Reader Xavier Ashe asks,
Most of your analysis of hotel programs have to do this the high end hotels. I’m a family man, and usually burn my Hilton points on Embassy Suites and Homewood Suites. Of the big chains, which has the best low end point spend. I am still mourning the loss of the point stretcher awards at Hilton. I did a whole week near the beach for 35k points once.
Let’s take a look at each program’s base level — how much you have to spend with each hotel program in order to earn enough points for a free night at their lowest redemption tier.
This doesn’t included bonuses of course, but with Hilton I’m assuming that you choose to earn “points and points” rather than points and miles. It also doesn’t incorporate earning from the credit card you use when paying for rooms, either. And it’s looking at free award nights only — not cash and points awards.
But it does give us a basic level of comparison.
While Hilton has gotten a lot more expensive for redemptions at their upper tier hotels, they are really cheap for bottom-tier redemptions.
The picture also changes when we look at how much a top tier elite member has to spend at a given hotel chain to earn enough points for that same free night at the lowest-tier hotel. Note that the brand new introduction of IHG’s ‘Spire Elite’ level increases the top bonus earning for 50% to 100% and thus reduces the spend required for an introductory level redemption.
Of course looking at the lowest tier redemption doesn’t necessarily match everyone’s needs or even most folks’ needs. Even though the question is about “low end point spend” I bet what’s really being asked isn’t those ‘category 1’ redemptions often in countries with the lowest cost of living. Rather it’s about nice mid-level properties — just not the top end luxury.
I prefer using my points to stay in places I wouldn’t ever spend money for, to leverage my points for aspirational stays. I totally get that many people stretch their points to stay longer and make great trips with family possible.
Beach is over 2 miles long and about 75-100 yards wide. Absolutely empty even though hotel is full.
If you look to the left on beach there is nothing but sea (to the right is a monstrous port with about 20 cranes.. intriguing looking). The service is great.
The property is definitely not cutting edge but surely not shabby. More than acceptable especially for 5000 points per night. The room is perfectly fine… Food on property is more than fine…
Hotel is a few kilometers from town but a couple of restaurants within walking distance. There are no other hotels on the beach within sight. So take that sense of isolation for what it’s worth to you.
Between all my family Hilton HHonors credit card sign up bonuses we have about 130 category 1 free nights. So it was worth checking this place out firsthand. It is consistent with most tripadvisor reviews.
Is salalah worth staying for about a third of a year?? The math of 130 free rooms is pretty compelling for what most folks would judge this a solid 3.5 to 4 star property.
The hotel is 15 min from center of town. The town is compact and clean and a clutch of pedestrian friendly side streets with relatively genetic shopping offerings and a bunch of crazy inexpensive and delicious Indian Chinese and Arabic restaurants.
The hotel dinner offerings include an outdoor seaside restaurant that was quite good.
As Salalah is not actually on the American traveller bullseye. The locals are both fascinated and thrilled to have us. Expect exemplary if not fawning treatment.
You can certainly stretch your 5000 point per night redemptions, whether with Hilton HHonors or carefully chosen IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks (which aren’t included in the analysis above).
Although I’d bet the real question is about mid-tier redemptions.
- For that Club Carlson is the cheapest (even without having that 2nd night free credit card benefit any longer).
- Hilton, Marriott, IHG, and Hyatt are all clustered fairly close together, with ~ 15% of each other.
- Starwood is the least generous with in-hotel spend.
- That analysis doesn’t change, even for elites.
As a result, what matters most is which chain has the hotels that match your redemption patterns — hotels in the right places (Does Hyatt or Starwood have a big enough footprint for you) and at the right quality level (do you want to stay at most Radissons)?
Then whether or not the rest of the features of a hotel chain work for you matter. Are you going to be an elite member? Does the chain’s benefits make sense for you — will you get suite upgrades? what about breakfast? Will the chain even honor elite benefits on reward stays (IHG doesn’t require their hotels to for most benefits)?