Suite deals for families with points and status
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A spacious hotel room never mattered to me until I had kids. Now, with two kids in tow on family vacations, having a suite is a must. Paying full price for this family luxury would be out of reach for us without points and miles and hotel status which make this, well … a “suite” possibility.
You can always cross your fingers during the check-in process and hope that you are upgraded to a suite, but many families want that guarantee before they step into the hotel. Most major hotel chains have options to guarantee a suite, either by using extra points or by having status.
Here are some of the hotels offering great spaces for families:
World of Hyatt
World of Hyatt is the absolute best program if a suite is a necessity for your family. Reserving a suite ahead of time can be done in two ways: by using points or by using a Hyatt Suite Upgrade, which you receive through milestone bonuses.
You can use a set number of points for most Category 1–7 hotels. The number of points required ranges from 8,000 to 48,000 points per night. I find that standard suites are more than sufficient at most Hyatt properties, but if you really want to go all in, you can redeem additional points for a premium suite.
If you are low on points, you can also use Points + Cash to book a suite.
When you search for a room on the Hyatt site, you’ll notice that most hotels include in the description whether the suite is a standard or premium suite. Not all hotels specify the suite level during the booking process; not all hotels allow you to book these rooms using points. Call Hyatt directly to find out. Hyatt will also book the room over the phone as there is no way to do it online through its website.
Note: You cannot use points to book a premium suite at Hyatt’s all-inclusive properties.
One of the best perks of the World of Hyatt program is that you can earn Hyatt Suite Upgrade certificates. These certificates automatically upgrade your reservation into a standard suite prior to your arrival. You can apply the certificate to your reservation at any point — either when you make your reservation or at a later date. There is no other program that confirms a suite upgrade that far in advance of your stay.
To receive a Hyatt Suite Upgrade certificate, you must reach the 50-night milestone benefit. At this point, two Hyatt Suite Upgrade certificates will be deposited to your account and will be valid for 14 months after the end of the year in which it was earned. It must be attached to a stay that is completed before its expiration date. For example, if you earn the certificate Nov. 1, 2019, the certificate will not expire until Feb. 28, 2021. This also means you must stay by this date, not simply redeem by this date.
With Hyatt milestone benefits, you continue to earn two additional upgrade certificates after you pass the milestones at 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights (at the 70-100 marks, you can opt for 10,000 World of Hyatt points instead, if you prefer).
The World of Hyatt program allows you to combine qualifying nights with credit card spending on your World of Hyatt card. With every $5,000 you put on your World of Hyatt Credit Card, you’ll receive two qualifying nights toward your milestone rewards and status. Theoretically, this means if you spend $125,000 on your credit card, you’ll automatically receive the suite certificates without even stepping foot onto a Hyatt property.
Although not as favorable as Hyatt, Marriott gives you the option of booking an upgraded suite ahead of time. The main problem is that when using points, not many properties include their suites in their award inventory. Those with status are capped at the number of times they can request an upgrade.
There is no award chart designating the number of points required to book a suite. This means you need to search each property to find availability and the number of points needed. Unfortunately, you’ll find that many of the upgraded rooms using all points (or cash and points) are not suites. They might offer a better view or bigger room, but suites — with a separate bedroom and living area — are hard to come by.
Even when you find a property that allows you to book a suite in advance, you might find that the number of points are not worth it. For example, at The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Hawaii, a standard room costs 60,000 points; a suite costs 180,000 points. At three times the price for a suite, a better use of your points might be to book two rooms (and ask the property if they have connecting rooms). This could potentially give you more beds and more bathrooms.
Note: Not all properties offer options to use full points or cash and points to redeem for a suite. When you find suite availability, you might find that only one option appears.
One of the benefits of the Marriott Bonvoy program is that for all award redemptions, you receive your fifth night free. Since Marriott now offers peak and off-peak award nights, this means that the least expensive night out of a five-night stay will be free. When using points for an upgraded room, however, the math changes a little bit. When using all points, you still have to pay the upgraded amount for the night that is free — only the standard number of points for that particular night is actually discounted.
