December 12 2014

IHG Bonus Points Offer – To Buy or Not To Buy?

[If you came here just for the free donuts, the information is at the bottom of this post. 😉 ]

IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), is currently offering a bonus when you buy points in the program.

IHG Bonus Pts Offer

A few people have asked me if it’s worth it. My answer – as it is to most questions in life – is “it depends.”

The offer

IHG normally sells points for as low as 1.15 cents each. Here’s the price chart:

IHG Bonus Pts Rates

That is not a good deal considering they can be acquired for 0.7 cents by other means (discussed here).

However, this promotion gives you a certain bonus when buying points.

But not everyone is offered the same bonus. The various offers are 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%. You can find out which you received here.

This is the effective cost per point with each offer:

IHG Bonus Pts CPP

Analysis

If you received a 50% offer or below, it does not make sense to buy points this way (since you can acquire them for cheaper, at 0.7 cents each, as mentioned above).

If you got a 75% or 100% offer, then I could see it making sense if both of the following are true:

  • You think IHG points are worth more than these sale prices. I personally value an IHG point at about 0.7 cents, so I think prices are favorable if you received the 75% or the 100% offer.
  • You have a specific, near-term use for them. I would not buy points just to hoard them as (1) loyalty points can be – and often are – devalued at whim by the company, and (2) I think it unwise to convert a liquid asset (cash) to an illiquid one (hotel points with little value outside their loyalty program) without good reason.

Here’s an example where it does make sense to buy points. Below is the price of a room at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam on a random date this summer.

IC Amstel 2

As you see, for one night the cash rate is €1,460 (about $1,800 at today’s exchange rate).

Instead of paying cash, you can book a night for 40,000 points – which can be purchased for $230 with the 100% bonus offer (40,000 x $0.00575) or $263 with the 75% offer.

I’ve used this example before, and it’s a fairly extreme example, but it’s good for illustration.

But be sure to check award availability at your desired hotel before purchasing points!

Bonus tip

Treat yourself to a free dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (with purchase).

Krispy Kreme Dozen

Coupon is available here and offer is valid only today (December 12). Enjoy!

November 30 2014

2,000 Bonus Points for Enrolling in IHG Rewards Club

IHG Rewards Club, the loyalty program of Intercontinental Hotels Group, is offering 2,000 bonus points for simply signing up. You can do so here.

IHG Signup Bonus

I believe IHG offers one of the best values in hotel loyalty programs: award nights for the heavily discounted rate of 5,000 points (the equivalent of $35) per night with its PointBreaks program.

2,000 points is 40% of the way to a free night through PointBreaks. If you don’t already have an account, it’s definitely worth a few minutes to sign up.

In case you’re unfamiliar with IHG, its brands consist of the following:

IHG Brands

The offer expires December 7, 2014.

 

November 24 2014

Luxury Hotels for $35/Night – New PointBreaks Properties Now Bookable

Every few months, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) releases a new PointBreaks list. I consider PointBreaks one of the best deals in hotel loyalty programs, with award nights offered at the deeply discounted rate of 5,000 points per night.

IHG brands consist of the following: IHG Brands

A new set of PointBreaks properties was released for booking today. The list can be found here, and I have also pasted it below for convenience.

I value an IHG point at $0.007 (seven tenths of one cent), so being able to book a room for 5,000 points is like spending $35.

$35 a night is a good deal for just about any decent hotel property anywhere.

But among the 100+ properties on each PointBreaks list, there is usually a handful of extraordinary deals – InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo properties that normally require up to 50,000 points for an award night (or several hundred dollars for a paid night).

PalacePortGhalib
The Palace Port Ghalib Resort in Egypt

A few of the gems on the list, in my opinion:

 

Ways to acquire IHG points

If you’re short on points, I previously wrote about how to earn IHG Rewards points. Among the methods described, there is a way to indirectly buy points for $0.007 each.

 

List of participating properties

Below is the full list as of this writing. The offer is valid through February 28, 2015, but award nights are capacity controlled and desirable properties go quickly so if interested I would book as soon as possible.

Once a property sells out of PointBreaks nights it drops off the PointBreaks page and the 5,000-point rate no longer displays for booking.

Each member may make up to two PointBreaks reservations per property. A reservation can be of any duration (availability permitting).

