Our family just got back from an amazing trip to New Mexico, which was incredibly cheap with our travel rewards. I wanted to share a little about the trip, and explain how we paid for all the costs along the way. In some ways this was a milestone for us. We’ve done lots of travel hacking over the last few years, but never with the whole family flying across the country (toddler included). We were a bit anxious about taking such a long trip, but everything went much more smoothly than we could have imagined.
First, you might be asking “Why New Mexico?” and that’s a great question. Basically, we wanted to go out west, to a part of the country that we hadn’t seen before. Our immediate thought was the Grand Canyon, but we talked about it more and decided that will probably be much more memorable once our kid(s) are older. So we got a bit creative and looked for other places where we could hike/explore but also relax on the cheap using our points. It came down to Utah or New Mexico, and New Mexico was the winner. Flights were cheaper and we could see and do much more without going too far from the airport. Plus, there’s a wonderful resort we could book with points.
So in some ways it was a practical decision to stretch our points further, but on the other hand we were really excited about the spontaneity of it. None of our friends/family have every visited New Mexico, so we were excited to be trying something totally new. And since New Mexico is the “Land of Enchantment,” it didn’t disappoint at all.
Note: Any credit card information was accurate as of the publication of this article in 2017.
Our Hotel: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa
I’ve explained before that I love hotel cards with anniversary nights. And one of my favorites is the Chase Hyatt card, which gives you a free night each year at a category 1-4 hotel. There’s a fee on the card, but it’s pretty easy for that to pay for itself if you choose your hotel wisely.
There’s a beautiful category 4 resort just 30 minutes north of the Albuquerque airport–the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa–and that’s where we stayed. It’s an amazing property, strategically set back from a main road (you take this enchanting, winding desert road for about a mile until you arrive at the property). Once you’re there, it seriously feels like you’re in the middle of a desert paradise. You can’t help but take in the open sky, along with views of the Sandia mountains, and the nearby mesa.
The hotel is fairly new (early 2000s), and was apparently built in part by the nearby pueblo. The whole property has an authentic feeling to it, that’s hard to explain without experiencing it–but it’s very cool.
When we booked for two nights, rooms like ours were going for $209 per night, before a ~$30 resort fee. All fees and taxes were waived for us since this was an anniversary redemption, which means we got over $500 of value for just $150 (our annual fee –which was $75 back when I wrote this article– x2).
Without a doubt, it was worth it. In fact, I’d recommend this hotel to any families who want a unique experience with their Hyatt points. There is seriously so much to do on site–free bike rentals (including pull-behind trailers for small kids), miles of trails through the desert and along the Rio Grande, stables with horse rides, nightly s’mores by the campfire, three pools (including one adult only pool, one water slide, and one toddler pool), numerous crafts and activities with an emphasis on Native American culture, multiple restaurants on site, a golf course, and much more. You couldn’t go wrong with a redemption here.
We spent quite a bit of time at the resort, and then spent a day hiking and exploring. If you’re in the area, don’t miss the Sandia Peak Tramway, Tent Rocks National Monument or Bandelier National Monument, all of which showcase breathtaking landscapes. A forest fire kept us from exploring beyond Bandelier, but there’s even more to see and do next time we go.
Paying with Points
Ok, so here’s a breakdown of how we paid for everything:
Flights: 97,500 Delta Skymiles (most came from The Gold Delta Skymiles® Credit Card from American Express)
Car rental: $169 (paid for in full using Chase Sapphire Reserve annual travel credit)
Hotel: One night at Hyatt Place Richmond Airport (5,000 points), two nights at Hyatt Regency Tamaya resort (free anniversary nights, waived resort fees), one night at Hyatt Place Santa Fe (8,000 points, but we chose to pay with 4,000 points plus $55).
Food: We ate several meals at the Tamaya resort, and we used our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for all incidentals. Since those incidentals are billed by the Hyatt hotel, we can redeem them as “Travel” expenses on the Venture card. We ate meals offsite too, and generally tried to keep it cheap 🙂
Parks: Tent Rocks: $5 entry fee; Bandelier: $20 entry fee (definitely worth it!)
Sandia Peak Tramway: $50 (two adult tickets at $25 each, but also definitely worth it!)–looking back I should’ve put this expense on the Capital One Venture to see if the tram would count as “travel.”
As you can see, we definitely spent some money on this trip, but in the grand scheme of things it was insanely affordable for a four-day getaway to somewhere new. Saving on hotels and flights made expensive park fees and tram rides much more easy to swallow–and those were probably my favorite parts of the trip and experiences that our family won’t forget anytime soon.
I doubt you needed another example of just how amazing points redemptions can be, but I gave you one anyway! Seriously, I can’t believe we had that much fun and created memories for a lifetime without spending very much money at all. I’m sure there are some aspects of this trip that could have been more efficient, but this worked well for us, and we still have a very solid arsenal of points stocked up, ready for our next adventure.
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