Charlottesville, Virginia on Miles and Points

Charlottesville, VirginiaWe are making a last minute excursion to Charlottesville, Virginia.

I’ve never been, and am really looking forward to it.  Charlottesville should be very pretty this time of year.

There’s no football game on the calendar, but the town seems to be completely sold out.

I am finding availability however, in a relatively new hotel on the outskirts, a Hyatt Place.  The rooms look pretty nice, just like the Hyatt Place Universal Studios we stayed at in Orlando.

A room at the Charlottesville Hyatt Place is going for $259 per night plus tax. That is way more than I want to pay.

The Trouble With Orbitz Rewards

It occurs to me that I just earned over $100 in Orbitz Rewards via a recent series of contests.  In my mind, that should be worth one free night.

Orbitz is showing room availability at the Charlottesville Hyatt Place at the same rate as the Hyatt website, $259.  I’m thinking, after crediting my $100 in Orbitz Rewards, that $159 a night might be the best I can do.

However, it turns out that Orbitz calculates tax on the full room rate, and only then subtracts the Orbitz credits.

With tax, the room rate is $289.  One night at the Hyatt Place in Charlottesville would be $184, after factoring in $105 in Orbitz Rewards.  That’s still quite pricey for my budget.

A Night at Hyatt Place Charlottesville is 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport Points

I don’t have any points in the Hyatt Gold Passport program, but it is worth checking how much this hotel goes for on points.

Hyatt Points and Points Plus Cash Chart
Hyatt Points and Points Plus Cash Chart

The Hyatt Place Charlottesville is a Category 2 hotel, which costs 8,000 points per night; or at the points plus cash rate, 4,000 points plus $55.  You have to call in to request the points plus cash rate.

The hotel was sold out of points plus cash rooms.  But there was still availability showing for 8,000 points per room.

Ultimate Rewards Points Transfer to Hyatt Immediately

Fortunately, I have a small stash of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  These points can be cashed in as statement credits at the rate of one cent per point.  8,000 points are worth $80 in cash.

I chose to transfer 8,000 Ultimate Rewards points to my Hyatt Gold Passport account.  The good thing about the Chase Ultimate Rewards program is that the transfers go through immediately.

I was able to reserve reserve a room — before the hotel sold out completely — for 8,000 points.   That’s a pretty good deal in my book.

The hotel business is all about supply and demand.

Rooms in Charlottesville were very expensive on our chosen date, but the price in points of the Hyatt hotel remained static.  8,000 points might not be such a good deal on a low demand night, but in this instance we made out okay.

Save on End of Summer Getaways

Summer Getaways
Get Last Minute Deals on Summer Getaways

I am taking stock of the last weeks of summer and am planning a getaway around DMVthe District, Maryland, and Virginia, that is.

For starters, my daughter and I are heading down to Petersburg, Virginia for a college visit.  I’ve been hoping to snag a room on Priceline.

I’ve updated my Promos page with some opportunities to save on end of summer travel.

If you find the summer has been slipping away without plans for a vacation, check out these deals from some of my favorite discount travel sites:

Groupon

  • 15% off Flash Deals on Getaways with promo code GETAWAY15.  Good 8/15/14 – 8/16/14.  

Priceline

  • Get an extra 5% off Express Deals with code METRO6 when you book in Las Vegas, Denver, Los Angeles, New York City, Miami, Toronto. 2 star hotels and above, min 2 night stay. Travel anytime. Book by Aug 25, 2014.

Living Social

Hotels.com

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Traveling to Britain? Free Lonely Planet Travel Guides

Ye Olde Britain
Free from iTunes

Lonely Planet Travel Guides are among the best, so whenever there’s an offer for a free download, I try to take advantage.  The Apple iTunes bookstore is offering free downloads of a number of Lonely Planet guidebooks, including several specialty guides to travel in Britain.

The best free guides include:

  • Recession-Busting Britain — Best Free Experiences
  • Culture Vulture Britain — Best Cultural Experiences
  • Tasty Britain — Best Eating Experiences
  • Ye Olde Britain — Best Historical Experiences
  • Mini Britain Britain– Best Experiences for Kids

    Mini Britain
    Free on iTunes

These guidebooks to England, Scotland and Wales are full length 100+ page books, though there is a fair amount of overlap between them.  A number of the other books are merely teasers for the full-priced version of the guidebook.  Hat tip to Miles From Blighty.

The USA Best Trips free book includes excerpts on road trips to three regions — the Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 101 Oregon Coast, and Coastal New England.

One other full-featured free book worth mentioning is Discover the Beaches of Fort Myers and Sanibel.

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Point Lookout — Trystworthy?

Stateline Point Lookout
Stateline Point Lookout

If you are having an illicit affair, I can think of no better place to meet your lover than Point Lookout on the Palisades Parkway. It’s beautiful, romantic, easily accessible from New York City, yet quite isolated (at least on a weekday.)

We drove to New England one Tuesday in early September, to drop our daughter at  school.  Traveling north on I-95, the New Jersey Turnpike ends in Fort Lee, New Jersey.  You can continue on I-95 to New York City and beyond by taking the George Washington Bridge, or you can travel north above the Hudson River via the Palisades Parkway.

We wanted to avoid traveling through New York City because our car was loaded with stuff.

I couldn’t believe the natural beauty that awaited us just minutes from Manhattan!

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Springtime in Hershey

Hershey Gardens Photo by Joel Shprentz
Hershey Gardens 

In April, we stopped in Hershey, Pennsylvania for a day to break up a road trip from New England to Virginia.  We had visited the amusement park ten years ago, and wanted to explore other three different attractions on this trip.

First up was the free tour of the fake “Chocolate Factory,” because we love corny rides, factory tours, and chocolate!

The Chocolate Factory is a Disney-style animated ride that tells the story of how chocolate is produced from the growing the cocoa beans to producing Hershey Kisses.  On a Saturday morning, we were able to walk right in without a wait. The ride in little carts through the “factory” was lots of fun. The ride ended with a free sample and let us off in a gigantic chocolate gift shop with all manner of Hershey candy.

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Win a 2014 Mustang Convertible and Hit the Road!

I’m not big on travel sweepstakes … but with summer vacation coming up, this one was too good to pass up!  Enter the Ultimate Road Trip Sweepstakes sponsored by Hilton HHonors, Alamo, Enterprise, and National Car Rental by July 31, 2013 for a chance to win the ultimate road trip!

2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible
2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible

One Grand Prize winner receives:

  • 2014 Ford Mustang V6 Convertible
  • Certificate for five nights at any hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio
  • $500 Hilton HHonors Gift Card

Five First Prize winners receive:

  • Certificate for two nights at any hotel or resort in the Hilton HHonors portfolio
  • $200 car rental gift coupon
  • $100 Hilton HHonors Gift Card

Are you tempted to take a chance?

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Cruising the Northeast Corridor — Half Price Crabs in Harve de Grace

If you are hoping to avoid the highway rest stops on a road trip from New York to Washington, DC  — there’s a great little place to eat at the halfway mark.

Price's Seafood - Harve de Grace, MD
Price’s Seafood – Harve de Grace, MD

Price’s Seafood, in Harve de Grace, Maryland is a rundown crab shack on the waterfront in the quaint town of Harve de Grace, just past the Hatam Bridge.

This quintessential Maryland crab house is not fancy, but the crabs are great.  You can eat inside or on the porch.  They put heavy brown paper down on the tables — just as it should be.  Crabs are seasonally priced.

Yelp.com has a deal that gives you $10 off a purchase of $20.

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