 

UNITED STATES

ALABAMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MONTGOMERY – EAST I-85
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SYLACAUGA

ARIZONA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ORO VALLEY-
TUCSON NORTH

CANDLEWOOD SUITES TUCSON

ARKANSAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MALVERN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MORRILTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VAN BUREN-
FT SMITH AREA

CALIFORNIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES INDIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES JACKSON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LIVERMORE
HOLIDAY INN PALMDALE-LANCASTER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TEHACHAPI
HWY 58/MILL ST.

COLORADO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CO SPRINGS-
AIR FORCE ACADEMY

CONNECTICUT
HOLIDAY INN NEW LONDON – MYSTIC AREA
EVEN HOTEL NORWALK

DELAWARE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DOVER

FLORIDA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BARTOW
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BROOKSVILLE WEST
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LIVE OAK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PANAMA CITY-TYNDALL

GEORGIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AUGUSTA EAST
STAYBRIDGE SUITES COLUMBUS – FORT BENNING
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HINESVILLE EAST –
FORT STEWART

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MOULTRIE

IDAHO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SANDPOINT NORTH

ILLINOIS
STAYBRIDGE SUITES AURORA/NAPERVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BOURBONNAIS (KANKAKEE/BRADLEY)
CANDLEWOOD SUITES CHAMPAIGN-URBANA UNIV AREA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MATTOON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MORRIS

INDIANA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES KOKOMO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WASHINGTON

IOWA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CEDAR RAPIDS-I-380
@ 33RD AVE

CANDLEWOOD SUITES SIOUX CITY – SOUTHERN HILLS

KENTUCKY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HAZARD

LOUISIANA
CROWNE PLAZA EXECUTIVE CENTER BATON ROUGE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS COVINGTON-MADISONVILLE
CANDLEWOOD SUITES DENHAM SPRINGS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MORGAN CITY –
TIGER ISLAND

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES NEW IBERIA-
AVERY ISLAND 

MAINE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BIDDEFORD

MARYLAND
CANDLEWOOD SUITES ABERDEEN-EDGEWOOD-BEL AIR
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BALTIMORE WEST –
CATONSVILLE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WASHINGTON DC – BW PARKWAY

MICHIGAN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CANTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HASTINGS
CROWNE PLAZA LANSING WEST
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DETROIT
NORTH – TROY

MINNESOTA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ROGERS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ST. PAUL NE
(VADNAIS HEIGHTS)

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WILLMAR

MISSISSIPPI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CORINTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FULTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GRENADA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES JACKSON
DOWNTOWN – COLISEUM

HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES TUPELO NORTH

MISSOURI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MARYVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SIKESTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ST. JOSEPH

MONTANA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GLENDIVE
CANDLEWOOD SUITES SIDNEY

NEBRASKA
CANDLEWOOD SUITES OMAHA AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES YORK

NEVADA
CANDLEWOOD SUITES WINNEMUCCA

NEW JERSEY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CARNEYS POINT
NJ TRNPK EXIT 1

NEW MEXICO
CROWNE PLAZA ALBUQUERQUE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DEMING
MIMBRES VALLEY

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOS ALAMOS
ENTRADA PARK

NEW YORK
STAYBRIDGE SUITES BUFFALO-AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PAINTED POST – CORNING AREA

NORTH CAROLINA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GOLDSBORO –
BASE AREA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HICKORY-HICKORY MART
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MONROE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ROANOKE RAPIDS SE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES WILMINGTON EAST

OHIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BOWLING GREEN
HOLIDAY INN DAYTON/FAIRBORN I-675
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MARION
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VAN WERT

OKLAHOMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHICKASHA
CANDLEWOOD SUITES MIDWEST CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GLENPOOL-
TULSA SOUTH

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PRYOR

PENNSYLVANIA
HOLIDAY INN BENSALEM-PHILADELPHIA AREA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PITTSBURGH SW – SOUTHPOINTE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS EXTON-LIONVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GREENSBURG
HOLIDAY INN WILKES BARRE – EAST MOUNTAIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES YORK

SOUTH CAROLINA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SUMTER

TENNESSEE
CANDLEWOOD SUITES KNOXVILLE AIRPORT-ALCOA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MORRISTOWN

TEXAS
CROWNE PLAZA DALLAS NEAR GALLERIA-ADDISON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HOUSTON-ALVIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FAIRFIELD-NORTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FLORESVILLE
HOLIDAY INN DALLAS-FORT WORTH AIRPORT S 
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GRAHAM

UTAH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SPRINGVILLE-
SOUTH PROVO AREA

VIRGINIA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES CHANTILLY – FAIRFAX
CANDLEWOOD SUITES HARRISONBURG
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SUFFOLK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WINCHESTER

WASHINGTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS VANCOUVER NORTH –
SALMON CREEK

WEST VIRGINIA
HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES BARBOURSVILLE
CANDLEWOOD SUITES LOGAN

WISCONSIN
CANDLEWOOD SUITES LA CROSSE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES MADISON-EAST
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PLEASANT PRAIRIE /
KENOSHA

WYOMING
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BUFFALO

EUROPE

BELGIUM

CROWNE PLAZA LIÈGE

FINLAND
CROWNE PLAZA HELSINKI

FRANCE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS STRASBOURG – SUD
CROWNE PLAZA LYON – CITE INTERNATIONALE

GERMANY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AUGSBURG
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS STUTTGART AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NEUNKIRCHEN
HOLIDAY INN STUTTGART
CROWNE PLAZA WIESBADEN

IRELAND
CROWNE PLAZA DUNDALK

ITALY
HOLIDAY INN SALERNO – CAVA DE’ TIRRENI
HOLIDAY INN NOLA – NAPLES VULCANO BUONO

RUSSIA
HOLIDAY INN MOSCOW – SOKOLNIKI

SPAIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MADRID – GETAFE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS VALENCIA – BONAIRE

SWITZERLAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AFFOLTERN AM ALBIS

TURKEY
CROWNE PLAZA ISTANBUL – ASIA

UNITED KINGDOM
STAYBRIDGE SUITES BIRMINGHAM
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BIRMINGHAM – SNOW HILL
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS EAST MIDLANDS AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN SOLIHULL

ASIA

INDIA
HOLIDAY INN AMRITSAR RANJIT AVENUE
HOLIDAY INN COCHIN
CROWNE PLAZA KOCHI

INDONESIA
HOLIDAY INN JAKARTA KEMAYORAN 

MALAYSIA
HOLIDAY INN KUALA LUMPUR GLENMARIE

THAILAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BANGKOK SATHORN

CHINA-PEOPLES REPUBLIC
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BEIJING YIZHUANG
CROWNE PLAZA BEIJING LIDO 
HOLIDAY INN TEMPLE OF HEAVEN BEIJING
HOLIDAY INN CHENGDU XINDU
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CHENGDU WEST GATE 
HOLIDAY INN HOHHOT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SHANGHAI GONGKANG 

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA

EGYPT
INTERCONTINENTAL THE PALACE PORT GHALIB RESORT

JORDAN
HOLIDAY INN AMMAN
HOLIDAY INN RESORT DEAD SEA

MAURITIUS
HOLIDAY INN MAURITIUS AIRPORT

QATAR
CROWNE PLAZA DOHA – THE BUSINESS PARK

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
HOLIDAY INN ABU DHABI

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

ARGENTINA
HOLIDAY INN ROSARIO

BRAZIL
HOLIDAY INN PORTO ALEGRE

CHILE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS IQUIQUE

ECUADOR
HOLIDAY INN GUAYAQUIL AIRPORT

PANAMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PANAMA DISTRITO FINANCIERO

MEXICO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CABO SAN LUCAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SALTILLO ZONA AEROPUERTO
CROWNE PLAZA TORREON
HOLIDAY INN CAMPECHE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PUEBLA ANGELOPOLIS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SAN LUIS POTOSI
CROWNE PLAZA XALAPA
INTERCONTINENTAL PRESIDENTE MERIDA

CANADA 

BRITISH COLUMBIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FORT ST JOHN

NEW BRUNSWICK
CROWNE PLAZA FREDERICTON-LORD BEAVERBROOK

 

July 28 2014

New IHG PointBreaks Hotels Bookable for About $35 per Night

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) just released its newest batch of PointBreaks properties.

I consider PointBreaks one of the best deals on hotel stays, with award nights offered at the deeply discounted rate of 5,000 IHG Rewards points per night.

IHG brands include InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and Staybridge Suites, among others.

I value IHG Rewards points at $0.007 each, so using 5,000 points is like spending $35 for a hotel night. A good deal for any IHG property; a fantastic deal for the luxury properties on the list.

As you’ll see in the full list below, there are quite a few upscale properties in this round. In the Central & South America region alone there are four InterContinentals and two Crowne Plazas.

InterContinental Cali pool
The InterContinental Cali – a steal at 5,000 points per night

I pulled up a random date for the InterContinental Cali. The cash rate is $469/night but, as you see below, the PointBreaks rate is only 5,000 points.

InterContinental Cali PB rate

The full list can be found here, and I have pasted it in its entirety below for convenience. These properties are available at the discounted rate through September 30, 2014 (while supplies last).

