How to redeem Hilton Hotel weekend stays in Napa/Monterey/Carmel using HHonors points

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This Spring season is just beautiful.  It would be nice to have a short getaway, a budget yet luxurious weekend getaway just for Isa and I, not in close proximity of home yet not requiring airline flights, and most importantly, work-vacation hours.  I need to save remaining work-vacation hours for October Taiwan travel. I had 150,000 Hilton HHonor points.  Maybe I can make good use of these "currency". Savings in hotel stays have been significant as I shared about visiting Santa Monica beach, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas Trips three weeks ago.  An expense summary of that 5-days trips reveals that I spent
  • $1300 total (free Southwest flights for 4, two free Marriott and two Hilton hotel night stays for 4, $300 car rental, discounted $300 Hilton Grand Vacation Las Vegas for 2-nights for 4, $700 food and dining) instead of $3000, leading to a savings of $1700.  More importantly, I have enjoyed the vacation planning process.
Mom and wife smiling at Hilton of Vegas

Within budget and everyone is happy.

It is really easy to earn Hilton HHonor points.
I have two places in mind for upcoming weekend getaways.

1) Monterey Bay - Carmel.
We want to watch and hear ocean waves.  Relax with full ocean views and beach walk is my requirement.  Let go of luxurious hotel and breakfast requirements, as my remaining available AAdvantage miles are limited.  I used remaining AAdvantage miles to redeem (AA redeem tips) one night of Best Western Inn at Monterey Bay, and Hilton $200 credit for Bay-view suite at Embassy Suite at Seaside for May 25-27 Memorial Day Weekend.

2) Napa Valley - September 6-8
Our original plan is to stay at Napa for one-night only. However, one Hilton hotel Saturday night stay, particularly  during peak time and popular area such as Napa and Monterey, is not available for redeem or purchase.  With many trials-and-errors, I found this unpublished guideline: minimum two consecutive nights are available during peak times via Hilton website.

Not room available for one weekend hotel night, Sep 7

No open for guests??
"Guests can not arrive on this date".  "Guests" probably refer to folks who plan to stay on one Saturday hotel night only.

Available if book for two nights

I used 120,000 HHonors points to redeem for Friday and Saturday hotel nights. With Isa's newly approved Hilton Reserve Card which brings with it Hilton Gold Status, the stay will come with free complementary Wi-Fi.  Hilton Garden Inn seems to offer cooked-to-order breakfast also, as stated in its Napa Hilton Garden Inn website.

Save $630

I can do it because my Hilton account has sufficient points?
You can do that also.  For example, one aggressive fast way to earn 120,000 Hilton Honor points is the total bonus points earned from one AMEX Virgin-Atlantic card (50,000 VA points x2 = 100,000 HH pts, $90 annual fee, and spend $2.5K in 3 months) and one Citi Hilton Card (50,000 HH pts, spend $1.5K in 4 months).  There are other cards, check out 300K Hilton points post to come up with your own mix of Hilton cards.  Summer and year-end times are often the best times to be approved of cards which require not-low minimum spending requirement, because more money is expected to be spent on vacation, bills, and dining during that period.

Credit card bonuses are appealing to folks who have tight budget for vacation and want to expand their options.  Reward yourself and your loved ones.  If you already plan to spend yet with limited budget, some planning about the bonus sign-ups would bring you more satisfaction.  The bonuses do not come as completely free. Good credit score and some discipline in expense accounting would be greatly helpful.  The least action item one would start working on is Fix FICO score.

I am glad to bring my family and loved ones to more frequent and luxurious vacations or getaways with a budget of about one-third of the original costs. For example, we expect to spend at most $300 (mainly for dining and wine-tasting) instead of $1000 in the upcoming Napa trip, as the two hotel night stays are free.  I learned a lesson from the past. By not willing to spend $50 more for a better hotel, we had an unacceptably low-quality lodging experience in a $100 per night hotel near Disneyland two years ago.

Have a wonderful Spring time. 

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