I’ve mentioned last month that I was able to hack my way into category 1 (5,000 points per night) Hilton redemption. Something I didn’t realize was that Hilton will not show award availability for hotel if you don’t have the required amount of points in your account. That’s why the search kept turning up nothing once I logged in. You learn something new in this hobby every day! Why HHonors reps were not aware of this is beyond me.
I also forgot that my mom is supposed to come back in November. Since all flights from Belarus to USA leave very early in the morning, an overnight stay would be needed again. Hilton “half off” promo was over at that point, so I went ahead and transferred Citi Thank You points at the rate of 2:1. They posted instantly.
So, I was checking Hilton website, and this caught my eye:
Interesting… A hotel by the train station, breakfast is already included in all room rates. Well, it does say there is a sofa. Let’s see more details on the room:
Ok, fluffy towels, so far so good. Oh, we have a savvy double sized sleeper sofa. I’ll tell you what is even more savvy: Redeeming your points for 5 rooms instead. You can use the bathroom in the first, take your shower in the second one, use the bed as your (savvy) sofa in the third one, sleep in the fourth one, and do whatever in the room number five (use your imagination).
Personally, I think it’s waaaay more savvy. But what do I know? Apparently, Hilton folks thought this one through and decided that people will be more than willing to pay the premium rate if they can get that special savvy couch. But wait, there is more! If you are booking in the summer, here is the award cost for the same type of room:
That would be six and a half rooms, friends. There is no limit to what you can do!
What does this rant have to do with you?
Some programs, Hilton in particular, have priced themselves out of the market when it comes to award rates for suites and premium rooms. And they like it that way. Check out summer redemption for Hilton in Clearwater, Fl:
That’s per night, amigos. While I’m sure the suite is quite nice, I can’t imagine anyone paying this ridiculous rate. You would be much better off just renting a condo. OK, if you are a family of five (or more) AND swimming in Hilton points AND visiting during spring break or holidays, then maybe it could be worth it to burn 100K points per night for two rooms. Of course, if you happen to have Gold status via one of Hilton co-branded credit cards, you stand a decent chance at an upgrade. But it’s not a guarantee and personally, I would be leery to gamble my vacation on hope of obtaining a better room.
If you plan to utilize IHG points, make sure you put in double occupancy first and see what comes up, even if you have a family of four or more. You might be better off redeeming points for two rooms at a category 1 property (costs 10,000 points) than one room at a hotel that runs at 20,000 points. You’ll have two bathrooms and very often they will make sure you have connecting rooms. IHG program will not let you redeem points for a suite (usually), but due to Platinum status that comes with their co-branded credit card, you stand a decent chance at an upgrade in the off-season.
If you happen to have 5 in the family, very often the search will turn up nothing. I recommend you look for place that will fit four in a room, and then follow up with a call to that individual property and see if they will add a rollaway for a nominal fee. Obviously, it will be very cramped, but it will let you stretch your points. Some oceanfront properties run at 35,000 IHG points per night, so redeeming for two rooms will probably be a deal breaker. Of course, if you have six in the family, you would be insane to try to fit them all in a tiny hotel room regardless. Either look for category 1 or 2 properties or get a rental. Seriously.
In general, large families and hotel points don’t mix well. There is an exception, of course: PointBreaks program. If you are flexible on destinations, it’s hard to beat. Redeeming 5,000 IHG points per room is a tremendous bargain. Like I said in my earlier post, I was able to get three rooms for two nights at a cost of 30,000 IHG points total in Lantana, Florida. The property is located only 2 miles from the beach and near all kinds of attractions. More importantly, it will allow us to vacation with relatives. It seems everyone is so busy these days, so I used my IHG points to bribe them to spend time with us. Winning!
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