Thursday, November 10, 2011

How to score a free trip to Cancun.

I am dying to share some bits and pieces from our recent trip to Napa. We had an amazing time and I am renewed beyond my wildest dreams. 

But first things first. 

Last month I promised details about our family's recent excursion to Cancun and I'm convinced Leigh may not sleep until she knows exactly why our family was treated to such a fabulous trip. 

I've been a bit coy, I realize. 

So today I'm coming clean.

We own a timeshare. 

Actually . . . two. 

But who's counting. 

And honestly, I have my eye on a third. 

But don't tell the hubs. 

It all started innocently enough. 

In 2009 the hubs and I escaped to Scottsdale to enjoy a little couple time. 

The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa
The Westin at which we were staying offered us a $100 AMEX gift card for attending a presentation on vacation ownership. Sign me up! The gift card will pay for my previously scheduled spa appointment and we'll be on our way. Because clearly, we are not going to buy a timeshare. I prepared the hubs and told him under no circumstances would we do anything other than collect our $100 and head to the spa. Do not pass go. Do not ask any questions. Shake your head, say thank you very much, and leave. 

Brilliant plan. 

And the hubs did his part. 

But somewhere between "locations all around the world" and "forces you to vacation every year" I fell prey.

I admit.

It was all me.

But I was a finance major in undergrad and vaguely remember something about net present value. The numbers just made sense. And the thought of tearing the hubs away from work more often, well, that made sense to me too. 

So we purchased into the Starwood Vacation Network. Of course, as a bonus for making this lifetime investment, we were rewarded with an extra week for our first year. Which is how we were able to spend two weeks in Kauai in 2010

Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas
Of course we fell in love and decided we should also own a week in Kauai so we could spend two weeks in Kauai every couple years. 

Oh yes we did!  

Intervention may be required.

But truly, the system works. We do vacation more now. Because the lodging is covered. It's not free. I understand I've paid / am paying for it. But I do not have to separately budget for each and every vacation. I just booked Maui / Kauai {one week on each} for summer 2012 and five nights at the Westin Riverfront in Beaver Creek for spring break. We would not likely make all that work in a six month span if it weren't for that little bank of points accumulated in my account. 

So for our family, the system works flawlessly. 

And did I mention we can also use our accumulated points at not only the Starwood Vacation Network properties, but also Starwood Hotels?! The Starwood loyalty program includes Westin, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Le Meridian, Sheraton, A Loft, and Four Points. 

That, my friends, opens up the world! The WORLD!

So we often joke, I've become a bit of a point whore. Actually, it's no joke - I'm quite literally obsessed with accumulating and spending my points.

Of course, so far I've explained absolutely nothing about how we scored an absolutely all-expenses-paid- trip to Cancun. 

With this admission setting the stage, I'll share that story tomorrow. 


And no, I am not being compensated for sharing this information. This is simply my experience. Though if they'd throw a few extra points at me well, I'd gush even more. Truly - an absolute point whore! 

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