Time to plan my travel around hotel stays for the rest of the year!

Given that my schedule is fairly flexible I tend to plan trips last minute. This is for a couple of reasons. First of all, award availability on the better products seems to be most readily available within a week or two of departure. And second of all, I always want to try the latest airline products for the purposes of reviewing them, and very rarely do they roll out as expected, so it helps to plan last minute once they’re actually introduced in order to experience them.

I have a tendency to plan my travels more around airlines and destinations than hotels. However, due to all the hotel devaluations that have been announced I’m in a situation for the first time whereby I need to plan a ton of future travel in the next few weeks around hotels.

Here’s what I have to burn through in the coming weeks/months:

  • 500,000 Hilton HHonors points, which will be severely devalued on March 28, 2013
  • Two free Hilton weekend nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve card, which expire November 1, 2013
  • Two free Hyatt nights in a suite from the Chase Hyatt Visa card, which expire on August 31, 2013
  • Perhaps some Starwood cash & points stays before the category changes and cash & points pricing changes kick in on March 5, 2013

How the hell did I end up with 500,000 DisHHonor Pesos HHonors points?

So I have 500,000 HHonors points. Cause, ya know, I’m a smartass, and thought I’d start saving up for the next few AXON awards I’d want to book, given that points never devalue. Especially currencies that are issued in the same quantities as Vietnamese Dong.

AXON awards are valid for four nights at a category seven property, and cost 145,000 points. That’s currently Hilton’s highest category, and the four nights cost you 145,000 points, compared to the regular cost of 50,000 points per night. So that’s better than buy three get one free. The value of AXON awards will decrease substantially as of March 28, as they’re only valid for category one through seven properties, while they’ll now have 10 categories.

So practically speaking I’d like to book three AXON awards, which would burn up 435,000 points, plus the two Hilton weekend night certificates. So that’s a total of 14 hotel nights that I have to book in the next month. At Hilton properties.*Gulp*

In this post I outlined some of the best redemptions using AXON awards. I mentioned the Conrad Tokyo, which is a great hotel. But if I’m in Tokyo I’d rather stay at the Park Hyatt on points, which is an even better hotel. I also really like the Conrad Hong Kong, but I don’t foresee a need/desire to spend four nights in Hong Kong this year. I know Hong Kong like the back of my hand and love passing through there for a night or two, but don’t think I’ll be doing four nights there anytime soon.

Then there’s the Conrad Koh Samui, which I’d definitely love to visit, so that’s the award I have to force myself to plan.

And then there’s the Conrad Maldives, which also looks very nice and should be a great redemption. But I feel like if I go back to the Maldives I’d want to stay at the Park Hyatt, and I’m not sure I’d want to visit two properties in the Maldives (or for that matter spend more than four nights there), given the cost of transport and lack of things to do. Or for that matter I’m not even sure I need to visit the Maldives again anytime soon, given the challenge of finding awards space there, the cost of transport between the islands, and the fact that you have to pay to buy up to an overwater bungalow.

On almost the exact opposite side of the globe as the Maldives is the Hilton Bora Bora Nui, which is also a great redemption. Though I’m not sure I want to go all the way to Bora Bora for the same reasons I’m not sure I want to go to the Maldives — finding award space to Tahiti is tough, flights between Tahiti and Bora Bora are expensive, and there’s not a whole lot to do once you’re on the island.


Hilton Bora Bora Nui

Gary and I seem to be on the same page, as he suggests the same hotels plus the Conrad Sanya. While the Conrad Sanya looks very nice, revenue rates are quite reasonable and it’s only a category six property, so it’s not quite as good of a use of an AXON award.

Any other Hilton properties that are fairly nice, usually expensive, category seven, and in awesome destinations that are worth spending four nights in?

Is Peru finally calling?

