Yesterday I mentioned some of the Daily Getaways deals for Week 3 (this week) that might be good values. Today I’ll cover Week 4, which has some expensive packages I’m not likely to buy but also some slightly cheaper options that actually piqued my interest.
When discussing Week 3, I recommended Hilton HHonors points because they can be used just about anywhere, as well as offers from The Venetian and The Palazzo because they basically provided an upgrade to a suite for the same price of a standard room and are quality hotels. Week 4 brings us more Hilton HHonors points in the same denominations and prices. Thursday of Week 4 also brings us more budget hotels—Comfort Inn brands this time—which unfortunately don’t have the transfer benefits of Wyndham’s points. Such hotels are normally cheap to begin with, and these deals aren’t compelling enough to pay in advance.
Monday, April 30
- Three-day admission ticket to Universal Studios Orlando for $95 ($85.50 with Amex)
- VIP tour of Universal Studios Orlando for $2,000 ($1,800 with Amex)
- Family vacation to Universal Studios Orlando for $1,820 ($1,638 with Amex)
- Family vacation to Universal Studios Hollywood for $2,670 ($2,403 with Amex)
I haven’t been to Orlando, so I can’t comment much on whether those prices are a good deal. $85.50 for a three-day pass sounds good only because it gets you access to two parks and it does not need to be used on sequential days. I assume the Orlando venue is larger, because Universal Studios Hollywood gets boring by late afternoon. However, the VIP tour is a bit excessive. What are you going to see? The real studios are in Hollywood. Although the price is somewhat justified by including admission for 12 people and priority access, I think you’d have to have a family reunion to take full advantage. Basically, if you have $1,800 to spend on a tour of a theme park, you don’t need to be refreshing pages to get this deal. The family vacations are a better deal as they include airfare and hotel reservations, but skip the Hollywood package. I have no idea why it’s priced so high. The value definitely depends on how far away you live and what the typical airfare would cost.
Tuesday, April 31
There are several packages for Las Vegas, with a mix of pricey vs. cheap and worthwhile vs. dud. Lets break them down one by one.
SKYLOFT at MGM Grand for $1,515 ($1,363.50 with Amex)
- Two night in a one-bedroom SKYLOFT at MGM Grand, one of their ultra luxury hotel-within-a-hotel rooms
- Two one-hour massages at the Grand Spa
- Two two-person dinners at various MGM restaurants, including Craftsteak, NOBHILL, Seablue, Shibuya, or Pearl
- Round-trip airport transfer in a Rolls Royce GHOST
Yes, this is a good deal. No, I will not pay for it. I just got back from two nights at the Presidential Suite at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, a hotel room larger than my apartment and clad almost entirely in marble. It was very nice, but it was also too big. I didn’t know what to do with the space, and more than anything I was confused by the sheer number of light switches. Since I’m unlikely to bring the party back to my room, the extra amenities would be wasted.
Massage? No thank you. I get ticklish and bored. Rolls Royce? I can survive for 15 minutes in a taxi. And the restaurants, while okay, are not exactly my style. Something about eating in a casino rubs me the wrong way. The only meal I have really enjoyed at a casino resort was at Bouchon in The Venetian, and it was located in a separate tower on a higher floor, far, far away from the gambling.
Getaway for Four at Mandalay Bay for $1,650 ($1,485 with Amex)
- Two nights in a two-bedroom suite
- Four tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show at any MGM resort
- Two dinners for four people at any restaurant inside Mandalay Bay up to $700 per meal
- Four tickets to the Shark Reef Aquarium
- Four VIP passes to the Foundation Room club at the top of the Mandalay Bay hotel
- Round-trip airport transfer in a limo
This offer is much more reasonable and could be adapted for families if necessary. While Mandalay Bay is all by itself on the south end of the Strip, it has some of the best pools. There’s no Cirque du Soleil show on the property, but at least MGM is letting you pick which of the several shows you want to see at any of their hotels. And a limo airport transfer is nice without being outrageously ostentatious. Obviously don’t buy it unless you know another couple is interested.