Ways to acquire IHG points

If you’re short on points, I previously suggested ways to earn IHG Rewards points.

Additionally, IHG is currently running a promotion offering a 60% bonus when you buy points.

IHG Promo - 60 bonus on purchased points
Click to enlarge

If you purchase 11,000 points, you’d pay $138 and receive 17,600 points including the bonus. Your cost would be $0.0078 per point ($138 ÷ 17,600). Buying points this way would enable booking a PointBreaks hotel for about $39/night ($0.0078 x 5,000).

Technically this offer is targeted, but it is widely targeted so if you’re a member just search your inbox for the email (mine came on July 25). If you’re not a member, it doesn’t hurt to sign up and see if you get the email (and if you don’t, call them to request).

With the co-branded credit card (described in this post) you also receive a 10% rebate on award redemptions, meaning your net cost is 4,500 points/night (about $35).

List of participating properties

Below is the full list. Award nights are capacity controlled and desirable properties go quickly so if you would like to snag one I would not dawdle.

Each member is limited to two PointBreaks reservations (of unlimited duration) per property. Once a property sells out of PointBreaks nights the 5,000-point rate will no longer display on the booking page.

 

UNITED STATES

ALABAMA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GADSDEN
W-NEAR ATTALLA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PELHAM – OAK MTN PK AREA

ARKANSAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BENTONVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MOUNTAIN HOME

ARIZONA
CANDLEWOOD SUITES YUMA

CALIFORNIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EL CENTRO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SAN DIEGO-LA MESA (SDSU AREA)
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LINCOLN-
ROSEVILLE AREA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SACRAMENTO
NE CAL EXPO

CONNECTICUT
HOLIDAY INN DANBURY-BETHEL @ I-84

DELAWARE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HARRINGTON
(DOVER AREA)

FLORIDA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NICEVILLE-EGLIN AFB
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PALM COAST

GEORGIA
CANDLEWOOD SUITES AUGUSTA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ATLANTA-CONYERS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MILLEDGEVILLE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES SAVANNAH AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES THOMASVILLE

IOWA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CLINTON

ILLINOIS
HOLIDAY INN CHICAGO NW CRYSTAL LK CONV CTR
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CHICAGO-DOWNERS GROVE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ROCHELLE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES ROCKFORD

INDIANA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BEDFORD
STAYBRIDGE SUITES ELKHART NORTH
STAYBRIDGE SUITES FORT WAYNE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BLOOMINGTON
N-MARTINSVILLE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TELL CITY

KANSAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ABILENE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GARDEN CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS JUNCTION CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LANSING-LEAVENWORTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LAWRENCE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PITTSBURG

KENTUCKY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HENDERSON N EVANSVILLE SOUTH
HOLIDAY INN LOUISVILLE AIRPORT SOUTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PIKEVILLE

LOUISIANA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SULPHUR
(LAKE CHARLES)

MARYLAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS POCOMOKE CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PRINCE FREDERICK

MICHIGAN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BAD AXE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHARLOTTE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GAYLORD
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ROSEVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SOUTH HAVEN
CANDLEWOOD SUITES DETROIT-SOUTHFIELD
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES THREE RIVERS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WIXOM

MINNESOTA
HOLIDAY INN FAIRMONT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WORTHINGTON

MISSOURI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FARMINGTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES INDEPENDENCE-
KANSAS CITY

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS JEFFERSON CITY
CANDLEWOOD SUITES KANSAS CITY AIRPORT

MISSISSIPPI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MAGEE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MCCOMB
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VICKSBURG
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WEST POINT

NORTH CAROLINA
HOTEL INDIGO RALEIGH DURHAM AIRPORT AT RTP
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CLAYTON (SE RALEIGH)
CANDLEWOOD SUITES GREENVILLE NC
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES STATESVILLE

NORTH DAKOTA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DICKINSON

NEBRASKA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ALLIANCE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS OGALLALA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES OMAHA 80TH AND DODGE

NEW JERSEY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WOODBRIDGE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MEADOWLANDS
AREA

HOLIDAY INN CLINTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TOWER CENTER
NEW BRUNSWICK

NEW MEXICO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ALBUQUERQUE-N.
BALLOON FSTA PK

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GRANTS – MILAN
STAYBRIDGE SUITES LAS CRUCES
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LAS VEGAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SILVER CITY

NEW YORK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EAST GREENBUSH
(ALBANY-SKYLINE)

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ROCHESTER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WEST COXSACKIE

OHIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DAYTON-
CENTERVILLE

STAYBRIDGE SUITES COLUMBUS-DUBLIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LONDON-I-70
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS OAKWOOD VILLAGE

OKLAHOMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ADA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ENID-HWY 412
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MUSKOGEE

OREGON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GRANTS PASS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PORTLAND WEST/HILLSBORO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES KLAMATH FALLS
CENTRAL

PENNSYLVANIA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES ALLENTOWN WEST
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MEADVILLE (I-79 EXIT 147A)
CROWNE PLAZA READING

RHODE ISLAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PROVIDENCE-
WOONSOCKET

SOUTH CAROLINA
CROWNE PLAZA GREENVILLE-I-385-ROPER MTN RD
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LEXINGTON-HWY 378

SOUTH DAKOTA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VERMILLION
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WATERTOWN

TENNESSEE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES COOKEVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHATTANOOGA-
HIXSON

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS KNOXVILLE-STRAWBERRY PLAINS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LENOIR CITY
(KNOXVILLE AREA)

TEXAS
HOLIDAY INN HOUSTON EAST-CHANNELVIEW
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FALFURRIAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES KILGORE NORTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES UVALDE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WHARTON

UTAH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOGAN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VERNAL –
DINOSAURLAND

VIRGINIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHRISTIANSBURG
CANDLEWOOD SUITES WASHINGTON-FAIRFAX
HOLIDAY INN NORTON

WISCONSIN
HOLIDAY INN CONFERENCE CTR MARSHFIELD
HOLIDAY INN NEENAH
STAYBRIDGE SUITES MILWAUKEE WEST-OCONOMOWOC
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES OSHKOSH-SR 41

WYOMING
HOLIDAY INN RIVERTON-CONVENTION CENTER

 

EUROPE

FINLAND

HOLIDAY INN TAMPERE

FRANCE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AMIENS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GRENOBLE – BERNIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LILLE CENTRE

GERMANY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FRANKFURT – MESSE

ROMANIA
INTERCONTINENTAL BUCHAREST

SLOVAKIA
CROWNE PLAZA BRATISLAVA

SPAIN
HOLIDAY INN VALENCIA

TURKEY
CROWNE PLAZA ANTALYA
CROWNE PLAZA ISTANBUL – HARBIYE

UNITED KINGDOM
HOLIDAY INN BRENTWOOD M25, JCT.28
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BURTON UPON TRENT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CAMBRIDGE-DUXFORD M11, JCT.10
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NEWCASTLE – METRO CENTRE
HOLIDAY INN NORTHAMPTON
HOLIDAY INN PRESTON
HOLIDAY INN SLOUGH – WINDSOR
HOLIDAY INN WOKING

ASIA

INDIA

HOLIDAY INN PUNE HINJEWADI

INDONESIA
HOLIDAY INN RESORT BATAM

JAPAN
CROWNE PLAZA – ANA KANAZAWA

CHINA-PEOPLES REPUBLIC
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CHANGSHU
HOLIDAY INN JIUZHAI JARPO
CROWNE PLAZA XIANGYANG
CROWNE PLAZA ZHONGSHAN XIAOLAN
CROWNE PLAZA ZHONGSHAN WING ON CITY

 

MIDDLE EAST & AFRICA 

EGYPT
CROWNE PLAZA RESORT SAHARA SANDS PORT GHALIB RESOR

KUWAIT
HOLIDAY INN KUWAIT – DOWNTOWN

SAUDI ARABIA
HOLIDAY INN YANBU

SOUTH AFRICA
HOLIDAY INN JOHANNESBURG – ROSEBANK

ZIMBABWE
HOLIDAY INN HARARE

 

CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA

ARGENTINA

HOLIDAY INN CORDOBA

BRAZIL
CROWNE PLAZA BELEM
HOLIDAY INN MANAUS

COLOMBIA
INTERCONTINENTAL CALI

COSTA RICA
INTERCONTINENTAL COSTA RICA AT MULTIPLAZA MALL

GUATEMALA
INTERCONTINENTAL REAL GUATEMALA

HONDURAS
CROWNE PLAZA SAN PEDRO SULA

PANAMA
INTERCONTINENTAL MIRAMAR PANAMA

 

MEXICO 

MEXICO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CD. DEL CARMEN
CROWNE PLAZA TOLUCA-LANCASTER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TOLUCA ZONA AEROPUERTO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GUADALAJARA AUTONOMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS VILLAHERMOSA TABASCO 2000
CROWNE PLAZA NUEVO LAREDO
CROWNE PLAZA TUXPAN
HOLIDAY INN VERACRUZ CENTRO HISTORICO

