Free Travel To Miraval: How I Got A $4,000 Trip For $240

Free Travel To Miraval: How I Got A $4,000 Trip For $240

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I travel for basically free, click here to find out how. My last trip was to Miraval, a luxury wellness resort in arizona. #miraval #luxurywellness #travelisfree #luxuryforless
I recently went to the luxury resort Miraval for basically free. Read on about how I did it and how you can too! #miraval #travelisfree #travelredemption #luxurywellness #luxuryforless #luxuryforfree

A few weeks ago we stayed at the luxury wellness resort Miraval, located an hour north of Tucson.

The retail cost of the trip was $4,338.5, which is broken down below. The actual price we paid? $243.50. We got over $4,000 of value for free. How’d we do it? We got the hotels and airfare for free via credit and airline points. See, things don’t have to be super expensive. You can get luxurious things at great values.

Fish special of the day at lunch – All Inclusive Resort, Miraval.

Breakdown of Value of the Trip

The below are total retail costs for the two of us:

2 Nights Miraval Dreamcatcher: $3288 (free)
1 Night Hyatt Place: $89 (Free)
Roundtrip Flights for two NYC->Tucson: $636 (free)
Transport To/From Tucson Airport: $82 (estimated via Uber)
Transport To/From La Guardia Airport NYC: $50 (estimated via Uber)
Car Rental for 3rd day to explore Tucson: $56
Food for 3rd day for two: $104.5
Pima Air Museum 3rd Day for two: $33

Total Retail: $4338.5

Total we paid: $243.5

What Did We Pay For Ourselves?

The only things we paid for with actual dollars are the food costs on the 3rd day, the cost of the Pima Air Museum, the rental car, and the Uber in NYC to/from the airport. If we’re being technical, the luxury trip was free because the third day we stayed at the Hyatt Place for free and explored the city instead.

The fluffiest of all beds. The Dream Catcher Room at Miraval. It had a sitting room, a little closet in the back, a desk, along with a bath area.

Free Miraval – Hyatt Category Explanation

So, how did this trip start? We got 2 nights free for signing up for the Chase Hyatt Card last year. It was a really awesome bonus since those two nights could be used at any Hyatt hotel. The bonus has since changed to 40,000 Hyatt points, which is both good and bad.

Hyatt hotels are classified into categories 1-7, with point redemptions ranging from 5,000 – 30,000. As you can see, previous 2 night certificates could be redeemed for 2 nights in a category 7, which would be worth 60,000 points for a two night stay. That’s the bad part of the 2 night certificate change if you love staying at luxury hotels. If you’re more the kind of person who wants to stretch their points for normal properties, this is good for you because you’ll get up to 8 nights at a Hyatt (5,000 points at the category 1 hotels).

Miraval is not even in a category. It’s beyond 7. A couple of years ago, Hyatt bought the privately owned wellness resort and started to include it in their redemption program. For a normal room, Miraval is 45,000 points per night for a single person and then 20,000 more points for a second person. So that’s 65,000 points per night for a normal room. 2 nights would be 130,000 points, which is an incredible redemption for our 2 night certificate from Hyatt.

FYI, Miraval is running a 50 percent discount on both points and cash for its rooms for the summer (June 1 to August 31st, 2018). This is its low season since Miraval is located in the desert and gets higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. When we went a few months ago the weather was quite nice, but the tides are turning. So if you can stomach that kind of heat and still enjoy your vacation, it might be worth it to check out the award or cash stay.

UR points are transferable to Hyatt so if you have a bunch of extra, you can use those. You get 50,000 points when signing up with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, so that’s another way to go for more nights if you want.

On our mountain biking ride, we came across other people staying at Miraval who were doing horseback riding. The beauty of the Sonoran desert doesn’t do it justice in pictures.

Why Did We Choose Miraval?

We caught a lucky break, as we were ruminating on booking the 2 free nights at Hyatt at the Paris Vendome, Park Hyatt Milan, Park Hyatt St. Kitts, or Hyatt Zilara. We talked to our most senior points guy in our friend group and he asked why we weren’t booking the Miraval (shoutout to Harry, whom you might remember from this snowboarding story). It hadn’t come up on our radar because we didn’t see it on any of the blogs posts we Googled. Having knowledgable friends is better than Google sometimes.

Why did we love the Miraval redemption? Free transport to/from the Tucson airport, all inclusive wellness resort (free food, no tipping even if you tried, etc), and $175 resort credit per person per night. There were also free unlimited wellness, physical, and spiritual activities at the resort. The only things you had to pay for was alcohol (we don’t drink), the spa (let’s be honest, otherwise I would be in there all day and so would probably everyone else), and the occasional private class (some cooking classes, horseback riding, etc). The bf was excited for advanced mountain biking (free), which was amazing the dessert.

It also had the best spa in the country, and oh man, those massages were heaven! Plus, we could really use that relaxation as it’s been somewhat of a rough year personally.

