Honeymoons, family vacations, or a romantic get-away, no matter the reason the Caribbean is one of the top destinations in the world. The white sand beaches, clear water, wonderful weather, and relaxation hit the top of any vacationers priority list. But what if you could go for free?
Using your credit card points to stay at some of the top resorts in the world not only allows you a guilt-free trip but you can wake up to an ocean breeze or dance the night away. Phenomenal service and luxury accommodations are available for those who are willing to part with more points for a more extravagant experience. Those traveling with less points or who want to travel more can pick and choose from superior quality hotels that still have private beaches but not the personal bell hop or top-tier restaurants. You can spend anywhere from 5,000 to over 60,000 points per night. Some of the featured hotels have suite-level pricing so the point values vary depending on season and availability. Vacationing for free at the best hotels with your credit card points feels almost as good as sipping a margarita on the beach during sunset.
Luxury Caribbean Hotels
1. Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman
Location: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5 Loyalty Program: Ritz-Carlton For a truly luxury experience that covers more than just exceptional service and dining, the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman is your best bet. Their staff is always outstanding, the beach is pristine, and it’s located on one of the most famous beaches in the world. As one of the best properties in the entire Caribbean, this hotel has a spa, golf course, and was one of Travel and Leisure’s 2012 Top 500 and made it on Conde Nast’s 2013 Gold List. Hotel nights range between $350 and over $1,000 per night depending on the season so book carefully to get the best value from your points. 50,000 points per night is about what you’ll have to pay for this above and beyond experience but it truly is a unique hotel and one of the best.
To book this reward, transfer 50,000 points/night from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
2. St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort
Location: Rio Grande, Puerto Rico Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5 Loyalty Program: Starwood This Starwood property made it on the 2013 Conde Nast Gold List, is a AAA Five Diamond award winner, and only costs 30,000 Starpoints per night. It’s a top luxury hotel hidden from the bustle of tourist traffic in Puerto Rico and only 45 minutes from San Juan. The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort allows you to use cash and points which means you get a discount on the nightly rate and you don’t need as many points to stay at a high-end property. Typical rates range from $450 to over $1,000 per night depending on the season so points or points and cash are your best bet. By using your credit card points, you can stay at one of the top hotels in Rio Grande for free.
To book this reward, transfer 30,000 Starpoints/night from your Starwood credit card.
3. Las Casitas Village, Waldorf Astoria
Location: Fajardo, Puerto Rico Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Hilton Although this hotel isn’t as grand as the first two, it’s still one of the top luxury properties of the Caribbean that you can use points for. This hotel was placed on the 2013 Conde Nast Gold list, Travel and Leisure’s 2012 World’s Best list, claimed a 4-diamond rating from AAA, won the #1 Family Resort spot in Caribbean Travel and Lifestyle Magazine, and was ranked as one of the world’s top 30 Caribbean Resorts in 2012 by Conde Nast. Besides just the awards, Las Casitas Village has each room equip with a full kitchen and includes amenities such as a waterpark, scuba diving, horseback riding, golf course, and a high-end spa all on-site. It’s also extremely family friendly and has children’s activities if you want some alone time with your significant other. Rates vary from $250 in the off-season to over $800 per night in the high season. This resort does have suite-level pricing when it comes to points so expect the rates to be high depending on the credit card you have. Those with Hilton points or flexible credit cards where you can move miles around easily to other loyalty programs will get the most value out of this hotel.
To book this reward, transfer points from your AMEX credit card.
Upscale Caribbean Hotels
4. Hilton Barbados Resort
Location: Needham’s Point, Barbados Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Hilton The Hilton Barbados Resort makes the list not because it’s the glitziest hotel but because it’s one of a small percentage of points hotels on Barbados. The central location near Bridgetown and access to two beaches makes it a great destination for those who want to spend time getting a tan, have fun with the kids, or shop. The helpful and friendly staff stands out and is always willing to help. This resort also includes two pools, three tennis courts, and scuba diving center; plenty to do for every age group. As a category 7 hotel, the Hilton Barbados Resort will cost you 50,000 points per night and the normal rates range from $180 and $360. For a free stay in Barbados, the Hilton is a great choice.
To book this reward, transfer 50,000 points/night from your AMEX credit card.
5. Curacao Marriott Beach Resort and Emerald Casino
Location: Piscadera Bay, Willemstad, Curacao Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Marriott A private beach, a reef for snorkeling, casino, on-site dive and water sports center, dolphin swim and encounter, and the Curacao Aquarium all encompass the Curacao Marriott Beach Resort. This hotel has exceptional staff that go out of their way to help guests get the most of their vacation and their on-site dining accommodations are not to be missed. It also sits on a great location on the island and is part of the Caribbean’s ABC islands. It’s not as busy as many of the other islands so you can relax without all the clutter of other travelers. The Curacao Marriott Beach Resort and Emerald Casino is a category 6 hotel that will run you 30,000 points per night. Average stays cost anywhere from $130 to $400 but for a private beach and a wealth of amenities, this hotel is a great value for the points.
