Jags to Teddy: Jacksonville to New York City

Jags to Teddy: Jacksonville to New York City
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Trip Information

Jaguars fans are facing dark times, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. With a new General Manager and Head Coach at the helm, the teams prospects to improve are high. The first class of rookies drafted by the new regime have already done much to impress, but they’ve been unable to overcome the poor play of players held over from the past. More than any other position, quarterback has been the cause of much suffering, as Jaguars fans have been left to watch Blaine Gabbert and Chad Henne rotate as the starter, which is pretty much the same thing as watching these two motorcycle racers:

But help is on the way. A much stronger crop of quarterbacks are projected to enter the 2014 NFL Draft, chief among these Teddy Bridgewater, QB for Louisville. Many Jaguars fans on Twitter have already pinned their hopes and dreams on this young man, believing he can deliver them from the suffering they have long endured. They believe his ascendency to be manifest, his selection foretold and desire to attend his coronation as first pick of the NFL Draft on May 8th, 2014 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City.

Current Program Status

We’ll present a couple plans today: one for readers with essentially no points and one for readers with an Ultimate Rewards point stockpile.

Our Take

The truth is, this one’s as much for me as for you. It’s been a long, cold football winter in Jacksonville and while I don’t watch much college ball and don’t presume to know enough to find my team’s solution at quarterback for the next decade, it’s hard not to get excited about Teddy. After all, in a season as barren as this one, the best thing to do is look beyond it for happiness.

I do believe the Jaguars will draft a quarterback next May, and would sure like to be present when that player, along with at least 11 others absent any pick-consolidating trades, dons a black and teal jersey for the first time.

Even if you’re not a football fan, don’t skip by just yet: this feature will apply to nearly any trip to New York, so even if you’re not #DTWD, there’s still some useful information to be had! Let’s dive in:

Jacksonville to New York

Draft attendees must arrive on Wednesday, May 7th so that they can wait in line to receive the wristbands that guarantee them entry for the following night. The draft runs through Saturday, and we’re assuming travelers would prefer to stay through Sunday, May 11th to enjoy a bit of extra time in New York before heading home.

Flights between Jacksonville and New York City from May 7th-11th are exceedingly affordable, coming in at just $202 on JetBlue and Delta. Here are two of the many possible itineraries listed at this price presently:


Comparatively, this flight would take 25,000 miles with Delta, American or United. This is a terrible redemption, with a value lower than 1¢ per mile. Unless you have an embarrassing amount of miles in one of these programs, we’d highly recommend against this option.

Three possibilities exist for knocking this already low airfare price down to $0:

JetBlue

While it’s not a program we’ve covered in depth just yet, JetBlue’s revenue-based program offers a fairly attractive redemption option for this trip. Several different pairings of flights come in at just 13,400 miles + $5.00.

For travelers that have a stock of Membership Rewards, points may be transferred to JetBlue at a rate of 250:200.

That means you can attain the necessary miles on JetBlue for 16,750 Membership Rewards points. That works out to a value of 1.2¢ per point; still not great, but far better than on Delta, American or United.

Southwest

Unfortunately, Southwest bookings are only allowed through April 6, 2014 at this time. That means it’s impossible to determine precisely how many points a flight on Southwest would require. If rates stay somewhat similar to those presently posted for February and March, the total should come to roughly 15,000 miles + $5.

Of course, Southwest is a 1:1 Transfer Partner of Ultimate Rewards, earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink, or Chase Freedom.

Additionally, the Chase Southwest Visa is again offering 50,000 RapidRewards Miles as a sign-up bonus. If rates remain roughly static once May 2014 bookings are allowed, that means a single Southwest Visa sign-up would cover at least 3 roundtrip tickets to the draft, for those thinking of traveling as a group or family.

Barclaycard Arrival

We’ve often mentioned in the past that the Barclaycard Arrival is our favorite choice for easy, no-nonsense free travel looking for a one stop way to start saving money on travel. For points enthusiasts, Arrival is still great for cheap cash fares like this one and for taking care of taxes, fees and other auxiliary expenses that come along with many award flights and nights.

Arrival offers $400 in travel credits after $1,000 in purchases. Redemptions are easy: pay for travel expenses with Arrival, then call or go to their website and simply cancel out eligible travel expenses using the points you save up. Points redemptions come with a 10% rebate, and all purchases earn 2 points per $1, so this card can easily cover two roundtrip flights at present rates.

