suites Fort Lauderdale at Cypress Creek. This property is one of my favorites, and our family has stayed here several times when visiting relatives in South Florida.  The standard room is a two-room suite so the kids have their own sofa bed while parents enjoy a little privacy. It is conveniently located just off I-95 about 15 minutes north of the Ft. Lauderdale airport. Since it is a category 2 property, we can stay three nights over the weekend for just 10,000 points total, even in the middle of winter.

Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City. This property offers rooms with two queen beds and is very close to Orlando attractions including the Wet n’ Wild Water Park, the Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld. Walt Disney World itself is just nine miles away.

Orlando

Category 3 – 7,000 points

Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview. I hate to say it, but the Canadian side of the falls is much nicer than the American side, and this is one of the best hotels to stay at when visiting. I have stayed here, and the rooms really do feature a view of the falls, making it a bargain at just 7,000 points a night. SPG award rooms feature two queen beds.

Niagra

The Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa, Victoria. Ok, kids might not like golf (neither do I), but this resort features a Westin Kids Club and the SPG Kids Pass dining program along with an outdoor pool and other recreational opportunities. Rooms are available with two queen beds, but it does have a resort charge of 20.70 CAD per day.

Four Points by Sheraton Cocoa Beach. This property offers rooms with two queen beds and claims to have “The World’s Largest Surf Complex” on-site (which appears to be a huge surf shop). It also provides convenient access to the Kennedy Space Center and Cocoa Beach. Award nights are available in rooms with two queen beds.

Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach Florida. This hotel is right on the beach between Panama City and Pensacola, and offers rooms with two queen beds.

Destin

Category 4 – 10,000 points

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun MexicoThis beachside hotel offers studio villas with a queen bed and a double sofa bed. It offers plenty of outdoor pools, as well as the Westin Kids Club and Kids Pass dining option.

Westin Cancun

Sheraton Hacienda del Mar Golf & Spa Resort, Los Cabos Mexico. This resort hotel is right on the beach and offers award nights in deluxe rooms that feature two queen beds.  It features a Sheraton Adventure Kids Club, the SPG Kids Pass, and plenty of outdoor pools.

Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater Beach, Florida. This is yet another beach hotel that offers award nights in two queen beds in Clearwater Beach, just outside of Tampa and St. Petersburg.

Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel. This hotel is in the heart of downtown Denver and offers rooms with two queen beds. The hotel is conveniently located along the 16th Street pedestrian mall with its free shuttle bus connection to downtown attractions.Denver

The Westin Orlando Universal Boulevard. This property has standard rooms with two queen beds and is close to Universal Studios and SeaWorld, and 12 miles from Walt Disney World theme parks.

Sheraton Vistana Resort Villas, Lake Buena Vista/Orlando. This resort hotel features one bedroom villas with a king bed, a sofa bed, and even a fully equipped kitchen. It is within five miles of Walt Disney World Resort, DisneyQuest, the Magic Kingdom Park , Disney MGM Studios, and Epcot. It also offers a pretty nice, large swimming pool and plenty of children’s activities. Just note that as a villa property, doesn’t offer some SPG elite member benefits, including upgrades, suite night awards, 4:00 p.m. late check-outs, and Your24.

Sheraton Vistana Villages Resort Villas, I-Drive/Orlando. This property also offers one bedroom villas with a king bed, a sofa bed, a kitchen, and even a washer/dryer! It is within 10 miles of most of the major Orlando area attractions.

Category 5 – 12,000 points (off peak) – 16,000 (peak)

The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler, Canada. This property offers deluxe studio suites with two queen beds or a queen and a sofa bed. It is located slopeside in the Whistler village, close to skiing and other recreational activities.

The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club in the Dominican Republic. This beachside property offers rooms with two queen beds as well as plenty of children’s amenities.

The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado. This property is near the gondola to the Beaver Creek ski area. It offers rooms with two queen beds, although it does have a resort fee of $20 per night.

Beaver Creek

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa on Hilton Head Island South Carolina. This beachfront hotel offers rooms with two queen beds or a king and a sofa bed.

Sheraton Suites Key West, Florida. Out of all the family-friendly, beachfront resorts, this property stands out because it offers a suite with two queen beds plus a double sofa bed, so you can actually book two adults and three kids in one room. Plus, it offers plenty of kid friendly activities.

key west

Sheraton Steamboat Resort, Colorado. This slopeside property offers rooms with two queen beds, but it does have a resort charge of $20 per night.

