Our nearly-free getaway to Tampa plus tips on if you go
For the past two years, Mr. Yoder and I have been fortunate enough to visit Tampa, Florida for his birthday weekend. This would not have been possible without the little hobby we call “travel hacking” which provided us with free flights (just paid $22.40 in taxes) and a three-night hotel stay just by using credit card points. After two trips, we feel qualified to give a review of the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay and share our tips for visiting the area.
Oh, and one more thing- our little winter getaway definitely wouldn’t have been possible without grandmas – thankyousomuch. 😉
How to visit the Grand Hyatt for free
Yes! You can do this trip, too, by just opening two credit cards.
For both of these trips, we primarily relied upon two cards – a Southwest Airlines personal card and our Chase Sapphire Card. You could also earn enough miles to do this with a Chase Sapphire and a Chase Hyatt credit card. We used our credit card points to pay for a roundtrip flight from Columbus to TPA and a 3-night stay at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.
You see, both Hyatt and Southwest are Chase transfer partners and points transfer 1:1 between the bank and the travel provider. You can learn more about using points to book flights on this post: Our family hasn’t paid for a flight in 6 years!
Why did we pick the Grand Hyatt? This Hyatt is directly on the water and costs significantly fewer points than booking something of the same caliber on Clearwater Beach or Sarasota. We also like its proximity to TPA – some may not enjoy the airplane noise, as it’s super close to one of the runways, but if you can ignore that, the convenience of getting off the plane and being just minutes from relaxation is worth it! It’s also nice for early morning flights – no need to get up at the crack of dawn when you’re sleeping next to the terminal
Grand Hyatt Casita vs. Standard Hotel Room
When we visited the Grand Hyatt for Mr. Yoder’s 40th, we decided to spend more points (I believe it was 25,000/night) and go for the luxury casita suite. These two-story suites are not part of the main hotel, they are closer to the water and Oystercatchers, the fine dining restaurant. We also settled on the casita suite because it has a kitchenette with a fridge and microwave. We hoped this would help us save on dining by being able to have breakfast in the room and the ability to heat up our leftovers.
This year, we opted to save some of our precious Hyatt points and book the standard hotel room for 15,000/points per night. What we found were brilliantly remodeled rooms with a beachy vibe. We loved the color scheme and attention to detail, although our view of the parking garage and airport left a little to be desired. The hotel rooms have a mini-fridge and coffeemaker, but no microwave.
If we go back, would I book the casita or the standard room? We actually preferred the standard hotel room. While it’s smaller and not as spacious as the casita suite, the standard room actually offered more privacy and better protection from the airport noise. The casitas are right on the flight path for the airport! Even though the rooms have a white noise machine, the planes begin rumbling overhead right around 5 am! The casitas are also not private homes, which I didn’t understand beforehand- they share a wall with other rooms. These must have been built before sound-canceling walls were a thing because we were subjected to our neighbor’s music ALL evening.
The one benefit of the casita suite is having an outdoor seating area. We hoped that this would be on the water, but the mangroves are so thick that you could not see the water. While the outdoor space was a nice place to drink our morning coffee, the constant sound of airplanes taking off made it a less-than-ideal place to carry on a conversation.
There are two pools at the resort, one at the main hotel building, and one near the casitas. The casita pool offers a gorgeous sunset view!
Restaurants near the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay
The Grand Hyatt has two restaurants on-site. Oystercatchers is an upscale eatery with views of the water. Main entrees start at over $40. Sadly, this is not the type of place the Yoders frequent. Ha! We have dined quite a few times at the hotel’ in the lobby’s other restaurant, 1823 Kitchen and Bar. We enjoy the convenience of this restaurant and the people-watching is great!
Some of our favorite places to eat near the Grand Hyatt are:
Rox Rooftop – This bar is located in The CURRENT Hotel, located just 2 miles from the Grand Hyatt. The bar is the best spot to catch a sunset and enjoy the views over the water. The Rox Rooftop offers appetizers and signature cocktails, as well as beer and wine.
Salt Shack on the Bay – Waterfront Tampa tiki-style bar and restaurant. This place gets busy, even on weeknights, come later for faster service (maybe after sunset at the Rox)? I love the nighttime vibe with the twinkle lights overhead and the cool bay breeze.
Dairy Joy – This ice cream spot is one of our favorite places to visit on a hot day! We actually went twice on one trip! We love the retro vibe.
Seahorse Restaurant on Pass-a-Grille – Cute place for breakfast and lunch. Eat outdoors for a view of the water.
Paradise Grille – Beachfront joint for burgers and beers on Pass-a-Grille beach.
Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill at Clearwater Beach – oceanfront, laidback grill on Clearwater Beach. The place to throw back a beer and enjoy the sunshine after a cold, Midwestern winter.
If nothing else, I hope this trip report inspired you to book a Florida getaway of your own! The Grand Hyatt Tampa is a convenient location for exploring all of the Tampa/St. Pete area and we would go back in an instant.
Don’t have miles? No problem! You can still recreate our getaway! Check rates at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay.
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