As I sit on the deck of my free luxury hotel, soaking in the majesty of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, I sip on my rum and ginger cocktail with an extra shot of regret. Why was it not my destiny to make this my home? This was the place I had envisioned in my dreams as a youth. This is a place for dreamers, lovers, naturalists and artists. The muse of Salvador Dali and literary giant John Steinbeck. Monterey Bay has stolen the hearts of countless lovers of maritime beauty-including mine. As I meditate on this place and enjoy the ocean views from the Intercontinental The Clement’s 4-star bayside hotel, seals breach out of the water and sea otters float in the kelp near the deck of the hotel. What a beautiful vista indeed! Did i mention I am staying with my family at this top luxury hotel for FREE? I suppose the Gods have not forsaken me after all 😉
If you want to learn how I scored free luxury hotels through working with key credit cards, read on!
My husband, daughter and I came on this 4 day/3 night trip as my belated birthday present. My gift was to visit this magical place and go kayaking with sea otters and seals(which we did, thank you Monterey Bay Kayaks!). This trip was to be our only family getaway for the summer.
Money has been extra tight, so this Getaway Mama had to work her magic!
My secret to scoring free luxury hotels and upgrades, is acquiring credit cards that have great travel perks. This girl has done her research! In this case, I used my anniversary free night from my Hyatt credit card to book The Hyatt Monterey Hotel and Spa for the first night. For the second and third nights, my husband and I used our anniversary free nights from our IHG credit cards to book the InterContinental The Clement, right on the bay in the heart of Cannery Row!
How it works:
The Hyatt credit card by Chase: This card was my introduction to the world of credit card travel perks. This card’s introductory offer was 2 free nights anywhere in the world in any hotel category(1-7). I used it for 2 free nights at the Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino, a top-ranking category 7 hotel on Palm Beach in Aruba, which can cost $300+/night. The card costs $75 a year, but you get a anniversary free night at any Hyatt hotel in categories 1-4. The Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa (category 4), costs $175+ a night. Factoring in the annual fee of $75, we still saved $100, plus had the $25 resort fee waived (because of the credit card’s automatic Discoverist status), and got to enjoy a nicer property than we would have been able to afford ordinarily.
The IHG credit card by Chase:
This card is awesome! My husband and I both originally got this card to stay for free in the famed over water bungalows on the island of Bora Bora. Oh yes, that’s right-been there, done that! I haven’t shared my secrets yet, so if you want to be in the know, you should subscribe to this blog 😉
Anyways, the IHG credit card is only $45 a year and you get 1 anniversary free night anywhere in the world, as well as a strong sign-up bonus. Hotels in the IHG group include InterContinental, Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites and others. I researched the best value for our free anniversary nights in California, and The InterContinental The Clement-Monterey was on the top of that list.
After enjoying our free night at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa, we came to The Clement for 2 more free nights. Since I have Platinum Elite status(automatic with the IHG credit card), I got a free room upgrade to a partial ocean view room on a high floor, and guaranteed 2pm checkout, instead of the standard 11am checkout.
Even though we were right on the main strip, our room was amazingly peaceful, with a small balcony that opened to a quiet internal courtyard overlooking the ocean. There was even a harp player one afternoon! A standard room at The Clement runs $300+ a night. Remember that the annual fee is only $45. Using the anniversary free night is a bargain indeed for this truly blissful location! Not to mention the proximity to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which made it possible for my teenage daughter to walk there by herself and enjoy the exhibits while I got a massage and my husband took a nap 🙂
All in all, this trip was an affordable success, never mind the nourishment it gave to my mermaid spirit! By eliminating the heavy financial burden of expensive hotel rooms, we were able to enjoy Monterey Bay without breaking the bank. We spent our money on valuable life experiences such as kayaking the Elkhorn Slough, visiting the Monterey Bay aquarium and getting that much deserved massage-complete with a mimosa!