Best hotel programs

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by arshavin, Dec 18, 2013.  |  Print Topic

  1. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    I know recently there was a blog regarding the best hotel loyalty programs. However, I wanted to hear some thoughts regarding that from members here. I like benefits especially free breakfast, internet and upgrades. I generally travel with young family for pleasure. I have accounts in all hotels but not substantial points in them except Hyatt. Of course, Hyatt is not everywhere, hence the question.

    Thanks
     
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  2. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    Ah the eternal question. :)

    Personally, i have 2 favorites:

    1. Marriott - I love consistency, and Marriott provides it. Favorite brand is the SpringHill Suites. Promotions are decent. Most recent one allowed members to earn up to 2 free nights (in a cat 1-5) with 4 stays. Not bad.

    2. IHG - Promotions, Promotions, and Stacking Promotions. :) A recent 1 night stay banked me over 35,000 points with the stacking promotions.
     
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  3. UA191

    UA191 Silver Member

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    IHG, all the way! For the same reasons vickers mentioned...
     
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  4. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    Cheapest of reasonable quality, usually with free WiF and breakfast included. I save a lot of money versus going for a chain enough to get the "free" internet/breakfast.
     
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  5. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    I never gave serious thought of IHG. Shows how much I know. Based on glowing reviews of you two, now I am going to read up more about it.
     
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  6. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    What do you like most about SpringHill? I generally stat at Residence Inn when I choose Marriott. Any idea what's difference between these two?
     
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  7. vickers

    vickers Gold Member

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    The newer SpringHill Suites have the separation between the work area and the sleeping area, which I like. Some have frosted glass, some have a wall. Bathroom is really cool. The ones I have stayed at have 2 separate rooms. Once has a toilet and a sink, and the other has the shower and a sink. Not such a big deal when traveling solo, but when the wife and I stay, its nice to be able to use the bathroom while she gets ready. :)

    Also, there are plenty of outlets, especially in the work area and on the nightstand. In other hotels, ive had to pull the lamp plug out to charge my iphone. lol.

    Free breakfast is great, but so is the Residence's. I guess its just a preference. I like the smaller, cozy room when I travel. Residence Inn is nice too though.
     
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  8. UA191

    UA191 Silver Member

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    Check out their Best Price Guarantee, promo stacking, status matching and Big Win... feel free to PM with any questions... as long as you play fairly, there's nothing not to love about IHG!
     
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  9. WhiteDesert

    WhiteDesert Silver Member

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    I use Hilton as my primary program, with Starwood as my backup. Club Carlson and Hotels.com fall in as a tertiary level behind Hilton and SPG. Whereas I really like Hyatt properties and service, they don't have a large enough footprint to work with my travel patterns. So I rarely give them a paid stay (I use UR points to stay at Hyatt). I also have found the beds at mid-range Hiltons to be comparatively more comfortable.

    I stay in hotels a lot and more than 80% of my annual stays are work-related and fully reimbursed. So the vast majority of my hotel spend doesn't come out of my pocket. A chain loyalty program makes sense for my situation and I like Hilton's offerings more than their competition*. I used a challenge to secure Gold status at one point and have easily re-qualified each year based on stays (this year I hit Diamond) that I'm usually not shelling out personal cash for.

    The devaluation sucked to be sure, but most of the hours I spend in hotels aren't reward stays; I'm more focused the day-to-day paid-stay experience. Hilton and SPG both offer late checkout as Gold benefits, and I use this all the time. Additionally, I rise at o-dark thirty and when I'm in a hotel on a work trip, I'm logging on and getting stuff done by 05:00 local. By about 06:00 I'm ready to eat my arm off, and so I really like being able to just wander downstairs and get a decent morning meal. I don't have the inclination to try and find a local breakfast nook during these stays, as it will burn too much time (I'm looking to knock breakfast out and get back to it). As I think back over the properties that I have done a lot of repeat business with in 2013 and 2012, anything close by that offers breakfast at 06:00 doesn't come close to rivaling what I can get in the hotel itself. The mid-range Hilton properties that I spend most of my work stays at offer very acceptable breakfast choices. I get upgraded a fair amount of the time, and that's nice too. And the oodles of points that get racked up are nice. There are very commonly several properties within jumping distance and I don't at all mind doing that when I'm traveling for work (thus triggering a stay points bonus for every jump). Mostly, though, it's about easily accessible breakfast that I consider palatable, late check-out, and a nice bed.

