A few weeks ago our family of four went on a one week getaway to the East Coast covering Boston, Providence, Cape Cod Bay and New York.
While we’ve been to the East Coast many times before, we have never really explored the areas outside of Boston and New York, so we thought this was our chance to do a little bit more exploring while we had some extra time as we usually only get to do short trips when traveling around the US.
Like all of our previous trips and vacations, we would try to maximize the use of reward points and elite status benefits when booking for flights and accommodation.
For domestic flights within the US we would generally purchase round-trip economy tickets with domestic carriers and most of the time we’d choose American Airlines because of the elite status benefits (free checked-in baggage, free upgrades, etc).
We would then strategize to get upgrades to Business/First class using my husband’s Executive Platinum status with AA which gives him automatic upgrade request + 1 companion. Additionally, since there are four of us traveling, I had requested upgrades using his complimentary Systemwide Upgrades for additional passengers.
On our outbound flight from LAX to Boston, 2 seats were successfully upgraded to First Class which really only gave us an extra legroom since the first class cabin for LAX-BOS is a regular recliner seat that doesn’t turn into a bed and not even a footrest on sight. My seat couldn’t even recline properly so it really didn’t make a lot of difference getting an upgrade on this flight.
For the inbound flight JFK-LAX though, all four of us were upgraded to AA’s Business Class on A321 with flat-bed seats which were especially comfortable for the 6-hour flight. My review of flying this cabin last year for LAX to JFK can be found here.
The points ratio between Starpoints and Marriott Points is 1:3. For example, 10,000 Starpoints is equal to 30,000 Marriott Rewards points.
Hotel #1: Boston, Massachusetts & the check-in drama
The Liberty Hotel, A Luxury Collection Hotel in Boston is a member of Starwood Hotels (Category 6).
The cost of redemption for a one night stay is 20,000 Starpoints or USD 544 – a bit on the high side for us for a double queen room, so we’re glad we were able to cover it using points and no additional tax.
Our flight arrived in Boston at around 7 AM in the morning and because we couldn’t get proper sleep during the red-eye flight we went straight to our hotel hoping to catch some sleep.
Our hope was utterly shattered when we couldn’t get a room earlier than check-in time (imagine 2 exhausted parents and 2 sleep-deprived children).
We had requested an early check-in way in advance and using my husband’s Platinum Preferred Guest status with SPG (the highest tier status), hotel staff would normally get out of their way to ensure these type of requests can be fulfilled.
We had experienced a similar situation when we wanted to check-in early at The London Edition in London, England. While they told us the room was not available, the hotel staff (from front desk, concierge to bellboys) were extremely pleasant and genuinely courteous, they even offered us complimentary beverages and refreshments at the lobby lounge while we wait and we were updated about the availability of our room on a regular basis.
Unfortunately, the staff at The Liberty Hotel Boston provided no such comfort, not even a courtesy smile. I still wonder why staff like these are still allowed to work at the front desk of hotels, let alone a hotel at this level.
We were informed that we will be checked-in to a premium room (better than the one we booked) and it would take about an hour for the housekeeping to get the room ready.
A little over an hour later after we had breakfast at the hotel’s restaurant we came back to the front desk and asked the same lady at check-in about the status of our room, she said “Let me check for you”, then she went to the back office and never returned.
We were puzzled on how she never returned and updated us. To make matter even worse, we asked another staff the same question who then walked to the back office and also never returned. WTF?
About 1.5 hours later the hotel “called” my husband on the phone (yes, on the phone! even though we were sitting right in front of the front desk) to inform him that our room is ready. Someone in the back office who didn’t have the courage to face us probably did this from the hiding.
Since we had no energy to escalate this further, all we could do was to hope the room would at least be better than the service and thankfully it was.
Luckily the room itself was satisfactory, it was well designed and the beds were really comfortable. The room size was decent and the master bathroom really complemented the entire room configuration. The views from the corner room were undoubtedly breathtaking especially around sunset time.
Would we stay here again? Only if we don’t have to deal with the same front desk staff.
Hotel #2: Providence, Rhode Island
Taking the Amtrak train from Boston Back Bay (BBY) to Providence (PVD) was completely hassle-free and took only 30 minutes. In total it had only cost us USD 36 for 4 coach seats! It was definitely an easy trip, especially with the use of the Amtrak App which allows you to book and modify reservations instantly.
Our hotel the Renaissance Providence Downtown is located right across the Providence State House, an easy 3-minute walk from Providence station.
The cost for award redemption at this hotel is 35,000 Marriott Rewards Points or USD 278 per night. If you have more points in your SPG account, you can easily convert 12,000 Starpoints to 36,000 Marriott Rewards Points.
It is half the cost of The Liberty Hotel in Boston, both in points and cash rates.
The check-in process at this hotel was a breeze, my husband was able to check-in using the Marriott app and the room key was immediately ready to be collected at the front desk.
The building and the hotel lobby is a classic grandeur style and the guest rooms design is classic contemporary.
We enjoyed staying in this hotel because of the strategic downtown location and close proximity to the train station. The room designs were adequate, we didn’t get a chance to experience a full service hotel since we only stayed here for one quick night and checked out early the next day.
Overall, if we ever go back to Providence we will definitely stay here again.
Hotel #3: Raynham, Massachusetts
One of our main missions on this trip was to visit the Edaville Family Theme Park for our toddler who is obsessed with Thomas the Train. Edaville is located in Carver, Massachusets about 50 miles (80 km) from either Boston, MA or Providence, RI. It would take about one hour to drive from either of the cities.
We decided to stay about 20 minutes away from Carver and we knew the points required for redemption would be much less if we stay out of the major towns.
Courtyard by Marriott Boston Raynham was an ideal accommodation for a quick overnight stay after a whole day of driving around Cape Cod and it’s located right across a giant Walmart as convenient as it was at the time.
The cost of award redemption was 15,000 Marriott Rewards Points or USD 175 per night.
Hotel #4: New York City
Choosing a hotel in NYC can be a hit and miss when you don’t know which area to stay in.
I wrote about How To Choose A Hotel in NY in the past and since we were planning to redeem our stay using Marriott Rewards points (NY hotels aren’t cheap), our options were limited to Marriott or SPG Hotels, which is still plenty of options, but the points required are extremely varied.
Comparing locations, type of rooms, age of hotels and where to get the best views of the city (at an affordable price & points) – we decided to redeem our nights at Courtyard Marriott Manhattan / Central Park.
The cost of redemption for this hotel is 40,000 Marriott Rewards Points or USD 344 per night. We stayed for 2 nights at the cost of 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points and no additional tax.
We’ve stayed in this hotel in the past and was happy with the location (walking distance to subways and Central Park) and it’s a new building with amazing floor-to-ceiling views of New York.
I’d recommend booking a corner room as it offers one of the best views of the city and the room size is much more decent than the standard room.
For 5 nights:
- Boston – 20,000 Starpoints = 60,000 Marriott Rewards Points
- Providence – 35,000 Marriott Rewards Points
- Raynham: 15,000 Marriott Rewards Points
- New York: 80,000 Marriott Rewards Points
Total points redeemed: 190,000 Marriott Rewards Points
Our total savings: Approximately USD 2,300 with taxes and fees.
If you think hotel stays are not worth the points, we’ve proven otherwise. Not to mention the ability to convert your hotel points into airline miles for premium cabin redemptions!