Vieques Island Puerto Rico is a short hop on a Prop Plane from SJU Airport in San Juan. We are flying in to San Juan after a day in Panama City, and will be spending two days there prior to returning to New York. The Island is also accessible via ferry, but that requires a taxi to the terminal and quite a long transfer in total.
I had identified the W Spa and Retreat on Vieques Island as a great use of our Starwood Hotels Better Beginnings Certificate, we have to use this up and it is good for any Friday or Saturday night at a Starwood Property (up to Category 6) and most of the other destinations we are going to only have Category 5 Properties.
Category 6 Properties range from 20,000-25,000 SPG per night, which personally I value at around $600-$700, so it seems like great value, but there is a catch: if I stay one night using the Free Night Certificate I need to pay that many points for a free night for the second part of the weekend. It is a weird conundrum, because I should be fine with spending points I have already, but with SPG points they are worth a lot to me due to their ability to transfer into Airline miles at a 1:1.25 ratio. As such, 20,000 SPG is 25K AAdvantage Miles, or one way NYC-Japan in Coach (hence the valuation I give them).
Should I instead opt to use the Cert at a Cat 5 Hotel I could book the second night for 12,000-16,000 SPG which is almost half the price. Sure, I lose some value on the certificate, but I save some SPG… what a conundrum!
Also, getting to Vieques Island is a pain as the only airline that flies there is Cape Air. And for this short, 25 minute flight (probably with only 10-15 minutes at cruising altitude) the price is $199 per person. Alternatively, I did find that they have a partnership with AAdvantage where you can redeem awards, but they are offering that ticket for 17,500 AAdvantage Miles EACH WAY. This must be the worst use of miles you could possibly do. The plus side is that should you fly Cape Air you can use your AAdvantage or United Mileage Plus number to attribute the masses of earned miles you would receive for a 25 minute flight.
If you do have a dearth of AAdvantage Miles and a desire to waste them, bookings on Cape Air must be done via telephone, and the agents don’t know much about them. Their internal notes state that SJU-VQS is not a valid routing for the Partner Award, but if you escalate to a Supervisor you can get the tickets for this itinerary.
Prop plane flights are exciting and a great way to feel like you are really getting to a remote location, but I find the pricing of them can be quite prohibitive when on short vacations – is it really worth an additional $400 for the two of us for two nights, or should we just stay in Old San Juan?
So, quickly the appeal of Vieques is running thin; we were actually most interested in it because we have been to San Juan many times already, but it has been quite a while since our last visit, so thought it might be good to stop there. I think the next course of action is to double check other possible uses of the SPG Certificate through our other vacations this coming year, and think about other things to do in Puerto Rico instead of staying in the City or going to Vieques – if you have any suggestions for what to do for a weekend there we would be glad to hear them!