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As a Floridian prone to bust out fuzzy boots at the first sign of a winter cold front down in these parts, I’m well aware 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 wintertime down in Florida, it’s downright warm and toasty (even if you won’t find me swimming in the water here 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 eight fabulous Florida points hotels that promise diverse experiences across the state.
Note that there are a multitude of Marriott properties on this list and the timing is perfect to boost your points balance in that program as the company launches a variety of new credit cards coinciding with the rebranding of its loyalty program from Marriott Rewards to Bonvoy.
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 Florida urban fun, too. 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. And 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) and lots of other cool spots along the waterfront.
Many of the hotel’s rooms have balconies overlooking the water and the lovely pool. And the hotel’s newly opened Paul’s Landing restaurant, overlooking the Vinoy Marina, is totally family-friendly, with tables on a wide patio overlooking the water and downtown St. Pete. (Marriott Category 5, standard award rate of 35,000 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, standard award rate of 60,000 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 sands, puts you walking distance to almost everything you’d want to see in Clearwater Beach during a family vacation. And this is another one of those properties that has a real condo-feel. Of the 287 rooms here, 256 of them are actual suites with kitchenettes or full kitchens, and laundry access — 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 5, from 20,000 World of Hyatt points; but this property will jump to Category 6, from 25,000 points per night, on March 18)
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 this Hilton 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, 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. (This hotel is generally available for 65,000 to 70,000 Hilton Honors points per night.) Here’s how to rack up more Hilton points for your family.
Marriott Stanton South Beach
There are so many places to stay in Miami Beach, it can be overwhelming — and not all of them have the vibe that vacationing families are looking for. 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, too.
The hotel has two pools and direct beach access, and an Art Deco vibe 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 6, standard award rate of 50,000 Marriott Rewards points per night) At 50k Marriott points per night, this means you could also use an annual award 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. 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). And downtown West Palm Beach is so fun for strolling the cafe scene, heading out for a sunset cruise on the Hakuna Matata catamaran or just taking the free trolley around town with the kids. This Marriott property, just north of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach on Singer Island, has condominium-style accommodations with one and two bedrooms, full kitchens and intracoastal 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 7, standard award rate of 60,000 Marriott Rewards 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 long-standing family favorite. (Category 4, from 15,000 World of Hyatt points; but this resort actually gets cheaper on March 18 when it becomes a Category 3 with rooms starting at 12,000 points) You can also 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, with catamaran snorkeling excursions, visits to the Key West Aquarium and the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, and trolley rides around town among the family-rated fun on tap. And 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 as you escape winter or just get a jump-start on planning a summer or fall family getaway. Whether you opt for the East Coast cities of 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 will find a 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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