How and where to use your travel points for a ski vacation

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Winter is here, and for many families, that means it’s time to break out the ski and snowboard gear and start thinking about a trip to the slopes. But it’s no secret that ski vacations can be costly. Fortunately, there’s one way to truly keep the cost down: using your travel rewards to cover the cost of your hotel

Plenty of chain hotels offer properties in the middle of ski towns, so there’s often no shortage of lodging opportunities. And even though many of these properties charge exorbitant rates during the winter vacation ski season, you’ll find that using your points can be a great deal.

Before you go ahead and book your next ski vacation, take a look to see if any travel rewards hotels are located in your desired destination. We’ve taken a look at the most popular Marriott Bonvoy, World of Hyatt and Hilton Honors properties where you can use your points to save big when hitting the slopes.

Of the three major hotel chains in the US, Marriott has the largest number of properties catered toward ski vacations. So, if you want to have access to as many mountain properties as possible, accruing Marriott Bonvoy points is the way to go. The chain has a slew of properties in Colorado, but you’ll find that you can also redeem your points in Utah, California, Canada, Switzerland and beyond.

With Marriott Bonvoy’s dynamic pricing model, the number of points required for a free night is loosely tied to the cash rate. This also means that if you’re able to vacation during the shoulder season — before Christmas and at the end of March — you’ll often find that far fewer points are required for a free night.

Before diving into the ways to spend your points, you have to earn them. One of the easiest and fastest ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is to sign up for one of the chain’s Marriott-branded credit cards. Marriott credit cards offer a wide range of benefits, and with many, you can easily offset the annual fee. With the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card, you can earn 150,000 Bonvoy points after spending $5,000 within the first three months after account opening, which can score you a few free nights on your next ski vacation.

Aside from earning points with one of the Marriott credit cards, Marriott Bonvoy is also a transfer partner of both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards programs. Points transfer at a one-to-one rate from both Chase and Amex to Marriott, allowing you to top off an award if you are a few points shy.

With the Marriott Bonvoy program, you’ll also receive your fifth night free on award stays. This means for every five nights you stay at the same property, the lowest-cost night during your stay will be free.

The St. Regis Aspen recently went through a $40 million redesign.

If you’re aiming for luxury with an elegant yet modern feel, you can’t go wrong with The St. Regis Residence Club Aspen for your ski vacation. With custom furniture designed by Ralph Lauren and marble bathrooms in the rooms, you’ll never have to leave. But, you’ll want to leave to check out all there is to see nearby. The property is centrally located and just a short walk from ski lifts as well as many stores and restaurants. After a long day of skiing, you can soak in the outdoor pool and hot tub. The hotel also features two onsite restaurants and a bar. And when you’re ready to hang up your skis for the day, enjoy a visit to the spa or steam room.

Points required: From 90,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

W Aspen

Located right in the middle of all the fun in Aspen, this relatively new property is just a short walk to the slopes. With a more lively vibe than The St. Regis just down the street, you’ll have access to a rooftop pool, hot tub, fire pit and bar. Some of the room layouts at the W Aspen are slightly more funky than what you might be used to, offering rooms with a queen-over-queen bunk bed or even two queen beds in a head-to-toe arrangement.

Points required: From 79,000 to 103,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

Viewline Resort Snowmass

Previously known as The Westin Snowmass Resort, the Viewline Resort Snowmass is a true ski-in/ski-out property. Just strap on your skis or snowboard and you can be on the slopes in no time. And if you’re new to skiing, the gondola right outside of the hotel will take you to the base of the mountain where you can meet your ski school group. Although the hotel is approximately 20 minutes away from Aspen, newbies will prefer the more beginner and intermediate terrain of Snowmass. The resort might not be as fancy as some other hotels in the vicinity, but it still offers a heated pool, hot tub and fitness center.

Points required: From 49,000 to 63,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

The Hythe Vail, a Luxury Collection Resort

After a $40 million renovation and a name change, this upscale resort is an ideal destination for your next ski vacation. Although The Hythe Vail is not a true ski-in/ski-out property, the hotel is just a quick walk to nearby lifts, restaurants, shops and an outdoor ice-skating rink. And after a long day of skiing, families will love the hot chocolate bar and complimentary s’mores.

When using points, you have the option of a king bed or two double beds. To book yourself into a room with two queen beds — an admittedly more comfortable sleeping situation — you’ll have to pay an upgrade fee or redeem additional points. Alternatively, larger suites are also available for an additional fee.

Points required: From 79,000 to 106,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch

This massive resort is at the base of the Bachelor Gulch side of the mountain, giving you a relaxing ski-in/ski-out experience. By staying at The Ritz Carlton, Bachelor Gulch, you’ll also be perfectly situated near the new McCoy Park terrain, which offers 17 trails for beginner and intermediate skiers.

While the location of the property gives you a quieter vacation experience, you are slightly removed from the conveniences of ski school and Beaver Creek Village. At the property, you’ll have access to three onsite restaurants plus a bar, lounge, outdoor heated pool, fitness center and ski valet.

