The pandemic slowed down our travels. We would have traveled a lot during the summer of 2020. The past few summers we were either in Europe or one of the Hawaiian Islands.
But this pandemic left me uninspired to even consider any kind of travel. We’ve seen many of our friends post amazing pictures by visiting different US national parks. We entertained the idea of doing something similar, but two of our kids would not be able to join due to their prior commitments this summer.
On a whim, as in the very last minute, we decided to stay more local, well, three hours away from our home kind of local. We wanted to visit a place we’ve once visited nearly 10 years ago. It was a little town in California’s Central Coast, Cambria. We needed accommodations, and as always, we turned to our credit card points with Chase and began making our selection.
We stayed at Cambria Pines Lodge nearly 10 years ago. It wasn’t near the ocean, it was tucked away near lots of pine trees which was part of its many charms. For this return visit to Cambria, we wanted to find ourselves situated closer to the ocean. We had quite a few choices, and decided to go with Oceanpoint Ranch.
How many points did it cost to book at Oceanpoint Ranch
If we paid cash, it would’ve cost us over $500 for 2 nights to get a standard room, but with our points earned with Chase, we only used 33,817 points. (I’ll show you later which Chase credit cards could make this possible).
That’s the beauty of having points. We don’t think of the cash cost so much. If we have the points and we could reserve something using points, and if the booking makes sense, then we do it. This stay would normally require 50,726 points for 2 nights (each point is worth $0.01 penny). But because we have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, the value of the points are higher at 1.5x, this the reason why we only had to use 33,817 points.
The journey itself was part of the vacation
We are so blessed to be living in Ventura County. On our way to Cambria, we passed by beautiful beaches and landmarks from our very own beaches in Ventura, Carpinteria through Santa Barbara. The drive also took us to San Marcos Highway where we got a glimpse of seeing Santa Barbara County and its vastness. We also passed by Lake Cachuma which brought back memories when I camped there nearly 30 years ago.
From this road or highway, you have an option to turn left towards Solvang, a little town with Danish-style setting, or press your luck by going to Chumash Casino and Resort. The drive is not boring at all. Once you leave San Marcos Pass Road, you’re back on the 101 Freeway, and you’ll pass Santa Maria, and our favorite, Pismo Beach. We made a pit stop for some grub at Splash Cafe, famous for their clam chowder and fish and chips.
We took that time to order something to-go, and took the food to the nearest Tesla Supercharging Station at the Pismo Beach Factory Outlet – no time wasted.
From Pismo Beach, you have an option to hang out and go walk the pier or along the beach, or continue heading north towards San Luis Obispo. For us, we took the Pacific Coast Highway from there, and passed by another popular destination, Morro Bay. We kept driving down the coast, gorgeous coastline, and after a half hour from Morro Bay, there we were, we entered Cambria. Lots of trees, a small town feel, exactly how we remembered it.
Impressions of Oceanpoint Ranch
Have you ever watched Schitt’s Creek? It’s now on Netflix, a story about a formerly wealthy, dysfunctional family that lost all their wealth, and ended up living in a less-desirable town. To make matters worse, they downsized big time from their glorious mansion, down to a motel, a raggedy old motel. Talk about twist of fate. Trust me, I’m really going somewhere with this.
Not your Vegas-style property
Well, when you go Cambria, you will not see the big box hotel chains owned by Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and the like. Cambria caters more to the mom and pop type of business. No McDonald’s (well, I didn’t see one), nor did I see any Starbucks in every corner…none of that. Yes, no Costco, no Walmart, no Target! Imagine that!
Instead of these huge businesses, restaurants or properties, Cambria is rich with charming, smaller properties that are just mere steps away from the ocean. From afar, they look like simple motels, but they’re well done, well-decorated, well-maintained. That’s the feeling we got upon arriving at Oceanpoint Ranch.
Why Schitt’s Creek
As we drove in towards Moonstone Beach Drive and approached Oceanpoint Ranch, it gave me that Schitt’s Creek vibe, simple, old style, ranch-style inn (and, no I didn’t mind) because despite the comedic adversity that happened to this formerly wealthy family, their unfortunate situation brought out the best in them as individuals and as a unit. In fact, they felt that they were more of a family the moment they lost everything. And that feeling transcended as we drove up to the property.