To be honest, redeeming Starpoints is my lowest priority on the hotel redemption front, since their value isn’t going down by that much in my book. Still, I’ve been dying to visit their two Luxury Collection properties in Peru, specifically Tambo del Inka and Hotel Paracas. Based on what I’ve heard these are phenomenal properties, and Tambo del Inka is a great launching point for a Machu Picchu expedition.

Both of these properties will be going from category four to category five, made only worse by the fact that the cost of cash & points is going up by ~20%. So both hotels will go from costing 4,000 Starpoints plus $60 per night, to costing 6,000 Starpoints plus $110 per night.

That’s a discount of 2,000 Starpoints and $50 per night for locking in this reservation by March 5, even if it’s for travel later on.

Maybe it’s worth planning a Peru trip now?

Where to spend two nights in a suite at a Hyatt?

This is even lower on my immediate priority list than Starwood, but by August 31 I do have to redeem my two free nights in a suite from the Chase Hyatt Visa card sign-up bonus.

The two Park Hyatts I most immediately want to visit are those in Sydney and the Maldives, but go figure that those are two of the handful of properties where you can’t redeem for a suite. So do I just redeem the two free nights for a “basic” room there, or go out of my way to the Park Hyatt Paris, Park Hyatt Tokyo, Park Hyatt Zurich, etc., so that I’m “maximizing” my stay?

For example, a suite at the Park Hyatt Tokyo retails for over $1,700 per night including tax. I’ve stayed at the hotel before, but at the same time from a “maximization” standpoint it’s tough not to want to stay there again. But then we get into the debate over whether maximization is getting the most dollar value out of a redemption or getting the best new experience.

Where would you stay?

Conclusion

The above isn’t meant to be about me, even though I have a lot more questions than answers, but rather I’m just trying to explain my thought process given my circumstances. My hope is that those of you in a similar situation can apply it to your circumstances. Or maybe we can do some group brainstorming about Hilton properties other than the Conrads and Hilton mentioned above that would be a good use of points for redemptions made in the next month.

Comments

  1. Usairelite says

    Go to Switzerland and stay at the Park Hyatt Zurich, then go to Genéve and stay at the Hotel President Wilson?

  2. Laura says

    I just used up my last hilton points for the Hilton Stucky in Venice in June. (I fortunately didn’t have to work so hard to find uses as I never created such an excess pile of points)

  3. Travis says

    I went to Park Hyatt Maldives with my wife we both had the two nights so stayed four nights. I was diamond last year and talked my way into getting a water villa for three of those nights. It was great. Expensive for food at 50 for implement dinner per person. Most people don’t eat lunch and just eat big breakfast. Also can’t get anything free to get to the island from Male (where international ones on) that was additional 475 a person to get to hotel.

  4. Robert P says

    If you can’t burn them all yourself, take mom, dad, an old friend; a shared journey is often more than just a trip

  5. Randy says

    If you haven’t been to Bora Bora, worth the trip. Haven’t been to the Maldives yet as a comparison, but a suite over the water is a cool experience, just everything except baguettes costs a fortune there.

    Off subject, (if you have been to all 3,) would you prefer the Maldives, Seychelles, or Mauritius?

  6. Amit says

    Can I book hotel rooms for my parents using my points? I have access to the AXON rewards and they do not.

  7. Up&Away says

    I think I’m going to burn my Hilton points at the WA Park City and possibly a tropical location such as Barbados or possibly Puerto Rico. Not as glamorous a list, but I’m taking along a husband and 4- and 6-yr old boys. The Maldives are just not calling me yet.

  8. Sang Kancil Guru says

    Oh, come on, stop being such a drama queen. Pick a “Park Hyatt” already, most of us can’t even stay at one even if we aspire to.

    If you can’t make up your mind, I’m sure many of us don’t mind taking your place and getting some donation of your Hilton Dongs.

  9. Benny says

    I just finished a stay at the Park Hyatt Sydney using my two free suite nights. Got an Opera House Delxue King since they don’t give suites. Still very happy with it!

