After Gutting Elite Breakfast, Hilton Introduces A Brand With No Diamond Lounge Access

Hilton Honors was a weak loyalty program to begin with. It was less rewarding for your spend than you realized in terms of free nights earned – it offers lower rebates for both general members and for top elites than the other major chains (I show my work) – and more modest elite benefits than Hyatt and even the consistently inconsistent Marriott.

However what Hilton had going for it is breakfast. That was offered at all brands, without exceptions, and offered even to Golds. Gold is more or less a giveaway level, available via many credit cards and historically bundled via a number of promotions.

Now they’ve replaced breakfast at U.S. properties with a low dollar credit for the rest of 2021. For Diamonds, and those Golds afforded the privilege, there’s still club lounge access at hotels that have a lounge and where the lounge is open (but no F&B credit there).

Now, though, Hilton is introducing a new brand – Signia by Hilton – that will not provide lounge access to elites.

Signia is large hotels with lots of large group indoor meeting space (sure seemed like a great idea before the pandemic).

The first Signia will be the rebranded Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek, effective July 12. And it will have club access for pay (effectively, Hilton saying the lounges are too nice to give away to Diamond members, which is the same as saying Diamonds aren’t very valuable to Hilton). Marriott does this with Ritz-Carlton lounges and at legacy Marriott brand resorts.

Hilton’s CEO warned you the future of their chain would be cost cuts. Why haven’t we been listening?

Elites aren’t entitled to suite upgrades (though are allowed to be given such upgrades). There’s not even guaranteed late checkout. The Honors program, of the double dip era, was generous with points and miles. Have you checked out a Hyatt lately?

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »

Comments

  1. I miss Hyatt so much but their small portfolio makes it nearly impossible for me to qualify for Globalist, even though I have plenty of nights on the road. There are far too many cities around the world that either have no Hyatt property at all, or only have a Park Hyatt for $800/night. When qualification was 25 stays instead of 50 nights I could do it, but since the change I’ve had to stick with Hilton and Marriott.

  2. Doug is right. Hyatt is nice but unless you’re visiting the same 2-3 cities for work all year long, good luck qualifying for the highest tier without getting yelled at by accounting for your expensive hotel stays.

  3. Reminds me of Marriott’s Gaylord brand. Big conventional and trade show hotels. Zero elite status benefits. Almost never even a good restaurant on-property with something beyond rubber-chicken banquet food. But unless they’re going to serve real champagne and offer quality food, charging for club lounge access is absurd. I laughed when the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota tried claiming $6 J.P. Chenet sparkling wine was acceptable for a club lounge. As bad as that crap was, the Ritz-Carlton Pentagon City tried passing off Martini & Rossi sparkling wine. Fortunately after complaining they pulled out the Ritz Paris (not Ritz-Carlton) co-branded Barons de Rothschild champagne. Amazing how they had that hidden away but wouldn’t serve it unless requested. And yet they had the balls to charge guests $150 per day for club lounge access. I haven’t found a North America club lounge at any brand worth the access, outside of taking Diet Cokes back to the room.

  4. Welcome again to the world of travel in the COVID era– Paying more, getting less, and zero “loyalty” rewards.

  5. My Hilton days have come to an end. They wont miss me (I had been Diamond for 10 years or so), as now semi retired and not on the road much, but I was still loyal until now. I have about 600K points will have to find a place to transfer to. At the end of the day the breakfast and lounge for some peace and quiet was the only thing HH had going for it.

  6. Gary – you just have to have something to whine about. You are quickly becoming the “Karen” of travel bloggers!

    I am Diamond Hilton and lifetime Marriott Titanium (plus Hyatt Explorist). I NEVER assume I will get upgrades or any other benefit. Obviously like when I do but I roll w the punches and make the best out of situations. You have exchanged your germaphobe rants from pre-COVID now with breakfast and housekeeping ones or any other perceived slight. I have no problem w this – if the brand doesn’t provide lounge access it is MY CHOICE whether I want to book w them and that will be one consideration. However price, location and other amenities may make me decide to stay.

    Please quit being the profit of doom. Between these stories and your National enquirer cut and pastes your blog has really gone downhill.