    So Hilton's rewards program makes a lot of sense for me, based on my particular travel patterns right now. As vickers wrote above, this is one of the eternal points/miles questions, and it's a very personal one. I don't think there is a universal answer, despite the number of puffed-chest assertions you'll read in these forums. Figure out what aspects of a hotel stay are important to you, and what you consider to reasonable quality/price/coverage, and then make a choice among the options. I would suggest that any decision of a loyalty program (or choosing not to restrict oneself to a loyalty program) should be data-driven. And the data will be specific to the person doing the analysis.




    ______________
    *I like SPG's offerings almost as well, but the program's footprint and pricing is probably always going to keep it as a secondary for me. There is almost always a Hilton property close to where I need to be and between AAA and the Government rate, that Hilton property most often comes in at the same or less than what I can get with SPG, Hyatt, or whatever using Hotels.com without any additional gaming of the system.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
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  10. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    There is much to be said for "wallet loyalty". There have been years when I used Priceline for more than 80 room nights, and my idea of "reasonable quality" usually starts at Priceline's 3-star level (Hilton Garden Inns, Hyatt Place, etc.), with a strong preference for 3.5 and 4-star properties (full-service).

    But archavin is spending someone else's money, so
    we should try to answer his question about programs. [Sorry, I was confused.]

    I made the switch to Hyatt in 2011 (thank you, StarMegaDo), and I love HGP. As a Diamond member, the benefit delivery is spot-on. They'll honor late checkout even when the hotel is near capacity and it's a challenge to do so. When a club lounge is closed, they provide bonus points AND full breakfast. They'll provide benefits on otherwise unqualifying stays (e.g. Priceline bookings and award nights). And I find the award chart reasonable.

    Other programs of note: IHG Rewards has some great value propositions, but their in-hotel perks are underwhelming. Holiday Inns don't have club lounges. Even at the top tier in IHG Rewards, there's no free breakfast. I also don't prefer their hotels - I tend to want properties with better bedding. If you're concerned about Hyatt's footprint, I assume that Intercontinental Ambassador isn't very helpful to you.

    Hilton HHonors you already know about.

    I have limited experience with Marriott Rewards, but I note that the breakfast benefit is more limited than Hyatt's (and arguably more limited than Hilton's): it only works at full-service properties, not Courtyard (v. Hilton, where you get breakfast at HGI). If a club is closed, you get to choose points or breakfast, not both (v. Hyatt). And it takes a full 50 nights for the necessary tier, whereas Hilton requires only 40 nights, 20 stays, or an appropriate credit card. For the same 50 nights (or 25 stays!), you could have Hyatt status.

    Starwood's tier with lounge access (Platinum, 50 nights or 25 stays) makes you choose between continental (not full) breakfast and your welcome amenity (points!), even when a club lounge is closed.

    My thinking for archavin: if you can get enough Hyatt nights/stays to get Diamond (e.g. with a challenge), do so. Use Hilton as your backup program since you can get Hilton Gold using a credit card.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  11. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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    That was not made clear from the post. Are you sure?

    I thought I did. Even when I used to be a Hilton Diamond for work I'd stay at the Hampton Inn near my client rather than the Hilton. Save the client some money and I had a better stay experience.
     
  12. Sweet Willie
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    Sweet Willie Gold Member

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    If, repeat if, you are paying out of your own pocket, in today's environment of meh promotions and frequent devaluing, I agree with Wandering Aramean's post:
    In my opinion, before you try to decide what program is best, I'd ask what are you hoping to achieve by joining & being loyal to a certain chain(s)? (what is your goal(s)?)