  10. Ivan says

    Have you considered the Conrad Seoul, a cat 7 property? Also, Conrad Beijing just opened a few days ago as a Cat 7.
    Lastly, not as axon award but more of a VIP or standard reward, the Waldorf Astoria Shanghai is going for 50k points for the larger part of the year.

  11. Alonso A. says

    I am peruvian, there is really no threat. There were 3 americans that were attacked by native people in cuzco a month ago because they were wondering outside on their grounds at night, but thats just going out of the trail.

    I was just this weekend on Tambo del Inka and its beautiful, the hotel is magnificent. Along with my wife, we have 15 stays booked throughout the year both on Tambo del Inka and Hotel Paracas. You could also stay at the Westin (the first and i believe only in south america) in Lima, which is awesome.

    I’ll give you a tip…Hotel Palacio del Inka which is owned by the same company as the other two LCs in Perú will also become a LC starting in may, it is located in Cusco and it is supposed to be awesome.

    Tambo del Inka has its own train station and has one train that departs early morning for a one day trip to Machu Picchu, returning at around 6 pm.

    I’ll be glad to give you all the advice I can, too bad the Aerolineas Argentinas call I made didn’t serve you well.

    Cheers,

    Alonso

  12. Jo says

    i think you should go where you want to visit, not where you would maximize value. or, better yet, let us decide by voting on where you have to go.

  13. DBest says

    Any bachelor parties coming up? Book a bunch of rooms for the boys and just drink until you forget the word ‘devaluation’.

  14. Anita says

    I’m glad we’ve got our Tambo del Inka reservations already! We’re going in June; family of five so requires 2 rooms.

    As for the kidnapping threat, we’ll keep our wits about us but it isn’t going to change our plans.

  15. Nancy says

    Park Hyatt Paris, definitely! Suites are divine, great location, wonderful staff, splendid breakfast!

  16. Carl says

    Tambo del Inka is super fantastic, think you will enjoy it, plan your Machu Picchu excursion well in advance, space is limited.

    For your Hyatt nights, just do PH Tokyo, end of story.

    For your 3 AXONs, i would do Koh Samui, Maldives, and Bora Bora. Just suck up the various costs, you are getting the rooms, internet, and breakfast for free.

  17. Diana W says

    The new Andaz in Maui if it’ll be open before your certificates expire? Probably not as exciting as a PH though.

  18. Shawn says

    Regarding the PH Sydney, while it may not technically be a suite, the Opera Deluxe rooms they use as upgrades are incredible. Factoring in the view from two balconies, it is hands down the best hotel room I’ve ever had, suites included. I also found the service level to be top notch.

  19. Max says

    It’s not as much of an aspirational redemption, but if you got in on that LAN SCL fare madness, there are two Starwood LC’s in Chile: San Cristobal Tower in Santiago, and Villarrica Park Lake Hotel in the Lakes Region. Do it before May and it won’t be too chilly down there. Combine that with a jaunt to Machu Picchu on the way and maybe a hop over to Buenos Aires to burn those Hyatt nights for a stay at the PH and you’ve got yourself a proper trip. Easy to book inter-SA flights on LAN using Avios, right?

  20. Stargoldua says

    Agree with Shawn. Stayed there for 2 nights and got Opera deluxe with 2 balconies, since wife is an employee. Lovely property and great service. While doing bridge climb, guide remarked “this is where rich people stay in Sydney . LOL” Try tAlking them into upgrading you to One of 3 Governers suites. They go for 17k/ night

  21. Tim says

    IIRC you’ve only been to one Hawaiian island and didn’t even leave the resort.
    Try Kauai (if you can stomach domestic narrowbody 1st or a 717/Dash8). Try Grand Hyatt Kauai in the south (great suite redemption) them the St Regis in the north (going from 20K-30k soon). Hands down the best resorts on the island.
    Hilton sucks in Hawaii (unless you have kids).

  22. Sheila says

    Peru is awesome! Visited last summer. Did the 4 day Inca Trail. Stayed at Tambo del Inka before and after hike- very nice hotel. Can’t wait to go back again someday.