Points required: From 84,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

Beaver Creek Lodge

With ski school located right outside the front door, a stay at the Beaver Creek Lodge is the perfect destination for families. This ski-in/ski-out property is located right in Beaver Creek Village, where you’re just a stone’s throw away from many shops, restaurants and an outdoor ice-skating rink. At the end of the day, you can relax at the hotel’s fire pit or take a swim in the outdoor heated pool.

Best of all, all rooms are suites. This means that when using points, you’ll be able to score a larger hotel room outfitted with a fireplace and kitchenette. Or if you’re traveling with a large family, you can book a two-bedroom family suite — though be prepared to spend additional points.

Points required: From 73,000 to 106,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

The St. Regis Deer Valley

If you’re looking for a skier’s paradise, look no further than The St. Regis Deer Valley. This slopeside property is right off one of the trails at Deer Valley and about a 10-minute shuttle drive to the base of the mountain.

With a ski valet, rental shop, 14,000-square-foot spa, a multi-level pool complex and two hot tubs, there are endless opportunities to be pampered. The hotel is also less than 10 minutes away from downtown Park City, offering a plethora of shops and restaurants.

Points required: From 82,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

This Ritz-Carlton hotel offers ski-in/ski-out access and a

In true Ritz-Carlton fashion, this luxury hotel has everything you could dream of for a ski vacation. With contemporary mountain decor, floor-to-ceiling windows and gas fireplaces, you’ll get a true mountain feel. It’s located at Northstar California, so you can just strap on your skies and you’ll be on the mountain in seconds. Or, take the free scenic gondola and experience Northstar’s village in just 10 minutes. Here, you’ll have access to many restaurants, shops, a movie theater and an ice-skating rink.

With ample amenities at The Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe, you’ll be able to experience everything from a relaxing spa and fitness class to fire pits and heated pools.

Points required: From 84,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

Le Westin Tremblant

In the heart of Mont Tremblant village and just a short walk from the slopes, you’ll find the Le Westin Tremblant. With many restaurants, shops and activities just a short distance away, you’ll have everything you need right at your fingertips. The heated outdoor saltwater pool area is in its own private oasis, offering the perfect après ski experience.

Points required: From 52,000 to 74,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

W Verbier — Verbier, Switzerland

W Verbier

Across the pond in the Swiss Alps, you’ll find the W Verbier — a ski-in/ski-out property in the Les 4 Vallées ski area. At 5,220 meters in elevation, you’ll have access to about 250 miles of ski terrain. And with plush blankets and a fireplace in every hotel room, you’ll be able to stay nice and cozy, despite the cold weather outside. The hotel features five onsite restaurants and bars, two heated pools (indoor and outdoor) and a luxurious spa with nine treatment rooms.

Points required: From 82,000 to 120,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night during winter.

Hyatt has a good number of hotels for those eager to hit the slopes using their points — especially if you’re looking for something other than the typical West Coast mountains. With a strong loyalty program in World of Hyatt, you’ll actually find yourself redeeming fewer points than the likes of Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors.

World of Hyatt offers a three-tier award chart: off-peak, standard and peak. While you’ll probably find most of the ski season to be at the standard or peak level, the number of points required has a set price. This means that even during the most expensive dates of the season, as long as a standard guest room is available, the number of points required will be fixed. And, when redeeming your Hyatt points, you will not be charged resort fees.

Earning World of Hyatt points is incredibly easy. For starters, there are two Hyatt-branded credit cards: the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the World of Hyatt Business Credit Card. With the sign-up bonus on the World of Hyatt Card, you can earn up to 60,000 points — you’ll get 30,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months plus up to 30,000 additional points by earning double points per dollar spent in the first six months from account opening. Additionally, this credit card comes with a free night certificate to be used at a Category 1-4 property every year on your card member anniversary.

If you have a credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve®, those points transfer to World of Hyatt at a one-to-one ratio.

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa — Beaver Creek, Colorado

Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa

If you have kids in ski school, you can’t beat the location of the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa. At the bottom of the slopes and a short walk away from Beaver Creek village, you’ll never have to get in a car at this ski-in/ski-out resort. Right outside of the hotel, you’ll find a spacious outdoor fire pit, perfect for s’mores making or taking in the scenery. You’ll also have access to a heated outdoor pool and five hot tubs — with views of the mountain, of course.

And since you’re just a short stroll away from the village, you can easily explore many restaurants, bars, shops and an outdoor ice-skating rink.

Points required: A Category 7 property, requiring 25,000 to 35,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Grand Hyatt Vail — Vail, Colorado

Grand Hyatt Vail

With its own chair lift right outside the front door, getting on the slopes is easier than ever at the Grand Hyatt Vail. After a long day of skiing, you can relax in the outdoor heated infinity pool and two hot tubs. With the resort shuttle, you can easily get around the area, including easy access to Vail village and the nearby Vail Square Ice Rink.

The hotel also features many onsite activities, such as Topgolf, axe throwing and a s’mores roast. And with many other non-skiing winter activities nearby, there’s plenty to keep you busy during your next ski trip.

