Last year, my husband and I visited Sonoma and San Francisco with friends entirely using points and miles. We saved about $1000 on airfare, used a free car rental we had earned through National and used points for almost $2000 worth of hotel nights. We spent less than $300 on travel and hotels, so we had more to spend on wine, wine and wine!
At the time, we had the Southwest Companion Pass which we had earned by opening a Chase Southwest Business card and a Chase Southwest Personal card and accumulating 110,000 Southwest Points via the two sign on bonuses, a round trip flight and additional spend. Using our CP, we were able to book one round trip flight on points. The cost was roughly 55,000 Southwest points. Expensive, but worth it given that we would only pay about $5 in taxes for each flight for the companion.
We’re excited to return to this area of the country and now that United offers a direct flight from TPA – SFO we may be looking at that option next time we head out West.
We spent the first three nights of our trip in Sonoma at the Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort. This is a lovely, rustic property with fireplaces in each of the rooms, a nice pool area and a relaxing spa. It was a great, romantic resort for this trip and I highly recommend it for a couple’s getaway.
The hotel has a shuttle that will drop you off at the Sonoma town square and they offer a nightly wine tasting in the lobby if you haven’t gotten your fix at the local vineyards! The property is a category 9 property, meaning it will cost you 45,000 Marriott points per night, or 15,000 SPG points if you’re looking to transfer from SPG to Marriott. It should be noted that there is also a nightly resort fee for this property which covers the shuttle and wine tasting. Unfortunately, I’m having issues finding weekend availability on points at this property during the months of May – September 2017.
The Lodge is in a great location in quiet Sonoma near the town square and not far from some wonderful boutique wineries. Our favorites included: Landmark, Mayo Family Winery and Eric Ross . We loved that the location made it easy to meet up with friends who were in Napa and enjoy some of the wineries in the Carneros area like Artesa, Gundlach Bunschu and Domaine Carneros (a staple if you enjoy bubbles!).
Tip: If you plan to bring wine back, consider shipping. Most hotels offer this option, or there are services all around Napa and Sonoma that can accomplish this for you. We searched each bottle we wanted to ensure we only brought back options we couldn’t get at home.
The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection
After three and a half days in Sonoma, we made our way back to San Francisco for two half days and a night’s stay at The Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection hotel in Downtown San Francisco. We dropped off our rental car in favor of public transport (and so we wouldn’t have to pay the almost $60 overnight parking charge!).
The Palace Hotel is a Category 6 SPG property costing 20,000 points per night. Rates are frequently in the $400-$500 range, but you also have the option of using the SPG points + cash option for 10,000 SPG points and $180. We decided to use the points + cash option for our stay since we would save half of the points for less than half the cost of the night. Given that we had spent less than $100 on hotels, rental car and flights at this point, it was worth the point savings for us.
The SPG Amex is a great card that I’ve had for years and continue to keep in my wallet for daily spending when I’m not using my Chase Sapphire Reserve. The 35,000 point sign on bonus ended April 5th, but it still may be worth an application at 25,000 before the card disappears forever! Apply for the SPG Amex here.
The Palace Hotel is a very cool hotel from the early 1900s. It has been redone and it gorgeous inside. The rooms needed some uplifting during our stay, but they have since been completely overhauled and the pictures look incredible. This is a great location in San Francisco right by a BART station and close enough to walk to Union Square, China Town and other sights. The Pied Piper Bar is a must if you stay here, and worth a stop in if you’re nearby. The centerpiece of the bar is a Maxfield Parrish painting by the same name. A great setting to enjoy a gimlet or 1906 martini before dinner.
It can be done! Sonoma and San Francisco with friends entirely using points and miles and all it took was a bit of planning!