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TPG Special Contributor Eric Rosen recently took advantage of IHG Rewards Club’s winter Accelerate promo to maximize a visit to New York City. Here’s how he raked in nearly 140,000 points with just two nights at hotels.
To be honest, my two hotel chains of choice tend to be Hyatt and Starwood. I get a lot of value from their points, and both chains have some fantastic properties around the world. However, I’ve been taking a closer look at IHG Rewards lately thanks to some lucrative promotions, the fact that they have more than 4,000 properties around the world where I can earn and redeem my points and the ease of transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my IHG account for last-minute top-ups.
When I was planning a quick visit to New York City in March, I found some great options that were not only good value for the money, but also would help me maximize IHG’s winter Accelerate promotion to rake in well over 100,000 points for two one-night stays. Here’s how I did it.
My Accelerate Offer
Like most IHG Rewards Club promotions (including the Share Forever promotion announced this week), the program’s previous promo (announced in December) was tailored to individual accounts. Here were the details of my specific offer:
As you can see, my bonus opportunities were:
- 1,000 points: Stay once and earn 1,000 bonus points
- 5,000 points: Stay five nights and earn 5,000 bonus points
- 1,900 points: Book two stays directly through IHG (app, website, central reservations number) and earn 1,900 points
- 2,000 points: Apply for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card and earn 2,000 bonus points
- 40,100 points: Achievement bonus. Complete three of the four offers and earn an additional 40,100 bonus points.
The real kicker was that last one since the bulk of my bonus required completing three of the four offers. I tend to have many more short stays, so the one item that was probably going to hold me up was staying five nights total. But thanks to the two nights I had to spend in New York and the fact that I don’t mind changing hotels, I was at least going to rack up the one-time stay bonus and the IHG booking bonus.
The other thing holding me back, though, was the fact that I would need to apply for the IHG credit card to complete the three out of four offers and earn my full accelerate bonus. The sign-up bonus on the IHG card has gone as high as 80,000 points in the past, though when I got this offer, it was just at 60,000 points.
Luckily, right around the time I was going to book my stays, I got an email with the following targeted offer:
As you can see, it’s for 80,000 points for spending $1,000 in the first three months. This is as high as the bonus on this card ever goes, and it’s what I had been holding out for. I had one last qualm, though. According to the fine print in the Accelerate promo terms, I had to apply for the IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card via the link included in my Accelerate offer. That one only led to a 60,000-point bonus, though. So I called IHG Rewards Club and asked them what was up.
The agent I spoke to said that she reviewed my account and that she could see I had been targeted for the 80,000-point offer, so I could go ahead and apply for that and I would still be fulfilling the Accelerate terms. I asked her to create a case number for me so I could reference it if I had any issues earning all the points due to me, and she did before we said goodbye.
With that in hand, I booked my stay. Rooms at the InterContinental were starting at $207 for the nights I was looking at.
I actually opted for an additional 5,000 points for $20.
That amounts to 0.4 cents per point and well worth paying in my book, so I tacked on the extra $20, and it came to a total of $260 with taxes.
For my second night and second stay, I wanted to check out one of IHG’s newest properties, the EVEN Hotel in “Times Square South.” A standard Wellness King room would be $189.
That’s compared to $229 for the next highest category, and going up from there.
In this case, adding 5,000 bonus points only cost an extra $15 — a mere 0.3 cents per point, so I went ahead and did that too for a total of $237 with taxes. I also have IHG Rewards Gold status, so I would earn a 10% points bonus on the base points.
So all told, I was paying just about $500 and would be racking up a total (not including any other charges I made at the hotels) of 137,917 points. That’s a pretty decent haul, especially considering it would net me close to three nights at top-tier IHG properties that can go for well over $500 per night.
Now I was just ready for my actual stays.
InterContinental New York Times Square
The InterContinental New York Times Square is a great property for those looking for a central location since it’s right by … well, Times Square, at the corner of 44th Street and 8th Avenue. It’s one of the larger InterContinental properties, with 607 rooms and four suites.
I pulled up to the hotel around noon and the bellmen were really nice and attentive, getting my bags from the taxi trunk while I paid, and rolling them to the desk for me.
I was a bit early for check-in, but they had a room ready for me and were able to send me right up. I had booked a Deluxe Room with a King bed, but they had given me a room two categories (and about $50) higher in the King Bed Deluxe Corner category. It was located on a higher floor and on the corner for a little extra privacy and with windows on two walls, which was nice.
The room was about 350 square feet with a King-size bed and a large work desk that also contained a mini-bar, including a little Keurig coffee maker.
And a wall-mounted 42-inch HDTV.
The bathroom wasn’t large, but there was a lot of counter space and a big walk-in shower with both wall-mounted and rainfall shower heads.
It was stocked with nice citrus-scented Agraria Bath Products.
The hotel has a decent gym, which I actually took advantage of! It had a bunch of cardio and weight machines, some free weights and some exercise balls.
The hotel also has a restaurant by celebrity chef Todd English called Ça Va, which has a French-Mediterranean menu.
I was on my own and wanted a quick bite for dinner, so I sat in the lounge just adjacent to the lobby and next to the restaurant instead and ordered off the smaller lounge menu (though you can get the full menu here as well).
I had a grilled chicken BLT with avocado on whole wheat toast with some truffle fries, and it was all delicious.