  23. says

    Everyone I know is going to Peru. Sounds like a good idea. As for where to use your free suite nights, IMO Hyatt makes it easy enough to book an award night in a suite using points. It’s more expensive, yes, but not as bad as with Hilton or SPG. So I wouldn’t worry too much about maximizing value because I’m sure you’ll have enough Gold Pasport points to book another award stay in a suite sometime soon.

  24. Carl says

    I want to burn a bunch of HH points, too. I’m thinking about Bora Bora, and definitely about Koh Samui. If I do Koh Samui, why not include a stop in Hong Kong and stay at the Conrad there.

    We were in the Conrad Maldives this year, and I think it’s a stellar property. While I haven’t been to the PH to compare, I can’t really imagine that it’s any better. We did stay in an overwater villa as an upgrade, but I agree that the beach villas look pretty nice too. However we were able to skinny dip off our overwater villa at dawn and dusk, and I don’t think that would be an option at a beach villa. Diamond recognition is great at the Conrad, including an evening cocktail hour, and an amazing breakfast (brunch?) buffet.

    As for the PH 2-suite-nights, no question: PH Tokyo. Those suites are awesome.

  25. David says

    How about someplace new? PH Tokyo, Paris and Maldives are over-blogged…

    Rebranded Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Cambodia? It should open in April. I guess the $ value would be too low though, probably $300-400/night.

    I think I will do Seoul and Tokyo though…4 days in each is just right, and it would be a nonstop from SFO on a variety of airlines.

  26. Andrey Stevenson says

    Grand Wailea on Maui is pretty nice. You could burn through 500k pretty easily here. Plus, it is a nonstop flight on Alaska from SEA to Maui.

  27. Angela says

    How about Hilton Moore? Just a ferry away from Tahiti, and there’s definitely more to do than Boar Bora. My favorite Hilton property by far!

  28. nighttripper says

    why no love for the Conrad Bali? only 35k/night right now (or less using VIP awards, as low as 26.5k/night) and soon to be 60k/night seasonally. Bali makes your top 5 destinations list, no?

  29. Adam says

    What are te most reasonable options to get to Thailand (stopping in Tokyo) with UR points?

    Tokyo for the PH, Thailand for the Conrad…

  30. bluecat says

    Ceylonese saying: “Just because the knife is gold, doesn’t mean you should kill yourself with it.”

  31. Eric says

    Ben

    We are headed to both of the the properties in Peru next week and the Westin Lima. While we are excited by the the properties, we are already concerned about the quality of the service. We have already had several emails go unanswered even after contacting the Luxury Hotel Collection Concierge. Additionally, at Tambo del Inka the hotel tour operator has been very sketchy in arranging visits to Machu Picchu. In our case we agreed to a package, sent confirmation and then received an email a month later that our tickets had not been purchased and the price had conveniently gone up $150 per person. Only time will tell, but frustration seems to be high on the agenda in Peru travel.

  32. JP2 says

    The wife and I will be at the PH ZRH for 3 nights and 2 nights at the Hilton in Basel during the week of 3/3 if you want to come hang out.

  33. says

    Agree with other commenters. PH Sydney Opera Deluxe room >> PH Tokyo Park Suite. I don’t think the Tambo Del Inka category shift requires urgent action. Category 5 seems fair to me based on the quality of the property.

  34. GJ says

    The Park Hyatt Syndey Opera Deluxe Room is larger than the Cove Suite (75 sq meters vs. 73 sq meters). I used my two free nights there and the hotel is absolutely amazing. The location can’t be beat.

    A lot of the other hotels in Sydney/CBD are in older sky rises with out any sort of view because new construction has blocked any previous view the hotel had (i.e. Four Seasons and the Intercontinental).

    Definitely worth the stay!

  35. Nick E says

    +1 to Angela’s post…the Hilton in Moorea is much easier to get to than Bora Bora (take the ferry, the flight isn’t worth it), and we found a TON of things to do for the 6 nights we were there. Renting a dune buggy was the best…we drove the entire island!

