Where Should You Burn Your HHonors Points Before We’re All Left Behind on March 28?

Hilton’s devaluation effects major cities and aspirational resort properties the most — the kinds of hotels that were previously ‘category 7’ but now most frequently category 10 and which even have category 10 high season prices, thus going from 50,000 points per night to as many as 95,000 points per night.

And while the changes include ‘5th night free’ for elite members being spun as a new benefit, elites previously received a discount on multi-night rewards which are effectively going away. No more discounts on 4 night stays, for instance, you have to stay exactly 5 nights to get the discount.

If you’re looking to burn your HHonors points in a blaze of glory before the category changes go into effect with the March 28 devaluation, then I suggest having a look at the following properties:

  • Conrad Maldives
  • Conrad Tokyo
  • Conrad Koh Samui
  • Conrad Hong Kong
  • Conrad Sanya
  • Bora Bora Nui

The pattern here is that the best values in HHonors were:

Conrad hotel properties, it’s their upscale brand but that isn’t part of the “Waldorf=Astoria” collection of hotels (frankly the original Waldorf hotel in New York isn’t that nice, it’s just a big ‘ol Hilton in my opinion)

Major cities where those Conrads could be found like Tokyo and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong property is hardly the best there but it’s one of the very best values, especially for elites. As a Diamond I had a view of Victoria Harbor, and the club lounge I had access to was absolutely fantastic. Of course other major cities like New York are seeing real devaluations, where even Doubetree properties are getting ridiculously expensive. Those cookies will cost a whole lot of points.

Aspirational resorts. I stayed at Bora Bora Nui as part of my honeymoon, when the property was part of Starwood. The Conrad Koh Samui is an amazing resort, the base level room is a standalone ocean villa with its own pool (I lucked into one of the two bedroom villas). Do know that when you’re on property you pretty much stay in your villa and get everywhere via golf cart, there’s very little meandering around the property. And things there are quite expensive for Thailand, which is why it helped to have status for free breakfast.

Should you burn you points though? If you’re interested in aspirational redemptions or expensive hotels in the world’s top cities, probably yes. You will get much more value out of those points for reservations made prior to March 28 than after.

If you’re using your points for lesser hotels, or small cities, you may do fine and even see point requirements drop.

My usual advice here – devaluation or no — continues to apply. It’s better to use your points now, and earn more in the future, than to say your points for future use.

And I’m going to make a strong case in an upcoming post that it will continue to be worth accruing HHonors points despite the changes, because while the amazing deals of the recent past will no longer be available HHonors — even with the devaluation — will remain a strong program for some of these aspirational hotels, and a better points value even still than Starwood offers on its top properties.

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 »

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  1. In 5 years, we’ll look back on 2013 as the good old days.

    As a matter of fact, looking back, 2008 is the good old days.

  2. Any word what will happen to AXON awards? Mommypoints had word from citi that their free night vouchers will still be good at any property. Curious about amex. Wanted to do Maldives next summer, but could move it up if needed.

  3. If you make a booking now for a reservation in march of 2014 at the current rates and then try to change that same reservation to a date later in the year, will they charge you the new rates or the old rates? anybody know?

  4. Any thoughts on how this will affect Cash and Points? Maybe they’ve stated and I just haven’t read through it all. For example, Conrad Koh Samui can be had for 25K points and 2,610 Baht ($84 US). You think they will go up on the cash portion too? I’ve love to see 50K and 2,610 Baht, but doubt so…

  5. Mike, that is a great question!

    Two of those properties are already on my list for booking before the points rates go up. I already booked for Conrad Tokyo in December and will book Conrad Koh Samui once I get my points together in the next few weeks. I am certain on my Tokyo dates, but not my Koh Samui dates. I am somehow doubtful they would let me change dates and still use the old rates, but would be nice to know.

    Wish I could have gone to Maldives on the old rates, but will have to save that for Hyatt!

  6. The Waldorf=Astoria Shanghai is one of the best hotels IMO. They even gave me three free breakfasts on a points stay

  7. Hi, is it just me or all the properties here just dont show any available dates for points booking for next one year? Also, do elites get different (better) availability compared to non-elite members? I have about 150k of these points and looking to use at one these properties…

  8. Do you know how I can book Hilton Bora Bora at 50,000 pts? I called Hilton earlier and the CSR quoted me 171k pts per night, which is outrageous. I asked him that I wanted to book at the old rate for a cat. 7 hotel and he kept quoting me 171,000 pts/night. How about taking advantage of AXON awards? TIA!

  9. @Teri.

    That’s the rate you get when standard room awards are not available and that’s the suite pricing he’s quoting you. It’s much more expensive. You can look for the 50,000 rooms online at the Hilton website. Just check ‘Use HHonors Points’ and the rooms should come up. You will get many options, but you are looking specifically for 50,000 point rooms. If you don’t see them for your dates, try different dates.

  10. They might still be a better value that SPG for the top category hotels, but SPG is a horrific value for top category hotels

    Few of us would ever redeem 25-30K SPG points for 1 night, so being slightly less of a terrible deal than that doesn’t do much

  11. 2008 was a good old year for me. I remember the 5k United mile promotion per 1 night stay offered from Hyatt. Then there was the $25 gift card for Hyatt Place stays, and the 5k Delta miles per 2 day car rental…

  12. I booked The Bentley in London for New Years 2014/2015. I don’t plan on touching it until the time I plan on going so I don’t need to worry about getting updated to the new reward levels.But I’m wondering if I have a confirmed reservation and confirmation number; can they revoke my reservation. And if they do, what recourse may I have?

