Update 4/17/18: SPG and Marriott Rewards will be integrated into one loyalty program beginning August 1, 2018. At that time, any existing SPG points will become points in the new program at a ratio of 1:3 (1 Starpoint=3 points in the new program). Current SPG and Marriott redemption charts will be eliminated and one award chart will be implemented. The chart has been released, but we do not yet know which properties are assigned to each category. I will update this post once we know the new category. In the meantime, you have until August 1 to book with current SPG rates.
Update 2/11/18: Last week, SPG released their list of properties that will be changing categories after 3/6/18. Unfortunately, the Westin Whistler will be moving from a category 5 to a category 6 hotel. The good news is, you have until 3/6/18 to book at the category 5 rate. Category 5 hotels are 12,000-16,000 Starpoints per night and Category 6 hotels are 20,000-25,000 Starpoints per night. Considering how high the rates can be at this property during ski season, it could still be a great value for your Starpoints even as a category 6 property.
Ryan and I both love skiing and Whistler had been on our list for a while. Ryan had been to Whistler in the summer and loved it, but I had never even been to Canada. In early 2014, we finally booked a ski trip to Whistler and it was one of our first trips on points! We fell in love with it. We’ve been two more times since then. We brought our son one of the times. He was too young for ski school, but Whistler is very kid friendly. We plan to take him again soon now that he is old enough. Actually, we plan to try to make this an annual family trip!
Whistler Blackcomb is a huge ski resort in BC, Canada, and it is consistently voted one of the top ski resorts in the world. It is about a 2 hour drive north of Vancouver. It’s the prettiest 2 hour drive you’ll ever take!
Whistler is not cheap. In fact, ski trips just aren’t cheap no matter where you go. The good news is that points and miles can get you flights and hotels. Because ski season means sky high rates at hotels, you can get lots of value when booking your hotel room with points.
Flights to Whistler
We used 20,000 British Airways Avios each for direct flights on a roundtrip American Airlines flight from DFW to Vancouver. For many flights within North America, British Airways charges less for AA flights than the AAdvantage program does. This is due to the distance-based chart that British Airways has in place.
You can transfer Avios from:
- American Express Membership Rewards– As of last week (July 2017) it is now 1:1 ratio! It used to be 250:200 so this is great news.
- Ultimate Rewards– 1:1 ratio
- Starwood Preferred Guest- 1:1 ratio
These nonstop flights cost ~$545 per ticket
For 40,000 British Airways Avios total, we booked flights worth $1090. Thats 2.7 cents per point. If you want to read about calculating the value of a mile or point, read this post.
If you have American Airlines AAdvantage miles and you want to book these flights, you will be charged 25,000 AAdvantage miles per person. We saved a total of 10,000 points/miles by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards to British Airways to book the exact same flight.
Interested in using BA Avios to book AA flights? Read this post about searching for award ticket availability.
Hotel in Whistler
The Westin Whistler is not the only option for miles and points, but it is where we stayed on our most recent trip (January 2017) so I will use it for this example! It is in a great location. The Westin Whistler is in Whistler Village and it sits right next to Whistler mountain. It is just yards from the lifts. You can walk to so many restaurants, bars, shops, and even over to the Blackcomb mountain base from the hotel.
- The Westin Whistler is a Starwood Preferred Guest category 5 property
- Cost per night: 12,000-16000 points
- We stayed 6 nights, which would have been 72,000 points at a 12,000 points per night rate
- Because of SPG’s 5th night free deal on category 3-7 properties, one of our nights was free
Our total was 60,000 points for 6 nights.
As you can see, these rooms go for ~766CAD per night or ~$570 USD per night. That’s about $3420 for 6 nights.
$3420 worth of travel for 60,000 points is 5.7 cents per point in value! I consider that an excellent deal.
Grand total cost: 100,000 points
- 60,000 SPG Starpoints for the hotel
- 40,000 Ultimate Rewards points transferred to British Airways for the plane tickets
Grand total saved: over $4500
- $1090 on plane tickets
- $3420 on the hotel
For 100,000 points, we were able to book over $4500 worth of travel! Saving money on hotels and airfare allowed us to book some neat experiences such as skiing, dog sledding, and ice fishing in Canada!
Now is a great time to start thinking about a winter ski vacation! Where do you want to go skiing? Start thinking about your strategy to earn the points you will need. Depending on where you want to go, some credit card sign up bonuses may be more useful than others. In general, my two favorite cards for beginners are the Chase Sapphire Preferred (or Reserve if you want the more premium version) and the Starwood Preferred Guest credit card from American Express. As always, feel free to contact me if you need any specific advice. Don’t forget to follow on Facebook and Instagram @themilesgenie !!