There was no flashy, glamorous entry way. It was exactly 3pm when we arrived, and we headed to front desk to register. There was a bit of a crowd getting ready to check in at 3pm. They appeared to have all their rooms sold out, and I could see why. We were given keys to our room with views of the little courtyard.
We had two beds, a TV, a small work area, a mini fridge and a bathroom…that was all, and that was all we really needed. Due to COVID-19, their pool was open but you had to sign-up in order to use it. They only allowed a certain number of guests to avoid overcrowding,
Other things you will find at the ranch included many gas firepits where one could relax and sit back on one of the adirondack chairs. Optional is for you to purchase their s’mores kit for $10 (marshmallow, graham crackers, chocolates, and long sticks). We felt so much at home.
We ordered Mexican food from a local restaurant and brought it back to Oceanpoint Ranch and ate our dinner fireside. There was enough time for me to catch a glimpse of the glowing sunset.
Frankly for me, I brought my John Grisham book, and I read. I needed my own downtime. Just me and a book.
Other things to do at Oceanpoint
But if you’re really looking for other activities on-site, they have:
- Horse Lasso
And, there is also a game room right before you enter the pool. You will see:
- Giant Connect Four
- Giant Jenga
- Table Shuffle
My wishlist for Oceanpoint Ranch
This is going to sound very personal but since I drive a Tesla, it would’ve been nice to have a Tesla Destination Charging Station on site. Oceanpoint Ranch has a sister property located two miles away on the other end of the beach, and that there was a Tesla Destination Charger at the other property, and that I could charge there. It was good to have that option, but it would be a great addition to Oceanpoint Ranch to offer electric vehicle charging for their customers.
Near the property
Directly outside of the property is The Canteen, a restaurant that offered food-to-go or morning room service. It was also just a 2 minute walk away to a hilltop view of the Pacific Ocean that overlooked the gorgeous Central Coast.
You also have an option to head down to the left and visit Lefingwell Landing with another access to the ocean and a wooden boardwalk path.
Walking down the boardwalk next to the beachNo traffic lights, no crowd, just bliss! There were a couple of other restaurants down Moonstone Beach Road.Again because of COVID-19, they only offered outdoor dining, and frankly, it was the right way of enjoying this part of the Central Coast by watching the ocean and dine in the open air. and under the stars.
Which credit cards made it possible for us to stay here for free
The one and easy answer? Chase credit cards that earn Ultimate Reward points. We used 33,000 points for 2 nights during our stay at Oceanpoint Ranch. Otherwise, it would’ve cost us over $500 for our two-nights stay.
Chase Sapphire Preferred
What’s the catch
- Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Annual fee is $95
Chase Sapphire Reserve
What’s the catch
- Spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
- Annual fee is $550
Chase Freedom Unlimited
How to earn $200 cash back with Chase Freedom Unlimited
- Spend $500 in the first three months the account is open.
- Annual fee = $0
- In addition, there is a current offer where you will earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. (offer is subject to change without notice)
The catch with this card? The points you earn are Ultimate Reward points. With these point, you can use the Chase Travel Portal and book. HOWEVER, you CANNOT transfer your points to a travel partner such as Hyatt. So, is there a workaround? Yes. If you carry a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can transfer your points from your Chase Freedom Unlimited to your Sapphire and then be able to transfer to a travel partner.
Other cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards are Chase Freedom, Chase Ink Business Preferred, the Chase Ink Unlimited, the Chase Ink Cash. Those are all excellent cards that earn Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can find more details in my list of travel credit cards.
There are so many Chase credit cards out there, and finding the one that fits your needs is the only challenge. Before diving into your next credit card, always check and know your 5/24 status. If you need a refresher, or don’t know what I’m talking about, here’s what I wrote.
There are so many things to know about this hobby….so if you have any questions, just ask. Come and join my Facebook group.