We have two credit cards in our wallets. The first is a Hyatt card that provides one free night annually at nearly any property for the $75 credit cared fee. The card that gets daily use is from Southwest Airlines, which earns us at least two flights on points each year between San Antonio and Boston.
We usually use the free night at the Hyatt Regency Boston while passing through Boston to visit my family. In the summer, rooms run above $400, which makes the cost of $75 for the room a excellent deal. We usually get a room upgrade on a high floor with views of the city and always take advantage of a 2pm late checkout.
We didn’t use our free room in 2016 because our big trip last year was to Russia and we didn’t want to spend just one day at a hotel then haul kids and suitcases through a city the next day to another Airbnb.
We had planned a trip to visit my parents in Maine in February, just before the Hyatt night expired, so our little Texans could experience some snow. A few weeks before that trip, we decided to postpone until July to escape the Texan heat. Because we booked our airplane tickets with Southwest, a few clicks refunded the points without any penalty fees. Just as well we postponed the trip: that week my parents got 2.5 feet of snow.
But what to do with the free night that would expire soon? Staycation time. It just so happens that there is a Hyatt resort 20 minutes away from our house, the Hyatt Hill Country.
Our kids spent the whole day packing their suitcases and sitting in the van for their trip to the hotel. They had to wait awhile since check-in is 4pm. While I checked in a staff person took the kids over to a table nearby and gave them crayons and Disney characters to color. This kid table was in a fake cave sponsored by Natural Bridge Caverns, one of several caves less than an hour away. After check-in another hotel staff pulled a Radio Flyer wagon filled with toys over to our kids. 1st little traveler got a tiny bow with suction cup arrows and 2nd little traveller picked out a play dough set. 3rd little traveller even got some fake fruit that #2 had fun with.
Every evening the resort offers smores, but due to the “chilly” weather you could cook your marshmallow in the fireplace. Great except all the heat of the fireplace radiated back into your face while you roasted a marshmallow. Also in the lounge that evening was a showing of Big Hero 6 on screen.
Bellies full of smores, I spent the next hour and a half trying to get the 2.5 year old to settle down to sleep in the bed she and brother were sharing. I though I’d need to separate them during the night so they could sleep well. Instead they both snuggled together all night long. For the baby, there was already a crib in our room at arrival.
Breakfast the next morning was a buffet and the best food I’ve had at a Hyatt. I filled up on cage free scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, fresh berries and decent coffee. At ten am in the lobby kids could decorate a small fan and airplane out of cheap balsa wood. The kids loved it.
The resort has multiple water attractions: pools, a lazy river, a water slide, and lots of lounge chairs. We brought our swim suits, hoping for the typical February weather of 65-75 degrees and sunny. Instead it was a wintery high of 55 degrees and misty. While we could drive about 5 minutes to a sister Hyatt property for their indoor pool, no one wanted to leave the resort. Instead we splashed in a hot tub with a waterfall for an hour. Even the 5 month old had a good time.
There is one playground, but it was too advanced for our 5 year old. But nearby is a rack of bikes (and helmets). We showed our son how to use a bike with training wheels and he would have been happy to stay all afternoon biking with his newfound skill.
The resort property is well shaded with live oaks and dotted with cozy spots to sit and relax, including several fire pits with wood stacked nearby. We enjoyed building a fire, playing horse shoes, and sitting at a kid sized picnic table nearby.