When using cash and points, you still have to pay the cash portion on that night, but the number of points will be zeroed out.
Note: With capacity control on rooms, try moving your dates a few days in either direction to show different suite options at different prices.
Marriott wins second place when it comes to securing an advance suite upgrade when using Marriott Bonvoy elite status (Hyatt is first). On a yearly basis, Marriott offers a choice benefit when you earn Marriott Platinum (50 nights) and Marriott Titanium (75 nights) status. At both levels, you can opt to receive five Suite Night Awards (SNAs).
The Suite Night Awards allow you to secure a suite in advance, but you’ll only be notified up to five nights prior to your stay (and the hotel will continue to search up until 2 p.m. local time the day before your arrival). Each award is valid for a one-night stay and you must have enough SNA’s in your account to cover the entire stay. This means if you have a reservation that includes six nights, you’ll need six SNA’s. This will require you to make two separate reservations and apply the SNA’s to one of them and then ask the hotel to keep you in the same room for your entire stay (there is no guarantee). If a suite cannot be secured in advance, the SNA’s will go back into your account to use for a future stay.
Having Marriott lifetime Platinum or Titanium status will not grant you these upgrades on a yearly basis. You actually have to earn this status. Additionally, the awards expire Dec. 31 of the year after you earned the status. This means you must complete your stay by this date, not simply apply them to a reservation by then.
Note: Award night stays count toward status as well as the 15 Elite Night Credits earned from the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. If you have more than one Marriott Bonvoy credit card, however, you’ll only receive the benefit once per account. Simply having one of these cards means you only need to stay 35 nights (for Platinum) or 60 nights (for Titanium) to earn a choice benefit.
Hilton offers plenty of suite options to book in advance with your points, although you’ll need a healthy account balance to make this work for your family.
Hilton Honors makes it easy to use additional points for a premium room, including a suite. You can see all of the options available on its website and you can pick the room you prefer.
While you’ll receive your fifth night free when using points, that does not apply to premium room. (If you do book a standard room and want to take advantage of the free night, the only requirement is that you must have Hilton Honors status. Fortunately, earning Hilton status is quite easy, especially since the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card (see rates and fees) automatically grants you Silver status).
The only problem with using your Hilton Honors points to book a free-night room is that you actually might find it more cost-effective (in points) to book two standard rooms instead of one premium room.
Another option is to use your points at one of their all-suite brands, such as Embassy Suites. Homewood Suites by Hilton and Home2 Suites by Hilton are two other all-suite brands within the Hilton umbrella.
Similar to other loyalty programs, there is no way to guarantee a suite upgrade prior to check-in. With Hilton Honors Diamond status, you’ll receive a space-available room upgrade, up to a one-bedroom suite.
You can earn Diamond status by completing 30 stays in a calendar year, 60 nights in a calendar year or earning 120,000 Hilton Honors Base Points in a calendar year. If you do not stay in Hilton hotels often enough to earn status, you can earn status simply by being a Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card cardmember. One of the perks of this card is complimentary Diamond status for the cardmember.
This lesser known program is actually one of the more favorable programs when it comes to redeeming points for a suite.
When you redeem your Choice Privileges points, you are able to select any room available for the same number of points. For example, a studio room with one queen bed costs the same (in points) as a two-bedroom suite. Of course, Choice has many lower-level properties where the hotel might not offer suites, but if you are able to find one that does, book as early as possible to secure a reservation. This works well at Choice’s Bluegreen Vacation properties where you can often find up to a three-bedroom suite.
The main issue with redeeming points for a free night stay at a Choice hotel is that you can only book 100 days in advance. During peak periods, securing a free-night stay, let alone a suite, could be challenging. It also does not allow your family to plan a trip much more than three months out. If you have flexibility in your travel dates, Choice Privileges could be the perfect chain for your family.