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  • Sadly No Longer A Reader

    There are so many better options than SPG for families. The affordable route is Hyatt Place. FAR BETTER than any Fourpoints out there and the same cost.

    I have defended this blog for a long time as impartial, but frankly, the SPG stuff does not stack up for how much it is touted. Hyatt blows them out of the water in terms of redemption/Earning and while I am top tier with both, it is clear why it is coming up.

    Nothing wrong with SPG from a standpoint of loyalty program, but the earning vs redemption against Hyatt and their constant miscalculated thoughts on their points value all leads to the fact (and it is fact), that Amex pays more than others for affiliate programs.

    Because outside of that, this just does not stack up.

  • http://www.milesforfamily.com Milesforfamily

    While you make a valid point on affiliate payout influencing the content, I don’t think the criticism is justified in this particular case. The post is about maximizing SPG points for family-friendly redemptions. It doesn’t really try to persuade readers to use Amex SPG for everyday spending.

  • Greenie

    I have both a whack of Marriott and SPG points and had wanted to use them to cover off hotels in Europe next summer and save some cash – alas I am a family of five. After lots of research I discovered Marriott is really flexible. For example at least two Marriott hotels in london will allow me to book rooms and upgrade for a cost to a room that fits five – though there will be a cost it is either less or close to renting an apartment (which is almost impossible if under 5 nights in the summer) and the locations can’t be beat

  • Ricardo Seir

    The main problem with Hyatt is that they do not have enough Hotels, at least where i want to go. I believe SPG triples Hyatt in the number of Hotels available around the world.

  • Greg

    I have a decent amount of SPG points. I used some for a Cubs suite last year which was nice. However, I have four kids and SPG properties do not compare favorable, in my opinion, to Staybridge Suites, Hyatt House or Residence Inn. These hotels all offer suites, free breakfast and pools. Many of them have free light dinners as well. I can’t emphasize enough how big a difference a free breaksfast is. It is a huge time and money saver. With SPG, you have to be a Platinum member. Not a family friendly program.

  • Pingback: How to Maximize Family Friendly Hotel Rooms With SPG | mile tweets

  • dee seiffer

    Good to know. I appreciate the list a SPG properties. I’ve stuck with Hyatt recently, but they aren’t everywhere I want to go. Though our kids are adults, we still like to travel together. Rooms with 2 queen beds are important for us.

  • JoC

    This post is useful as it lists the SPG family hotels. This is NOT a post which said SPG is the best for family. The most important thing is DIVERSIFY your points. There will times when Marriott, Hyatt, or SPG points will come in handy. Diversify!!!

  • Nathan Pond

    I guess I found this post more interesting than some of the other commenters. I’ve stayed at some of these properties, and my interest was piqued for some others (like Niagra).

    I don’t doubt that Hyatt works better for some of the other commenters, but SPG has been great for my family of 4. I like that I can get a Sheraton Suites room for 4,000 points. I have Hyatt points as well, but very rarely do I find a better Hyatt option than Starwood in the places I visit. Would love to see a similar post about Hyatt hotels for family stays.

  • http://www.jasonsteele.com/ Jason Steele

    We are going to do a similar post on Hyatt in the next few weeks. They are both great programs, and families can choose the best one for their needs, depending on the destination.

  • dt344

    What? No mention of Swan & Dolphin at WDW? That’s the only reason I acquire SPG points. It greatly reduces the cost of WDW trips.

  • http://www.jasonsteele.com/ Jason Steele

    It does look sweet!

  • alxstevens

    You overlooked the Sheraton Virginia Beach (from which I’m writing this) which is a Cat 4 with many of the best points you mentioned – on the beach, multi-bed rooms with pull outs, etc. They also have very good elite recognition including full buffet breakfast for all guests as a Platinum amenity.

  • alxstevens

    Agreed. I live in Virginia and there is one Hyatt within any sort of driving distance for me (Chesapeake Bay) which is brilliant but over-categorized for points and not a beach hotel. With SPG I have Virginia Beach and Hilton Head for beach, and Ballantyne is a very good family-friendly in-town destination. Love Hyatt but their geography is bad for me.

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