    Another poster mentioned the Seychelles…the wife and I are heading to the Hilton Labriz in May for 6 nights, and for Diamonds, a 5-night stay gets you free boat transfers. Maybe book an AXON and use one of the certificates?

    The WA in Park City is another FABULOUS use of the free night certificates; my wife and I just stayed there last weekend and got upgraded to a gorgeous 1-bedroom residence with a full kitchen. The service is outstanding, and how can you not love a place with free hot chocolate/hot cider after skiing and free s’mores around the heated outdoor pool every evening??

  36. TopGunner says

    I second using HHonors points to visit the newly branded Conrad Pezula. Stayed there for a couple nights in January with some friends. It’s a spectacular property surrounded by a golf course community in semi-secluded part of Knysna, although you will only get partial ocean views and not the lagoon. Great value for golds with breakfast buffet. There is a world class fine dining restaurant on property. If you really want to find an easy way to blow those 500k points try to see if you can do a premium redemption to the Pezula Castle, which is a separate part of the property that is on a cliff side with a private beach and has its own butler service. Before joining Hilton, Pezula was a hidden gem for the well to do of south Africa and foreigners in the know, really a steal at 50k per night.

  37. Andy says

    the embassy suites at niaraga falls, ontario, ca, is worthy of at least one night stay if you choose a fallsview room, which costs 50,000 pts (yr 2012’s price). you have to stay at hilton because marriott does not offer fallsview room for award stay.

  38. aznprzn says

    @lukky
    Bro hug of sadness, that epic churnmonths ago of two hawaii cards, two citi hiltons 50k, two virgin air cards 55k, and then later citi reserves 40k spend met this year (face palm) .ugh

  39. David says

    Another Hilton suggestion…Conrad Knysna (or whatever they’re calling it.) It’s a new property to Hilton and it’s in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

  40. Brazilflyer says

    If you had bought AA tickets to Rio/Brazil recently when they were really low out of MCO, consider planning a lengthier Brazil vacation to multiple cities. There at Hilton and Starwood properties all over the country. You are already investing in the costly visa, might as well get the most out of it. You should be able to buy with your US CC on Brazilian domestic carrier sites like Tam, Gol, and Azul. You can also try to buy at decolar.com. Just call your US CC issuer in advance to say you’re going to make a big purchase on XYZ Brazilian site, because the sites often go unrecognized and raise a red flag.

  41. Matt says

    Having stayed for 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Tokyo recently, I would definitely use at least one of the Suite Awards there. The suite is very large (I would argue it’s large even compared to the larger-than-average regular rooms at the PHT) and the service is amazing. In addition, the Diamond benefits are phenomenal. You’ve touched on them before, but they go above and beyond with the NY Bar benefit. A friend and I had ~six drinks every night we went completely free, and they even brought us food on two nights as well. Certainly a better redemption than in Paris or Zurich (I haven’t been to the PH Milan) where the suites are smaller, or in most other hotels in Asia/Middle East/South America where rates are not as high.

    As for HHonors, I’d say Koh Samui is the best. Maldives looks nice enough, but the PH looks much better (and I must admit there’s just something about the feel of all HHonors hotels that doesn’t do it for me).

  42. chubbuni13 says

    Burned 4 nights + 2 free (Hilton Reserve) at the Conrad Ko Samui for late July/early August the day before the “enhancements” came out. Long shot, but let me know if you’re going to be in Bangkok or KSM during that time, Lucky. My girlfriend’s fluent in Thai, a Bangkok native and she knows all the fun spots.

  43. lucky says

    @ Alan — There’s still reward space, it’s just a bit tougher to come by than at the beginning since a lot of people are redeeming for it.

  44. Bryan says

    Any suggestions on the best way to spend 3 days in Hong Kong? First time traveling there. Will probably stay at the Conrad HK or the Peninsula HK.

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