Does a Hotel Rewards Program I’d Never Heard Of Offer the Best Rate of Return?

I discovered the Crystal Rewards program last month when I spent the night in Logan, Utah.

There’s a Holiday Inn Express, a Hampton Inn, and a SpringHill Suites. The folks I was there working with report that the SpringHill Suites is their preferred property, probably because it’s Utah and it’s a Marriott. I’d have been happy to earn Marriott Rewards points for my stay, but the place was sold out.

So they booked me into the Crystal Inn & Suites. Little did I know that this is an actual chain hotel, and they have their own rewards program: the Crystal Rewards program.

The chain apparently has 8 locations:

    crystal rewards program

The hotel was.. interesting. The sink was in the bedroom, not the bathroom.

But the room was comfortable enough, and in better repair than the Hyatt-affiliated Concourse Hotel at LAX.

There were over 100 Future Farmers of America kids on property, running around. The hotel has an indoor pool directly off the checkin desk, and the kids were lettin’ loose.

But what really made an impression wasn’t that the kids were still running around at 2 a.m. It was the hotel’s rewards program.

With Crystal Rewards, a free hotel stay is worth less than a $25 restaurant gift card. Here’s the Crystal Rewards redemption chart:

  • Free Night Stay at participating Crystal Inns – 1500 points
  • $25 gift certificate to a variety of restaurants and retailers – 2000 points
  • $50 gift certificate to a variety of restaurants and retailers – 4000 points

Now, you earn 2 points per dollar spent on room rate — but earn double points when booking direct with the chain. So you earn a free night after $375 in spend. That’s actually one of the best earn rates around.

My room rate, with hotels booked solid in Logan, was over $100. Four nights would have generated a comparable-property free night.

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, 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 »

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  1. They used to have a property outside of the DEN airport, too. United put me up there once. I, too, was impressed with my stay there. I wonder what happened to that particular property? I’ve considered staying at their properties should the need arise when in Utah.

  2. A more “interesting” amenity you might have mentioned is that Crystal Inn Hotel & Suites offers a free hot buffet breakfast.

  3. Having the sink in the room instead of the bathroom isn’t THAT unusual in American motels. I see it sometimes in the Choice hotel chain, and elsewhere. It’s actually not a bad idea if you’re traveling with your family, this way more than one person can “get ready” in the morning at the same time. At least that’s what I think is the idea.

  4. You missed a stellar SpringHill Suites property in Logan, which was our wedding hotel when we were married at Utah State University. Much nicer than the HI Express, Hampton, and Crystal properties, which we also scouted when we were planning.

    The Crystal redemption rate is pretty good and might make it competitive – if they would only add an aspirations property in the Maldives. Heck, I’d settle for Arizona!

  5. They had a contest last year for the greenest farmer.

    First prize was a Night in one of their hotels. Second prize was four nights in any of their hotels.

  6. Reminds me of the “Matterhorn VIP” Program from the movie “Up in the Air”….

  7. If you are impressed by that program for that rate of return, you should really love IHG, since the math is actually better:

    Platinum with CC:

    4 nights at $150 per x 15 + 500 welcome amenity = 9500 points
    Category 1 redemption = 10000 points – 10% CC rebate = 9000 points.
    Pointbreak redemption = 5000 points – 10% CC rebate = 4500 points = a free weekend for a business week’s worth of a stay…

    But for some reason IHG gets no respect 😉

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