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White sandy beaches, clear blue skies and reading a good book from under the shade of a palm tree…that’s my idea of a relaxing vacation. Oh, and let’s just raise the bar a bit – you’re staying at a luxe resort where all of the food is free. This scenario could only be more perfect if you didn’t actually have to pay to experience it. Right?
Right. So let’s talk about how to stay at one of Hilton’s all-inclusive resorts for free by using your Hilton points. You can collect gobs of Hilton points by earning the generous welcome bonus on any of these cards:
- Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card
- The Hilton Honors American Express Business Card
- Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
- Hilton Honors American Express Card
And there are lots of other ways to earn Hilton points as well – here’s out guide on how to do just that – so those points add up fast!
Before you know it, we’ll be sitting together in a poolside cabana enjoying a sunset happy hour. Here’s the best part – Hilton has just added three new all-inclusive resorts to their portfolio!
But if you’re traveling with a family you’ll want to watch out for this new fee on your “free night” stay, which is one I haven’t seen before, although I don’t stay at all-inclusive resorts often so maybe it’s been around for a while at other resorts.
The New Hilton All-Inclusive Resorts
Hilton does have that many all-inclusive resorts, so getting 3 seems like a move in the right direction! Being able to book all-inclusive Hilton hotels with points is a great deal because Hilton typically doesn’t charge resort fees on award stays booked entirely with points (they will apply to Points + Cash bookings).
That can add up to huge savings for long stays. However, you’ll want to double check that resort fees (and other fees) don’t apply to your booking because Hilton is sticking it to families with some of these fees. And if resort fees are added, they are very rarely well advertised.
Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Adults Only)
This upscale, adults-only resort is located right off of Playa’s famous 5th Avenue walking mall. This spot is in the middle of the action – tons of bars and unique shops are just a few steps away from the hotel. The resort itself is massive with 500 rooms (including a few swim up suites!), a spa, and ten on-site restaurants. When in Mexico, it’s always fun to venture out and eat food where the locals do, but it’s nice to have the all-inclusive option if you would rather just relax at the resort.
To book a standard room award night it’ll cost you 50,000 to 83,000 Hilton points. But Hilton doesn’t have an award chart, so those prices could vary or change anytime.
Hilton La Romana All-Inclusive (Adults Only), Dominican Republic
This is another adults-only option that is surrounded by tropical jungle and has lots to do nearby, like golfing. This is resort is right next to the La Romana family resort but has separate restaurants and facilities. It also has lots of meeting spaces, a casino, and a disco.
While you’re staying at the resort be sure to check out Altos de Chavon (a replica 16th Century Mediterranean village) or hop over to Catalina Island for some scuba diving and more tropical beaches.
I found award nights available here for as low as 35,000 Hilton points per night! That’s a great deal if you combine it with Hilton’s 5th night free on award stays (for elite members and elite status is easy to get with a Hilton credit card). But again, because of Hilton’s variable award prices you could also end up paying over 70,000 Hilton points per night.
Hilton La Romana All-Inclusive Family Friendly Resort, Dominican Republic
The second resort in the Hilton La Roma group welcomes families. They are actually the only family resort of the bunch. But I hesitate to call them family friendly.
If you’re bringing children up to 2 years old, they are free. But if you’ve got kids over that age, the resort will really stick it to you with the fees.
For each child between the ages of 3 to 12 you’ll be hit with a $60 fee. And any child that’s 13 or older will be charged an adult rate. Here’s what the resort website says about how to handle children 13+ when you’re make your reservation:
Children 13 and older should be registered as adults during the reservation process. Otherwise, $99/night/child will be added to your account at check-in.
What’s not clear to me is whether or not the $99 per child per night fee is what you would normally pay if you register your child ahead of time or if this is a penalty for not registering your child as an adult when booking the hotel. Based on a few test bookings, I was able to add additional adults to my reservation for an extra $50 to $80 per night. So it looks like this is a fee akin to paying $10 a gallon for forgetting to fill up your rental car, although it’s not nearly as ridiculous.
Here’s the real kicker for this fee. The hotel’s site also says:
Hilton Honors Redemptions will incur the same charges as indicated above.
If you’ve got children I wouldn’t even consider booking this resort with points. If you bring along 3 kids you could be stuck paying an extra $180 a night for your “free” hotel stay.
Resort fees are ridiculous, but this seems a bit out of control for a “free night.” At least Hilton’s website is very clear about the additional charges. This isn’t always the case with resort fees.
Have you ever stayed at an all-inclusive Hilton resort? I never have, but these new properties look incredible. Although I typically enjoy planning out a vacation and spending time exploring the local restaurants and sites, there is something really appealing about signing up to spend time at an all-inclusive resort. Especially one of these.
What are your thoughts on staying at a Hilton in the Caribbean and the fee for families? Let me know what you think in the comments section below!
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Hat tip: Traveling for Miles