To book this reward, transfer 30,000 points/night from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
6. Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa
Location: Montego Bay, Jamaica Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5 Loyalty Program: Hilton With Jamaica’s largest waterpark for kids and excellent staff, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa is an upscale experience. Their beach, golf course, spa treatments, and top-notch food set them apart and they keep the grounds tidy and clean from debris. Rooms are always refreshed and room upgrades are frequent. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the pools and there is great separation between family and couples areas. The Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa runs 60,000 points per night but is the only all-inclusive Hilton in the Caribbean and typically runs from $170 to $710. Although the points total does run high, this free trip to Jamaica, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa is still a great choice.
To book this reward, transfer 60,000 points/night from your AMEX credit card.
7. W Retreat and Spa Vieques
Location: Vieques Island, Puerto Rico Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Starwood The W Retreat and Spa Vieques features two private beaches, a category 6 listing, a Travel and Leisure Top 500 award from 2012, and will only run you 20,000 points per night. This hotel is where villa-style vacation blooms and relaxation is the top priority. Food, drinks, and service are a top priority at this Starwood hotel and you really get a great value for the points. Unlike almost all other Caribbean hotels, the W Retreat and Spa Vieques is pet friendly so if you just can’t live without your Daniff (Great Dane/Mastiff mix) Bruce, you can bring him along. Wild horses are also seen frequently on the property. The typical room rates range from $275 to over $1,000 per night depending on the season but for only 20,000 points, you can stay for free. Book this award-winning, upscale hotel for your next trip to Puerto Rico for a stress-free vacation.
To book this reward, transfer 20,000 points/night from your Starwood credit card.
Mid-level and Value Caribbean Hotels
8. Holiday Inn Santo Domingo
Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5 Loyalty Program: Priority Club If you want to save on points but still have an excellent vacation, the category 4 Holiday Inn Santo Domingo is a superb option. For 25,000 points per night you can stay for free and enjoy the business district of Santo Domingo where restaurants, bars, shopping, and attractions are all within walking distance. This hotel is also relatively new and extremely updated. As with any Holiday Inn, you’re not paying for lush amenities but this particular location does feature a spa. Exceptional service and large, clean rooms perk up this hotel’s reputation and pools and food also shine. Breakfast is included in the price of the room many times as well to help save on cost and get great value for your buck. Average room rates vary only slightly from $120 to $170 per night depending on the season. Although this hotel does feature a lot of business travelers, it’s great for a vacationer who doesn’t want to just sit at the hotel or on the beach the entire time; the traveler who loves to enjoy what the city has to offer.
To book this reward, transfer 25,000 points/night from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
9. Hotel Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo
Location: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Priority Club Although this property is a category 3 hotel, it’s only 20,000 points per night and sometimes has offers for PointBreaks where rooms are only 5,000 points per night. The Hotel Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo is within walking distance of cultural centers, nightlife, shopping, and the business district for those who are looking to immerse themselves in the local atmosphere. If you rented a car or want to take a taxi, this hotel is only 35 minutes from the Caribbean’s best beaches. Even though the Hotel Crowne Plaza Santo Domingo doesn’t feature all the bells and whistles of the upper crust but does have a spa, swimming pool, restaurant, and friendly and helpful staff. Rooms are always clean and fresh and the meals are excellent. Typical room rates range from $109 to $145 but if you can score the 5,000 points per night deal, you make out like a bandit.
To book this reward, transfer 5,000-20,000 points/night from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
10. Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino
Location: Oranjestad, Aruba Trip Advisor Rating: 4 Loyalty Program: Marriott As far as value goes, the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino gets you the best stretch of your points. Nine restaurants, a private beach, casino, adult-exclusive areas, family areas, close to Aruba’s capital with shopping, and category 5 status for 25,000 points per night doesn’t sound too shabby. This hotel has updated rooms, welcoming and trained staff, and extraordinary ocean views are breathtaking. The average room rates for this hotel range from $140 to $615 depending on the season. You can get a great bargain if you use Marriott cash and points during the right time of the year. You’ll save on points and get an extremely discounted room. Again, not a huge resort with personal butlers or high-class suites but the Renaissance Aruba Resort and Casino gets you a wonderful free vacation with points in Aruba at a reasonable price.
To book this reward, transfer 25,000 points/night from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
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