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Update: Some of the offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express
To help you maximize your hotel points – and your impeccable taste in lodgings – TPG Assistant Editor Melanie Wynne explores 10 ways to be rewarded for your brand loyalty to cool, hip hotels around the world.
Frequent travelers (and regular TPG readers) already know that large hotel chains like Marriott, Starwood and Hyatt offer their own loyalty programs. However, you might be surprised to learn that some of the most hip boutique hotels and resorts out there actually belong to loyalty programs, too. As little as a weekend’s stay in one of these beauties could earn travelers points, status, upgrades and free nights, as well as other perks. We’ve singled out the following global properties for both their loyalty benefits and their hipness factor:
The Hotel: The Vegas Strip isn’t exactly known for independent hotels, so it’s surprising that The Cosmopolitan, despite its casino and 2,995 rooms, manages to feel like one. Featuring a fresh spin on Art Deco design, the decor here represents Sin City’s trend towards a return to its glamorous roots. Its nightclub, Marquee, rarely closes, and when the sun is up, it simply refers to itself as a “dayclub.” Superstar house music producer Kaskade has a residency at Marquee and the club attracts top global DJ talent. The hotel’s poolside scene invites guests to watch movies while they float in the water, and to enjoy cabana-adjacent music performances. The on-site event space, Chelsea, will be hosting singer Bruno Mars several times through the summer and fall, and the hotel has seven restaurants, including Vegas outposts of L.A. chef David Myers’ French bistro Comme Ça and Jose Andres’ Washington, D.C. tapas spot, Jaleo.
The Points Angle: The Cosmopolitan is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, a group of 59 global properties that are all highly different from one another (ranging from small, historic hotels to sprawling resorts) and represent a more independent atmosphere than Marriott‘s other hotel lines. Listed as a Category 9 property on the Marriott Rewards chart, The Cosmopolitan requires 45,000 Marriott Rewards points for a free night. Marriott Rewards members earn 10 points for every 2 dollars spent at Autograph Collection properties, and can boost their points earnings with the Marriott Rewards Visa and its business version, which comes with a 30,000-point sign-up bonus (after a spend of $1,000 in the first 3 months), two free nights at Category 1-4 hotels, and 3 points for every on-property dollar spent (1:1 for all other purchases).
The Hotel: Following a glamorous 2006 renovation of over £140 million, this 1927 West End gem has since firmly reclaimed its hold on London’s most creative, well-heeled high rollers. The official host of London Fashion Week, the hotel features a global art collection and the city’s largest private screening room (with 201 seats), as well as a casino, an on-site spa, and the locally famous May Fair Bar, which offers a menu of 40 signature cocktails and a separate, dedicated cigar room. Each one of the property’s 404 rooms has a different design, though each has luxurious, jewel-toned fabrics and flourishes that hover between Asian and rococo.
The Points Angle: The May Fair just joined Carlson Rezidor’s new overseas luxury brand, Quorvus Collection, which replaces a short-lived hotel partnership with Italian fashion house Missoni. The May Fair (and Quorvus’ other two properties, Edinburgh’s G & V Hotel and Kuwait’s Symphony Style Hotel) is listed as Category 7 properties on the Club Carlson redemption chart, requiring 70,000 Gold Points for a free night. (Category 7 is a new feature for the Carlson program, which has recently undergone some changes.) Club Carlson members earn 20 Gold Points for every on-property dollar spent, but additional on-property earnings can be made with the program’s three co-branded credit cards, Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature (10:1), Club Carlson Rewards Visa Signature (6:1), and Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa Signature (10:1).
The Hotel: Originally built of solid Quincy granite in 1851, the former Charles Street Jail is now a 298-guestroom luxury property in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood that features many of the prison’s original architectural details, like the lobby’s inlaid marble floor and rose windows, brick and ironwork in guestrooms. With a wink and a nod toward the past, The Liberty’s farm-to-table restaurant is called Clink. The hopping bar scene here includes complimentary events like performances by local musicians, and pet-friendly Yappier Hours (including dog treats and alcohol-free “puptails”) are held weekly out on the hotel’s back patio. Bath products are Molton Brown, and the most desirable room views are of Beacon Hill’s green space and the Charles River.