If you are low on Choice points, there are frequent offers allowing you to purchase points at a discount. Although not free, this could score your family a suite for a very low price.
Unfortunately, having Choice status will not guarantee a suite. Even at the top-tier Diamond level, there is no benefit requiring the property to give you an upgrade upon check-in (status might help your bargaining power — a little).
If you want to earn status, Choice has a free status-match program. There are no stay requirements to earn the status and you’ll have it for the rest of the year, plus the following calendar year. This is a once-in-a-lifetime match opportunity, so be sure to sign up during a time period where the benefits (the few that they have) will help you on an upcoming stay.
Despite the limited footprint of family-friendly properties, Radisson does a good job with allowing you to book a suite ahead of time with points.
In addition to the standard room redemption options, Radisson allows members to redeem additional points for a premium room. Typically, these premium rooms include a better view, higher floor or even a larger room. If the properties have suites, those rooms are often available as well.
Although there is no award chart for these premium rooms, you can easily see the cost by looking up the hotel’s availability online. Within the Radisson Rewards program, you will sometimes find that a room is available with points and cash or just points, but not always both.
Status in the Radisson Rewards program, even top-tier Platinum status, does not guarantee you a suite in advance. Platinum members are eligible for a one-category upgrade or a suite at check-in, based on availability. Those with Silver or Gold status receive a complimentary upgrade, but it could just mean a better view or slightly nicer room. Those who have the Radisson Rewards Premier Visa Signature Credit Card will also receive complimentary Gold status. (The information for this credit card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.)
Wyndham has a decent number of properties that cater to families, so booking a suite ahead of time is quite easy to do.
Wyndham has a three-tier award chart. Every property lists rooms costing 7,500, 15,000 or 30,000 points per night per bedroom. Because you pay the base number of points per bedroom, this means that a standard studio and a standard suite costs the same number of points because they are each categorized as a single bedroom.
If the property offers rooms with multiple bedrooms, you can also use your points to book an even larger room. A room with two bedrooms will cost double the number of points while a room with three bedrooms costs triple the number of points.
Wyndham has a large number of timeshare properties where multi-bedroom units are common. Almost all them price at just 15,000 points per night. (Margaritaville Vacation Club–Wyndham Rio Mar, Wyndham Clearwater Beach Resort and Wyndham Bonnet Creek Resort are the three that fall into the 30,000-points-per-night level)
Although there is no way to guarantee a suite ahead of time using your status benefits, if you have Diamond status, you might get lucky during the check-in process. One of the benefits of Diamond status is an upgrade to a suite on every stay, based on availability (excluding Caesars Entertainment hotels). This is for both paid and award-night stays. The terms state that this upgrade is offered “upon request,” so you should inquire during the check-in process.
Fortunately, earning Wyndham status is easy right now with its status-match promotion. You can earn top-tier Diamond status, by matching your status from Marriott Gold, Hilton Gold, Hyatt Globalist, IHG Platinum and more. This means simply being an IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card (card no longer available for new applicants) cardmember can earn you Wyndham Diamond status right off the bat. You’ll then receive the complimentary status for 90 days. Within those 90 days, you’ll need to complete 14 stays to keep your Diamond status. Even if you have no intention of keeping the status long-term, having Diamond status on your next Wyndham stay can be quite advantageous.
If your family would like a little more space on your next vacation, booking a suite using your hotel points or status is quite easy. I know my family often picks a hotel based on whether or not we are able to guarantee a suite ahead of time and it has worked well for us. My husband and I enjoy the separate spaces a suite offers when we travel with the kids and we all enjoy the extra bells and whistles of the occasional upgrade.
Image courtesy of the Sheraton TriBeCa.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Honors card, click here.
Note: A correction was made to clarify that the Hilton Honors program does not offer a fifth night free on award reservations for a premium room.
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