Staying in NYC

This is where things can get tricky. Oftentimes, hotel award redemptions in New York City suffer from the city’s premium status, with properties commanding rates several categories higher than a similar hotel in another city might. Redemptions from Hilton, Marriott, IHG and SPG are a non-starter for travelers that haven’t already accrued large balances in these programs for this reason.

Because of this, we harken back to the advice from one of our earliest reader submissions and turn our attention to Hyatt.

Hyatt’s award chart makes New York City far more accessible than that of any other major hotel chain thanks to the low caps for its higher category awards. Hyatt has seven properties in New York City: one Category 4, two Category 5s and four Category 6s.

Category 4 properties require 15,000 points per night for a free room.
Category 5 properties require 18,000 points per night for a free room.
Category 6 properties require 22,000 points per night for a free room.

Like Southwest, Hyatt is a 1:1 transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards, making Ultimate Rewards the easiest way to rack up Hyatt points quickly.

Hyatt Place New York/Midtown-South – Category 4

The Hyatt Place New York/Midtown-South is the city’s Category 4 property, and is located only about a 10 minute walk away from Radio City Music Hall, where the NFL Draft takes place. While nothing special, this property requires the fewest points while being located nearby our target destination, so it’s worth consideration for points travelers.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $329.00
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Brad Meester

Hyatt 48 Lex – Category 5

The Hyatt 48 Lex is a Category 5 property, and is also located only about a 10 minute walk away from Radio City Music Hall. The 48 Lex is the newest full-service hotel in Midtown East and has a sleek, modern feel.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $379.05
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Justin Blackmon

Hyatt Union Square – Category 5

The Hyatt Union Square is a Category 5 property located across the Hudson from Radio City Music Hall. That means hopping in a cab or taking the subway would be necessary for fans staying here. This is a brand new hotel with a very vibrant and contemporary feel and a four diamond rating. If, by the time of booking, this were to be the only property available, it would be hard to be disappointed.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $529.00
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Teddy Bridgewater

Andaz 5th Avenue – Category 6

The Andaz 5th Avenue is a Category 6 property located just 12 minutes away by foot from Radio City Music Hall. Andaz offers a boutique, luxury feel.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $405.00
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Dave Caldwell

Andaz Wall Street – Category 6

The Andaz Wall Street is a Category 6 property located about 6 miles from Radio City Music Hall, making public transit or a cab necessary for fans staying here. Perhaps a bit glitzier than the Andaz 5th Avenue, this property offers a fairly similar experience with its own spin on the aesthetics.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $445.00
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Marcedes Lewis

Grand Hyatt New York – Category 6

The Grand Hyatt New York is a Category 6 property located about one mile from Radio City Music Hall, adjacent to Grand Central Station. This is by far the largest of the Hyatt properties in Manhattan. Although it’s also older than the others, it’s been recently given a complete renovation and offers very nicely appointed rooms in a central area that’s perfect not just for walking back and forth to the draft but exploring more of New York at large.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $321.85
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Shad Khan (VIP Suite Not Shown)

Hyatt Times Square New York – Category 6

The Hyatt Times Square New York is a Category 6 property located about half a mile from Radio City Music Hall, in the very heart of New York’s most iconic plaza. Although still quite nice, it appears this hotel’s top category rating has as much to do with its unbeatable placement as it does with the property itself and lacks the unique touches of the other Category 6 properties.

Average Cash Price Per Night, May 7-11: $377.10
Which Jaguar I think Would Stay Here: Maurice Jones-Drew

Finding the Points…Or Not!

As mentioned earlier, the easiest way to accumulate Hyatt points quickly is via Ultimate Rewards. Sapphire Preferred, for example, offers 40,000 points after $3,000 in purchases. If you wish, you could transfer all of these to Hyatt.

However, a much better alternative exists: the Chase Hyatt Visa offers 2 free nights at ANY Hyatt property worldwide after only $1,000 in purchases. That includes all of the Hyatt and Andaz properties mentioned above, even the nicest Category 6 properties that would otherwise require 22,000 points per night.