    I'm assuming you will be traveling during high season (winter break, spring break, summer) as you have children. If you are achieving a mid tier status yet are traveling during high season, the chances of a worthwhile upgrade for all your loyalty will likely be nil as those with top tier status (as well as those willing to pay for suites/upgrades) will be staying when you are trying to stay.

    There are some VERY strong pros for not being tied to hotel loyalty programs. I would strongly submit that the "free" award you most likely are after really isn't that free.
     
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  13. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    I thought I was. :)

    I had confused WhiteDesert's clear statement about who was paying with the OP's. Sorry about that.

    Indeed, if the OP is spending is own money, it may be best to practice wallet loyalty.
     
  14. newbluesea
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    newbluesea Gold Member

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    No offence to the OP but I never could understand questions such as these based on the vague criteria provided.
    There are so many reasons people choose different chains its virtually impossible to provide any meaningful advice unless we know precisely
    what the OPs objectives are.

    One only has to look at the responses so far to see there is very little if any agreement as to "the best hotel" chains. All the answers provided were relevant to the respondents circumstances added to which we even got a fair amount of rationalization as whether one should stay with a chain at all.

    My gut feeling is perhaps the OP has come to some conclusion as to where he wants to go but is seeking some confirmation as to whether he made the right choice:)

    If not tell us whats important to you and just maybe we can point in the direction of the program that best fits.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2013
  15. KENNECTED
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    KENNECTED Silver Member

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    This is such a hard question to answer as it's personal. Its based on a persons travel plans, budget and what type of properties they like.

    As a single person who is a leisure traveler, I like W's, Park Hyatts, Andaz, Westin and Le Meridien properties.

    When I first started traveling seriously I preferred Hilton and it's program and earned Diamond for many years. I had no secondary program. Starwood and Hyatt would get stays here and there. Then when W's were introduced and the Westin brand was refurbished Starwood became my 2nd program as they had properties in the locations I travelled. The Hilton properties became tired and dated. The doubletree was a hodge-podge of various properties and design themes. I've never been a fan of Hilton Garden or Hampton Inns. The Conrad brand seemed nice, but there were few in the states.

    I then switched to SPG as my top tier brand and made Hilton my second brand. But had very few stays at Hilton. Park Hyatts were building up and I like the brand more than Ws but like starwood brands, there are very few properties, there are more hilton properties worldwide than SPG and Hyatt.

    Right now Starwood serves its purpose for me. Who knows what brand will be my top choice in a few years.
     
  16. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    +1

    Personally, I have enjoyed the hospitality of Hilton with mere Gold status on my overseas travels with free WiFi and free breakfasts. But the gravy train has slowed down a lot with their point devaluation. On my own dime, IHG family sounds good, but independents also turn out to be a good choice in many cases.

    In the old days, Hilton Gold with enough points balance got me free room, free ride from/back to the airport, half day city tour, trip to their wine celler with wine tasting, free buffett breakfast in a very elegant setting, free unlimited bar visits with my choice of drinks from 5 PM to 11 PM at the Budapest Hilton. Alas, all that is over now.
     
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  17. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    I would be money out of my own pocket as I do not have substantial points except in Hyatt. I am looking for second choice which could compete with Hyatt. I like Hyatt points but will not be limited to that. Price is obviously a factor right.
     
  18. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    Man, when was that? Now sounds unbelievable even for me. I checked out Embassy Suites in WDW recently, they were charging so much more for breakfast and internet, I decided to stay at Residence Inn LBV. Free wireless at Residence Inn, great room but man the free breakfast couldn't be worse. It was that bad.
     
  19. traveltoomuch

    traveltoomuch Silver Member

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    May I suggest the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Resort? Breakfast won't be free unless you have HGP Diamond, and even then it's just lounge breakfast, but it's a good lounge breakfast, and it's an absolutely lovely property. My only complaints are that their shuttles to the Disney parks are too limited to be useful, and they charge an annoying amount for parking and resort fees.
     
