Which Hotel Program?

Discussion in 'Newbies' started by WanderLuster, Jan 6, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. WanderLuster
    Original Member

    WanderLuster Silver Member

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    Not exactly a newbie, but still manage to have a newbie-ish question.

    I'm trying to decide on a Hotel Loyalty Program. In my former life (I'm a reformed consultant), I traveled full time and had Hilton Diamond and Marriott Platinum Status. Right around the time of the Great Hilton Devaluation, I switched jobs, started traveling less, and dropped Hilton. Currently, I have MR Platinum. With roll-over nights and the CC nights, I should need about 40 nights this year to requalify.

    My expected travel for the year is approx 70-80 nights for business (Charlotte, Vegas, NYC, and unknown) and approx. 30-40 nights for leisure (Orlando, NYC, Napa, unknown).

    Important to Me
    1) Aspirational Awards - (High end award stays, though not necessarily resorts)
    2) Hotel Locations - (Global presence, lower level brand availability for business stays)
    3) Perks on Paid Stays - (Room upgrades, lounge access, etc -- Royal Ambassador is very appealing here)

    I'm not sure if I should add a second program (SPG, Hyatt, or Priority Club) and go for status -- I'm not married to Marriott and would consider changing my primary affiliation. Or should I just hop around and jump on the best promos that come up?

    I know I haven't given you a ton to go on, but I appreciate the wisdom of everyone on the board and would appreciate any advice you have. I've been going back and forth and back and forth on this with myself for far too long now!
     
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  2. Toula
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    Toula Gold Member

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    For me, I determine my destination hotels and work backwards.

    For example, I think our major travel this year will be to Asia. I know that Starwood have the hotels I most likely will stay at in those locations. So for me in 2012 our focus will be on Starwood with Hyatt as the backup.
     
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  3. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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    To give a better picture of your opinion of aspirational awards, you might could list some of your favorite hotels and global destinations from past trips. Which international destinations are of special interest to you for the future?

    How long are each of your business and leisure stays? If typically multiple nights per stay, would you be interested in changing hotels more frequently?

    Definitely pay attention to the promos, but if a particular brand really doesn't have the properties in the places that you want, that should make a difference.

    I'm a big fan of SPG, but there are not great options in Vegas. There's a status challenge program available, though, which should be easy for you.
     
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  4. WanderLuster
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    WanderLuster Silver Member

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    Thanks to both of you.

    Business stays are usually 3-5 nights. Personal stays are 2-3 nights. I'm willing to hotel hop, although my corporate travel department is quirky -- could be interesting to push a bit and see what I can get away with.

    As to the awards I want. I don't know very far in advance where I am going, but some of my favorite hotels have been: The Cavalieri (Waldorf) in Rome, JW in Hong Kong (going back in May!), and the Westin in Florence.

    My biggest points goal right now is to save up for a week of vacation with my family (4 adults) - I'm thinking somewhere utterly relaxing and resorty, but don't know where. French Polynesia? Maldives? Hawaii? Marco Island?
     
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  5. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    How close are you to lifetime status with Marriott? If it's within sight, I would definitely not drop Marriott but try to stay at their Platinum level. Can you redeem for aspirational stays at Ritz Carltons that interest you.

    I am a fan of Starwood for their solid properties where they have a footprint as well as the aspirational ones. While some LCs are not true luxury, they tend to be interesting and unique.
     
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  6. oldflyer

    oldflyer Silver Member

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    I would not drop Marriott for the reasons already given. I belong to Hyatt, Marriott, SPG, etc. but my favorite has always been Hilton, especially traveling to Europe or Asia where a Diamond VIP upgrade to the Executive Level will bring you a full breakfast and other Executive Lounge privileges. Even if you can't get a room on the Executive floors, you will still get the same privileges. Most importantly, the upgrade applies even on all point stays.

    There are many lower Hilton level brands so you can spend a lot less for your business trips and still earn Hilton points.

    My strategy would be to get the AMX Hilton Surpass Card for a small enrollment fee (under $100). Enrollment bonus is 40,000 points; another 20,000 after you spend first 3k and you start with HHonors Gold Elite status, which will upgrade you to Executive level at some of the properties. Surpass cardholders also get a discount on fewer points needed for Category 6 or 7 free stays, which is really helpful. And the VIP (all Elite) cards get you discounts on points needed for free stays too.

    Lastly, if you rack up $40k a year in spend (pay your insurance and taxes, etc. on the card) you are automatically a Diamond VIP for 2 years. I am retired and don't travel anymore except on points and miles. This year we stayed at The Cavalieri (Waldorf) in Rome for a week for free and saved $80 each morning on breakfast in their dinning room. Hilton will also count each free night as a stay so long as you charge something to the room each night.

    Sorry if this sounds like a commercial for Hilton, but I personally think it's the best of all these great programs.
     
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