The Southwest Companion pass is one of the best values in points and miles. This will be my 6th year in a row having it, and we have gone to numerous domestic and international destinations on it.  In order to get it for 2017/2018 I used 270k Marriott points for an air and hotel package that gave me 120k southwest points and a free 7 night certificate good for 1 year at a single Marriott category 1-5 hotel. (more and how I did that later.)IMG_20180319_175644.jpg

At first glance 7 nights in a category 5 Marriott hotel sounds great. But have you ever looked at the category 5 hotels? There are not many properties that are noteworthy.  I am also not a person that typically stays in a hotel longer than 4-5 nights. With all the deals such as 4th night free using a Citi prestige card, or 5th night free at Hilton’s when using points, we have just gotten accustomed to shorter hotel stays and staying at multiple places. While I could have used more points to upgrade to a higher category, I would have had to upgrade for all 7 nights as well so that’s a horrible value to upgrade for nights you aren’t even going to use.

Also, if we are going to go somewhere for 7 nights, its going to be with the kids. For that time, I would really want a larger sized room, and not some city hotel room with 2 double beds. While a small room is just fine for a weekend trip, it gets cramped for a full week sharing 300sqft with a 7 and 9 year old. I can only stand (or smell) so many fart jokes.

Glad we had plenty of room. Just Snow boots, ski boots, and helmets take up plenty of floor space.

My certificate was expiring at the end of March. While there are reports on Flyertalk of being able to extend it for a year, I am not really sure what would have changed in the next year to use it at some amazing place. We knew we wanted to go skiing so I started looking at hotels close to ski destinations. While there are numerous Marriott’s within a mile of some of the US top ski destinations, they are either cat 7 or above, or they don’t have availability for 4 people using points during ski season. I was starting to begin to think that I was never going to be able to use my free 7 nights.

Last year we skid at Park City and stayed at the DoubleTree in Park City. I realized that SLC is very close to Park City and there are numerous other ski resorts in that area. You can also easily stay in SLC and be within 30 minutes to about 6+ ski resorts.


Not knowing exactly where we were going to ski, (we needed up skiing at Brighton, which was awesome. Details  here) we wanted to stay at a easy access suite on the west side of SLC. We found the perfect Residence Inn in Sandy Utah. Bedroom, plus sitting room with sofa bed, and a full kitchen. It  was like our own condo for 5 days. It was close to the Mountains, close to restaurants and malls, and close to several ski shops.Plus they had a pool, basketball hoop, hot tub, free breakfast, and snacks and drinks on some evenings.

Great to have a kitchen for family dinners.

We ended up arriving late on a Thursday night, and then staying till late on Monday. Our flight on Monday wasn’t until 830pm, so it was a benefit to be able to get back to the hotel at 4pm, shower and eat while not having to worry about a late checkout.

The posted rate for our stay was about $169 a night after taxes. So for our 5 nights we got a value of $845. While we could have found some place to go and get a hotel room that was  $300 a night and gotten closer to $2,000 in redemption value, sometimes you have to remember its not about the list price but more about the vacation itself. The best points are the ones you have redeemed.


So how did I get this certificate? Well I signed up for a Marriott Personal and Business card a few years ago back when they were about 80k and 100k bonus. Then I had about 90k points from stays over a few years. Marriott participates with several different airlines all for about the same package, but mine specifically was 270k Marriott points redeemed for 120k southwest points and a free 7 night certificate at a category 1-5. Now back in March 2017, this counted for the Companion pass as well. However that is no longer the case.


While this certificate redemption worked out just fine, I will not be using points for another package anytime soon. If you are thinking about it, just make sure you have a specific hotel in mind and that they often have award availability.

I am starting to plan my ski vacation for next year. While it would have been nicer to be slope slide, the value and ease of staying in a place like a Residence Inn can far outweigh the cost of staying close. We will see where we end up next year!

A nice drive to the slopes. Even when it was snowing, the roads were pretty good.


Just got back from an awesome spring break trip in Utah. Wanted to highlight some great savings on ski tickets. Last year my son and I each had an EPIC Pass and used it to ski at Park City. We had a great time there, but it was nothing special for us. Maybe because it was warm spring skiing and the snow just wasn’t that great last year by March, but we just didn’t fall in love with it like we have other resorts such as Breckenridge in Colorado.

Park City- but no snow in town or at the base….

This year our family of 4 decided to head up to Salt Lake. We did not have any passes this year so we were pretty much playing it by ear on where we should go when we got there. Our first day there we decided a head of time not to ski and just to check the area out. We were staying in East Salt Lake using points so weren’t ski in and out or anything. (more on that in another post) We drove up to Park city and saw they didn’t have much snow at the base. We talked with quite a few locals, and they all said go to Brighton.


Wow are we glad we listened to them. Not only because they had great snow and got about 20 inches of snow while we were compared to Park City’s 6 inches; but also because it was a ridiculously good deal. The biggest thing is kids under 10 ski free. Yes FREE! For our 3 days of skiing, lift tickets cost our family of 4 $706 compared to $1,584 if we were at Park City. That includes our daughter taking 2 days of ski lessons.

Park City Brighton
1 Day in advance Adult $129
Day of buying from Ski N See $81/76*
1 Day advance Child $81 Free
Child Ski Lesson All Day $239 $115
*Weekend vs Non Weekend rate

The snow was awesome, the runs were nice, the staff was great, parking was easy, snow was awesome, several terrain parks, and did I mention the snow was awesome!!!

Awesome Snow!
The sun did eventually come out.


Now its not the biggest resort out there. There are no gondolas. Basic area at the base. No bands on the mountain or fancy DJ’s at the base. For a family with young kids though it was great. My kids often get tired when doing a super long run and want to take a break halfway through. These runs were the perfect length where they were tired by the end, and then able to get rest on the lift, and do it all over again. The only aspect I didn’t like is there wasn’t a ton of signage for the runs, so make sure you read the maps.

No Lines for Lifts!

If you are going to the Salk Lake area, check it out. Even if its only for a day!