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If you’ve ever wondered how other travel rewards enthusiasts spend their points, today TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen examines ten Hilton properties that are highly sought after by certain HHonors members.
I’m always fascinated to hear how others redeem their hard-earned points and miles. Every once in a while, I’ll take a look at some travel rewards auction sites and marvel at what people are bidding (like 80,000-plus Starpoints for a Formula One VIP event in Italy). It reminds me that while there are some general guidelines for determining what points and miles are worth (like TPG’s monthly valuations), we all value them differently, and that disparity is intriguing.
The TPG team recently received a list of the 10 most popular Hilton award redemptions among Citi Hilton HHonors cardholders, and I found this list equally intriguing. In today’s post, I’ll run through this list of Hilton properties to show you where your fellow award travelers are redeeming their rewards, and give you some insight as to what kind of value you can expect to get out of your own HHonors points.
Before we get into the properties that made the list, I wanted to briefly review the two co-branded Citi Hilton card options:
- Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Card — For a limited time, this card is offering an increased sign-up bonus of 75,000 Hilton HHonors points after making $2,000 in purchases within the first three months. You’ll also earn 6 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, 3 points per dollar spent at supermarkets, drug stores and gas stations and 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. The card grants you complimentary Silver status as long as you have it, and you can upgrade to Gold status if you complete four Hilton stays in your first 90 days of card membership or spend $20,000 in a calendar year. You’ll also earn 10,000 bonus points each calendar year when you spend $1,000 at Hilton properties. This card has no annual fee.
- Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card — This card comes with 2 free weekend nights after spending $2,500 in the first four months. You’ll receive another free weekend night certificate when you spend $10,000 on the card in your cardmember year. You’ll earn 10 points per dollar spent at Hilton properties, 5 points per dollar spent on airfare and rental cars, and 3 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. The card grants you automatic Gold status, and you can upgrade to Diamond status when you spend $40,000 on the card in a calendar year. You’ll pay no foreign transaction fees, but the card does come with a $95 annual fee (that isn’t waived for the first year).
In calculating the value of each stay below, I looked at flexible rates that can be canceled without penalty (just like award reservations), and I included all taxes and fees that would normally be covered by points or free night certificates. Many reports (and the Hilton HHonors booking engine) indicate that award reservations do not incur those pesky resort fees charged by many of these properties, so I included those in my calculations as well.
Check out the list of properties below, and see which ones seem like worthy redemptions to you.
Hawaii tends to be a popular destination for award redemptions, so I’m not surprised that three of the first four properties on this list are located in the Aloha State. The first one is the sprawling Hilton Hawaiian Village, situated on 22 acres of lush gardens along Oahu’s famed Waikiki Beach. The amenities are too numerous to list here, but include 5 pools, 20 restaurants and bars, the Mandara Spa, Waikiki’s widest beach and daily activities including Hula lessons and yoga classes. All accommodations include balconies or lanais with views of the ocean, gardens or the city of Honolulu.
This is a Category 7 property requiring 50,000 – 60,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $238.18 (which includes a $30 resort fee) or 60,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.4 cents per point.
The second Hawaiian resort on the list covers 62 oceanfront acres on the Big Island of Hawaii, and is set amid lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. The property includes a wealth of amenities to support the 1,240 guest rooms, including a four-acre lagoon, three pools (one for adults only), a 175-foot waterslide, the Kohala spa, 14 restaurants and bars, two golf courses and complimentary transportation through the resort on mahogany boats or Swiss-made, air-conditioned trams. Standard rooms offer private lanais with ocean or resort views, and feature island decor and separate sitting areas.
This is a Category 6 property requiring 50,000 points for a free night year-round. Room rates in August start at $276.74 (which includes a $25 resort fee), giving you a value of 0.55 cents per point.
The third property on the list is the Hilton San Francisco, located in the heart of the city just two blocks from Union Square. Guests in standard rooms will enjoy views of the city, and all rooms include modern decor and king-sized Hilton Serenity Beds. You can enjoy locally sourced wine and cuisine at Urban Tavern, the hotel’s on-site gastro-pub, or relax at the 16th floor rooftop swimming pool. The concierge can assist in filling your day with tours and activities, or you can simply stroll to nearby attractions like Nob Hill, Chinatown and the Theater District.
This is a Category 7 property requiring 50,000 – 60,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $301.61 or 50,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.6 cents per point.
The third (and final) Hawaiian property on the list is Grand Wailea, a Waldorf Astoria Resort on the island of Maui (and the only one that made my list of 8 awesome Hilton award redemptions). Set on 40 acres of lush tropical gardens directly on Wailea Beach, the property boasts luxurious amenities like a pool complex with a 2,000-foot river, waterslides and a rope swing, while the adults-only Hibiscus pool offers a retreat from the noise and bustle.
The 780 rooms and suites offer a variety of accommodations, but all include private lanais and fantastic views of the ocean or surrounding vegetation. You can relax at the Spa Grande, visit the 8 on-property bars and restaurants, or work out in the 2,500 square-foot fitness center. Three championship golf courses and the Wailea tennis club are all nearby, giving you plenty of opportunities to stay busy throughout your stay.
This is a Category 10 property requiring 70,000 – 95,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $599.99 (which includes a $30 resort fee) or 80,000 points (only available on a handful of days) per night, giving you a value of 0.75 cents per point.
New York City tends to have very pricey hotel rooms, so I’m not surprised to see three Big Apple Hilton properties make the list. The first one, the New York Hilton Midtown, is all about location. Situated on the corner of 6th Avenue (also known as Avenue of the Americas) and West 54th Street, the property gives you easy access to attractions like Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art, Radio City Music Hall and Broadway.
The rooms are large by Manhattan standards, and include marble bathrooms and Hilton Serenity beds; even the standard accommodations give you an arm chair and ottoman as well. You have four bars and restaurants on site, including the unique Minus5 Ice Bar, where everything (including your glass) is made of ice! The hotel also boasts a sprawling 8,000 square-foot fitness center.
This is a Category 9 property requiring 60,000 – 80,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $197.43 or 60,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.33 cents per point.
The most iconic Hilton property in New York City is undoubtedly the Waldorf Astoria. Located in Midtown on the famous tree-lined Park Avenue, the hotel was opened on October 1, 1931, and was designated as a New York City landmark in 1993. When it opened, it was the tallest and largest hotel in the world; it currently houses 1,415 guest rooms and suites individually decorated with Art Deco motifs and boasting modern amenities like marble bathrooms and Salvatore Ferragamo bath products. Other on-site amenities include four bars and restaurants, the Guerlain Spa and a 24-hour fitness center.
This is a Category 9 property requiring 70,000 – 80,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $300.70 or 70,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.43 cents per point.
The first Florida resort on the list sits on the pristine Gulf Coast just 20 miles from Tampa International Airport. The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort covers 10 acres of sparkling white sand beach, and is a short walk from Pier 60 and the many restaurants along the water. Most of the 416 guest rooms and suites include balconies with views of the ocean or Intercoastal Waterway. The beachside pool complex includes a hot tub and complimentary chairs and towels, while four on-site restaurants and bars give you plenty of dining options.
This is a Category 7 property requiring 50,000 – 60,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $246.34 (including a $20 resort charge) or 50,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.49 cents per point.
If you want to redeem your Hilton HHonors points at a property that’s convenient to Disney World, you can’t do much better than the Hilton Bonnet Creek. The hotel offers complimentary coach transportation to both Disney theme parks, as well as the shopping and dining area of Downtown Disney, but you may find yourself too busy on the hotel grounds to want to leave. The three-acre pool complex includes a lazy river and waterslide, and you can take advantage of the spa and championship golf course at the adjacent Waldorf Astoria. The 1,001 guest rooms start at over 400 square feet and provide upscale amenities like walk-in showers and mini-fridges in every room. You’ll also have your pick of 12 on-site restaurants.
This is a Category 6 property requiring 40,000 – 50,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $162 (including a $25 resort fee) or 40,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.4 cents per point. Be sure to check your desired travel dates, as this property often has Premium Room Rewards available for fewer points than standard rewards.
Another Gulf Coast resort on the list of popular redemptions is the Hilton Sandestin Beach on the Florida panhandle, which recently completed a $30 million multi-year renovation. The on-site amenities allow you to stay active or relax, and include four championship golf courses, three pools, a mile-long stretch of white sand beach, six restaurants, three bars and the Serenity by the Sea spa. The standard guest rooms include balconies, double sinks, wet bars, mini-fridges and separate sitting areas. You can even redeem points (at the regular rate) for a junior suite complete with bunk beds for the kids!
This is a Category 8 property requiring 50,000 – 70,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $283.21 (including a $25 resort charge) or 50,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.57 cents per point.
The final property brings us back to the city that never sleeps and the DoubleTree Suites in the heart of Times Square. Located at the corner of West 47th Street and 7th Avenue, the hotel is across the street from the TKTS discount theater ticket booth and within walking distance of Rockefeller Center, Restaurant Row and Carnegie Hall. All of the 468 guest rooms are two-room suites complete with a living room, bedroom, and oversized bathroom. All accommodations include two flat-screen TVs, a wet bar, refrigerator and microwave. You can also check out the on-site restaurant and bar, though you’re in a great spot to explore the varied cuisine of New York just outside your door.
This is a Category 10 property requiring 70,000 – 95,000 points for a free night. Room rates in August start at $291.23 or 80,000 points per night, giving you a value of 0.36 cents per point.
As I mention earlier, I find this list fascinating. For starters, none of the entries surprised me. You basically have two main categories represented:
- Vacation spots (either beach or family-oriented)
- Big cities (New York and San Francisco)
I found it interesting that all but one property on the list is in Hawaii, Florida or New York. These are all popular travel spots and can be quite pricey (depending on the time of year), so it makes sense that they’re high on the list for Citi cardholders.
One of the biggest surprises is that there were no international properties on the list. My post on 8 awesome Hilton award redemptions only included 2 US properties, and I tend to get much better value by redeeming my HHonors points outside the country. However, since the two Citi Hilton co-branded cards are targeted toward Americans, it makes sense that US destinations would be the most popular. Still, I strongly encourage you to investigate properties abroad when you’re trying to maximize your Hilton HHonors points.
Finally, I was interested to see that 6 of the 10 properties on the list actually offer a redemption value that’s lower than TPG’s most recent valuation of Hilton HHonors points (0.5 cents apiece). Some of this is clearly due to August being low season for many locations, but it reinforces the message that you should crunch the numbers prior to redeeming your points to make sure you’re getting good value out of them.
At the end of the day, everyone has their own “best” uses for points, so I wouldn’t judge anyone for choosing properties that may not offer the best bang for their buck. I’ve actually stayed at three properties on the list: the Waldorf Astoria New York, the Hilton Clearwater Beach and the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek. I enjoyed all three stays (though for very different reasons), and if the opportunity presents itself in the future, I would definitely consider redeeming my points at any one of these resorts.
What are your favorite Hilton properties for award redemptions?
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