I love Catalina Island, I’ve been twice in the last eight years and I wouldn’t hesitate to go back. A 45 minute high-speed ferry from Newport Beach will run you $75~ round-trip. That sounds like a lot but consider the savings of not renting a car or paying to park once you arrive.
New hotel award option in Avalon, CA
When you think of Holiday Inn, the phrase “island getaway” isn’t likely what comes to mind. Fortunately in this instance, the newest IHG property in California happens to offer some good redemption value during peak times. Appropriately branded as a Holiday Inn Resort Catalina Island.
At 25,000 IHG points per night, this isn’t the cheapest option but certainly isn’t the most expensive either. What I like is the weekend redemption value since cash prices run about $250 a night before taxes during peak times. That means you should be able to net one cent per point, a good-ish value for IHG properties.
Using a credit card
Considering the current sign-up bonus for the Chase IHG card is offering 80,000 points (direct non-affiliate link), you can score THREE award nights from one credit card. Remember, the Chase IHG card is NOT affected by the 5/24 rule, but you can only get the IHG bonus every 24 months (clock starts from when you receive the points in your IHG account).
If you can save over $700 by redeeming your IHG points from a single sign up bonus, you’ll be doing very well. The other benefit is IHG platinum status which you’ll hold as long as you keep the card. Chances of a room upgrade should be decent with status.
The real sweet spot is with the points PLUS cash option requiring just 10,000 points and $109 for a free night during peak dates. If the cash rate is $255, redeeming 10k points and spending $109 gives you a redemption rate of 1.46 cents per point.
The price during non peak days hovers around $150 a night, I would probably just pay cash and keep my 25k IHG points if that were the case.
If you need to top-off your IHG account, you can transfer Chase UR points instantly at a 1:1 ratio, though it would devalue the points in most cases.
Getting to Catalina
You could paddle a boat or rent a helicopter, I wouldn’t want to throw those options out the window. The more practical means would be to take a 45 minute high-speed ferry from Newport Beach (Balboa), Long Beach, or Dana Point to Avalon for $75~ round-trip.
If you have Chase Ultimate Rewards, search “activities” in your travel portal and you’ll see $75 Catalina ferries that can be redeemed for 6,000 points.
Don’t forget, Southwest now flies into Long Beach (LGB) from Oakland, Las Vegas, and Sacramento, often matching JetBlue’s fares. I booked a 990 point one-way on Southwest from Sacramento to Long Beach. How about that, fewer points than a ferry. Don’t you love market pricing?
I’m excited to see new options in areas not saturated with hotels available for award redemption. The last thing we need is another IHG hotel in Anaheim, so thank you IHG for mixing things up.
It’s the Catalina Wine Mixer