Do you want to use points and miles to go somewhere with clear, turquoise water but don’t want to go as far as the Maldives or Bora Bora? Head to one of the islands in the Caribbean! I’ve been to Turks and Caicos this year but I’m squeezed In one last white beach, turquoise waters trip this year when I visited Aruba with credit card points and miles.
Every year I do a girl’s trip with one of my friends from California (where we raised five children). She really wanted a trip similar to my Turks and Caicos trip so we picked Aruba.
Note: All information is correct at the time of publishing.
The only problem I have traveling from Denver to the Caribbean is flights. There are a lot of red-eye flights that I can get. The problem is that I don’t sleep well on them unless they are lay-flat seats and I couldn’t find them. For this reason, I prefer to fly to the East Coast, get a free hotel to sleep in, and continue on in the morning. My friend chose the red-eye.
She lives near a small airport that only has United as its option. I also chose United so our last flights into Aruba could be together and we would arrive at the same time.
Taxes and fees for this flight were $90.12. My friend found a similar deal for her but her return flight necessitated a stopover in Newark. Since she is not as seasoned as a traveler, she felt uncomfortable staying alone in a hotel. I could have traveled all the way home on one flight but, the nice friend that I am, I chose a flight that matched hers from Aruba. Thanks to points and miles both hotels in Newark were absolutely free.
You can certainly find more convenient flights to Aruba than we took. Trying to match flights with someone from another state definitely limited me. This was the hardest part of our trip to figure out on our trip to Aruba with points and miles. Flights to Aruba from the east coast are only about 4 hours long so it is much easier if you live there or fly a different airline. Remember, that you can also position to get a better award flight.
Miami has non-stop service to Aruba via American Airlines and Jet Blue. Chicago has one-stop flights using United, Delta, and American Airlines. With flexibility, you should find several options to get to Aruba with credit card points and miles.
I introduced my friend, Deanna, to travel hacking and she signed up last year for the Marriott deal that gave you five 50K certificates when you signed up for the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Credit Card. That offer is no longer available. I used one of my Marriott annual free night certificates to book another night so we could stay for 6 nights. Our first choice of hotel was not available for two of the nights so we decided to split our stay.
The Aruba Marriott Stellaris Resort and Casino was our stay for the first two nights. My reluctance with staying here was the casino part. I worried that there would be a lot of smoke associated with it. I didn’t need to worry about the casino. It was in a room on the grounds but with a separate entry and no smoking. This hotel is a category 7 hotel but we found off-peak pricing to stay there.
Right from the taxi driver to the people at the hotel, we were impressed with the friendliest of the people of Aruba. This hotel had a few good restaurants including a Ruth Chris Steakhouse. They also had a Starbucks, Gelato shop (got me right there) and they served food around the pool. Because I have Marriott elite status, we got a free breakfast every day too! This was so kind of Marriott because the rooms were booked in my friend’s name and with her points but they honored my Platinum status. This is the third time they’ve done this for me so always ask. Breakfast was worth $20 each so for 6 mornings, that amounts to a $240 savings. I have really saved through the years by having Platinum Elite Status with Marriott!
The Renaissance Wind Creek Aruba Resort was our first choice and we stayed there for four nights. It was a category 6 hotel and we used four of the 50k certificates for this hotel. Remember, that starting in March 2023, Marriott is getting rid of its award chart. It will be interesting to see what it will cost to stay here then.
There are actually two locations across from each other when you stay at the Renaissance. We stayed in the Marina side but there is an oceanside location also. The Marina side was the party side to us and the other location was quieter. The Marina side is for adults only. The Ocean Villa Suites side was actually our favorite. It had a nicer pool area and a saltwater lagoon fed by the ocean. We enjoyed watching the planes fly overhead too as it is close to the airport.
Again, because I had Platinum Elite Status we got complimentary breakfast every day. Aruba with credit card points and miles just gets better with free breakfasts daily!
You can use all facilities and restaurants from both locations and the private 40-acre island which gives you a ton of possibilities for activities and for dining.
With a stay here you have daily access to their private island. A boat actually picks you up from the bottom floor of the hotel and takes you to it. You can lounge, use a paddleboard, kayak, or snorkel with their equipment all for free. Beautiful flamingoes are found on one side of the island. There are a couple of restaurants there also that you can charge food to your room at. It is a great perk to have access to this island.
If you go to Aruba you won’t have language difficulties. Everyone speaks English. You don’t have to bring a converter for your electrical items as they use the same voltage as we do in the states. And, the best thing, you can drink the water! It is known for having delicious water.
If you stay in Oranjestad at one of the Renaissance Hotels, eat at Driftwood or Yemanja. They are both amazing and within walking distance. The service couldn’t be friendlier or more attentive at both too.
Aruba is a fun place to visit with credit card points and miles. The people are so, so friendly. The weather was divine, the water beautiful, and the vibe was cool, fun, and relaxed. If you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation, consider Aruba!
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