Planning a Trip to Vermont on Points and Miles

Vermont Academy, Saxton's River, Vermont
Vermont Academy, Saxton’s River, VT
Image by M. McCardle

We are headed up to southern Vermont this weekend for a family get together.

The leaves should be at their peak, and we are looking forward to visiting rural New England.

This is an costly trip for us, so we will try to use points and miles to mitigate the expense.

We are using a Southwest Visa credit card for most of our expenses because we are participating in a holiday promotion to earn bonus points.

The major elements of the trip are:  

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The Real Deal: Moore’s Inn in Saxtons River, Vermont

My family took a grand tour through New England this Spring, visiting schools in five states. One place we visited was the small village of Saxtons River in Southeastern Vermont.  Saxtons River is a quintessential Vermont village, complete with a covered bridge, a general store, and a white steepled church.

Moore's Inn Saxtons River, VT
Moore’s Inn Saxtons River, VT
Photo by Susan Lampe-Wilson

At one time, thanks to the water power provided by the Saxtons River, the village had a thriving woolen mill, saw mill, grist mill, tannery, distillery, clock manufacturer, and hotel.  The mills are closed now. Today, the major employer is Vermont Academy, an independent secondary school founded in 1876.

The historic village is remarkably intact, looking much as it did 100 years ago.  In fact, the entire village is designated an historic site  and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  

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Elegance, Charm, and History — on Priceline? Part 1: The Carolina Inn

This mini-series explores stellar properties available through Priceline’s opaque bidding process.  

Part 1:  The Carolina Inn – Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Part 2:  Little America – Salt Lake City, Utah

Part 3:  Tarrytown House Estate  & Conference Center, Tarrytown, New York

Historic Hotels of America has some beautiful properties, and many are on the National Register of Historic Places.  I bet that isn’t what comes to mind when you think of Priceline.
Black and White Hallway, The Carolina Inn Image Courtesy of Brenda Behr, Painter
Black and White Hallway, The Carolina Inn
Image Courtesy of Brenda Behr
My experience with Priceline has most often been with chains, whether Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn, or La Quinta.  There is nothing to distinguish these hotels, no regional differences.  Their appeal to travelers is that you can expect a certain consistency in quality from place to place.
Much to my surprise, I have discovered through Priceline bidding certain very special properties, that do highlight the regional flavor, or may even be of historic interest.
Carolina Inn Entryway Courtesy of Brenda Behr, Painter
Carolina Inn Entryway
Courtesy of Brenda Behr, Painter
Quite often, these properties are available for about the same price as a chain hotel of the same star level.
I would much rather pay $50 to stay someplace interesting and unique, than to stay in a cookie cutter hotel.
One such pleasant surprise is the Carolina Inn, in Chapel Hill North Carolina.  This hotel is run as a guest house for the University of North Carolina, and it sits right at the edge of the main  campus in downtown Chapel Hill.  The Carolina Inn reeks of charm, beauty, and gracious hospitality.  It is the kind of place that serves afternoon tea.   Brides to be and wedding planners swoon over the possibilities.

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What Does Ladies Hosiery Have to do with Priceline?

Booking a hotel on Priceline is just like the ladies’ hosiery department.  You can choose the opaque, the semi opaque, or the sheer.

Lehi Roller Mills
Lehi Roller Mills
Photo by David Jolley/Staplegun

My strategy is to check all three options to inform my bidding.

Here’s an example of a trip I just booked to Lehi, Utah.  Lehi is about 40 minutes south of Salt Lake City, in the Utah Valley.  

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