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Using free nights and points for my Alaska trip. Need help.

Using free nights and points for my Alaska trip. Need help.

Old Jun 6, 11, 6:06 pm
  #1  
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Using 4 free nights and 2 reward night points for my Alaska trip. Need help.

I have 2 free night certificates and my wife has 2 free night certificates with Marriott. (Total of 4 free night certificate.)
I also have enough points with Priority club for 2 more nights (>50000 PC points). I have covered for 6 nights but the problem is all the hotels are in the main cities. We are more interested in seeing the nature, wildlife etc.,
We are planning for the July 4th weekend get away to Alaska and possibly use these points and certificates for our stay if possible.
We are planning to visit Denali NP, KANTISHNA Wilderness, Wonder Lake, take bus tours there.
Also, we plan to visit Kenai Fjords NP, take a cruise etc., see the glaciers, whales etc.,

The problem is most of the hotels where I can use points/certificates are in either Anchorage and Fairbanks. Fairbanks is far away that we don't want to drive all the way there. The Holiday Inn at Seward is completely sold out for the July 4th weekend. So all the hotels are just in Anchorage, AK.

How do I plan my vacation efficiently using my reward night points and free night certificates?

We arrive ANC on 6/29 night and depart 07/05 night. (Total 6 nights).

Last edited by soap_bubbles; Jun 6, 11 at 6:14 pm
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Old Jun 7, 11, 1:24 am
  #2  
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any reply anyone?
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Old Jun 7, 11, 8:18 am
  #3  
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You are trying to use your points during the tourist season peak of peaks. There are thousands and thousands of visitors to Alaska, many pre- or post cruises, that are willing to pay full fare - even rack rate - for hotel rooms in Anchorage. It's likely there's simply no availability for people wanting to use points at this late date.

I don't know when you started looking, or if you've tried to make reservations outside of Anchorage (where there are no chain hotel properties to speak of, Seward and Fairbanks aside) but you might find things are pretty heavily booked everywhere.

If you have to bite the bullet and pay the going price, and just bank your points for future use, be comfortable in the knowledge that it's still worth it.
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Old Jun 8, 11, 11:03 am
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We've been to Alaska twice. The first time, we used free nights at the Residence Inn in Anchorage and took the city bus. We were there for 2 nights - Anchorage was a nice city, great market. It is unlikely you can use points outside the main cities. We rented an RV for our first trip, went to Denali and the Seward peninsula. We could stay where we wanted when we wanted so for us it was a good fit. We went in the middle of August when the crowds had thinned a bit. On our second trip last year, we took the Alaska Marine Ferry and visited Ketchikan, Petersburg, Juneau and Sitka. Amazing scenery. Whatever you decide, you will love Alaska...
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Old Jun 14, 11, 9:32 pm
  #5  
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Unfortunately Alaska is not a place where you can "base" yourself in say Anchorage or Fairbanks and take many day trips. The distances are just too far. Therefore, using points for hotels to stay in Fairbanks or Anchorage might save you money, but it is a very poor use of time if your goal is to see Alaska. And this is even moreso the case if you are interested in seeing nature, wildlife, etc. You won't see that parking yourself in a hotel in Anchorage or Fairbanks (at least the chances are greatly reduced - there are occasional moose in Anchorage for example).

July 4th is incredibly busy in Seward, so unless you go earlier or later, forget that. You really need to think about staying in places like Healy or Carlo Creek for Denali.

How many nights are you planning on staying at Denali? You mentioned Kantishna and Wonder Lake bus tours. Do NOT take a bus "tour" but take the shuttle bus. Same road, same wildlife, and 1/3 of the cost, not to mention that you can get off the shuttle buses to hike and hop back on another one, something you really can't do with the tour buses. Also, Kantishna is really not that interesting - mostly private land. I would book a shuttle to Wonder Lake. If Mt. McKinley is visible, stay on the same bus to Wonder Lake. If the Mountain is not visible, get off at Eielson and catch an earlier bus back to the entrance.

For Seward, I would suggest staying in Girdwood for two nights. You could stay in Anchorage, but you add an extra 2 hours round trip of driving to the trip. Something like this:

1 day drive to Whittier, take a glacier tour in Prince William Sound, overnight in Girdwood.

2nd day drive to Seward (allow 3 hours with stops), take 11.30am Kenai Fjords tour, drive back to Girdwood

3rd day drive to Denali

Note that you might see whales on the Kenai Fjords tour but it is definitely not a whale watching tour and people usually only see whales on those tours about 50% of the time.
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Old Jun 17, 11, 3:29 am
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Originally Posted by fti View Post

Note that you might see whales on the Kenai Fjords tour but it is definitely not a whale watching tour and people usually only see whales on those tours about 50% of the time.
For what it's worth, I must have had extremely good luck last week on my Kenai Fjords tour. We saw a lot of porpoises, orcas, and humpbacks (and a sea otter). The guides did sound surprised at how well we did.

This was the Major Marine 6 hour catamaran cruise (which I combined with the train to/from Anchorage for a long but rewarding day trip).
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Old Jun 17, 11, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by mhnadel View Post
For what it's worth, I must have had extremely good luck last week on my Kenai Fjords tour. We saw a lot of porpoises, orcas, and humpbacks (and a sea otter). The guides did sound surprised at how well we did.

This was the Major Marine 6 hour catamaran cruise (which I combined with the train to/from Anchorage for a long but rewarding day trip).
Porpoises are very common on the Kenai Fjords tours, as are sea otters.

But humpback whales are only seen on about 50% of the tours and orcas even less. Having said that, I have been on three KF tours and I have seen whales on all three. I also saw a whale on an early-in-the-season (April) Resurrection Bay cruise. So I have been extremely fortunate as well. Just that you can't expect that type of success in whale sightings.
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