The Points Angle: The Liberty Hotel belongs to Starwood’s The Luxury Collection, a group of 97 high-end, worldwide properties that offer tailor-made experiences designed to immerse guests in the history, culture and environment of their destinations. Spanning Categories 1 through 5 on the Starwood Preferred Guest redemption chart (focused largely on Categories 3 and 4), Luxury Collection properties require between 3,000 and 16,000 Starpoints for a free night; The Liberty Hotel is a Category 5 property, requiring 16,000 points for a free night. (Note that now through July 31, 2014, SPG’s “Earn Away Get Away” promo allows members to earn double and triple Starpoints on select stays.) Members earn 3 points for every on-property dollar spent, but can boost their earnings with the Starwood Preferred Guest Amex and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Amex, which earn an additional 2 points for every on-property dollar spent.
The Hotel: Glassy, modern and LEED-certified, this recent addition to the Kimpton Hotels roster is set walking distance from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the A + D Architecture and Design Museum, The Grove shopping center and Old Farmer’s Market, and the trendy West Third Street shopping district. The hotel’s open-air rooftop restaurant/cocktail lounge, The Roof on Wilshire, is a poolside oasis helmed by chef (and grilled-cheese wizard) Eric Greenspan and offers spectacular views of Beverly Hills and the Hollywood Hills. As at other Kimpton properties, the Wilshire features in-room recycling and a progressive pet-stay program, and its 74 guestrooms include animal-print robes, cutting-edge lighting and bright accents of color.
The Points Angle: As America’s largest chain of boutique hotels, Kimpton has its own loyalty program, called InTouch Rewards. At participating hotels (like The Hotel Wilshire), InTouch members receive free Wifi, a $10 beverage credit and a $30 spa treatment credit (in this property’s case, for in-room treatments), and 7 stays or 20 nights at any Kimpton property will earn a free night. The program’s elite-status Inner Circle level is awarded after 15 stays or 45 nights at Kimpton properties within a calendar year, as well as to those who are elite members (second-tier or higher) of any other hotel brand’s loyalty program. After Inner Circle members complete three Kimpton stays, they’re eligible for a free night at any new Kimpton property that’s been open for six months or less.
The Hotel: Like the other 58 boutique properties within InterContinental’s Hotel Indigo brand, this 132-guestroom Garden District hotel features a modern, comfortable design aesthetic with bright splashes of color, and offers free WiFi, pet-friendly stays, and a distinct neighborhood focus. The on-site restaurant and bar, Babin’s, overlooks the St. Charles Avenue streetcar route, and guests are surrounded by New Orleans-specific details like locally inspired murals by area artists, salvaged ironwork, and reclaimed wood ceilings.
The Points Angle: As part of the IHG Rewards Program, a stay here will earn 10 points for every dollar spent, and a single Reward Night at Hotel Indigo New Orleans requires 30,000 points or a combination of 20,000 points + $70 or 25,000 points + $40. (Note that now through September 15, 2014, IHG Rewards members can take advantage of a promotion called Reel Summer, which offers extra bonus opportunities for summer stays.) Additional points earnings can be made with the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which can offer as high as an 80,000-point sign-up bonus and earns 5 points per dollar spent at participating properties – such as Hotel Indigo.
The Hotel: Perched just a few blocks from the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Elysees, this artsy 36-guestroom property could easily be mistaken for a private townhouse – but only from the outside. The cutting-edge, global decor is inspired by the work of French interior designer Philippe Starck, and some of his whimsical lamps and furniture can be found throughout the property. Each guestroom features a print of a different Hollywood star, as well as a Nespresso machine and a slate-paved bathroom with a rain shower. The small, sexy bar features purple velvet-upholstered chairs and Murano chandeliers, and the property features a single spa treatment room with a Turkish-style hammam.
