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Disclaimer: Traveling during 2020 has changed and each person must decide what is best for them and make their own personal decisions. Please consult with your doctor and make the decision that is best for you and your family. For me personally, I do check each area prior to booking and then check the latest health statistics before I leave. I have also been selective in what locations I will travel to. I always mask up and sanitize at every chance possible, along with washing my hands frequently. Be safe!
I think we can all agree that COVID has changed our travel plans, the way we travel, and how we travel. No one knows when anything normal will come back. Therefore, I am trying to still enjoy travel in the safest way possible. One thing that has come out of the 2020 pandemic is finding new places in our own country. I did just that recently with a trip to Asheville, North Carolina.
I am calling this a true beer mecca of the East Coast. Set in western North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is known for a vibrant arts scene and historic architecture. But it also happens to have 33 breweries inside city limits as of 2019, according to CNN. Additionally, there are 48 breweries in the greater Asheville area. This makes it the second highest number of breweries per capita in the country (after Portland, ME). Moreover, the food, especially breakfast, may be the best I have ever had.
Asheville boasts plenty of great hotel options for any points and miles hobbyist. You will see below we went with Hyatt, but there are plenty of options. For IHG fans, you have everything from a Kimpton and Crowne Plaza to a Holiday Inn Express. Marriott gives you a Renaissance, as well as an Aloft, AC, and a Four Points all in the downtown area. If Hilton is your preferred brand, then a Curio collection and a Garden Inn are in downtown area, with five others outside of town.
I got here in a little different way as we flew privately from Maryland to Asheville. This is one perk of the Travel on Point(s) boss having a shared ownership in a plane.
I did, however, position to Maryland via Delta in both directions. I typically book most of my flights within 14 days of travel. The flight to Baltimore was booked just a few weeks out and my return flight booked ten days out. I have been a heavy user of the Pay Yourself Back with Chase Ultimate rewards to pay for my travel expenses. I studied Delta One domestic routes and chose one through Atlanta (ATL) for my return trip. To my delight, my upgrade cleared for my return leg, even as a lowly Delta Silver elite.
Points Spent: 24,000 Chase UR (via Pay Yourself Back)
Upgraded both ways on four legs. Three times to Comfort and once to Delta One with Delta Silver status
We chose Hyatt due to current promotion of 25% back on points stays for holders of the Chase Hyatt card (otherwise, 15% back for everyone). This was in addition to my quest for Globalist before the year is over. I love Hyatt for the low points typically needed compared to other brands. The Hyatt Place Asheville had a great grab-and-go breakfast, including hot items. Additionally, they have a rooftop bar and restaurant that can provides some amazing views. One thing to keep in mind is Asheville can be an expensive city when it comes to lodging, so points worked out in our favor.
Points Spent: 36,000-25%=27,000 Hyatt points
We combined our forces here. Derrick used his Uber travel credits for Ubers as well as an amazing dinner via Uber Eats. I used Lyft when we needed a backup and earned the 10x points and 15% discount via Chase Sapphire Reserve Lyft Pink Membership. We shared food and beverages expenses which I erased with Chase Pay Yourself Back.
Here are a few of the food and beverage experiences we enjoyed.
A trip to experience a new hidden gem and some guys time made this a great trip. I will say we found the city to be hopping. Everything was spaced out and socially distanced, however, we were surprised by the weekday crowds. There were lines to enter and/or reservations required everywhere. It was good to see the businesses getting some much-needed business. I am already looking forward to finding a time to come back to Asheville or the Carolinas. I hear there are even more hidden beer gems out there and I cannot wait to experience them. Have you visited Asheville? Found any new domestic gems? Come over to our Facebook group and let us know your thoughts.