InterContinental Hotels Group

Brokeass Mountain Tour eastbound – Hotel Value at High Elevation

Hotel value for this frequent guest

Some people plan out every aspect of their vacation prior to leaving home. On this road trip I tended to book hotels on my iPad while sitting in some roadside McDonalds a few hours before arrival. Or in the case of Ely, Nevada and the Ramada Copper Queen I booked the hotel five minutes before arrival.

McDonalds free internet is a great marketing scheme. Those $1 McChicken sandwiches and $1 drinks provided cheap stops for food, hotel reservations, ice and toilets. I found the internet connections in McDonalds more responsive than several of the hotels where we stayed.

Fortunately, I accumulated hotel loyalty points and free nights over the past few months to apply for the major expense of travel lodging for several weeks of summer excursions recently with my road trips from Monterey to Vancouver, B.C. and Denver, Colorado. The Vancouver trip was nearly three weeks and the Denver road trip was 11 days.

Hotel loyalty programs reduced the cost of ten hotel nights on this Denver trip to about $300 for three nights of paid rooms.  The other nights were paid with points accumulated over the past year. These are the future hotel rebates I refer to in Loyalty Traveler posts when analyzing hotel promotion value.

Buy Low, Redeem Later

Over the past year I have purchased some 60,000 to 80,000 points from Priority Club when booking Points & Cash reward nights. I almost always use Points & Cash reward nights when redeeming hotel rewards with Priority Club for the opportunity to buy 10,000 points for $60. These purchased points help me maintain sufficient points for the option of booking nights at InterContinental Hotels Group properties like Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express and Crowne Plaza hotels.

We stayed three nights this trip in Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels on one standard reward (15,000 points) and two PointBreaks reward nights (5,000 points each) spending 25,000 Priority Club points in all ($150 in points for three hotel nights).

DiscoverUSA Daily Getaway Points Sale in spring

In May 2011 I spent about $300 for 114,000 Wyndham points from the DiscoverUSA Daily Getaway sale in May offering discounted points in several hotel loyalty programs. Even the most remote towns we passed through tended to have a Wyndham Rewards hotel option at the 14,000 points or 16,000 points level. I ended up using 16,000 points for the Ramada Copper Queen Casino in remote Ely, Nevada.

Starwood Free Resort Nights

Two nights in Starwood Resorts rounded out the free nights redeemed this trip with stays at Westin Monache Mammoth Lakes, California in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains and St. Regis Aspen in Colorado. Denver consisted of paid nights at three Denver suburban Starwood Hotels on cheap rates to earn another free Starwood Resort night.

Day 1 - Westin Monache Mammoth Lakes, California = Free Starwood Resort night equivalent to 12,000 points.

  • Upgraded to one bedroom suite with preferred view. (Room value = $250)
a building with many windows
Westin Monache, Mammoth Lakes, California elevation 8,000 ft.

High elevation of the day = 9,945 ft. at Tioga Pass, Yosemite National Park (Highway 120 across the Sierra Nevada.


a map of a route
Google Maps: Monterey to Mammoth Lakes via Yosemite National Park (300 miles).



Day 2 - Ramada Copper Queen Casino, Ely, Nevada = free night for 16,000 Wyndham Rewards points.

  • Hotel room value = $120 (many of the highway motels in Nevada and Utah cost as much as a major city upscale hotel.)
  • Hotel elevation = 6,437 ft.
  • Unique aspects of hotel: First time I ever saw a swimming pool surrounded by slot machines. After checking us into the hotel, the receptionist’s other duties included calling BINGO numbers. Kelley loved this place for Americana Nevada kitsch.
a casino with a pool and slot machines
Indoor pool surrounded by slots at Ramada Copper Queen Casino, Ely, Nevada

High elevation of the day – Sagehen Summit (Highway 120 California) 8,139 ft.

Loyalty Traveler post – Highway 6 Nevada, Even Lonelier than the Loneliest Road in America (July 15, 2011).

a map with a route
Google Maps - Mammoth Lakes to Ely, Nevada via CA-120 and US Route 6 (320 miles).


Day 3 – Holiday Inn Express Green River, Utah = free night for 15,000 Priority Club points.

  • Hotel room value = $120 at a sold out hotel.
  • Hotel elevation 4,079 ft.
  • Hotel receptionist went on and on about my upgrade as a platinum member. My observations over the past year indicate major effort by IHG staff at hotels to promote Priority Club. I’d put Best Western as number two this past year for hotel  loyalty talk by staff in hotels. Not really sure about the upgrade since the room size looked fairly standard, but bottled water in the middle of the flooding desert was appreciated. Green River had been under a flood watch as recently as four hours before our arrival at this hotel in a small town 100 miles from anywhere except the popular outdoors location of Moab, Utah some 50 miles away south of the I-70 interstate and the Green River some 200 yards away with visibly high water. Photographers walked the town concrete bridge near the Holiday Inn Express to photograph the actually greenish color swiftly flowing river pushing high up the riverbanks.


a couch and a fireplace in a room
Holiday Inn Express Green River, Utah

High elevation of the day = 10,167 ft. Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive in Great Basin National Park, Nevada

Loyalty Traveler post – Earth’s Oldest Trees in Great Basin National Park (July 17, 2011).

a map of a route
Google Maps - Ely, Nevada to Green River, Utah via Highways 50 and Interstate-70 (330 miles).

The fourth day of our trip we reached Denver.

High elevations of the day: 10,617 ft. at Vail Pass where we stopped and hiked around a little and photographed some mountains.

a brown sign with white text
Vail Pass Trail sign at 10,617 ft. in Colorado

Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 is the actual high elevation we drove in our car at 11,158 ft.

a map of a route
Google satellite maps Green River, Utah - Denver, Colorado (343 miles)


Brokeass Mountain Road Trip, July 2011

Monterey, California – Denver, Colorado