Move over, bland chains: Hotels are finally figuring out that we want unique places to stay

Sep 23, 2019

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Quick, think of a big-box hotel. What are you picturing? Is it a huge hotel devoid of personality with copious amounts of rooms? Or an aspirational mega-resort that’s nearly impossible to book with points?

Yeah, me too. And apparently everyone else as well, because hotel chains have slowly been putting forth efforts over the past decade to acquire or otherwise partner with independent hotels and boutique brands with a little something extra to offer.

The Carpe Diem in Santorini, part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH). (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

This is why we’ve seen Hyatt partner with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, Hilton launch its Tapestry Collection, Marriott continue to build its portfolio of Autograph and Design hotels, and most recently, IHG’s exclusive partnership with Mr & Mrs Smith, a luxury brand focused on high-end boutique hotels.

North Island hotel in the Seychelles, where royals Will and Kate spent their honeymoon. (Photo courtesy of Mr & Mrs Smith)

This is excellent news for us in the points and miles business, as our ability to reach ever more exclusive hotels is expanding. It’s especially good for those who prefer more unusual or stylish accommodations instead of cookie-cutter properties.

Marriott Bonvoy boutique brands

Marriott’s independent and boutique brands include Design Hotels, Tribute Portfolio and Autograph Collection Hotels.

For instance, Marriott’s collection of hotels in Rome features a number of boutique properties, like Palazzo Naiadi, The Dedica Anthology, Autograph Collection. I stayed at this hotel a couple of years ago with my mom and had a phenomenal time.

The Palazzo Naiadi, Rome. (Photo courtesy of Marriott)

As a Category 7, the Palazzo Naiadi will run you 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points a night, or just 50,000 if you’re traveling during off-peak days.

There are tons of ways to earn Marriott Bonvoy points, including an offer for the Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card, which will get you 75,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.

Related: The best ways to redeem 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points

World of Hyatt boutique brands

If you’re a Hyatt loyalist, you’re probably slavering to see Hyatt expanding its Small Luxury Hotels of the World partnership with the recent integration of 43 more SLH hotels into its offerings. These include such specialties as the Sailrock Resort, the first points-redeemable hotel in the Turks and Caicos.

The pool and terrace at Sailrock Resort. (Photo courtesy of Hyatt)

Along with the SLH integration comes Hyatt’s acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality, the group that manages Destination Hotels, Thompson Hotels, Alila and Joie de Vivre Hotels and Resorts. These brands join Hyatt’s own Unbound Collection, which launched in 2016.

While the newest hotels have necessitated the invention of an entirely new category, running 40,000 points a night, it’s easy to earn Hyatt points because Hyatt is a Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partner. Fortunately, there are tons of points on the table right now with Chase Ultimate Rewards credit card welcome offers, as well as World of Hyatt’s own cobranded credit card:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card– Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card – Earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.
  • The World of Hyatt Credit Card – Earn up to 50,000 bonus points: 25,000 bonus points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening, and an additional 25,000 bonus points after you spend a total of $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening

Related: Your guide to maximizing redemptions with Hyatt

Hilton Honors boutique brands

Hilton, too, is jumping into the boutique hotel industry, though it’s lagging behind fellow competitors with just two brands featuring independent hotels — Tapestry Collection and Curio Collection. That doesn’t mean it’s out of the ballgame — check out The Graham Washington D.C., an absolutely gorgeous Tapestry Collection hotel located in prestigious Georgetown.

The bar at the Graham Washington D.C. (Photo courtesy of Hilton)

You can redeem Hilton points here at a rate of 80,000 points per night, which isn’t cheap. Considering the cost of staying in downtown Washington D.C., however, you’re doing fairly well. Earning Hilton points is also absurdly easy. American Express Membership Rewards transfer to Hilton at a 2:1 ratio. You should also consider the portfolio of cobranded Hilton credit cards:

Related: Maximizing redemptions with Hilton Honors

Bottom line

The more partnerships the big hotel chains make, the better it is for travelers. While many of us enjoy finding low (points) cost hotels, the ability to pay for one-of-a-kind properties around the world with points is an incredible amount of added value. Coupled with hotel chains’ push into the super high-end hotel market, we’re gaining new options every day.

Featured photo courtesy of Marriott

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
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