Though it’s mainly a business and convention hotel, the InterContinental was quite comfortable and a nice option for me. The staff were all very friendly and personable — they upgraded me to a really nice room — and all the amenities were in place. Given that the rates at this hotel often approach $500 per night, I might not opt to stay there on a regular basis, but at the $200 mark, I think this was a relative steal.
I will say, I did have one negative impression. I had to have a package delivered to me at the hotel, which I called a day ahead to warn them of, and asked about at check-in as well since I wanted to be notified when it arrived.
Hours later, I called down to the desk again to see if it had indeed come, and they said it had and they would send someone up with it. So they didn’t get it to me as soon as possible. But to add insult to injury, upon check-out, I was charged a $5 delivery fee! I pointed out that no one had informed me that that would be the case and that I could have had the package delivered elsewhere if I’d known, but the agent checking me out didn’t even offer an apology. I know $5 isn’t much to complain about, but they had a few opportunities to let me know I’d be charged extra for this non-service, and no one had, so I felt taken advantage of.
EVEN Hotel Times Square South
My second IHG stay in as many nights was at the InterContinental’s newest sister property in the city, the EVEN Hotel Times Square South. I love that classification, since it’s at 35th Street and 8th Avenue. It might more aptly be described as Penn Station West.
EVEN is IHG’s latest brand and it’s focused on wellness, meaning there’s in-room fitness equipment, healthy menus in the dining outlets and a few other fun amenities to enjoy during a stay.
While out on errands, I had left my bag at the InterCon, then picked it up around 2:00pm to walk down to the EVEN Hotel about nine blocks away.
When I got there, the staff at the “Well-ness Island” at reception welcomed me warmly, acknowledged my Gold status and offered me my choice of infused waters. I opted for the ginger-lime. I really liked the casual atmosphere and the living wall opposite the desk. It was a nice change from the gritty area outside.
As I was checking in, they explained the whole fitness angle of the hotel, pointing out the relatively large gym and telling me about the fitness programming available in-room (which I’ll get to later). I thanked them and headed up to the room on my own.
The hotel has a total of 150 rooms, and I’d booked a standard-level Wellness King, which is what I got. But it was at the end of the little hall, so it was relatively private. The room contained the bed dressed in white linen and little nightstands with reading lights on either side. I loved that there was a remote that controlled the mood lighting, so you could switch it from blue to green to red depending on your mood.
There were tons of power outlets, both plugs and USB ports. Also nice was the amount of light, somewhat rare in a New York City hotel room, thanks to a southern and western exposure.
There was a wall-mounted 40-inch swiveling TV over the narrow work desk, though I liked the white-leather ergonomic chair.
Next to that was a little fitness bin area holding a yoga mat, a foam roller, a foam block and an inflatable fitness ball. Next to that was the (empty) mini refrigerator and a coffee maker.
Finally, the bathroom occupied the other end of the room from the bed. It was really nice and great light thanks to the window (a rarity for hotel bathrooms), and I liked the naturally derived EO bath products. It wasn’t a large space, but they made it efficient, and there was plenty of space for one person.
Now for the “wellness” elements. On the wall next to the bathroom was a fitness pole. It held various resistance and stretching bands for workouts. How do you work out in your room, you ask? Well, there are about 15 channels on the television that each play a loop of a certain exercise routines. There are full-body cardio workouts, stretching and yoga, abs, fitness ball, core exercises and more.
I had about 90 minutes in my room, and I was able to get through two 20-minute full-body workouts, an abs routine and a stretching routine, with plenty of time to spare for showering and getting dressed.
It took me a couple tries to negotiate the room space to accommodate the workouts with the fitness ball and the resistance bands, but it did work. Two of the workouts were actually strenuous, so I had worked up a good sweat by the end — and back home, I go to the gym about five to six times a week.
The following morning, I headed down to the gym to try that out, since this is a wellness hotel. There was a lot of up-to-date cardio equipment, though the weights section wasn’t that impressive.
You might be better off taking advantage of the foosball or ping pong table adjacent to the lobby like these folks.
The other main public area is the restaurant and bar. For breakfast, there were “boards,” including one with a multi-grain bagel, smoked salmon and a hard-boiled egg, as well as signature bowls like one with Greek yogurt and house-made granola. They also serve Jittery Joes coffees, Novus teas and a selection of smoothies and juice.
For dinner, there are healthy options like a spinach-tomato-olive flatbread; kale salad with sliced dates, fresh radish, toasted hazelnuts and pecorino; and even signature cocktails like a hibiscus margarita made with IXA Silver tequila and FRUITLAB hibiscus liqueur.
I know the neighborhood might not suit everyone, but for having to catch a train from Penn Station the next morning, the EVEN Hotel Times Square South was pretty much perfectly situated for me.
I suspect that the wellness focus might get on some folks’ nerves, but for the road warriors out there who are just looking for easy ways to maintain a healthy routine while traveling, I think that having both a gym and in-room fitness options plus healthy menu options can be a real benefit. I also really liked the small touches like the lobby’s living wall, the mood lighting in the rooms and the nice bath products.
Plus, my room was really bright and airy (and I couldn’t tell if anyone else had been working out there before me!), there were plenty of power outlets and the Wi-Fi worked really well, all of which make it a great pick for business travelers in my book.
Finally, for allowing me to fulfill my Accelerate promo terms through a single-stay bonus, a two-stay booking bonus and a credit card application for a total points haul of nearly 140,000 points, both hotels suited my needs perfectly.
Have you stayed at either property? Share your experiences in the comments below!
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