  7. Hilton’s CEO warned you the future of their chain would be cost cuts. Why haven’t we been listening?

    Here they go again: Self-anointed travel “gurus” making pronouncements about a program that has time and again bedeviled them by defying their predictions of doom and, in the end, emerged as the last and only standing viable hotel loyalty program after their beloved SPG went belly-up, Hyatt Gold Passport transformed into a “boutique” or niche program appropriately called WOH!, and Marriott Reward gutted their once thriving program by trying to be like SPG.

    I have a prediction of my own: Hilton Honors will remain the most stable, innovative, vibrant and rewarding program that it’s been for the last several years while its competition was either failing or undergoing metamorphosis in search of identity…

  8. @AC, the *value* — for me; YMMV — to being a Hilton Diamond IS the benefits. (Well, the same is true for *any* loyalty program, to be honest.). So if Hilton takes away benefits with no comparable replacement, the program overall loses value to me. Are their breakfasts of gourmet, Michelin 3-star quality? No, of course not. But I still a) eat them, and b) find them valuable in that I don’t have to pay for breakfast. (Not all travel is tied to an expense account!). Replacing that with a dollar credit that (in all likelihood) will NOT cover the cost of breakfast is a definite downgrade and loss of value.

    The fact that a particular brand within the Hilton portfolio doesn’t offer lounge access simply means that’s a brand I won’t be staying at. But I now wonder when Hilton will eliminate free lounge access across their entire portfolio…

  9. It’s no surprise the program is being diluted since the advent of the Aspire. Honors needs to distinguish between those who earn status organically and those who sign up for a credit card. Absolutely needs a Diamond+ or similar to elevate above credit card Diamond.

  10. What did everyone expect when Hilton started giving top-level status away with credit cards that bloggers peddle like crack to crack addicts?

  11. I know it’s WAY too early, but what are the odds that the “normal” breakfast benefit returns in 2022 for at least Diamonds? Perhaps HHonors could keep full breakfast for Diamond and “daily F&B credit” for Gold?

    Thoughts?

  12. agree with above comments on the “Gaylords” horrible product esp the Orlando one…

  13. @ChurnieEls well they might not have so many Aspire credit cardholders if they keep taking away benefits. We pay a lot of money to hold that card and if the benefit is less than the cost, I for one will drop it. When they offer credit card holders status and when people earn status through stays, you expect the benefits from that status. If they keep cutting those, some will choose to move on. I see almost no benefit to my husband’s Titanium status with Marriott, little from Platinum with IHG. All of those used to come with perks that are slowly going away.

  14. Gary you are being dramatic! A year or so ago you were touting Hilton as the best program out there. I am still treated quite well at overseas properties and get good value there. I am going to Barcelona in ten days and will stay at the Hilton Diagonal. I will get free breakfast as will my wife and daughter and we will most likely be upgraded. As far as US properties go we have lots of other choices. I simply won’t stay at this new brand. This is an experiment and like a lot of other experiments will most likely fail.

  15. @AC. Quit being a corporate shill. If hotels didn’t have loyalty programs, may of us would not patronize them. Instead, we’d frequent the hotel that had the better location, cheapest price, etcetera.

    By the way, it is spelled “Prophet”, not profit. I love how you commentators think you are the hot stuff, but cannot properly spell or construct a sentence.

  16. Hilton has become a mid-tier brand for me. Get a credit card with some loyalty elite level attached and save money.

    Spending $750 on a few CCs with elite status that include breakfast etc, allows me to save $50-75 a night by choosing whatever brand is cheapest and nicest in each City, easily save $1500 a year this way, so there really is no reason to be loyal when you can buy elite status and pick and choose

  17. @Jason Brandt Lewis – To each his own. Sure I appreciate the benefits but am not someone demanding them or throwing a tantrum if I don’t get what I think I “deserve”. BTW top level (or next to it) in practically every hotel chain and lifetime elite w DL and AA. No I don’t have an “expense account” to cover costs since I am retired. However, I make decisions that work for me and roll w the punches. You can either live your life that way to constantly looking for things to disappoint you. IMHO, my approach is much better. If a hotel chain doesn’t work for you PLEASE don’t stay there.

