There is so much snow out west! Yesterday, after looking at many instagram pictures of snow covered Colorado mountains, I decided we shouldn’t wait till February to head out there. With a bit of research and clicking, we are headed to Beaver Creek MLK weekend and we are saving $4,300 to boot.
After playing around on the sites of many different airlines, in the end, it was the most economical for use to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for the cost of our flights.
The United Airlines flights that I booked cost $538 each for flights from Laguardia to Denver and I know a ridiculous price to pay to get to Denver considering I recently paid a little more than that to fly right into Aspen for winter break. However, I am still a slave to the school breaks and if we want to travel, my timing is limited. Watch out to see all the amazing deals I will get in 2021 forward when all 3 of my kids are in college and we don’t have to only travel during the standard school breaks!
For each $538 flight, I needed about 35,900 Ultimate Rewards points. Points can be redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards site at a value of .015 cents per point when you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card, like I do. ($538/.015). Note, I did not book a flight for Jessie as she has a prior commitment at home. So I only needed 4 flights to Denver.
So in total, I needed about 143,600 points and in the end I saved $2,154 using Chase UR points. Also note, since I booked through the Chase site, I will still earn United MileagePlus Miles on the flights because my travel counts as a paid fare.
As for did I get a good deal using my points here instead of cash, not really, but I don’t care! Looking at raw numbers, you can consider that I lost about $720 in value using my points. Others in the industry value Chase Ultimate Rewards at about 2 cents per point, so you can figure that I used points worth $2,872 in value booking these flights (143,600 *.02) that cost only $2,154, so a $718 loss (2872-2154). However, I was unprepared to lay out at this time $2,100 for an impromptu ski trip, the fact that we are using points, is what is allowing us to go. Like I said, I don’t care about the loss in value. IMO, this subjective component also needs to be taken into account as well when discussing value.
Note, I completely depleted my Chase Ultimate Rewards points booking these flights. But I use my Chase cards all the time. I am sure my balance will be flush once again quite soon.
Now for the hotel…
I booked 3 nights at the Beaver Creek Lodge, a recent addition to the Marriott/SPG family. The resort markets itself as a luxury all-suite hotel with ski in/ski out access. It looks quite nice in the photos and I am excited for our stay. The resort is a Category 7 property so I needed to use 60,000 points per night for our one bedroom suite, for a total of 180,000 Marriott/SPG points. The rooms would have cost 778 per night including taxes and fees, so a total of $2,334 for the three nights. Note, using points I still had to pay $166 in taxes and fees so our net savings here is 2,334-166 or $2,168.
Let’s do my value analysis again…
Marriott/SPG points are valued at about .9 cents per point. So I used points worth $1,620 (180,000 *.009) for a stay that would have cost 2,334 had I paid for the stay. Here, I actually did a lot better with my value. Objectively, I gained $714 in value using points (1620-2334).
Over all I kind of broke even in my value analysis because I lost $720 on the flights but gained $714 on the stay.
The $4,300 in savings is made up of $2,154 on flights and $2,168 on hotel ($4,322) based on the above computations (not taking into account value).
Now, if only I could get free lift tickets…hmm.. stay tuned…