MMS readers, Welcome to Portland Travel Tips. Hopefully, you didn’t click on the link expecting another points blog. While I am as knee deep in the mile and points hobby as the rest of you, creating a miles and points blog was never something I was interested in. Although I consider myself well schooled, I don’t consider myself an expert on the subject. I think of myself as a member of the proletariat in the miles and points community.
I take a couple of family vacations a year (domestic vacations) on miles and points and consider myself fortunate to have the time and ability to do so. International trips have been non-existant the last couple of years due having two young kiddos so close together in age. Thankfully the international trips will start back up next year. Collecting miles and points has been a blessing for my family. I love the vacations we take every year, especially the trips to Hawaii. If you are new to the hobby, I hope you don’t think the bloggers and some of the hardcore flyer talkers with their weekly trips around the world represent a realistic picture of most of us.
If you haven’t considered using your miles and points for a trip to Portland, you should. Portland is a great place to visit especially if you are just looking for a long weekend to get away. Portland is a food and beer lovers paradise. We have over 40 individual breweries (see my beer map), amazing restaurants, and you can’t hardly walk a few blocks without running into a food cart of some kind. I can’t really do Portland justice with words, so check out this video:
So, lets talk about how to use your miles and points to get here.
The two airlines that offer the most flights to Portland are Southwest and Alaska. If you have Avios using them on Alaska to fly to Portland is a great option. Of course to get the best value you will want to look for direct flights Alaska offers direct flights to PDX from Boston, DC, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and others.
Southwest is what southwest is. They have flights from all over the country to Portland. Because of their revenue based model the trick to saving points with them is to catch a fare sale and book a flight when the price to a ticket is low. You may also want to consider using Yapta to track the fare and alert you when the fare drops.
Portland has many hotels to choose from. All the major programs have a presence in Portland so you have plenty of options.
Hilton offers a number of hotels in and around the Portland area. Downtown is the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, and an Embassy Suites. There are also a handful of Hilton properties around the airport. Thanks to Hilton’s recent devaluation the points needed for a free night seem a little steep to me. The Hilton Portland & Executive Tower will run you 40,000 points per night during peak season. The Embassy suites will run you 50,000. I don’t think either one is a great value but that just seems to be in keeping with Hilton in general these days.
Hyatt does not have much of a presence in Portland, which is unfortunate because I love Hyatt hotels. Currently the only Hyatt property is out by the airport, Hyatt Place Cascade Station. However, at only 8,000 points per night it is a good value. Especially since it is right on a light rail line so you have easy access to the airport and the rest of Portland. Hyatt will hopefully be adding to their presence here in town. At one point I believe they were talking with the city about adding a major hotel next to the convention center. I’m not sure if that is still in the works but it would be great if it were.
The two properties I would suggest here would be the Holiday Inn Express in NW Portland and the Crown Plaza by the Rose Garden. Both hotels cost 30,000 points per night. Both hotels offer easy access to public transportation but the Holiday Inn Express is in a more walkable neighborhood.
Marriott also has a number of properties in and around the Portland area. They have 4 properties in the downtown area that are probably your best bets. There is the Marriott Waterfront and the Marriott City Center. Both cost 25,000 points per night. Then there is a Courtyard and a Residence Inn Waterfront that are 20,000 points per night. I would suggest either the Courtyard or Residence Inn and because you can get five nights for only 80,000 points.
SPG offers two hotels downtown, The Nines and The Westin. They also offer two hotels out at the airport, Aloft and Sheraton. There is a fifth hotel out on 181st, but trust me, you don’t want to stay in that part of town. Of the 4 hotels I would suggest The Nines. It is a fantastic hotel in a great location with two pretty good restaurants, Urban Farmer and Departure. The latter has a roof top bar which is a great place to spend happy hour. At only 10,000 points per night I think it is a terrific value.
If you do decide to come to Portland, I would actually suggest you save your hotel points. My suggestion is to find a nice vacation rental in a residential neighborhood that is close to the city center (10-15 minute bus ride away). Vacation rentals in Portland are pretty darn cheap and you can live like a temporary local. Get up in the morning and check out a neighborhood cafe for breakfast, spend the day exploring the city, and then unwind in a neighborhood pub drinking some of or city’s fine craft beers.
If you are just going to be staying the city and not doing any day trips then don’t bother. Our public transportation system is amazing and there really is no need for a car if you don’t plan on leaving the city during your stay. If you are planning on taking some day trips then I would just rent a car for the particular day you need it. Read my Priceline post to learn how to save a a good chunk of money on rental cars.
Thank you for visiting the blog and I hope you plan to visit someday.by