10 Florida hotels where families can use points to escape winter
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As a Floridian prone to bust out fuzzy boots at the first sign of a winter cold front, I’m well aware of how silly such antics look to the rest of a country properly drowning in wintry precipitation.
Down here in Florida, we live for these cold fronts that come through during the winter months and leave the skies blazingly blue and the air with just enough chill to warrant wearing those UGGs and cute sweaters. The truth is, though, that for most of the wintertime in Florida, it’s downright warm and toasty (even if you won’t find me swimming in the water without a wetsuit again until April or so).
If you’re looking to warm your family’s winter-weary bones with a Sunshine State escape on points this winter, read on for 10 fabulous Florida points hotels that promise diverse experiences across the state.
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Visit Florida’s West Coast
The Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club
Fronting the hotel’s yacht marina in downtown St. Petersburg, this Florida grande dame resort is perfect for families who want to mix outdoors time with urban fun. There’s a big rivalry between St. Pete and Tampa (where I live), just across the bridge. And I’ll admit St. Pete has a more edgy and creative vibe to its downtown, where street art and great independent restaurants and bars abound. Add the impeccably imagined St. Pete Pier, which debuted as an extension of downtown in 2020, and the place is hard to beat.
When you stay at the venerable Vinoy, you’re walking distance to independent shops and restaurants, The Dali Museum, the awesome St. Petersburg Saturday Morning Market (grab a coco frio or crepe for the kids), the pier and lots of other cool spots along the waterfront.
Many of the hotel’s rooms have balconies overlooking the water and its lovely pool. Paul’s Landing restaurant, overlooking the Vinoy Marina, is family-friendly, with tables on a wide patio overlooking the water and downtown St. Pete. (Marriott Category 6, award rates start at 40,000 Marriott points per night.)
JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort
Florida feels exotic and wild (yet entirely tamed, too) at this sprawling Gulf-front resort perched at the edge of the tangled mangroves of the Everglades, just south of Naples on Marco Island. The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort fronts a powdery stretch of sand and has three on-site pools, including a fun mini splash area for kids that has a twisting waterslide.
The on-site Spa by JW is one of the most indulgent in all of Florida, and parents who can steal away should make time for a treatment. The resort offers all kinds of fun, family-friendly excursions that get you out into the real Florida, including sailing and shelling trips by catamaran and guided WaveRunner tours into the spectacular backwaters of the nearby Ten Thousand Islands, which are part of the Everglades. This hotel even has a bowling alley. (Marriott Category 7, award rates start at 50,000 Marriott points per night.)
Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach
Living in Tampa with my family, we get over to Clearwater Beach quite regularly (it’s about a 30-minute drive from the super convenient Tampa International Airport). The town’s commercial area, just back from the beach, is compact, with restaurants and shops just a short walk from wherever we park. And the nightly sunset celebrations at Pier 60, right on the beach, complete with arts and crafts vendors selling Floridiana and street entertainers performing for the crowds, has a Key West-like vibe.
A stay at the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach, right across a quiet two-lane street from the powdery sand, puts you walking distance to almost everything you’d want to see in Clearwater Beach during a family vacation. This is one of those properties that has a real condo-like feel. Of the 287 rooms here, 256 of them are actual suites that have kitchenettes or full kitchens and laundry access — making this a hotel that makes it easy for families to settle in and stay awhile. You’ll love the eighth-floor pool deck, too, when it’s time to take a break from the beach. (Category 6, from 25,000 World of Hyatt points per night).
JW Marriott Tampa Water Street
Tampa got its first true five-star downtown luxury hotel in Dec. 2021 when the JW Marriott Tampa Water Street opened within walking distance of where the championship NHL team, the Tampa Bay Lightning, play and the city’s buzzing Tampa Riverwalk, which stretches for 2.6 miles along the Hillsborough River.
In addition to its prime location, the property also offers what’s by far Tampa’s most luxurious wellness offering in the Spa by JW, complete with stream rooms, saunas, an outdoor shower and warm mineral pool and a co-ed rooftop lounge with city views.
Other amenities include a rooftop pool and restaurant and, coming soon, an even higher rooftop raw bar and tapas restaurant set to open on the hotel’s 27th floor with the most vertiginous rooftop views in all of downtown.
The hotel is a Marriott Bonvoy Category 6 property with awards from 40,000 to 60,000 points per night.
East Coast Points Resorts in Florida
Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
Whether you’re looking for somewhere to stay pre- or post-cruise or planning a long beach weekend with the family in Fort Lauderdale, there’s so much to appreciate about this popular points hotel overlooking Fort Lauderdale Beach. Families love that all of the rooms at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort are proper suites, and you can choose from configurations with one bedroom and bathroom up to three bedrooms and bathrooms.
The larger suites feel like apartments, with large living spaces and lots of room for everyone to spread out, and the corner suites have wrap-around balconies where you can take in Intracoastal Waterway, city and ocean views. Kitchenettes or full kitchens are standard throughout the hotel’s suites, so you can choose to cook meals in or take a short stroll to the many nearby restaurants lining the oceanfront boulevard, A1A.
Other amenities at this excellent Hilton include a pool overlooking the ocean and beach access just across the two-lane road in front of the hotel. (Generally available for 65,000 to 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night.) Here’s how to rack up more Hilton points for your family.
Along Florida’s Space Coast in Melbourne, this new-in-2021 boutique hotel is part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection. It has a gorgeous rooftop bar overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean beyond — which has become the spot to hang out for off-duty engineers and rocket scientists drawn to the area by the growing commercial space tourism industry (it’s also become a quick favorite among Space Coast locals).
