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Sun, Sea and Savings!

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

We love to travel when the opportunity presents itself. Planned or spontaneous, it's usually the latter. I had three days off from practice, so it was a perfect time for us to make a quick getaway.

The original plan was to fly to a destination. After researching the best flights and hotels, we concluded that driving was the best option.

Here's a quick view of our process.

Best Flight Options:
  1. Google Flights (airlines, schedules, duration)

  2. Airlines with elite status (One World Alliance partners)

  3. Airlines with stored miles and/or credit card transfer partners (Delta, United, AA, Virgin Atlantic, Air France, and KLM)

After our first round of research, we realized the flight times available, our stored miles, or the award availability did not fit our schedule. On to Plan B.

Best Driving Options:
  1. Locations we like within four hours

  2. Check Elite Status properties (Marriott, Hilton, Fine Hotel Resorts)

  3. Parking rates of the hotel and nearby parking options

  4. Pet-friendly hotels and price (compared to dog sitter price)

  5. Weather in the selected locations

  6. The CPP value versus cash price combined with elite qualifiers

In the end, the South of France was our best option for price, distance, and properties with loyalty program benefits.

Biot, France

Biot was chosen strictly for location, price, and the property available.

Biot is located roughly twenty minutes from Cannes, France. We chose to drive directly after my game, around 8.30 p.m. Our drive from Biella, Italy, to Cannes is four and a half hours during the day but only three and half hours late at night. We made the drive shorter and gave ourselves more time in France for the three days.

Cannes, France

Cannes was the main reason we decided to take this trip. Since 2015 when we first visited the beautiful city of Cannes, it has always been our happy place!

Cannes is a luxury resort town. You'll find beautiful sandy beaches, a boardwalk lined with five-star hotels, and top-of-the-line shopping throughout the city.

Nice, France

Nice was the final city of our trip to the South of France. Nice has a 'big city' feeling compared to Cannes with a beautiful extensive boardwalk and fantastic sea views.

Nice does not have sandy beaches like Cannes, and they're mainly rocky beaches. If you want to swim, a pair of water shoes will allow this without worries.

Nice also has an international airport fifteen minutes from the city center.

Ritz Rewards Card & Amex Platinum

We used two travel credit cards for this trip. The first card was the Ritz Rewards Card by Chase.

The Ritz Rewards card is our Marriott hotel card. We use the Ritz card to get 6x per dollar spent whenever we stay at a Marriott property.

As a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite member, along with all the hotel benefits, the 6x plus the elite bonus gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

The second travel card used on this trip was the Amex Platinum. We booked our stay in Cannes through the travel program only available to Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders, the Fine Hotels and Resorts program.

When booking through FHR, you receive the following benefits:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two ($30 each)

  • $100 Hotel Credit (Food, Drinks, spa)

  • 4 p.m. Late Check-Out

  • Complimentary Upgrade

  • 5x per dollar spent

The $200 Amex Travel credit is another benefit you get from holding the Amex Platinum card once a year. The credit can be used for anything booked through the Amex Travel website.

The original price of our stay was $277. The final price was $77 after the $200 Amex travel credit was applied, plus the added benefits that come with the FHR program.

Moxy Sophia (Marriott Bonvoy)

Our first stop was in Biot, only to stay at a Marriott property close to Cannes. We researched the distance before booking and just hoped that it was correct. ***current Marriott Bonvoy Promotion: Earn 1,000 bonus points and one bonus Elite Night Credit each night until May 4th.***

The plan worked perfectly. It was a three and half hour drive from Trevilglio, Italy (location of my game) and a twenty-minute drive from Biot to Cannes in the morning.


On arrival, the parking lot was huge and almost empty. Parking was complimentary with the reservation.

For the first time since becoming a Bonvoy Platinum Elite member, I was not upgraded either in-app or at the hotel. I could have asked for an upgrade, but we arrived after midnight, and the late-night check-in staff member did not seem well informed.

The staff member failed to mention my status or Welcome Gift during the check-in process. After being told the breakfast price, I mentioned that I'd like to take the food credit for my gift and the guy was confused. Long story short, I had to explain what a welcome gift entails before I chose it.


The room was good and had ample space. For $90 per night, this room was pretty great! The studio room had a queen-sized bed and pullout sofa.

The bed was decent, much more comfortable than my previous Moxy Hotel experience. The pillows were perfect.

The living area was a nice touch to the room because it made it feel more spacious. We took advantage of the couch and table to eat some late-night snacks.

The TV was good, well-lit, and had decent channels and media options.

The space in the bathroom was very tight. Though, the sink and shower were a nice size.

The room was well isolated from noise. We didn't hear much besides doors closing in the morning. We didn't have our little alert dog Saint with us, so we didn't know perfectly.

Hotel Experience

The Moxy Sophia's WiFi was decent. Watching tv shows, surfing the web, and using phone apps worked well. Live streaming was a struggle. The signal did not seem strong enough.

The location was perfect because it had free parking and was twenty minutes from Cannes! Those are the two main reasons we chose the Moxy Sophia.

The Moxy Sophia's breakfast was above average. The excellent seating area offered views of the pool and the mountain range behind it. There were many options to choose from, hot and cold.

Hotel Staff

The late-night check-in staff was funny and friendly but not well informed.

The breakfast and check-out staff were great. The staff was helpful, friendly, and respectful. There wasn't much interaction because I already knew everything I needed to know.

The cleaning staff was friendly and busy like always at Moxy Hotels. I've never experienced a cleaning staff as I have at Moxy hotels. They clean nonstop!

Hotel Martínez (World of Hyatt)

When driving up to the Hotel Martínez, you can see that it's a five-star hotel from the valet parked cars to the grand lobby entrance.

We booked the Hotel Martínez through Amex's Fine Hotels and Resorts program. When there's a reasonable price available on the FHR website, we usually reserve with them regardless of the hotel's loyalty program. Another great benefit when booking through FHR is that your stay gets points and earns elite status with your loyalty program. Typically when booking through a third-party site, you don't earn points or status. As mentioned above, we also got all the FHR benefits and saved $200 on this reservation.


The room was upgraded in-app through World of Hyatt before arrival. The check-in staff acknowledged our FHR booking immediately when we sat down. **I'm at the lowest level of Hyatt, no reason to mention**

The staff members at check-in were terrific. They all were friendly, welcoming, informative, and highly professional.

We usually don't let the bellhops take our bags, but they were so professional and structured that saying no felt like an insult.


The upgraded room was a junior suite with a partial sea view.

The room was unbelievable. It was huge and provided more than enough space for two guests, even enough for two/three more guests to come to hang out.

The king-size bed and pillows were perfect. The bed was vast and plush.

The living area was a great bonus. Two sofas were perfect for lounging, and we took full advantage of them.

The office desk was excellent, and it was located directly under the tv. The desktop was massive, around ten feet wide.

The bathroom was unreal! It consisted of a jacuzzi tub, a stand-alone shower, and a separate toilet room. The sink was pretty big and more than perfect.

The room had a walk-in closet that was not only unexpected, but it was also greatly appreciated!

From the living area sofas, there was a full sea view. We were only there for one night, but we made sure to hang out in the living area for two days with the sun beaming in.

The TV and the surrounding bookshelf were great. The TV provided many channels and media choices. The sound and quality of the TV were the best I've experienced in a hotel.

The only downside of our experience in the room was the noise. While in the room, whenever someone spoke in the hallway or closed a room door, we heard it.

Hotel Experience

The Hotel Martínez WiFi was super high speed. We live-streamed videos and even downloaded a few things with no issues.

The highlight of our stay had to be the breakfast. When purchased, the original breakfast price is $42 - $49 per person. When booking through the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, breakfast is included. Usually, the included breakfast is capped at $30 per person.

On this stay at the Hotel Martínez, the full breakfast was complimentary at no capped price. ***FHR benefits for this stay totaled $398***

The breakfast buffet was outstanding. The available seating was inside and outside, and we were lucky enough to grab the best-located seat.

The location of Hotel Martínez was perfect. The hotel was located across the street from Cannes's promenade. When on the beach, you have a clear view of the hotel, and it's a pretty cool picture.