To get the best possible value in applying for this card, I cannot provide a direct link to an application, but it’s easy to find. Simply go to Hyatt.com and search for any room (the Hyatt Grand Regency in Jacksonville or any of the above hotels will do fine). Proceed as if you plan to book a room for a stay at the Hyatt you choose until you get to the screen asking for your personal and payment information. On this screen, you’ll see a banner that looks like this:

Clicking on that banner will take you to a special landing page where you can earn not only the 2 free nights, but also an additional $50 statement credit. Don’t worry; you do not need to actually book nights like the banner infers in order to be eligible for this offer. You receive the statement credit no matter what. This $50 can be applied toward an airline ticket, for example! Be certain to create a free Hyatt Gold Passport account before applying so you can provide the account information necessary to receive the free nights.

Putting It All Together

I spoke with a Hyatt representative when writing this article and confirmed that as of October 11th, award availability is still open at every single one of these properties from May 7th through May 11th. That means that even if one or several properties’ availability dry up before you receive your free night credits, it would be very unlikely that availability at every one of these hotels would dry up between now and then if you act fairly soon.

By pairing up with someone else to share a room, two travelers can cover the full four nights by using their two award nights each consecutively. Because Hyatt doesn’t charge any fees for award nights, the total cost of the room will come to $0 regardless of which property you choose.

My recommendation for most fans considering travel to the draft would be to consider the Hyatt Credit Card and to simply pay for your airfare. If you already have points with JetBlue or Southwest, or have a stockpile of Ultimate Rewards points on hand, using them toward an award flight can be a nice use, but the cash cost is low enough that it’s not worth applying for a new card specifically for the purpose of paying for flights.

If you have a favorite hotel in New York or want to see if you can find an affordable deal at a good cash rate but would like some help covering the costs, the Barclaycard Arrival is a great alternative. With Arrival, you can wipe out airfare easily at current rates and take care of a night or perhaps two of your stay while still earning valuable miles and points for future use.

Wrapping Up

To wrap things up, I’d recommend airfare be paid for using the Hyatt Visa, and that the $50 statement credit is deducted from the cost of the flight. I’d recommend pairing up with another fan, with each using their 2 award nights – the first two nights booked under one person and the second two nights booked under the other.

When making the booking, you should call together to take care of both bookings at once. This will ensure no snafus pop up with the booking.

I’ll assume a stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue for the trip. While not the most expensive of the Hyatt options, it’s the best combination of a great hotel and close proximity to Radio City to my eyes.

Even considering that the room savings really work out to just two nights each thanks to sharing a room, the savings still come to $860 per person.

Not convinced? Let’s say you could find a room for $250 per night elsewhere, all in including taxes and fees, to share with someone else: between the free nights and $50 statement credit, you’re still effectively saving $550 with one sign-up.

If you sit in Section 124 of EverBank Field, that’s enough for a season ticket to watch Teddy play all next Fall.*

*-Playoff and Super Bowl tickets not included.

Trip Component Cash Price Points + Cash Savings
JetBlue or Delta Flight : JAX -> JFK/LGA $202 on JetBlue or Delta. $50 Hyatt Credit Card Statement Credit + $152 Cash $50.00
Andaz 5th Ave : 2 Nights (Other Occupant Covers the Other 2 Nights) $405 per night 2 Hyatt Award Nights $810.00
Total: $1,012.00 2 Hyatt Award Nights + $50 Statement Credit + $152 Cash. $860.00

Happy travels!

Images courtesy: Hyatt Hotels
 
2 Comments
  1. NFLJack

    I have been thinking of a long weekend trip to NY/NJ in early January. Thanks for your blog about Hyatt. The Hyatt hotel that has caught my attention is the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City. It’s a 4 category hotel (15k points per night). What’s caught my attention is it’s right on the Hudson River and advertises that every room has a view of the city. The reviews on Trip Advisor are good. Of course this hotel would require a commute to the city and back, but might be worth it for the view. Thanks again for your blog on NY. Greatly appreciated!

    • PointsAway

      Hey Jack,

      Great point, and thanks for sharing! Many hotels in Jersey City can offer better value than in New York proper, whether Hyatt or otherwise, and whether using cash or points. For this one, I limited it to those within New York and in fact almost cut the farthest away properties from the list but felt keeping it to New York struck the right balance. There’s no doubt, however, that if you’re comfortable with shuttling to and from the city, staying on the Jersey side can offer good value.

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Casey Ayers is a consultant and entrepreneur with a passion for travel. After amassing enough miles and points to travel anywhere in the world for almost free in less than six months, he developed PointsAway as a way to help others make travel dreams big and small come true.
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