Even if you stick to your travel budget, family vacations can hit your wallet hard. When you add up the lodging, the flights (or gas), the meals, the snacks, and the activities, you can be looking at a substantial wad of cash for even a short trip.
And the sad fact is that the seemingly outrageous costs keep a lot of families from enjoying a much-needed vacation.
But here’s the good news: If you’re looking to take your family on a fantastic vacation without breaking the bank, you can. By booking your trip using points and miles, you can reduce your out-of-pocket costs and plan a fun trip the whole family will remember.
Here are 9 family-friendly resorts you can book using points and some of the best travel credit cards you can use to maximize your experience.
Hyatt Ziva Cancun
All-inclusive, free KidZ Club, and tons of activities for the whole family? Check, check, and check. The Hyatt Ziva line of all-inclusive properties for all ages offers fantastic value for families, and the Ziva Cancun is at the top of the list. Although it has a bit of a party reputation, Cancun can be an excellent destination for families.
The Ziva Cancun is located right on the gorgeous Caribbean Sea, and you also have your choice of three infinity pools to swim in. Rent a kayak, try a stand-up paddleboard, or go snorkeling in crystal blue waters — it’s all included with your stay.
Dining and drinks are all included too across the 17 bars, lounges, and restaurants on the property. Family favorite dessert parlor Pasteles is chock-full of delicious treats you won’t pay any extra for.
Of course, one of the best perks that comes absolutely free with your room at Hyatt Ziva Cancun is the outstanding KidZ Club for children ages 4 to 12. Plus, there’s a teen lounge and club for older kids, complete with karaoke parties and mocktails.
You’ll pay 25,000 Hyatt points per night for one room with two adults. Kids under 2 can be added for free to your reservation, and you’ll pay an additional 12,500 each to add kids (or additional adults) to your booking.
Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek
When you take your family to Walt Disney World, you get endless choices of family-friendly hotels. If you’re looking to use points to cover your room, the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek is an excellent option.
Last year, the Hilton Bonnet Creek became an Official Walt Disney World Hotel, which gives guests the opportunity to enjoy Extra Magic Hours, FastPass+ Services, and a free shuttle directly to the parks.
But there’s much more to Hilton Bonnet Creek than visits to the Disney parks. On property, you’ll find a top-rated 3-acre pool area complete with a lazy river and waterslide. Kids ages 5 to 12 are welcome to attend the WA Kids Club at the adjacent Waldorf Astoria hotel for a daily fee of $75 ($25 for each additional child on the same reservation).
A standard room will run you about 60,000 Hilton Honors points when you can find it. Remember, you’ll always get the fifth night free when you book with points and have any level of Hilton elite status. When you have the mid-tier Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card, you’ll earn automatic Gold status, and that gets you free breakfast for your family during your stay.
Cheyenne Mountain Resort Colorado Springs
Looking for an outdoorsy family adventure without the beach? This Wyndham resort set in the breathtaking Rockies is a stunning choice.
Enjoy hiking, rafting, sunbathing on the 35-acre private lake, or play a round of golf on the championship 18-hole course. Plus, there’s a luxurious spa and a state-of-the-art fitness center complete with spin classes.
The Cheyenne Mountain Resort is a quick 20-minute drive from the Colorado Springs airport. There are plenty of attractions to explore close to the resort, such as Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods Park, and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center. Families of all ages will enjoy the unique experience of getting a behind-the-scenes look into Olympic training life.
This Dolce Hotels and Resorts property falls under the Wyndham family, and it will cost you 30,000 points per night. Because Wyndham is now a transfer partner of Capital One, you can use your Capital One Venture or Capital One® Spark® miles to book the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. You’ll earn 1.5 Wyndham Rewards for every 2 Capital One miles you transfer. At that ratio, you’ll need to transfer 40,000 Capital One miles for one Wyndham night. Alternatively, you could pay for your stay in cash on your Capital One card, and then use the Capital One purchase eraser tool. This tool allows you to use your Venture miles to “erase” your purchase. Simply charge the stay on your Capital One card, and then redeem your points for a statement credit that erases the purchase.
Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman
If you’re looking for ultimate luxury for your family’s Caribbean vacation, the Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is an excellent choice. Set in the heart of the famed Seven Mile Beach, the Ritz has two towers of gorgeous rooms, each with its own private balcony. On the property, you can enjoy six different gourmet dining options, a high-end spa, and a nine-hole golf course.
