You’re calling me about what?!?
Have you ever been on the other end of one of those super sketchy and off-putting phone calls that start the conversation by thanking you for a previous stay with some hotel brand (Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, ect) and are offering you an ‘amazingly discounted vacation’ of some sort??
Most of the time I just hang up, but I had a friend once tell me that they sometimes are legit and to try it out, so I figured, why not? I listened to the schpeel from a company called Grand Caribbean Vacations (I also was googling the name and checked it out as we chatted to make sure it was legit). Initially, they wanted $999 for an all-inclusive vacation! If you’ve been following our blog then you know that I would NEVER pay that much for any vacation so of course, I declined the friendly customer service representative’s offer.
Eventually, they kept offering more vacations and continued to decrease the price of the opening offer. I was able to negotiate the representative down to $499 which included:
Four Separate All-Inclusive-Vacations for 2 Adults and 2 kids!
- 5 Days/4 Nights in Mexico
- 6 Days/5 Nights in Mexico
- 6 Days/5 Nights in Costa Rica
- 6 Days/5 Nights in the Dominican Republic
What’s the catch?
The ‘catch’ was that you had to go to one of the trips in Mexico first and sit through a marketing presentation that would take a minimum of 120 minutes. But really, what’s 120 minutes when you can spend 5 days on a beach and not in the snow?
When you divvy up the cost per trip, each trip cost about $125, which could potentially be the price of one person per night in an all-inclusive for the Villa Del Palmar, if you were to get it on sale. When we went to the Hyatt Ziva All-Inclusive in Jamaica, rooms were going for $1,300 a night! So once I knew I had the resort snagged, we then needed to book flights and pick a date/time! We settled on Thanksgiving Vacation break as Dave didn’t have to use any vacation time. (Dave’s school was closed the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so it was a perfect 5 day 4-night trip!)
What should it have cost?
Looking at the normal costs of staying from Wednesday to Sunday would have cost us $1,430.67. We were able to pay less than 10% of the total cost by booking the marketing promotion and spending 2 hours going over the promotional options for buying into a part of the hotel and company which we ultimately decided to not purchase.
Booking flights during Thanksgiving Vacation can be stressful!
Flying during the holidays can be tricky (and expensive) if you don’t plan it right and far enough in advance. If you’ve read some of our other articles, you know we have the Southwest Companion Pass, which essentially gives us
Holiday Flight Bookings
With Thanksgiving being a US holiday, we know we have to book flights as soon as Southwest released the schedules. Prices start to go up VERY quickly when people start booking on a release date, and the prices can vary over $100 in only a few minutes! We frequent Southwest’s site a lot and knew that on May 31st they were going to release flights through Thanksgiving & Christmas so we had to book quickly in order to get the best deals for both holiday breaks. We were able to find flights for $272.21 or 16,614 points to get from BUF to CUN, so I immediately booked using our points. Then I had to run to a meeting at work so I didn’t think much of it.
Well…..when I got back the flights jumped up significantly. They were showing $578.52 for the way home, for ONE person. Yikes!! Definitely not a price I like to pay for one way, but I knew they probably weren’t going to go any lower since I missed the time frame to book earlier when they were about $270/12,000 points. Because we already had the hotel and flight there booked we decided to bite the bullet and clicked submit knowing that we only had to pay for taxes with Dave’s companion fare.
Taxes on international flights to and from Cancun were $52.36 and $34.65. All in all Dave’s flights cost $87.01. Pretty amazing!!
My flight, on the other hand, cost $584.12 ($5.60 taxes and fees for booking with points). The total cost was $671.13 for 2 roundtrip tickets to Cancun. This isn’t awful when you know the true cost could have been up to $2,000! To further lower our cost, we searched our credit cards to see what points we could use to cover this expense. Luckily, we were able to get $500 back from our Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. How this works is we had to book the flights on the Capital One Venture Card, then we could use the points to convert to a statement credit for the purchase. We were able to save $500 off of our flights, thus costing only $84.12 for mine! (If you want to apply for this card, check out the link below.)
These flights should have cost us $850.73 EACH or $1,701.46 total!
We ended up paying $171.13 which was basically our taxes and fees when it was all said and done.
Once we had our flights and hotel covered, we were excited for a few relaxing days at the beach! We typically work-work-work for weeks-upon-end, so having a trip away from it all is always great to discover new things and have a little down time!
Want a quick getaway trip yourself? Here are the cards to open to snag this trip and be sure to also get the Southwest Companion Pass:
Basic Travel Couple Big Breakdown:
|2 Roundtrip Flights||$1,701.46||$171.13||16,614 RR|
Grand Total Paid: $296.13
Grand Total What it Should have cost: $3,132.13 (Flights, hotel)