  13. Gary, great post. I’d also add their Moorea property, cat 9.

    Could you back up your Hilton vs SPG analysis excluding the all suite hotels?

  14. Burnt. 185k for 5 nights at the Conrad Hong Kong in Nov this year & 262.5k for the Conrad Rangali Island in January 2015. 12.5k left in the bank though…maybe I can find a couple of nights at a nice “new CAT 1” hotel to finish them off.

  15. Terrible values no matter what way you look at it. Way to spin it to be contrarian to most of the other sky-is-falling bloggers (which it actually is).

    How this post reads: “It could be worse, they’re only cutting ONE of your balls off”

  16. Also, I burned my points. 180k in Tokyo vs the upcoming 350k. They’ve accomplished what they set out to do. Get rid of the glutton of points in circulation. It’s been hanging over their heads and they know it. The pendulum is swinging back.

    Me? I’m focusing on Hyatt first, Starwood second. Peace out HHonors.

  17. @Victor
    “Bentley in London for New Years 2014/2015” Is that more than 1 year away? How did you book that?

  18. @Pan & Steve: It appeared initially that bookable dates only go out to Jan/Feb 2014. However, I was able to book the 2015 dates directly on the Conrad Maldives website by searching initially Jan/Feb 2014, then clicking through the “book a room” tab to the page that summarizes all the various rooms & rates on offer, then clicking the little “change search” tab at the top. On the page that link takes you to, I could see and select 2015 dates from the calendar. Voila.

    So, that along with the GLON, discount 7 nights came to the 262.5k.

    I can’t say if this is possible for every Hilton, but it was in this instance…and in Victor’s case too, apparently.

    And my reservation has been confirmed via email and also shows in my online account.

  19. It’s the end for a once great program IMHO
    Like a passing
    The fat lady has finally sung on Hilton HHonors
    Between the premium award scam and now the worst devaluation in the history of the company
    explains how the program looked good for awhile with the new Citicard visa at ten points per dollar
    Hilton new they were going to drop this bomb and they did
    I’m gone as a Diamond forever
    How do you spell DONE?!
    It’s Starwood and Hyatt and some IHG /InterContinental properties here on in
    A very sad day indeed

  20. No Discussion on the current opportunity to spend additional points for upgraded rooms. It’s what I did for upcoming stays @ HKG Conrad & PVG WA – which under new rates would probably be just a standard room. I like my views and for a once in lifetime stay – so many places so little time – The certainty of a great view is valuable to me.

  21. I think the best part of this post is in Mr. Leff’s 2nd to last paragraph. I am new to this game and am, unsurprisingly, risk averse and conservative with my personal finances. So I’m used to saving, saving, saving. But this (the devaluation) is a great wake up call reminding me that that isn’t the way things work in this game, and I’m glad I got it this early on. Earn, spend, rinse, repeat. Miles/points are a currency that is not going to appreciate. Yes, devaluations hurt, but they hurt you more if you’re that guy who has been hoarding them for years and sees a million or so lose half their value.

  22. How would you compare the Conrad Maldives, Hilton Bora Bora, and the Conrad Bali for a 4 – 5 day stay for a diamond?

  23. Any recommendation for best properties in the US? I’m looking to burn some points as well, and just don’t have the time flexibility to go on a long trip. And I don’t want to spend half of the vacation in transit. Leaving from Chicago. Thanks

  24. @Jeff

    The Waldorf Astoria in Chicago is rated as the best hotel in America by Conde Nast.

  25. I was checking WA chicago availability for the next few months the other day…lots and lots of 90 and 100k rooms…my search was not exhaustive but it seems that they may be pulling the premium room trick…

  26. Are people just hoarding points to stay in the top level hotel? I’m finding all this interesting, my partner and I plan on small 2-3 day trips every other month through out the US, and we plan on staying at mid-level hotel with all the points we have, we have enough points to do this for 3 years, isn’t all these points really to allow us to travel without paying a lot? With the southwest companion pass and over 200K points that is a lot of travel in the US with really no money out of pocket. I’m just saying…

  27. @Tony – yes, the sweet spot of value in the program used to be at the highest end. There were increasing returns on margin all the way up to level 7. Most HGIs or Hamptons would be 30k or more points for a room valued at $150 or less. Whereas Conrad and WA properties you could get $400+ rooms for 50k points.

    The math on your plan doesn’t entirely work out in my head; you are planning to get 18-36 free nights off of 200k Hhonors points? Good luck with that.

  28. If considering the Hilton Bora Bora Nui you should also look at the Hilton Moorea. Yes, the Bora Bora is going to 95k while the Moorea is going to “only” 80k, it is preferred by some (calmer & warmer water, snorkeling is better at MOZ and easier & cheaper to get to).

  29. @ Thomas That’s exactly what I did. My goal is to spend New Years in a new city every year so London worked perfectly. I’ve also been hearing that the 2 year trick only works on Conrads, which The Bentley isn’t so there may be some leeway at alternate high-end hotels without the Conrad name.

  30. @CW sorry for the delay, I guess I was in a rush when I posted my original post. The amount of stays was in regards to SPG, and the points and cash. I have been staying at Four Points by Sheraton and have been able to get them at a reasonable 1600 points plus $30/night. I like the fact that the points and cash still count towards elite level.

    Now when it comes to Hiltons I haven’t stayed there yet to do the math.

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