But here’s what the kids will like best: Starfish Cay, an interactive water playground complete with water slides, zero-entry splash pool, and bucket waterfalls. Kids will also love the Ambassadors of the Environment program offered on-site. A variety of classes teaching crafts, snorkeling, cooking, interacting with unique wildlife, and good old-fashioned beach exploring are offered for around $100 each.
Whether you’re paying in cash or points, ultimate luxury will cost you. The Ritz Carlton Grand Cayman is a Marriott Category 8 property — the highest level on the Marriott chart. That means it will run 85,000 points per night as a standard booking, 70,000 in off-peak times, and 100,000 in peak season.
You’ll always get the fifth night free when you book with Marriott Bonvoy points. But with Marriott’s peak/off-peak pricing structure, the price of the nights can fluctuate from day to day. And unfortunately, you’ll automatically get the cheapest night free.
You’ll also pay an $85 resort fee per night that includes all fitness classes, water sports, sailing lessons, snorkeling gear, and more. Kids under 5 will eat free at four of the on-site restaurants.
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Hotel Lancaster
Amish country, Pennsylvania, may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a perfect family resort vacation. But there’s a surprising amount of fun family activities all over Lancaster County, and this Hilton DoubleTree Resort is the perfect place to relax after a long day of adventures.
Bring the family on a long weekend trip to Lancaster, and you’ll be close to several amusement parks including Hersheypark, Dutch Wonderland, and Sesame Place. Explore the Strasburg Rail Road, take a hot air balloon ride, and shop at two large outlet centers. Check out downtown Lancaster City for a vibrant scene of farm-to-table gastro pubs.<br> <br> Back at the DoubleTree Resort, the kids can enjoy a large indoor water playground and a large arcade game room while the grown-ups can do some putting on the nine-hole golf course.
You can book a room with two queen beds for the family starting at 34,000 Hilton Honors points per night. Spend a little more and get a two-room suite starting at 40,000 points per night.
Grand Hyatt Kauai
If you dream of taking your family on a trip to a Hawaiian paradise, you have many options to reduce the cost by using your points. The Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort is a beloved family favorite, and for good reason.
This huge 600-room property has everything you’d expect to find at a nice resort: beach access, relaxing spa, multiple on-site dining options, and even a championship 18-hole golf course.
But the Grand Hyatt’s monster water playground full of multi-level pools and waterfalls is what your kids will always remember from your trip. They’ll fly down the 150-foot water slide and cruise through the lazy river and saltwater lagoon with huge smiles on their faces. Kids ages 3 to 12 can also sign up for the Camp Hyatt where they’ll do crafts, play games, and splash in the pools.
You can book a double queen room large enough for a family of four at the Grand Hyatt Kauai for 25,000 Hyatt points per night. Because cash prices here can go upwards of $500 regularly, that’s a great value of more than 2 cents per point.
Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa
Another all-inclusive Caribbean gem, the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa is perfect for families. This gorgeous resort is set on the historic Rose Hall Plantation, surrounded by mountains. It also has prime beach real estate. Just hop a flight to Montego Bay and the Hilton Rose Hall is only 15 minutes away.
Attached to the resort is Sugar Mill Falls Water Park, the largest water park in Jamaica. This water extravaganza has something for kids of all ages, such as the 280-foot water slide, winding lazy river, and lagoons. Adults will love the pool bars and daily live music. There’s a daily Kids Klub for ages 4 to 12, and a bean bag-filled Teen Zone with video games, air hockey, and foosball.
A double occupancy Standard Reward room will run you an average of 70,000 points per night. Remember, you’ll get the fifth night free when you have any level of Hilton elite status and book with points. For a total of 280,000 Hilton Honors points, you get a five-night all-inclusive stay for two adults. Kids under 5 stay and eat completely free; kids 6 to 14 will be charged $75 per night each.
Sheraton Sand Key Resort
With its endless stretches of immaculate white sands, Clearwater Beach is one of Florida’s most beloved and family-friendly beaches. The Sheraton Sand Key Resort’s 13-acre private beach is the perfect spot for a relaxing family retreat booked with points.
Although this property doesn’t have a fancy water park or luxurious on-site spa, your family can relax by the large outdoor pool when you’re not hanging on the beach. This resort is quieter and more secluded than other Clearwater properties, so families looking for true relaxation can find it here. Take the free trolley down the street and you’ll find loads of family attractions at Pier 60. Kids will also love a visit to the award-winning Clearwater Aquarium and a ride on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise.