The Points Angle: Part of the Preferred Hotel Group’s Sterling Design Hotels collection of 16 reasonably-priced, streamlined and contemporary boutique properties, MonHotel participates in Preferred’s relatively new iPrefer loyalty program. While the program generally offers one point for each on-property dollar spent, a special Preferred Pride rate of 259 euros ($354 US) per night at the Mon Hotel entitles members to earn double points and receive a complimentary bottle of Champagne upon arrival. Achieving the program’s Silver status level requires less than 5,000 points, Gold requires 5,000-14,999 points, and Platinum, 15,000+ points, all within a calendar year. Program members can exchange points for certificates that can be redeemed for hotel rooms, and in some cases, for dining, beverages, spa treatments and more. Members can also opt to earn miles via 16 airline partners, which include Alaska, American, United and Virgin Atlantic.
The Hotel: One of only five Dream Hotels, Wyndham’s luxury boutique brand of modern, five-star properties (as well as part of star hotelier Vikram Chatwal’s portfolio), this part-breezy, part-avant-garde getaway in the heart of New York’s Meatpacking District – right near The Highline – features 315 guestrooms, a large collection of pop art and cool, colorful lighting.The beach-themed rooftop club and cocktail lounge is replete with sand and cabanas, all surrounding a glass-bottomed pool. As one of the city’s hottest nightlife destinations, the club is known for its tough door policy. The lobby restaurant, Cherry, is easier to access, featuring a menu designed by Bond Sushi’s Jonothan Moor that blends Japanese and French cuisine.
The Points Angle: Dream Downtown, like all the Dream Hotels, is a Level 8 property on the Wyndham Hotel Rewards redemption chart, and requires 30,000 points for a free night.Wyndham Rewards members earn 10 points for each on-property dollar spent, and earnings can be boosted via the Wyndham Rewards Visa, which offers up to a 30,000-point bonus and an additional 5 points for every on-property dollar spent (2:1 on all other purchases). The loyalty program also offers the option of earning miles and points via a variety of Wyndham travel partners, including 19 airlines (such as Alaska and United), Amtrak, and Melia Hotels.
The Hotel: This modern, high-rise and high-end property in Chicago’s Near North, just a few blocks west of the Magnificent Mile, is home to Vertigo Sky Lounge, one of the city’s most popular rooftop cocktail bars. It also features a tranquil, five-room spa with a small steam room, comprehensive menu (including treatments for couples and mothers-to-be) and kimono-style robes. Each of the 216 guestrooms here comes with a city view,a Keurig coffeemaker and complimentary WiFi, and state-of-the-art technology like Bowers & Wilkins MP3 stereos and 37″ flat-screen TVs. Chef Rodelio Aglibot has designed a global menu for the property’s on-site restaurant, Freestyle Food & Drink, and every Tuesday night he features specials from a different cuisine.
The Points Angle: The Dana Hotel & Spa is one of 500 global boutique properties under the Worldhotels banner, a British-owned chain that offers its guests two loyalty options.Worldhotels’ Business Traveler Program offers a minimum discount of 10% on full-price room rates, or rewards a stash of 500 miles that can be banked to one of 26 participating airline partners, including American, Delta and United. The Peakpoints loyalty program offers 300 free Peakpoints at sign-up, and initially allows earning at a rate of 2 points for each Euro (or $1.37 US) spent on rooms. For example, the lowest summertime rate for a double-occupancy guestroom at the Dana is $279, which would yield a nightly earning of 204 Peakpoints. Program members must have 2,000 Peakpoints in their accounts before they can begin cashing them in for vouchers which range between 25 and 250 Euros and can be used at any of the chain’s properties, including the Dana; a total of 15,000 Peakpoints can be earned on each stay. The Peakpoints program offers three elite levels (Silver, Gold and Navigator) with calendar-year qualification amounts of between 3,000 and 20,000 Peakpoints, and all account activity can be tracked on the program’s own app for Android or iPhone.