    @K Helldoge – first of all I appreciate the spelling correction. That is what I get for typing on my IPhone w auto correct while hanging out by a resort pool after a couple of beers. Sorry to offend you! BTW, not a “corporate shill” but just someone who has earned his status the hard way w somewhere around 8.5 million frequent flyer miles and 3000-4000 nights in hotels since the mid-80s. However, you need to understand these programs aren’t created to benefit you! If you get value from them GREAT – however they are corporate inducements and any decision related to them (including constant devaluations) are based on marketing and analytics. People on here may whine and claim to “never stay there again” (doubtful) but that won’t change the overall profitability of the business. No hotel chain really gives a crap what you or I think (and they shouldn’t). They have to look out for their own interests, not yours!

  18. I’m sure Hyatt’s great, but they evidently don’t care about business from people who spend less than 50 nights on the road in cities with a Hyatt every year. At least Hilton and Marriott are receptive to business from people who will be there 20-30 nights a year.

  19. A year or so ago you were touting Hilton as the best program out there.

    –Cmorgan

    LOL. In no incarnation has @Gary Leff ever touted Hilton as the best program out there. Au contraire!

  20. I will be DUMPING my Amex card. The fake diamond status means nothing. No breakfast anymore?
    Good bye Hilton, you are useless.

  21. All this downplaying of the Hyatt property footprint on the world map just doesn’t move me. Most of my frequent urban destinations around the world have a Hyatt program-participating property; and if they don’t, then odds are that the Hilton and Marriott options aren’t all that great for me either, even if present.

    Since Marriott and Hilton have gone cheap with regard to breakfast, it’s probably just a matter of time until Hyatt goes further on that course too. But until that happens, Hyatt or being a free agent is more my cup of tea.

  22. A pity that Hilton is working so diligently to make their loyalty program worse. No doubt some self-appointed “expert” will try to explain how making things worse for the loyal customer is actually a good thing, LOL. Don’t buy the snake oil, worse is just worse.

  23. I will be DUMPING my Amex card. The fake diamond status means nothing. No breakfast anymore?
    Good bye Hilton, you are useless.

    Please be careful not to let the door hit you on the way out, and thank you for thinning the herd of “fake Diamonds” for the benefit of some us “fake Diamonds” who know better and are staying put… 😉

  24. Can we remember the days before a free elite breakfast? Maybe were all getting a little too fat here, especially after being stuck at home during the pandemic and avoiding the long indoor walks at the airport or the mall. So I don’t care about some crappy breakfast, especially the ones at Homewood or Hampton. Let’s go back to the old days of BYOB and lose a few pounds. Huh?

  25. This is why I stayed exactly 4 nights with Hilton this year instead of usual ca.50-60. The Hilton cost-cutting was really bad during the pandemic travel. I am writing this from Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Puerto Rico.

  26. @AC —> Just curious…who ever said I am someone who “demands” benefits, or throws a tantrum if I think/feel/believe I’m not getting things I [feel like I] deserve? Perhaps you have confused me with someone else? Again, who said that I have an expense account, or that I don’t “make decisions that work for me and roll w[ith] the punches”?

    In choosing a hotel, I pick one with good QPR (quality-price ratio) — at 67, I am semi-retired, and nearly 100 percent of my travel is personal, not business — one located in an area/neighborhood/city I want to be in, and — FIRST — one that I have elite status with. (I’m writing this from a Marriott where my status got me upgraded to a suite, free full breakfast, and extra points.). But clearly if a hotel with which I have status *doesn’t* work for me, fit my needs, etc., etc., then why on earth would I stay there??? No! I stay where I *want* to (or, occasionally, need to), and that’s that, so there are hotels at which I stay where I have no status at all…

    But, at least in my book, having status is better than not having it, and IF a hotel that suits my needs is part of a chain with which I *do* have status, so much the better. Period.

  27. @GUWonder – fully agree, and as I have said for years now, for anyone who made Starwood work just fine for years on end (as it did for most of us staying in major or even minor cities), Hyatt works just as well (and the benefits of Globalist are as good, if not better, than the prime SPG Platinum/Ambassador days prior to the Marriott crushing of the program).

    If you need a LS property on every interstate and every smaller town in America, Hyatt is probably not the program for you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *