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In the latest installment of our “Points and Miles Destination Guide” series, TPG Contributor Whitney Magnuson explores the many different ways to maximize hotel redemptions in Sydney using points and miles.
It’s no surprise that a trip to Australia makes many a points and miles enthusiast’s bucket list. At 14-plus hours, long-haul flights from the West Coast to Sydney provide an opportunity to truly maximize the value of a mileage award, with ample hours to enjoy the luxury of a first-class redemption.
And with the Australian dollar recently hitting a six-year low, now’s a great time to visit the land down under. Below, I’ll look at how best to maximize points redemptions for hotels in Sydney for five different types of travelers.
If You Want to See the Big Tourist Sites: The Park Hyatt Sydney
If you’re planning to stay close to the most popular tourist attractions, it’s tough to beat the Park Hyatt Sydney. With breathtaking views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, rooms average about $707 or 30,000 Hyatt points per night. That breaks down to a redemption rate of about 2.4 cents per point, which is favorable, compared to the most recent TPG monthly valuations, which peg Hyatt points at 1.8 cents apiece.
Some dates also offer a Points + Cash rate of 15,000 points and $232 in cash. While this option does require opening the pocketbook, you’d end up getting a better value: a whopping 3.2 cents per point.
Alternately, with the Hyatt Visa card, cardholders who complete the $1,000 minimum spending in the first three months of card membership can earn two free nights at any Hyatt property worldwide. Given the high price of rooms at this property, this would be a great use of those free nights — and could easily get you more than $2,000 in value. You can also transfer points instantly from Ultimate Rewards, earned with a card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
If You Want to Hang with the Locals on Manly Beach: Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific
Sydney culture is beach culture, and the locals love to spend their time swimming, surfing and soaking in the rays. While you could explore the more popular and touristy Bondi Beach, a quick ferry across the harbor to Manly Beach offers a more authentic experience.
Accor Hotels, the parent group for such brands as Sofitel and — most recently — Fairmont, boasts two properties on Manly Beach, with the Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific getting slightly better reviews. Rates start at about $152 a night, and members of the “Le Club” loyalty program can redeem 2,000 points at a time for €40 vouchers, redeemable at any Accor hotel. That equates to a redemption value of 2.2 cents per point, given current exchange rates.
Earning points with Le Club can be a bit challenging, however, as there isn’t an Accor Hotels credit card. There is a workaround, though, and that’s to use a bank-affiliated travel portal like Chase Ultimate Rewards to book your stay. A one-night stay can be had for as few as 10,300 points when booking through the Chase portal, and given the current 50,000 points bonus available with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a four-night stay is easily within reach.
If You Have an Early Flight out of SYD: Holiday Inn Sydney Airport
What’s worse than an international long-haul in economy? Missing your flight and having to camp out at the airport for a day until the next flight leaves. For travelers with an early morning or late-night departure from Sydney International Airport (SYD) wishing to avoid that situation, there are several hotels close to the airport.
One such property, the Holiday Inn Sydney Airport, offers an airport shuttle and is located close to a rail station for those wishing to venture into the city proper during their stay. Rates start at $143 or 35,000 IHG points a night.
If you’re looking to earn IHG points, you might consider the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card, which currently offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after spending $1,000 in purchases within the first three months of account opening. IHG’s Points + Cash option can also be quite lucrative.
If You Want to Party at Sydney’s Version of Mardi Gras: Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar
In Sydney, Mardi Gras is a month-long celebration of all things LGBTQ, that culminated with a pride parade and massive party in early March that’s easily one of the largest such celebrations in the world. While it might be a bit late to plan a Mardi Gras trip for this year, it’s a great time to start thinking about 2017!
While events take place all over the city, if you’re hoping to book a room close to the parade route, you should check out the Best Western Plus Hotel Stellar, located toward the start of the route at Oxford Street and Wentworth Avenue. Rates average around $140 a night most of the year, but nearly double to $260 a night during Mardi Gras.
Similarly, while award nights can normally be had for about 20,000 Best Western points per night, you might have trouble booking free nights for next year’s event. Still, if you’re planning far in advance for 2017, it could be worth a shot. Unfortunately American Express Membership Rewards no longer transfer to Best Western, however.
You do have an opportunity to earn up to 70,000 points with the Best Western Rewards Premium MasterCard, which breaks down into 25,000 bonus points for spending $2,500 in the first three months, another 25,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in the first six months and an additional 20,000 for spending $10,000 in the first 12 months. Assuming you complete the full bonus and associated spending, you’d have enough points to earn a free four-night stay at this property for next year’s festivities or on any other trip to Sydney.
If You Want to See Some Australian Sports: Hotel Harry, An Ascend Hotel Collection Member
Sydneysiders are a sporty bunch, and in Sydney you can even find a number of sports you’re unlikely to see played anywhere else. But whether you prefer rugby, cricket or something further afield, it’s likely you can find it happening within the Centennial Parklands, home of Allianz Stadium and the Sydney Cricket Ground.
The complex is located southeast of downtown Sydney in Surry Hills, and one of the many nearby hotels is the Hotel Harry, a member of the Choice Hotels network. A room in this historic Victorian-era property can be had from around $140 or 25,000 Choice Privileges points per night, for a redemption value of 0.6 cents per point.
If you’re looking for a way to earn those 25,000 points, you might consider the Choice Privileges Visa Signature Card. However, while the card advertises a bonus of up to four free nights, that actually equates to just 8,000 points after your first purchase on the card, and an additional 24,000 points only after you pay for your first stay at a Choice hotel using the card.
A better option for those looking to earn Choice points would be to apply for one of the American Express cards that offer a bonus of Membership Rewards points. Membership Rewards transfer to Choice Privileges at a 1:1 rate, so you can easily earn enough points to book your Australian adventure without the need for a paid stay elsewhere.
Need More Advice on What to Do During Your Sydney Vacation? See these relevant TPG articles below:
- Fly United to Sydney for Just 60,000 United Miles Round Trip
- How to Use Airline Miles for Award Travel to Sydney
- My Sydney Restaurant Recommendations
- Destination of the Week: Sydney
What’s your favorite points hotel in Sydney? Let us know in the comments, below.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- Named Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, July 2016
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
- No foreign transaction fees
- 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel
- No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards