Sunday, March 17

Reward Choosing/Planning for the Zoo

On MyPoints I'm choosing a reward to help with our St. Louis Zoo trip budget. It came down between a $75 Marriott Travel Card for 9100 points or a $50 BP Gas Card for 7350 points plus $10 BP for 1700. The obvious answer here is Marriott's 121 points per dollar compared to BP's 151 per dollar. Pretty big difference! But here's what I found when I broke down the trip options.

I ended up comparing three hotel options that seemed the most likely to give us the best value. The Marriott, Pear Tree Inn and Drury Inn.   Basic details- Drury and Pear Tree both have Zoo Packages that include 4 Safari Passes. Drury and Pear Tree also have free soda, drinks and popcorn in the evening. Drury also has dinner included. I have credit with I got with a purchase a bit ago so we can use that with Pear Tree or Marriott for dinner the night we stay. If we stay at Drury Inn we'll use it for supper or a late lunch after the zoo. We chose a certificate for The Original Crusoe's with a minimum purchase of $37.50, so after tax, tip and etc we're assuming $23 meal cost. For the sake of figuring value $60 was subtracted for the gas card even though there was not $60 used in gas. Here's the compare-

All three have their pros and cons. One pro across the board is a pool (something we consider necessary). Otherwise, the Marriott's the closest to home by about 20mins, but then 26mins each way to eat dinner and 18 minutes to the zoo. It's most expensive with the least extras. Pear Tree Inn is cheaper then The Marriott with more extras but a little bit farther away from home. It is much closer to the zoo (8 minutes) and The Original Crusoe's then both the others. Pear Tree doesn't have the free dinner that Drury does so we'll have to leave after we get to the hotel to eat. Drury's the cheapest, but farthest away on all counts. However, once we're there it's for the night as dinner's included. Drury's 23 minutes from the zoo, so we'll have to wake the earliest staying there. 

Overall I feel the best option for us is Drury Inn. Being farther away from the zoo and home is balanced by being done driving for the night once we get to the hotel and getting dinner included so that we get to eat out after the zoo. When figuring this out I was actually expecting to go with Pear Tree Inn, I almost didn't even bother to do the figuring for Drury Inn. I thought the distance being so much farther was going to put it within a dollar or two of the cost of Pear Tree Inn and that the time delay would outweigh saving a few bucks... even with the free dinner. I'm glad I didn't dismiss it out of hand after all!

Also, this is why you shouldn't count rewards based on dollar value alone. On paper the $75 Marriott gift card looks $15 better then the $60 BP gas card. In reality the value of choosing the BP card is higher, even though the dollar amount's lower.

Have you made any trip plans or figured out deals lately?


  1. Hey!
    I was going to mention that we normally stay at the Drury Inn by the Stadium when we go to a game in STL. They have the "manager's reception" (which might be what you are referring to anyway!) but they have all kinds of options available. Typical "game food" but they have a nacho bar, hot dogs, baked potatoes,fruit, soda and juice, and then also a card that each of you can get some adult drinks! So, if you are in for the night and want to enjoy a plastic glass of wine - you are set! I dont know if that works out for your food allergies, but always a nice bonus! And - Congrats on getting free parking! My biggest pet peeve!

    1. The parking thing really ticks me off. That was Marriott's first negative mark in my book. Their advertised rates are like $75 pretax a room if you book ahead of time... but then you have parking fees and breakfast isn't included and yada yada so you end up spending much more. The $115 post tax above is the next step up that includes those. The having to pay for parking so that you can stay at the hotel does kinda make me go... 0.o

      We stayed at Drury Inn for a couple nights last year with their Science Center special and were very impressed. That dinner thing is exactly what I'm talking about =) It's very basic food so less chance of random allergy stuff showing up where it shouldn't be. Seriously can't go wrong with things like hot dogs and nachos for the boys, especially when you add in the popcorn and soda. With it set up in a self serve buffet style it was really easy to just grab the food we each could eat. I loved that and Trevor was a huge fan of the drinks ;-) I got no arguments from him when I showed him that Drury Inn was looking good for this year =)

      How are you doing?


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