The entire resort was filled with nature landscaping. This portion took me back to visiting the sagano bamboo forest in Kyoto.

Booking Miraval Through The Phone

There’s no online booking for Hyatt certs through Miraval, so I rang them up and booked with the sweetest operator. The booking took over an hour because their systems couldn’t handle searching across multiple dates for activities and we wanted to stay during two days with our favorite activities available.

I was somewhat surprised at this because if people are paying more than four figures a night, they might expect reasonable tech. It’s possible people just emailed requests for activities though. We needed to book them on the phone because we decided we were going just a few weeks prior and the activities were getting filled up.

We were also upgraded to a Dreamcatcher room, which is one step above their lowest offering, the Native Spirit. I don’t think that’s normal and they only booked up into that room because all Native Spirits were sold out.

My complete Miraval review is here (coming out tomorrow), because this post was getting too long!

Airfare on Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

For airfare, we used Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) points to buy our American Airlines tickets through the UR travel portal, where the points are worth 1.5 cents per piece. Are there better redemptions than the 1.5 cents we got for them? Oh, absolutely (hint, international business class or last minute domestic redemptions). But we aren’t running low on points and just like in real life, inflation strikes points and miles redemptions. Remember the Hyatt example above? Use them or lose them. We did all this because UR points are worth 1.5 cents in the travel portal, but just 1 cent for cashback. We declined travel insurance because the Chase Sapphire Reserve has that for free as a perk on the card.

Hyatt Place, taken from the Hyatt website. Better then Airbnb values, with a bed, sitting area, and desk.

Using Our Annual Night Free On The Hyatt Card

We also got the third Hyatt night free at the Hyatt Place in Tucson because you get one free night each year you have the Hyatt Card for a category 1-4 property after your anniversary. So you’d get your free annual certificate at least 1 year after you got your card. Again, could we have used it for a better redemption? Probably. Couldn’t figure out what category this Hyatt Place was, but it’s at most a category 4, since we were able to book it with the certificate. If you know of how to figure out the categories of Hyatt hotels, please let me know down below.

There was free breakfast for two with stay. We missed it because the bf didn’t realize what time breakfast ended and woke up earlier than me. I woke up at 9:36AM and said sleepily, “Breakfast stops at 9:30, you might want to get some. If it’s closed can we get In-And-Out?” He missed breakfast and we went to a nice diner instead. Make sure you know when breakfast is and get up in time!

We also got 2 free bottles of water due to our Discoverist status with Hyatt, which they hand out to everyone who has the Hyatt credit card. The annual fee is $75, but considering you get a free night every year, it’s worth it. Also, they give bonus points when spending on Hyatt hotels so we do our Hyatt spending on there.

Transporation

We took the Uber in NYC to/from the airport.

We booked a rental car in Tucson for the third day and declined insurance because our Chase Sapphire Reserve has free insurance as a perk on the card.

In-N-Out. Oh, so so good. Animal fries and double double burger.

Food Outside The Resort

For food, we went to In-And-Out twice for the double double burger and animal fries. Oh man, do I wish we had one in NYC. But maybe it’s a good thing we don’t as that might be too tempting. After all, we did just get Chick-Fil-A a few years ago. We went to a cute coffee shop, got some Asian food, caught a bit of live music, and then got some snacks at the airport (they have surprisingly good hot dogs).

We also took a stop at the Pima Air Museum, which was quite fun. The bf loves aircrafts. Looking at them up close, it still amazes me they don’t encounter more accidents. So many moving parts! We tried to get a tour of the boneyard where donated aircraft sat in the desert heat, but were told you needed to schedule that 10 days in advance (in case you guys decide to get the tour).

Minute Suites in Charlotte, Priority Pass. This is the bed, which can fit two people when rolled out. There’s also a desk and chair.

Minute Suites In Charlotte – Priority Pass

Our flight home stopped in Charlotte, so we decided to take a nap in the minute suites. After all, we love using our Priority Pass, which comes free with the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. Normal rates are $42 per hour in a minute suite. We both have Priority Pass and are each granted one hour for free in the suite. Our connection was in 2.5 hours, so it was the perfect amount of time.

Most Priority passes grant you free access to lounges with food (usually business class and above lounges), food outright (Singapore was an example of this – we got free sushi at a restaurant in addition to staying at a lounge), or access to rooms where you can rest for a few hours or take a shower (mostly minute suites in the US).

I also got Bojangles at the airport because I missed that place a lot. I think there were three StarBucks in that airport, which is kind of insane. At this point we were pretty sleepy so we took a nap for a bit. There was an Alexa Echo in the room, so we played around with it. I can’t remember what song I asked for specifically, but it started playing “The Duck Song” instead, which was just hysterical as we were so sleepy. Listen to it for yourself. Waddle waddle.

Where To Next?