Excalibur for $400 ($360 with Amex)
- Three nights in a Widescreen Tower Deluxe room (basically, a nicer-than-standard room with a flat-screen television)
- Two VIP tickets to the Tournament of Kings dinner show (normally $59+/person)
- Buffet breakfast for two each day (normally $15/person)
- $250 food and beverage credit at select Excalibur restaurants
You can usually get a standard room here for $50-60 per night, and if you’re staying at Excalibur, you’re probably looking for what’s cheap, not necessarily luxurious. That’s not a bad thing. I happen to like gambling at Excalibur because it’s just about the only place I can play blackjack at $5 a hand with a dealer-shuffled single deck. How awesome is that!? Although I wouldn’t pay $360 for the room alone (you can stay someplace better for $120 a night), the package also includes several other benefits that basically brings the cost of the room to zero.
Luxor for $400 ($360 with Amex)
- Two nights in a Tower Deluxe room (not the pyramid)
- Two VIP tickets to Criss Angel Believe magic ishow
- $250 food and beverage credit
The Luxor is another fantasy theme hotel that’s seen better days. I really think they could make some money giving people an opportunity to pay to ride the diagonal elevators, but for now your only chance at that is to actually stay in the hotel, and this package isn’t even going to give you that. Unlike the atriums at some classy places, this one overlooks a cramped casino, and you get to look at ads for Carrot Top everywhere you go. Sounds fun. There’s also no breakfast amenity like at the Excalibur, and the gambling isn’t as good. PASS!
Monte Carlo for $825 ($742.50 with Amex)
- Two nights in a PENTHOUSE suite at their HOTEL32 hotel-within-a-hotel
- $150 dining credit
- Round-trip airport transfer in a limo
The Monte Carlo has undergone significant renovations, but I would rather stay at the Aria next door. While this option isn’t as excessively grandiose as the MGM SKYLOFT suites I complained about before, I ask, Why stay in a boutique room at a cheap hotel? This strategy from Las Vegas befuddles me since if I wanted to stay at a nice hotel, I’d stay at a nice hotel where everything is better, not just the amenities in my own few hundred square feet of private space. Again, PASS!
Wednesday, May 1
To repeat what I wrote about Hilton’s Week 3 offers yesterday (and available TODAY!), you can purchase:
- 100,000 Hilton HHonors points for $550 ($495 with Amex)
- 150,000 points for $825 ($742.50 with Amex)
- 250,000 points for $1,375 ($1,237.50 with Amex)
There are 80 to 100 of each package type, making your odds somewhat better, but I’m sure there will still be heavy demand. Using Amex prices, these points cost 0.495 cents each regardless of package size. You can only purchase one of each package size, which creates a maximum potential haul of 500,000 Hilton HHonors points. I don’t really stay at Hilton properties often enough to justify dropping half a grand on speculative points purchases.
Thursday, May 2
- 32,000 Choice Privileges points for $134 ($120.60 with Amex)
- 36,000 Choice Privileges points for $156 ($140.40 with Amex)
- 40,000 Choice Privileges points for $166 ($149.40 with Amex)
Like I said above, I’m writing off these hotel deals. Nothing worth fighting over here. Just pay for a normal hotel room if/when you actually stay there. Or use Hotwire/Priceline.
Friday, May 3
- 5,000 Hertz points for $280 ($252 with Amex; 5.04 cents per point)
- 9,000 points for $430 ($387 with Amex; 4.3 cents per point)
- 15,000 points for $720 ($648 with Amex; 4.32 cents per point)
There are between 35 and 50 of each offer available, 10 each through a presale opportunity to American Express cardholders. You’ll notice the sweet spot is actually in the middle, at 4.3 cents per point when you purchase 9,000, but 4.32 cents each for 15,000 points isn’t very different. While I wouldn’t use these points for the particular offers as they’re advertised (Oooh, a week in a Cadillac for 730! Yeah, right ) they are particularly valuable when spread out over time on the occasional rental when the only rates left available are $80-100 or more. I’ll discuss this potential value in greater depth tomorrow.