Hotel Melby’s industrial-chic vibe is grounded in local art, with graffiti-inspired murals by renowned local Space Coast artist Christopher Maslow decorating many of the hotel’s public areas, elevators and the rooftop space, too. There’s a great local Central Florida coffee shop, Foxtail Coffee, on the hotel’s ground floor. Tapas-style entrees are offered on the rooftop, as well as excellent craft cocktails that go down like a charm with the syrupy sunset views. The hotel lacks a swimming pool, but Melbourne Beach is a 5-minute drive across the Intracoastal Waterway and all the bars and restaurants of quaint downtown Melbourne are just out the hotel’s door. (Generally available for 40,000 Hilton Honors points per night.)
Marriott Stanton South Beach
There are so many places to stay in Miami Beach, it can be overwhelming — and not all of them have a vibe suitable for vacationing families. This redesigned Marriott, right on Ocean Drive and fronting the beach, is a good bet for families who want to be close enough to walk to all the urban action of South Beach yet ensconced in a quieter beachfront oasis.
The hotel has two pools, direct beach access and an Art Deco vibe that jibes with the South Beach sense of place. The Stanton also happens to be right next to the verdant setting of Marjory Stoneman Douglas Ocean Beach Park, where a nice little playground just back from the beach is shaded from the sun. (Category 7, award rates start at 50,000 Marriott points per night.) At 50k Marriott points per night, you could also use an annual award (worth up to 50,000 points) from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card to cover a night of your stay.
Palm Beach Marriott Singer Island Beach Resort & Spa
My family loves visiting the West Palm Beach area because there’s so much to do. For starters, the beaches are beautiful (you can even access the sand right off tony Worth Avenue in Palm Beach at the oceanfront municipal park). Downtown West Palm Beach is so fun for strolling the cafe scene on and around Clematis Street, heading out for a sunset cruise on the Hakuna Matata catamaran or just taking the free trolley around town with the kids. Don’t miss snorkeling in the Intracoastal Waterway at the Blue Heron Bridge, too, where you might spot eagle rays and octopus on the slack tide, when the water briefly turns crystal clear. This Marriott property, just north of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach on Singer Island, makes a great base for doing it all. It has condo-style accommodations with one and two bedrooms, full kitchens and Intracoastal Waterway or beach views.
You’ll feel like you’re staying at a vacation rental with all the perks here, including an excellent on-site spa and restaurant. The oceanfront hotel’s beach can get crowded when the hotel is at capacity, but good luck tearing your kids away from the waterslides and waterfalls at the sprawling zero-entry family pool, where they’ll likely want to spend all their time anyway. (Category 8, award rates start at 50,000 Marriott points per night.)
The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples
Everyone knows Florida is at its golfing best during the mild winter months, when the temperatures generally couldn’t be nicer and the skies couldn’t be bluer for trying to make a birdie. The problem is deciding where to hit the greens, with so many options through nearly every sunny stretch of the Sunshine State.
With golf on your mind — as long as you don’t mind an off-the-beach location — there’s a good case to be made for The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, which recently unveiled new poolside amenities that include a restaurant, luxury cabanas and a 600-foot lazy river families love, making it all the easier to spend most of your time enjoying Florida’s great (wintertime) outdoors.
The resort has a country club feel and sits between two Greg Norman-designed 18-hole championship courses, so you’ve got options when it’s time to play. When the beach is calling, it’s a four-mile drive west to Naples’ public beaches as well as the property’s sister resort, the oceanfront Ritz-Carlton Naples. (Marriott Category 7, with awards rates from 50,000 points per night.)
Resort Near Disney World for Just 12,000 Points
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
A day off from the surrounding theme parks (Walt Disney World Resort is just a mile away) still feels like a total family adventure when you vacation at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress in Orlando. The lakefront property, within a 1,500-acre reserve, is absolutely sprawling, with three large pools (including waterslides the kids will love), walking trails, a rope bridge for kids, rock climbing, golf and even a children’s club (Camp Hyatt) to keep everyone busy.
If you’re looking for a resort that feels like a world of its own in Orlando and isn’t affiliated with the theme parks, this Hyatt is a longstanding family favorite. (Category 3, from 12,000 World of Hyatt points). You could even use the Category 1-4 award that comes with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
The Florida Keys
Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa
Key West has a reputation as a party spot, with Duval Street the epicenter of the island’s oft-raucous nightlife. But families find so much to do here at the end of the road in the Florida Keys, too, including catamaran snorkeling excursions, visits to the Key West Aquarium and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center and trolley rides around town (included haunted tours). This beautiful Hyatt on Front Street — a short stroll to the sunset celebrations at nearby Mallory Square, the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum and many other island hot spots — is an ideal family pick.
The property has an outdoor pool overlooking the water and even a small beach area — a rarity on this coral island — with a pier where kids will enjoy dipping in for a swim or a snorkel session. (Category 6, from 25,000 World of Hyatt points.)
Florida’s a big state and there are a ton of points hotels to choose from to escape winter or think ahead to summer or fall family getaway. Whether you opt for the East Coast cities of Melbourne, Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale, the glorious golden sand on the Gulf Coast or head inland to visit Walt Disney World and other attractions in Orlando, your family can find a great home base that’s bookable on points.
Want to head to Florida soon? Here are some other resources:
- Your points and miles guide to Miami
- 9 of the best beaches in Florida
- TPG’s ultimate guide to Walt Disney World Resort
Featured image by Jeff Herron/JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort.
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