We landed thoroughly refreshed. Someday soon we can travel full-time with geographic arbitrage. Until then, these vacations are gold :).

We’re looking at the Bahamas, south of France, or the Riviera for our next trip, but we’ve been known to change our plans as well. Also thinking of Iceland with the Wow layovers but landing in Europe. Any great places you guys have been that you’d recommend?

Missed the last trip we wrote a blog post about? Here are the parts to our Japan trip:

Part 1 – Tokyo | Part 2 – Tokyo | Part 3 – Nikko | Part 4 – Kyoto | Part 5 – Nara

Hope that helped you guys understand our redemption process for miles and points! Let me know in the comments below some of your best redemptions or any questions you guys may have!

Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.

9 thoughts on “Free Travel To Miraval: How I Got A $4,000 Trip For $240

  1. Great breakdown – and dang, I wish I had known about this place. My wife and I used her two free Hyatt nights at the Park Hyatt in NYC back in September 2017, but never even knew about this property.

    We were in Tucson back in February to visit Saguaro National Park (we’d rented out our house for the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, so we took a weekend trip to Arizona to beat the cold). In retrospect, this would have been a nice way to spend that weekend.

    1. That’s still an awesome redemption! The NYC Hyatt is pretty spectacular.

      Next time! The redemption is a little more expensive now, but still doable :).

  2. Great write up Olivia! And what an amazing redemption. I thought my redemption at Park Hyatt Paris Vendome ($2000 value) was awesome, but this is a wayyyy better value!

    Was wondering why you didn’t redeem Chase UR points for the car rental through the UR portal? I believe it should qualify for 1.5 cents per point since it counts as travel.

    Also, I can personally vouch for South of France. My wife and I had a fabulous time there. One of our favorite vacation spots no doubt. We went to Dordogne, Provence, and Cote d’Azur / French Riviera. Towns in Provence are so charming. And the sea-side cities of the French Riviera are breath taking. Drive the Grande Corniche. The views of the azure Mediterranean is simply stunning. Rent a car and drive everywhere. It’s so much fun. And a lot cheaper than in the U.S. (like $10 a day cheap!). Plus you CSR covers international collision damage insurance. Driving in France is easy. The autoroutes (highways) are modern and well-kept. I would say it’s easier than freeways in the U.S. Driving in the city center… not so fun. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. And keep in mind a lot of autoroutes in South France have tolls. But they aren’t terribly expensive.

    If you choose South France let me know.. I have a lot to say! Iceland is on my list of places to go. One day…

    1. That was our first pick after the Miraval for sure!

      The bf redeemed the car rental, I think it was due to the fact that the travel website he booked through had 10x points, so converted to dollars it was 15% off.

      Ooh, you should do a post about that! Esp if you redeemed the rewards! That sounds awesome — France is heavily in the front. The food and nature were so beautiful last time. For the Riviera we were considering the Riviera Maya (oops, didn’t specify)!

      I will let you know:)! Go to Iceland :D!

  3. Niiiice. My biggest question with “points” trips, are always….”how do I build up the points?” We spread our expenses over a number of different cards. Do you need to be married to a single card for all of your expenses?

    1. Hey Jim! We open new cards when there are good bonuses, but put the majority of expenses on our Chase Sapphire Reserve. We also use shopping portals, Dining total rewards for airline miles, etc.

  4. Wow!!! That’s a dream vacation. I’ve never heard of this place. Where were you when we had 4 free Hyatt nights? We went to Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. It was a lot of fun for Junior too. The Miraval probably doesn’t allow kids, eh?

    1. Darn!! Don’t worry, plenty of redemptions to share on the blog in the future. And maybe I’ll put some posts on from prior vacations. After all, what else am I supposed to do with those pictures haha.

      Ooh, sounds like a nice family vacation then and you guys picked well! I don’t know the answer to that but I def did not see any! Didn’t seem like that kind of resort.

      I’ll have to check out the Ziva (do you have a post about it?). If the redemptions are good, why not :D.

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Author: Olivia

Olivia worked in finance and wants you to learn the secrets of financial independence. She believes there are so many ways to monetize your life and make money doing the things you're already doing because so many companies offer free money.

The average savings account rate is 0.1%. The big banks have incredibly low savings accounts rates. CIT Bank offers a 1.75% savings account. You can open an account with just $100 and no monthly fees or charge . Tired of being charged fees and getting peanuts in interest at your current bank? Open a CIT Bank savings account in less than 15 minutes online.

If you have a car, Rideshare apps allow you to pick a direction you want to go twice a day, so you can get extra money going somewhere you were driving to anyway at least twice a day. Get a $300 sign-up bonus with Lyft.

One of my favorite ways ways of monetizing my life is via credit card bonuses with cards that give you cashback or rewards. Check out our review of the Chase Sapphire cards, which give you at least $500 in cash or $625 in travel credit.