The Hotel: A reasonably-priced hotel is a rarity in the Maldives’ capital of Malé, so this modern, 117-guestroom boutique hotel laid with dark woods, marble, gold tones and mirrored surfaces is a real find. Set just off the Indian Ocean, a seven-minute complimentary speedboat ride away from Malé Airport, 16 of the property’s guestrooms – including the hotel’s one Deluxe Suite – have balconies that overlook the ocean. The best views, though, are from the rooftop infinity pool, which stretches beside Azur, a seafood and sushi restaurant and a popular cocktail bar that uses island-local fruits in its drinks. Down in the lobby, Lime is the property’s elegant Southeast Asian restaurant, and Panini is a casual deli/café. There is also a small spa on the 4th floor, as well as a state-of-the-art fitness center that’s open 24 hours. Large, quiet guestrooms have tiled marble floors, 37″ LCD TVs, rain showers, and complimentary WiFi.
The Points Angle: Traders is a boutique line of 19 Asian and Middle Eastern business hotels under The Shangri-La banner, which means that guests of the Traders Hotel, Maldives can use and earn Shangri-La Golden Circle Award Points. Members earn at the rate of 1 GC Award Point for every dollar spent on-property, including rooms, food and beverages, and spa treatments. The program has three status levels – Gold, Jade and Diamond; Jade members earn 25% bonus points, and Diamond members earn 50% bonus GC Award Points. Redemptions for free room nights can be made with points or a combination of points and cash; room rates at the Traders Hotel, Maldives start at $290 per night or 2,450 points. Members can choose to earn points or to bank between 500-1,000 airline miles per stay; each of Shangri-La’s 30 partner airlines offers a different miles-earning rate.
The Hotel: This modern, 258-guestroom, 29-floor Avenida Diagonal hotel, set on the border between the historic industrial neighborhood of Poblenou and the up-and-coming “innovation district” called simply @22, is one of the tallest buildings in the city. The view from its 24th-floor, Michelin-starred Dos Cielos Restaurant affords a 360-degree view of Barcelona, including the Mediterranean Sea and several of Gaudi’s most iconic buildings. The 25th floor and above belong to The Level club and rooms, and the YHI Spa features a hammam, hydromassage, and a dry sauna. The relaxing color palette here is largely confined to white, taupe and a few bright accents, and guestrooms (including 23 suites) feature artwork created by local artists, as well as free WiFi and plasma TVs. Each bathroom has a rain shower or bath, as well as a cheeky glass wall. There are three on-site bars, including one in the lobby and one on the roof.
The Points Angle: The third-largest hotel chain in Europe, Spanish-owned Melia has its own Meliá Rewards loyalty program, which offers a signup bonus of 2,000 points and discount of 15% off all on-property purchases, including rooms. Entry-level members receive 10 points for every dollar or Euro spent on rooms, as well as an additional 10 points for each dollar or Euro spent in a YHI spa (like the one found at Barcelona Sky), as well as a free one-night stay on his or her birthday. The Barcelona Sky’s starting rate for one night is $156.38 (for a nightly earning of 1,563 points), and requires either 38,805 points or 2,ooo points + $142.88 for a free night. The program offers three status levels (Silver, Gold and Platinum) that require between 5,000 and 50,000 points or five and 50 stays. Platinum status provides complimentary access to The Level clubs, a feature of Barcelona Sky. Members can gift their points to anyone, or transfer them to the chain’s Wyndham hotel partners or four airline partners, including American and Iberia.
Do you have a favorite hip hotel where you can use your points? Please share them with us in the comments below! While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
While this premium card has one of the highest annual fees on the market, it has several valuable perks that could make it worthwhile, depending on your travel patterns. These include a $200 annual airline rebate, lounge access, free Hilton Gold status and free Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.