Who wouldn’t want to stay in opulent villas and overwater bungalows with jaw-dropping views? The good news is that you don’t have to be rich to stay at one of these luxury resorts. With points, resort stays that cost thousands of dollars can cost almost zilch. But unlike air travel, nightly hotel rates aren’t all inclusive. You’ll have to budget for the food, the drinks and all the extras. In this guide, we’ll give you our best tips for staying at a luxury resort for cheap.
See our list of the best credit card bonuses here.
If you’re a traveler on a budget, you should go for a room with a fridge or kitchenette. That way, you can make your own meals instead of spending most of your budget at onsite restaurants. Go over your room amenities and purchase your groceries accordingly. We recommend sandwiches, cheese and crackers. Instant noodles are also a good, quick and easy meal choice.
…And BYO Alcohol
A bottle of wine at dinner every night and sampling the cocktail menu by the beach can easily take a big chunk out of your budget. Save that money for something more worthwhile by bringing your own booze. Pick some up at the duty-free shop or on your grocery run. And if you really want to indulge on some resort cocktails, wait for happy hour and keep an eye out for complimentary tastings.
Plan Your Meals
If you want to keep your costs down, carefully plan when and where you’re going to eat. Breakfast buffets are often included with your room rate, so make it a big brunch to keep you satiated until dinner. Happy hour appetizers can tide you over until the evening. We also recommend eating like locals and purchasing food and snacks from roadside vendors.
Find Your Own Transfer
Resort transfers aren’t usually very cheap, but you often have other options. Look for free shuttles, local buses, rideshare and other local forms of transportation like tuk tuks. Don’t forget to ask your driver to stop at a grocery store before you get to the resort.
Look For Freebies
Resorts often have free snacks, like fruit or coffee, throughout the property. Check the reception and the concierge desk. Our favorite spot is the fitness center, where drinking water is always provided, and sometimes a healthy snack option or two.
Get Free Hotel Nights
And last but not least, the best tip for saving money on a luxury resort stay is to get it free! Many credit cards offer free nights just by signing up and many more make it easy to turn miles or points into free nights. Consider the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card or the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, where you can earn enough points for a stay at one of their luxurious resorts.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® or its sibling, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, is also a great choice for access to its Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection. Similarly, The Platinum Card® from American Express has the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
See our guide to the best hotel credit cards for further reading!
If you follow our tips above, you’ll surely save money on your luxury resort stay. But make sure you’re respectful of resort policies. And if you like the service, feel free to tip accordingly.
Traveling with your family? Also check out Award Travel Planning For Families: Points & Miles Strategy.