A lot of hotel chains offer promotions that are stay based as opposed to night based. For those of you not familiar with the distinction, stays are how many times you actually check in and check out of a hotel (consecutive nights at the same hotel are always a single stay), while nights are how many total nights you spend at a hotel. For example, if we’re talking about the two Andaz hotels in New York City, a three night stay at the Andaz Wall Street counts as one stay and three night credits. A one night stay at the Andaz Wall Street followed by a one night stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue followed by a one night stay at the Andaz Wall Street counts as three stay credits and three night credits.
The challenge is, when on vacation, just how far do you push this? I’ve covered this in the past when Hyatt was running their “Big Welcome Back” promotion, whereby you earned one free night anywhere in the world after every two stays. Obviously it was pretty tempting to switch hotels every night in order to earn as many free nights as possible, though it’s a bit impractical when traveling with family.
On the other hand, next month I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur on my own for three nights. In the past I stayed mostly at Hyatt and Priority Club properties. Unfortunately Hyatt doesn’t have any hotels in Kuala Lumpur, though Priority Club has several hotels, including an InterContinental. So as a Royal Ambassador the InterContinental would have been the obvious choice. One of my major frustrations with InterContinental is that you earn the same number of points for an InterContinental stay regardless of how many nights you stay or how much money you spend. That’s right, you earn the same number of points whether you make a one night, $80 stay, or a 10 night, $150,000 stay (and yes, that’s possible).
However, I did status match to Starwood Platinum recently, and this presents a new opportunity (or challenge, depending on how you look at it). Starwood has three hotels in Kuala Lumpur, all within a mile or two (at most) of the InterContinental. The prices are all roughly the same, somewhere in the range of $150 per night all-in.
I could just spend all three nights at the InterContinental and earn 4,000 Priority Club points (plus bonuses). Or I could switch hotels every day. I would still earn the 4,000 points for my InterContinental stay, plus would earn the benefits for two separate Starwood stays. Now, I don’t actually need to requalify for Starwood Platinum this year (because my status match is good through February 2013), so that’s not a consideration. However, Starwood did announce their excellent second quarter promotion, whereby you get a free night at a Starwood resort after every three Starwood stays. This would earn me two of those three stays. I would also earn points for both nights, and if I’m not mistaken, the Platinum welcome gift of 500 points per stay.
The other consideration is that I get to review two more hotels. After all, one of my goals with travel is to have content to come back and write about.
Yes, in general this sounds like a pain, but as an elite member I don’t think it would be that bad, especially thanks to 4PM check-out. Without late check-out it would be a pain to switch hotels, since a room might not be ready at the next hotel, but if I check out in the afternoons, I don’t think it will be a huge issue.
To keep the math simple, I value the one free Starwood resort night at $225, which I think is a fair valuation. Since I need to make three stays to earn that, I’m basically getting $75 towards that free night every time I make a Starwood stay. So in this case, switching hotels is basically cutting the cost of my hotel stays in half. And of course I’m not on an unlimited budget, so that is a significant amount of “value.”
So am I crazy? What would you do? Switch hotels every night and rack up additional stays/points/free nights/blog content, or actually stay in the same place for three nights?