 

CANADA

ALBERTA
HOLIDAY INN HINTON
HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES LLOYDMINSTER

BRITISH COLUMBIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LANGLEY

ONTARIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BARRIE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES TORONTO MISSISSAUGA
HOTEL INDIGO TORONTO AIRPORT

June 10 2014

Amsterdam Trip Report: Introduction & Photo Essay

Trip report index:

Introduction

As I previously wrote, the stars aligned to allow for a quick trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago. I was planning to attend an event in North Carolina and, unable to find inexpensive airfare, decided to redeem miles for the flight. But, since I’m always looking to maximize value for my miles, I don’t like using miles for domestic flights.

Instead, I thought I’d try to find an international award flight to use those miles on and then just tack on a stop in North Carolina for free. (On an international award ticket, United allows one stopover and two open jaws for free.)

That same week, there was award availability at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam – a hotel I’d always wanted to stay at in a city I’ve yet to visit. While grand in other ways, the hotel has only 55 guestrooms and 24 suites, making reward availability scarce. And with rates in my timeframe starting at €500 (approximately $700) per night for a standard room, I wasn’t about to pay cash.

The last piece of the puzzle was finding award flights on dates that lined up well with both the North Carolina event and the Amstel hotel availability. It took a bit of work – I had to (politely) hang up on a couple of United reservations agents before getting one who could make the itinerary work. Tip: if the agent’s not helpful, use the HUCA trick (hang up, call again).

In the end, I redeemed 60,000 United miles for a roundtrip ticket to Amsterdam with a free 2-day stopover in North Carolina.

Trip costs

As a discretionary, opportunistic trip, I was determined to keep costs low. At the final tally, I ended up spending about $230 in cash for four days in Amsterdam – flights, hotels, insurance, and sightseeing included. (I don’t count meals and ground transportation as I incur those expenses regardless of whether I’m traveling.)

AMS trip costs

In the next post I’ll share my thoughts on visiting Amsterdam, and in later posts I’ll review the hotels on this trip.

Meanwhile, enjoy a short photo essay on the city…

Photo essay

The view on approach to Schiphol airport:

1-AMS approach

 

Amsterdam’s Canal District was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010. Prinsengracht (“Prince’s Canal”), one of the main canals, is where you’ll find the Houseboat Museum. This photo was taken from the bow of the boat/museum:

2-View fr Houseboat Museum bow

 

The Anne Frank House – also a museum – is on the Prinsengracht as well. This is the house’s canal-facing façade:

3-AnneFrankHouse

 

Dutch painter Rembrandt was buried at Westerkerk (“Western Church”), just yards away from the Anne Frank House. Its spire is said to be the highest church tower in Amsterdam:

4-Westerkerk spire

 

In contrast to the elaborate spire, I found Westerkerk’s interior relatively plain:

5-Westerkerk interior

 

The city’s transportation hub, Central Station:

6-Central Station

 

A grim reaper in Dam Square looking toward the National Monument:

7-Dam Sq toward monument

 

The Royal Palace sits on the other side of Dam Square (there’s the grim reaper again!):

8-AMS Palace w grim reaper

By the way, is there significance to grim reapers in the context of Amsterdam? (Seemed they were pulling in healthy tips from tourists wanting photos with them.) My quick Google search didn’t turn up anything, but if there’s a back story please enlighten me!

The Red Light District at 5:30pm is not the best “gawking” time, but you can still see enough to get a sense of the place. Here’s a PG-rated photo of the area:

9-AMS RLD

 

Outside the Rijksmuseum (“State Museum”) you’ll find sculptures in nicely manicured gardens:

10-Rijks Museum Garden

 

Inside, you’ll find a vast collection which includes Rembrandt’s The Night Watch (my photography “skills” do not do it justice):

11-TheNightWatch

 

Museumplein (“Museum Square”) is surrounded by three of the city’s major museums – the Rijksmuseum, Van Gogh Museum, and Stedelijk Museum. Here, the Rijks is in the background:

12-Museumplein

 

May 27 2014

New IHG PointBreaks Hotels Now Bookable – 5,000 Points/Night

Every few months, InterContinental Hotels Group releases a new list of PointBreaks® – reward nights offered at the deeply discounted rate of 5,000 points per night. A new list came out today, valid for booking through July 31, 2014.

The list can be found here, and I have pasted it below for convenience.

