An Orange County Weekend – Introduction

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Trip Report Index:

An Orange County Weekend – Introduction
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, California – Our Room
Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach, California – Hotel Grounds and Spa
Day 1 in SoCal
Day 2 in SoCal
Back to Kansas

Emily Jablon:  Daraius and I left after work on Friday for a 3 day weekend over Memorial Day in Orange County, California.  This was our first vacation since we went to India and Thailand in December, so we were very excited!!  Daraius booked us at the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach.  I received my Southwest Companion Pass back in January, so I was very excited to start putting it to good use!

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

Putting the Companion Pass to good use!

Daraius:  Emily likes visiting the West Coast, so I planned a 3 day weekend with lots of Big Travel with Small Money in Southern California.  I booked my ticket to Los Angeles on a non-stop Southwest flight using 16,080 Southwest points, and added Emily as my companion for $5 (taxes and fees) because I have the Southwest Companion Pass.  2 tickets would have cost us $540, but we paid much, much less than that!

I had read lots of good things about the Hyatt Regency Resort & Spa  in Huntington Beach and used a great corporate rate for our stay.  The hotel is a top Category 6 hotel and usually goes for ~$37o for a weekend night or 22,000 Hyatt points.  Incidentally, you may be able to get this hotel for less (~$120+) using Priceline’s Name Your Own Price or get 2 free nights from the Hyatt credit card.

Since this was our first trip of the year, I used a confirmed suite upgrade (Diamond elite members get 4 suite upgrades to use on paid stays) to upgrade our room to a suite.  I also felt bad for cancelling our last weekend trip because I was busy with work, so I thought an upgrade to a suite would be in order.  I told Emily not to expect a great room so that she would be surprised when she saw the room.

Emily Jablon:  He’s so predictable.  He does that all the time!

Daraius:  I looked at Hotwire to get an idea of the maximum price a rental car would cost for 3 days, checked out the price after using discount codes with the major rental car companies, but finally booked through Costco travel for $43.22 – the total price for three days!  This was much cheaper than anywhere else so I bought a Costco membership to take advantage of this deal.  You can check the price on Costco Travel without a membership, but need a membership to book travel through the website.

Special thanks to the Rapid Traveler for blogging about Costco Travel.

I added my Southwest Frequent Flyer number to the car rental in my Alamo account and I earned 1,200 Southwest points worth ~$20.  I had to pay a frequent flyer program surcharge of $1.50 a day, but I still came out ahead.

Emily Jablon:  We grabbed a quesadilla at the Kansas City airport, and I noticed that the people on the table next to ours paid the bill with cash.  I mentioned this to Daraius, and now he’s worried that he created a miles and points monster!

Daraius:  I’ve flown many times, but I still love pressing my nose to the window and looking out at the beautiful sky, the clouds, the snow capped mountains etc.  On this trip, we saw a beautiful sunset.

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

Sunset en route to Orange County

Emily Jablon:  Before we left the airport in Los Angeles, we stopped at See’s Candies for a box of chocolates.  See’s Candies is my favorite Warren Buffet investment, and I never hesitate to keep him in business. 🙂

Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach

Sweets for the sweetie!

We took the shuttle to the Alamo rental counter and after about 25 minutes we arrived at the rental counter.  There was lots of traffic leaving the airport and the rental car counter was quite far from the airport.

Daraius:  I declined all the insurance and told the rep that I was fine with the economy card which we had booked, so I wouldn’t pay for an upgrade.  Less than 30 seconds later, the agent told us that there were no more economy cars left so we got upgraded to a Jetta.

It took us about 40 minutes to reach the hotel and I dropped Emily off in the lobby and parked the car for free on Beach Blvd, just after its intersection with Atlanta Ave but before Sunrise Drive.  It was a 10 minute walk to the hotel, but saved me the $29 valet parking fee.

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17 responses to “An Orange County Weekend – Introduction

  1. Also, if you’re already OK with using corporate codes you’re not technically eligible for, why did you buy Costco membership? They list their corporate/coupon codes on the website.

  2. I’m loving the commentary from both of you… makes for a fun read! Keep it coming. 🙂

  3. I think using corporate codes you are not eligible for (and touting that on your blog) is way uncool.

  4. Very nice! Always enjoy your joint posts. I was laughing out loud when reading about how you parked. That is exactly how I would have done it. We have taken our doggies to Huntington Beach a few times, but never stayed at the Hyatt (I have to say that the IBM ID is quite useful for certain properties).

    By the way, are you sure Hertz did not offer a similar or lower rate :D? I experimented with the RTC’s Costco method, but Hertz always beat it (also always nice to skip counter and go straight to the Hertz car). (Did you have the free Alamo Insider membership? With that, you could have skipped the rental counter and pick out your own car?)

  5. Also love that you took a brief walk to avoid the valet parking fee. Drives me nuts to pay for such a small service when you are staying at the hotel and spending money on restaurants etc. You surely used that $29 to buy the two of you a very nice lunch, a much better use of your money.

    • @Tim – I bought the membership so that I can get access to the 10% discounted AA gift cards sold in stores.

      @Darren – Thanks and my goal is to complete this trip report within a week!

      – Thanks for your feedback! The thread which I linked to has a lengthy debate on using corporate codes and readers can decide the best course for themselves.

      @Jimmy @TravelByPoints
      – Lucky doggies! Costco isn’t the best for all rentals, but it is a good tool to have. Last weekend, I found a better rate on the Southwest website than anywhere else. I do have Alamo membership, but my card on file had expired so I had to go to the counter.

      @Will – It was quite a pleasant walk and we used the money to explore the ethnic restaurants in the neighborhood.

  6. why not move to West if Emily is so in love for West Coast? 😉
    one thing I hate So-Cal is almost all hotels charge parking. I was doing the exact the same thing when i dropped my family in Disneyland and walked 15 minutes to save $15. that’s why my friends comment me “stinginess” during your interview session. (I figured walking 15 minutes under 90 degree also saved me a gym day pass). LOL

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  10. What is the discount code you used for the hotel?

  11. @Daraius , tell me if this is good idea or make sense , First question does earning point using Southwest shopping portal counts towards companion pass? If it does, then is it worth spending approx $803 to earn 110000 rapid reward point which gives companion pass for 2 yr? I have already already got 4 card last month (southwest not one of them) and dont plan to get any more till dec.

  12. @ Daraius… ok if I am right on my calculation this is how I came up with $803 well let say 807
    Netflix Signup bonus= 1300
    Southwest CP requirement = 110K
    Netflix cost per month $ 9.5 approx (with tax)

    So 110000 /1300= 84.615
    so 84.615 approx 85 new netflix signup required to earn 110K

    Technically your using only one netflix account the rest of 84 netflix payment will be waste, unless you look at it like, you are paying $807 to purchase 110K vs 800 will give you 32000 point from southwest website. So I understand all is benefited in this way Netflix gets it membership fee (for one month payment, then cancel ), and we get our southwest points.

    What do you think ?

  13. thanks for parking tip. Saved me $14 valet parking when I was there for a wedding. About a 10 minute walk from free parking areas to the hyatt. In between hyatt and the free parking area is a metered area that is about 4-5 minutes away from hyatt for $1.50/hr, takes only coins and no credit cards if you were there for a quick visit.