In this series Andy is going to show us how to get to experience the very finest luxury locations (Diamond Destination) without being a millionaire, and collect points along the way. I hope you’re looking forward to learning a few tips from a frugal guy up at the very front of the plane, in the left seat. Today, Andy we’re off to the so-called “Capital of Latin America”; Miami, Florida … more specifically, Miami Beach!
Miami Beach, Florida’s southern jewel. Love it or hate it, it’s a steamy town that hates to work and loves to indulge in fun, food, and festivals. A great time to visit this sultry playground is in the summer.
“What???? It’s a thousand degrees”, I hear you say. Well, not quite but I hear ya. The secret is to be by the ocean which has cooling breezes and the main reason it’s literally half price … for almost everything. The ocean itself is a gorgeous temperature with no ouch factor as you wade into the waves to a refreshing dip. Miami Spice is ON baby in the summer … more about that later.
Stay in one of the only South Beach hotels situated right on the sand either the Hilton Bentley (101 Ocean drive) and the South Beach Marriott next door in the peak winter season? ….. Fuggedaboutit!! Rates of $500 upwards will rear their ugly heads.
In August however you’re looking at $220 or less and make no mistake these are beautiful properties with the Hilton being all suite, and both are in THE prime location of South Beach. My tip is to stay in the Hilton mid-week for hugely better rates, pick double points for the current promo, and select points and points as your earning style. A four night stay in June (before the promo ends) with no Hilton status and paying with a Hilton credit card would net around 27,000 HHonors points. These points would redeem for over 3 free nights at a Category 1 hotel; for example Hampton Inn Houston Baytown.
Flights into Fort Lauderdale (FLL) tend to be cheaper than Miami (MIA) and you can get a shuttle into Miami’s beaches for around the half the price of a cab from MIA per person despite being a 40 minute longer journey. Once nestled in your beach pad, there is zero need for a car. Stroll or a $10 max cab ride will take you where you need to be.
Ocean drive is a tourist trap where you will be harassed by various Latina and Russian chicks to sit at one cafe after another BUT one of the only restaurants I like is the Pelican Hotel whose eatery spills out on the sidewalk boasting delicious Italian – tropical fusion cuisine. It’s owners? … the Diesel group from Italia. Not quite authentic Miami Beach but it’s part of the scene there, having been established for decades.
Lincoln Road Mall is not a mall at all, but a pedestrian street jam packed with restaurants, boutiques, cafes, bars, and stores. It is where the bronzed locals hang out and of a late summer’s evening you’re just as likely to see parents with young kids enjoying dinner al fresco as nightclubbers having drinks before heading to the exclusive trendy spots.
On August 4th, the Lincoln Road Gallery Walk showcases more than 40 resident artists at the Arts Center Studios across three locations and other galleries in the heart of Miami Beach. Stroll Lincoln Road, browse fabulous art, and enjoy free hors d’oeuvres. 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Free.
Miami Spice is a mouth-watering restaurant promotion showcasing the very best of Miami cuisine. – http://www.ilovemiamispice.com/
Throughout August and September, Miami’s top restaurants offer three-course meals (Lunch $22, Dinner $35) featuring signature dishes created by world-renowned chefs. Here’s where you can discover the tropical fusion of ingredients that makes Miami dining so wonderfully out of the ordinary. A huge list of top class dining destinations are participating. Remember if you have a Chase Sapphire PreferredSM Card you get double points on all restaurant spend so that makes Spice even sweeter!
Speaking of food and authentic Miami night life, the infamous Sushi Samba Tuesday parties are not for the faint-hearted, but an incredible mix of eclectic people don costumes and party with the staff themselves who dance on the bar til the wee hours will guarantee you sights to behold. A hilarious time is had by all and everyone is welcome but it’s a late one; it doesn’t get going until after midnight!
This beach town is all about energy, you might find you have more than you thought.
IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49 fee waived for the first year
- Foreign Fees: No
- Card Type: Hotel
The IHG Rewards Club Visa is often cited as one of the most underrated hotel credit cards, with good reason. The official offer is for 70,000 points after $1,000 spent within three months, with the first year’s fee waived. The card comes with an annual free night certificate that can be used at any IHG property, including Intercontinental hotels - making this certificate worth upwards of 50,000 points. This is far more generous than some other hotel cards, which limit the categories in which free night certificates can be redeemed.
Cardholders earn 5 points per dollar at IHG hotels; 2 points per dollar at gas stations, grocery stores, and restaurants; 1 point per dollar everywhere else. Moreover, you’ll get a 10% rebate on award redemptions, up to 100,000 points per year. The card also comes with Platinum status, though that doesn’t get you much with IHG. Still, this is a fantastic card to have in your wallet, with benefits that far outweigh the already low $49 annual fee.
- Earn 70,000 bonus points after you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of account opening
- Enjoy a free night of card membership at over 4,700 hotels worldwide
- Earn 5 points for each $1 spent at our hotels
- Earn 2 points per $1 spent on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants
- Bonus points redeemable at hotels such as Intercontinental® Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts and Holiday Inn®
- Automatic platinum elite status, as long as you remain a cardmember
- $0 introductory annual fee the first year, then $49