Among the 100+ properties in each round, there are often gems to be found – a handful or so of InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, and Hotel Indigo properties which normally require up to 50,000 points/night. These tend to book up very quickly and are often gone the same day the list is released.

But realistically, any of the properties on the list is a gem if it happens to coincide with your travel plans. Even if “just” a Holiday Inn Express or Candlewood Suites property, a room at any of these can be a steal at 5,000 points/night – especially in a location and on a date where you already need a hotel night anyway.

I value an IHG Rewards point at $0.007, so using 5,000 points is like spending $35 for a hotel night. [Update: see this post for ways to earn IHG points.]

CP San Jose Costa Rica
The Crowne Plaza San Jose Corobici

United States

ALABAMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CLANTON
HOLIDAY INN BIRMINGHAM – HOOVER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MOBILE/SARALAND

ARKANSAS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HARRISON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SEARCY

ARIZONA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PINETOP

CALIFORNIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CORNING
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES GOLD MINERS INN
– GRASS VALLEY

STAYBRIDGE SUITES PALMDALE
CROWNE PLAZA SILICON VALLEY N – UNION CITY

COLORADO
STAYBRIDGE SUITES DENVER TECH CENTER
CANDLEWOOD SUITES GRAND JUNCTION NW

DELAWARE
STAYBRIDGE SUITES WILMINGTON-NEWARK

FLORIDA
HOLIDAY INN JACKSONVILLE E 295 BAYMEADOWS
HOLIDAY INN SARASOTA-LAKEWOOD RANCH

GEORGIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ATLANTA NW
– POWDER SPRINGS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ROME

IOWA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PELLA
HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES DES MOINES-NORTHWEST

IDAHO
CANDLEWOOD SUITES BOISE – TOWNE SQUARE

ILLINOIS
HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES BOLINGBROOK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HIGHLAND
CANDLEWOOD SUITES BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES JACKSONVILLE
HOTEL INDIGO CHICAGO-VERNON HILLS

INDIANA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ELKHART-SOUTH
CANDLEWOOD SUITES INDIANAPOLIS – SOUTH
CANDLEWOOD SUITES MERRILLVILLE

KANSAS
CANDLEWOOD SUITES KANSAS CITY

KENTUCKY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CARROLLTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SHELBYVILLE

LOUISIANA
HOLIDAY INN HOUMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LEESVILLE-FT. POLK

MASSACHUSETTS
HOLIDAY INN BERKSHIRES
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SWANSEA

MARYLAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SALISBURY – DELMAR
HOLIDAY INN SOLOMONS-CONF CENTER & MARINA

MAINE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FREEPORT – BRUNSWICK AREA

MICHIGAN
HOLIDAY INN BIG RAPIDS

MINNESOTA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES EAGAN ARPT SOUTH – MALL AREA

MISSOURI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FULTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HANNIBAL

MISSISSIPPI
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CLEVELAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PHILADELPHIA-CHOCTAW

MONTANA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES GREAT FALLS

NORTH CAROLINA
HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES RALEIGH-CARY (I-40 @WALNUT ST)
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FAYETTEVILLE NW-SPRING LAKE

NEBRASKA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BELLEVUE (OMAHA AREA)
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES NORFOLK

NEW HAMPSHIRE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS DURHAM – UNH

NEW JERSEY
CANDLEWOOD SUITES BORDENTOWN-TRENTON
HOLIDAY INN EAST WINDSOR
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MOUNT ARLINGTON
– ROCKAWAY AREA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VINELAND MILLVILLE

NEW MEXICO
STAYBRIDGE SUITES ALBUQUERQUE NORTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CLOVIS

NEVADA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS FALLON
STAYBRIDGE SUITES RENO

NEW YORK
CANDLEWOOD SUITES BUFFALO AMHERST
HOLIDAY INN AUBURN-FINGER LAKES REGION
CANDLEWOOD SUITES WATERTOWN-FORT DRUM
HOLIDAY INN JOHNSTOWN-GLOVERSVILLE
HOLIDAY INN UTICA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ROCHESTER – GREECE

OHIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CELINA
HOLIDAY INN CLEVELAND-AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS COLUMBUS – DUBLIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MIDDLETOWN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES NAPOLEON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CLEVELAND
– STREETSBORO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WAUSEON

OKLAHOMA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES OKMULGEE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VINITA

OREGON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MEDFORD
– CENTRAL POINT

HOLIDAY INN PORTLAND-GRESHAM
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ONTARIO