  20. arshavin

    arshavin Silver Member

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    Actually I already returned from WDW vacation. I was just speaking of my experience at Residence Inn LBV. Weather was so nice, I want to go back on vacation there. Plus we had absolute blast, my 4 year old can nor stop talking about it.
     
  21. Slow_Mustang
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    Slow_Mustang Silver Member

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    That was in the summer of 2005 - A memorable trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague. We used Hilton points in Budapest, Starwood in Vienna and Marriott points in Prague. That was the first time that my ATM card got retained in an ATM machine in Vienna and after that I started carrying two ATM cards on every trip.
     
  22. gconnery

    gconnery Silver Member

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    To each his own.

    I still like Hilton, though I'm staying there much less now after the deval. Have to see if I make Diamond again next year. The hotels available to me for work travel are great, decent prices, good internet, nice lounge or all-suite property with kitchen which I'm actually pretty happy with. But for the places we've been going for our family vacations, the hotels Hilton has available aren't as good a fit.

    Sheraton is now my number one program. Occasional upgrades when staying on business, though inconsistent, but decent choices and good coverage. Lounges are questionable though. But the options for family vacations where we tend to go are great, and our experience with upgrades etc at those spots as a Platinum has been nothing less than amazing. So I'm spending more nights there. Biggest problem is that a lot of the hotels I stay at don't participate in some of the quarterly bonuses. Good news is that's not true of Q12014 so I'll be going all in there. Also of course the Amex SPG is a great card to put spend on when you don't have a category bonus, so it gets a lot of use. SPG points are just awesome. Too bad they're so hard to earn.

    Hyatts are just starting to get my attention. Nice options. Good bonus programs. I'll be doing a Diamond Challenge in the spring most likely, already got the hotels all booked up. Once my daughter is potty trained it looks like there will be some nice vacation properties available. Will be picking up the Hyatt credit card in the spring too.

    For me that pretty much uses up all my nights. I don't have space for anything else other than some one offs. So I have no experience with Marriott or IHG, though there is a very nice Crowne Plaza I could stay at ...
     
  23. cjl425

    cjl425 Active Member

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    My primary is Hilton. Why... 80-90% of my stays are for work not on my dime. Hilton gives me the best coverage no matter where I travel in the US. Also, I get instant Hilton Gold status through my company. It helped with my first year and ever since I have requalified on my own. The devaluation of the Hilton points stung a little but I really haven't had any issues with it. I still rack up enough points through promotions, Gold bonus, and earning preferences that I am not in shock at the amount of points required for a rewards stay.

    My secondary is Hyatt. I would love to stay with Hyatt more but they typically do not show up as approved hotels through my companies travel website.
     
  24. gmarchetti

    gmarchetti Silver Member

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    SPG will be the primary program for me in 2014. I've tried Hyatt in 2013 - loved the hotels but there aren't simply enough of them. Most of my stays are work-related. SPG has good coverage, good service (at least no problem so far) and is also in locations where we'd like to go on holiday.
    Hilton will be my secondary program - my stays with them have been consistently satisfactory. Their points are not worth much, though.
     
  25. Boraxo

    Boraxo Silver Member

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    SPG is the best for Plats and also for redemption. No BS - Plats often get upgrades to suites and no blackout dates means just that. I do like Marriott though not as good for Plats as SPG - no complimentary suites or even confirmed suites. But much broader coverage than SPG and redemptions are usually pretty good. Great resorts. Hyatt is great for Diamonds and good for using points at resorts. Cash+points is a great option even better than SPG now. But not enough properties. IC is worthless outside of th big city IC hotels. The HiX brand is deteriorating - they all need a major refresh. Worthless elite benefits. I won't stay at hilton since the last devaluation. Don't need to pay 95k point per night for a room that costs 20k SPG, 25k Hyatt or 50k at Marriott, Ritz or IC. Elite benefits don't include suites.
     

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