Unfortunately, the hotel's beach restaurant was closed during our stay. Next time we'll be able to report back.

Hotel Staff

The Hotel Staff was above and beyond throughout our entire stay. From check-in to check-out and every interaction in between, the staff was exceptional. They were 10/10!

Le Meridían Nice (Marriott Bonvoy)

Off to Nice for the last leg of our South of France getaway!

Honestly, we chose the Le Meridian Nice because it was the best Marriott Bonvoy points redemption option (best CPP value). My wife and I didn't have high expectations about the property before arrival. We only hoped that we would get a good room with any possible view because we saw that the rooms facing the sea were under renovation.

Well, that expectation was met and then some! I'll explain soon below.

The Le Meridian Nice is located across the street from a parking lot and has valet parking directly in front.

We chose valet parking for convenience, and the price difference was only 5€.


We were upgraded in-app five levels higher to room rate that was $300 more per night.

At check-in, the staff acknowledged my Bonvoy Titanium Elite status immediately. They were very welcoming, informative, and appreciative.


The upgraded room was spectacular. Not because the room itself was overwhelmingly tremendous but because the room's terrace was unreal.

The floor-to-ceiling all-glass soundproof doors provided a full view directly from the bed. The terrace was grand with two lounge chairs a dining table for four, and it had a more than the exceptional view!

The best part is that we were upgraded during the Nice Carnival, one of the world's major carnival events. The view from the balcony gave us a full view of the Nice Carnival parade, which was a bonus we did not expect!

The room was not big but very well thought out. There was a couch, and a small dining table in the room's main area, with a small hallway leading to a big closet, toilet room, and bathroom.

The king-size bed was big and comfortable. We were more than satisfied with the bed even though it wasn't the Marriott Mattress.

The bathroom was small, but it did not feel too tight because the toilet was in a separate room. The sink was huge, with an oversized standing shower as well.

The TV was oddly placed but worked well with the layout. Typically, the TV is at the end of the bed, but this wasn't possible because of the floor-to-ceiling all-glass balcony doors.

Hotel Experience

The WiFi at the Le Meridian Nice was great. The only time we struggled with the WiFi connection was when we sat on the terrace and closed the doors. The thickness of the soundproof doors blocked the signal. The solution was to keep the doors open.

Breakfast at the Le Meridian Nice was great. We didn't expect anything special, but we were pleasantly surprised once again.

The food tasted great, and they had plenty of options.

The location was perfect. The Le Meridian Nice is located directly across the street from Nice's promenade and within a five-minute walk from the main square.

Final Thoughts

Our trip to the South of France was a great time and an easy reminder of why we love it. The relaxed vibes, beautiful views, and great weather always make us want to stay longer.

The last few times we've visited the South of France, I wasn't into travel hacking yet. Tash always knew how to find the best deals available, but we didn't understand the miles, points, and loyalty program system.

This trip put on full display how travel credit cards can save you money and enhance your traveling experience even when it's not for an aspirational trip.

***Sorry for the delay, but basketball is my number one working priority. Without basketball, these spontaneous trips aren't possible. So please be patient with me as I try to do both!***

Until next time, before you pack your bags, don't forget to PACK YOUR POINTS!

I am not a financial advisor and highly recommend doing your own homework about the credit card you want to apply for! All of the content on my website, page and channel are for entertainment purposes only.

If you’d like my opinion or help in forming an idea of what works, I’m here to help.

Here are REFERRAL LINKS to the credit cards mentioned in today’s post. By using them to apply, you’ll be supporting the website and channel because when approved, I’ll receive bonus points and miles as well!

*Be sure to check the public offer on the credit cards website to compare which is best for you!*

Schwab Platinum Card by Amex

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!

Platinum Card by Amex

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!

Bonvoy Bold & Boundless Card by Chase

Earn 3 Free Night Awards with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card or 1 Free Night Award with the Marriott Bonvoy Bold™ Credit Card. I can be rewarded too if you apply here and are approved for a card. Learn More.

Bonvoy Business Card by American Express

Apply for an American Express Card with this link. We can both get rewarded if you're approved!


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