Points required: A Category 6 property, requiring 21,000 to 29,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Hyatt Place Keystone

Although not as lavish as some of the other properties mentioned on this list, the Hyatt Place Keystone offers one of the best values when using points. One of the best parts of this resort is that Keystone offers free skiing for kids 12 and under with a two-night stay. This is an unbelievable value and can truly make an incredibly expensive ski vacation that much more affordable.

Keystone also offers night skiing over the weekends and holidays. And like most other Hyatt Place properties, your entire family can enjoy a complimentary breakfast every morning. The property is a shuttle bus away from the mountain, although you could also walk 1/3-mile journey.

Points required: A Category 4 property, requiring 12,000 to 18,000 World of Hyatt points per night, or use a Category 1-4 free night certificate earned from the World of Hyatt Credit Card.

The Lodge at Spruce Peak

Using your hard-earned hotel points for some East Coast skiing can be challenging, as there aren’t as many properties. The Lodge at Spruce Peak is the only hotel option at the base of Mount Mansfield. Located right in Spruce Peak village, you have easy access to restaurants, shops, an ice-skating rink and an indoor rock-climbing facility. The resort also features a heated outdoor pool and multiple hot tubs.

And if you score an upgrade, you’ll be incredibly impressed with the hotel’s one-, two- and three-bedroom suites. One thing to know, however, is that when booking a stay at this property, a three- or four-night minimum is often required during peak ski season.

Points required: A Category 7 property, requiring 25,000 to 35,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Resort at Squaw Creek

Located at the base of Palisades Tahoe, this 405-room property has everything you’re looking for in a ski vacation. Although the Resort at Squaw Creek is a few miles from the village, the property offers many dining options, a ski valet, spa, multiple heated outdoor swimming pools and even a 90-foot water slide.

But best of all, even during peak ski season, some nights fall under the “off-peak” category within the World of Hyatt award chart. This will allow you to save your points or potentially extend your ski vacation even longer. And if you’re lucky enough to be upgraded during your stay, many rooms offer a kitchenette or a full kitchen.

Points required: A Category 6 property, requiring From 21,000 to 29,000 World of Hyatt points per night.

Although Hilton doesn’t offer as many ski-catered properties as Marriott and Hyatt, there are still some great options when using your Hilton Honors points for your next mountain vacation.

Similar to Marriott, you’ll receive your fifth night free when redeeming points, but with one caveat: You must have Hilton Honors Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status. Fortunately, all four Hilton Honors-branded credit cards offer some form of elite status automatically as a benefit. Even the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card comes with automatic Silver elite status, enabling you to easily score a free night on a five-night stay (see rates and fees).

Hilton also got rid of its award chart a few years ago, which means that the number of points required is somewhat tied to the cash price. However, when using points for a free night stay, all resort fees are waived. This is a great incentive to use your Hilton points, especially at a resort property.

Similar to many other chain loyalty programs, credit card bonus offers are one of the easiest ways to earn a mass of points at once. Right now, the Hilton Amex offers a welcome bonus of 80,000 Hilton points, which you’ll earn after spending $1,000 in the first three months. Alternatively, the Hilton Honors American Express Business Card has a limited-time offer through Dec. 21, 2022, where you’ll earn 130,000 bonus points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months, plus a Free Night Reward after you spend $10,000 in the first six months.

The Hilton Amex comes with automatic Silver elite status, while the Business Hilton Amex comes with automatic Gold elite status, one of the best mid-tier hotel status levels. With Gold elite status, you’ll receive complimentary breakfast, space-available upgrades and late checkout at participating Hilton properties.

You can also transfer points at a one-to-two ratio from American Express Membership Rewards. This means that if you have the American Express® Gold Card or The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can transfer your Amex points to your Hilton Honors account to help you book a great ski vacation.

Waldorf Astoria Park City

The Waldorf Astoria Park City is one of the most luxurious ski resorts you’ll find — one where you can easily sit by the fire and drink hot chocolate or roast s’mores after a day of skiing. Guest rooms range from studios to a four-bedroom suite, with all rooms featuring a gas fireplace.

The hotel offers an outdoor heated pool with an extremely large hot tub. There’s also a shuttle that will take you downtown or to Park City Mountain or Deer Valley. And for those renting a car, valet parking is included in the resort fee — which is waived when using Hilton Honors points.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the property is considered ski-in/ski-out, you still need to walk across a parking lot and take the gondola to the base of the mountain. From there, you’ll have access to the Canyons side of the mountain, with opportunities to make your way over to Park City.

Points required: From 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night during winter.

Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa — Whistler, British Columbia

underscored Hilton Hotels whistler

Hilton Hotels

Another incredible option for those looking to ski in Canada is the Hilton Whistler. Located right in the center of Whistler Village, you’re less than a five-minute walk to either the Whistler Mountain or Blackcomb Mountain gondola, giving you access to more than 8,000 acres of terrain.

This full-service ski resort also offers an outdoor heated pool as well as indoor and outdoor whirlpools. And while the village offers plenty of restaurant options, if you prefer to not leave the hotel, there’s a restaurant and bar onsite

Points required: From 62,000 to 80,000 Hilton Honor points per night during winter.

Check out CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards currently available.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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