Hooray, football is back! Everything is right in the world again, Saturdays have a purpose, and people can fight with each other over their favorite sports rivalries instead of politics. Yay!
In that spirit, when we learned that our beloved USC Trojans would kick off the 2016 season just up the road in Dallas at Cowboys Stadium, facing off against current-National Champions and pre-seasons #1 ranked Alabama, it was pretty much a no brainer that we’d need to be there.
So, we took a look at our current travel mile and points balances to see what we could do. And lo and behold, the hubby had around 50,000 IHG points just sitting in his account, with no intended purpose. We jumped online, booked the Hotel Indigo Downtown Dallas, and were ready to go.
The reason we had these 50,000 points was pretty interesting. Late last year, IHG had run a promotion in which you received a free “instant win” game every time you stayed at one of their hotels. And, just like any contest, they were required to provide a no-purchase-necessary method of entry, which made entrants send in a handwritten entry on a notecard with various pieces of information if they too wanted a game piece.
The kicker though, was that unlike a regular contest, every “game” in this promotion was guaranteed to earn AT LEAST 500 IHG points per entry. And you could mail in up to 92 entries PER PERSON. So, I spent a Sunday last December handwriting out entries for both myself and the hubby. And for roughly $60 in stamps, we both earned around 50k IHG points.
I converted my points into Singapore Airlines miles, and used them to help book our nearly-free trip to the UK & Ireland next year. But for hubby’s points, we were able to get two-nights in Dallas for FREE, in a room that otherwise would have cost $185/night.
The hotel itself was nicely located close in the downtown area, convenient for freeway access, and across from a very nice little park. Our room was small but clean and comfortable, and the parking in a structure just across the street was vey convenient.
Once we’d arrived and checked into the hotel early Friday, we hurried over to nearby Klyde Warren park, where the USC Trojan Marching Band was leading a rally at noon. And let me just say, as a Trojan living outside of California, there is absolutely nothing as exciting and inspiring as seeing the FULL BAND roll into some random city and completely take over their downtown core.
After the rally, while food wasn’t the focus of this trip, we did manage to stop by a couple noteworthy restaurants; The Woolworth was our lunch stop, where the hubby’s “Pig and Pear” sandwich (barbecued pulled pork with sweet Asian pear and gruyere cheese on a toasted bun) was a real winner. For dinner, we visited the Ten Bells Tavern, where we met up with some Dallas-based friends for a fantastic beer list and delicious bar food including my impeccable “SBLT” (shrimp, bacon, lettuce, tomato) sandwich.
The next day, though, was all about the Trojans. We had sort of unintentionally become the tailgate hosts for most of the Austin-based Trojans in our local alumni club, and so reserved a “premium tailgating spot” through StadiumParking.net. This turned out to be a fantastic decision, as we had guaranteed parking just a couple blocks from the stadium, a shaded, grassy area for the tailgate itself, and even a concrete slab on which to set up our food/drinks tables.
After several hours of jello shots and brats later, we headed into Cowboys Stadium and….well, the stadium itself is very nice. As for the game….yeah, we’re just not going to talk about that.
The next day, we concluded our trip with a lovely brunch with some of my sorority sisters and their husbands over in Dallas’s uptown district, before driving back down to Austin that afternoon. All in all, despite the game it was a fantastic weekend, once again made possible with points and miles.