The Sheraton Sand Key Resort is a Marriott Category 5 property, which means it goes for a standard award rate of 35,000 points per night (or 30,000 in off-peak times and 40,000 at peak pricing). That means if you can find a room at standard pricing, you can use your annual free night certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card to book a room for your family. And remember, you’ll get the fifth night free when you book with your Marriott Bonvoy points.
Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort
This repeat AAA Four Diamond-winning resort is a beautiful property perched along the Bay of Banderas. It’s just a 10-minute drive once you arrive at the Puerto Vallarta airport, so you and your family will be ready to hit the beach in no time.
There’s a lot to love about this sprawling all-inclusive resort you can book with points. The property has four bars and six on-site restaurants. And because the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort is all-inclusive, you won’t pay extra money for your meals.
Kids can stay busy at the Adventure Friends Kids Club, while Mom and Dad sneak off for a massage at the Eternity Spa. If you want to sneak off for a sunset adult cocktail after kids club hours, the resort offers babysitting services for a fee. The whole family can enjoy the heated outdoor pool, and even take complimentary Spanish lessons together.
Because Hilton follows a dynamic pricing award program, the rates can fluctuate. A standard room at the Hilton Puerto Vallarta Resort goes for an average of 70,000 points per night. Kids under 5 will stay and eat free; kids ages 6 to 12 will be charged $65 per night.
Boost your points and miles balances with these three travel cards
Ready to take your family on a dream resort vacation using your points? Get your points balance in good shape, and you’ll be well on your way. Here are three travel credit cards that will help you get there.
Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
American Express has three different versions of the Hilton Honors credit card, but the mid-range Surpass is a top choice among families. It offers a generous welcome bonus: Earn 130,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. That’s two free nights at the Hilton Bonnet Creek Resort!
There are plenty more points to be had after the initial bonus. Surpass cardmembers earn 12X points when spending directly with an eligible Hilton hotel or resort; 6X points on purchases at U.S. restaurants, U.S. supermarkets, and U.S. gas stations; and 3X points on all other eligible purchases.
The Hilton Honors Surpass card also gives you automatic Gold status. That status unlocks the ability to get the fifth consecutive night free when you book with points. Gold status also gives great perks such as free Wi-Fi, late check out, room upgrades, and free breakfast. When you’re traveling with your family, getting free breakfast can be a substantial cost-saving perk.
World of Hyatt Credit Card
The co-branded World of Hyatt credit card is a great way to rack up the Hyatt points you’ll need for a family stay at properties like the Hyatt Ziva Cancun and Grand Hyatt Kauai.
With this card, you can earn up to 50,000 bonus points: 25,000 after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months, plus an additional 25,000 after spending a total of $6,000 in the first 6 months.
Plus, you also earn 9X points per $1 spent at Hyatt hotels; 2X points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining, and health purchases; and 1 point per $1 spent on everything else.
As an added perk, when you spend $15,000 on your Hyatt card during your cardmember anniversary year, you’ll earn a free night certificate for up to a Category 4 property. That’s on top of the free night certificate you’ll receive automatically on your card’s anniversary.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The annual fee of $550 gives many families pause when it comes to getting this travel credit card. However, when you weigh the benefits you’ll get from this now-classic travel rewards card, you might find that it’s actually a great option for your wallet.
First, you can earn 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. If you book through the Chase travel portal, that’s worth $750!
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with a $300 annual travel credit that’s super easy to use. You can use it to erase any travel that you charge on the card, such as flights, hotels, local transit, and rideshares. You don’t need to submit any paperwork or jump through hoops to use it.
Families love the Chase Ultimate Rewards program to book their travel. That’s because the points system is straightforward and easy to use. Just use your points to book your trip directly in the Chase travel portal for a respectable value of 1.5 cents per point.
Better yet, you can also transfer your Ultimate Rewards points to airline and hotel partners at a 1:1 ratio — including Hyatt. If you’re planning a trip to a Hyatt resort, run the numbers each way. Sometimes it can cost fewer points to transfer to Hyatt, but sometimes it can be cheaper to book the room directly through the Chase portal.
Family travel that doesn’t break the bank can be within your reach. You can enjoy luxury resorts — some even all-inclusive — at a steep discount by using your miles and points to book the trip.
Do your research, find the resort that works best for your family, and get planning. The bonuses you’ll earn from new cards will help you grow your points and miles balances so you can book your dream vacation.