This is a guest post by contributor Thrifty Tourist, who will be making frequent posts on Travel Summary going forward. Thrifty Tourist is just getting started in social media and can be found on Facebook and Twitter.
A lot has been written over the past 24 hours regarding the devaluation of Hilton HHonors points as of next month, and for the most part everyone is correct. This is a horrendous devaluation and as a Diamond Member, I can’t see myself working toward re-qualifying for my Diamond status with such a large downgrade in not only the point values, but previous downgrades in amenities as well.
But I also wouldn’t rush to spend my hard earned points that I have stored up because of the oncoming devaluation. I actually found that the new point system is actually a benefit at some of the higher end Hilton properties. For example, just last month I stayed at the Grand Wailea – A Waldorf Astoria property and had researched redemption values over the past 6 months and therefore have a great understanding of the month-to-month changes in the number of points needed to redeem a single night. Currently, you can search Hilton’s website for Award Redemption Bookings at the Grand Wailea and you will find that the lowest available is 80,000 HHonors points for a single night throughout 2013.
However, with Hilton’s new point system, you can stay at the Grand Wailea for at least 7 months out of the year for only 70,000 points! For example, a search today shows that during the months of May and June, redemption rates range from 80,000 to 103,000 for a one-night redemption.
Searching Hilton’s new point system website you can see that a Standard Room at the Grand Wailea is actually scheduled to be only 70,000 points during May and June. It is also only 70,000 points in September, October, November, January and February, actually. From my personal experience of searching throughout last year for my trip to the Grand Wailea, I never saw a room available for as low as 70,000 points. If Hilton’s new website is accurate and true, this is a great benefit of the new Hilton HHonors point system and I will actually hold onto my points as me and my wife would love to plan another stay at the Grand Wailea.
This new benefit isn’t only limited to high-end or Waldorf properties, it’s beneficial to some lower end properties as well. I also was planning a trip to Phuket this year and knew from my research that the Doubletree Hotel Phuket – Surin Beach had redemption values that ranged from 25,000 points to 70,000+ points. For most of the year it is 25,000, so let us base our valuation of the new rates off of that level.
Using Hilton’s new point system website shows that a one-night redemption rate is now only 20,000 points for the entire year. Every month is listed at only 20,000 points. Now again, if the website is accurate and true, then this is a only a slightly better redemption rate than previous rates, but the fact that the points don’t fluctuate so dramatically will allow travelers to plan and organize trips throughout the year with a constant redemption value in mind, as opposed to having to check for rates for a specific date.
I also found that Hilton’s All Inclusive Resort Properties, such as the Hilton Puerto Vallarta is not changing redemption values. Rates were constant at 60,000 per night in the old system and will be 60,000 per night under the new system.
While these are just three examples of the many that I have found, it does provide some insight that it is not all doom and gloom with Hilton’s new point system. Again, it is a massive devaluation and something that I am very upset about. But at the same time, I’m going to spend the next month researching the different properties that I want to visit and see if I can actually benefit from waiting until March 28 or if speculative/early bookings will benefit me. The goal of travel bloggers and advisors is to find that one gem of a deal, the needle in the haystack, in a travel market filled with bad deals. Hilton’s new point system just gives us one more haystack.
I’d like to hear if anyone else has found any other Hilton properties where the new point system may actually be a benefit versus devaluation. Let me know.