PENNSYLVANIA
HOLIDAY INN ALLENTOWN CENTER CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHAMBERSBURG
HOLIDAY INN JOHNSTOWN-DOWNTOWN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MT PLEASANT- SCOTTDALE
HOLIDAY INN WARREN (KINZUA DAM-ALLEGHENY)

RHODE ISLAND
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SMITHFIELD
– PROVIDENCE

SOUTH CAROLINA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CAMDEN-I20 (HWY 521)
CANDLEWOOD SUITES COLUMBIA-FT. JACKSON

SOUTH DAKOTA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ABERDEEN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES STURGIS

TENNESSEE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HURRICANE MILLS (WAVERLY)
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MEMPHIS SOUTHWIND
STAYBRIDGE SUITES KNOXVILLE OAK RIDGE

TEXAS
HOLIDAY INN AMARILLO WEST MEDICAL CENTER
STAYBRIDGE SUITES BROWNSVILLE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ENNIS
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HEARNE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES HOUSTON NW
BELTWAY 8-WEST ROAD

CROWNE PLAZA SAN ANTONIO AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES AUSTIN SW
– SUNSET VALLEY

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES VIDOR SOUTH

UTAH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HEBER CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TOOELE

VIRGINIA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES CHESAPEAKE – VIRGINIA BEACH
CROWNE PLAZA HAMPTON-MARINA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES QUANTICO-STAFFORD
HOLIDAY INN PATRIOT-WILLIAMSBURG

WASHINGTON
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CHENEY
HOLIDAY INN YAKIMA

WISCONSIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ANTIGO
STAYBRIDGE SUITES MILWAUKEE AIRPORT SOUTH
CANDLEWOOD SUITES MADISON – FITCHBURG
CROWNE PLAZA MILWAUKEE AIRPORT
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES STEVENS POINT

WEST VIRGINIA
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NEWELL-CHESTER WV
HOLIDAY INN WEIRTON

WYOMING
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES TORRINGTON

 

Europe

BELGIUM

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ANTWERP CITY – NORTH

FINLAND
HOLIDAY INN TURKU

FRANCE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ARRAS
HOLIDAY INN TOULON – CITY CENTRE

GERMANY
HOLIDAY INN FRANKFURT AIRPORT – NORTH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SINGEN

ITALY
HOLIDAY INN GENOA CITY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS MILAN – MALPENSA AIRPORT

LITHUANIA
CROWNE PLAZA VILNIUS

ROMANIA
CROWNE PLAZA BUCHAREST

SPAIN
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BARCELONA – MONTMELO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS VITORIA

TURKEY
HOLIDAY INN BURSA

UNITED KINGDOM
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BRADFORD CITY CENTRE
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CANTERBURY
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS DONCASTER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GLENROTHES
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS KETTERING
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LICHFIELD
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PETERBOROUGH
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS RAMSGATE – MINSTER
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS STEVENAGE

 

Asia

INDIA
HOLIDAY INN RESORT GOA

JAPAN
CROWNE PLAZA ANA UBE

THAILAND
CROWNE PLAZA BANGKOK LUMPINI PARK

 

Middle East & Africa

EGYPT

HOLIDAY INN CAIRO – CITYSTARS

OMAN
CROWNE PLAZA RESORT SALALAH

SOUTH AFRICA
CROWNE PLAZA JOHANNESBURG – THE ROSEBANK

 

 Central & South America

ARGENTINA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ROSARIO

COSTA RICA
CROWNE PLAZA SAN JOSE COROBICI
HOTEL INDIGO SAN JOSE FORUM COSTA RICA

PANAMA
HOLIDAY INN PANAMA CANAL

 

 Mexico

CROWNE PLAZA TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

CROWNE PLAZA MEXICO CITY NORTH-TLALNEPANTLA
STAYBRIDGE SUITES GUADALAJARA EXPO
HOLIDAY INN HERMOSILLO

 

 Canada

ALBERTA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GRANDE PRAIRIE

NEW BRUNSWICK
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MONCTON

ONTARIO
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BRAMPTON
CROWNE PLAZA HAMILTON HOTEL & CONF CENTER
STAYBRIDGE SUITES OAKVILLE-BURLINGTON

QUEBEC
HOLIDAY INN LAVAL – MONTREAL
HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CENTRE-VILLE DOWNTOWN

 

 Oceania

AUSTRALIA

HOLIDAY INN TOWNSVILLE

FIJI
HOLIDAY INN SUVA

Category: IHG | LEAVE A COMMENT
March 28 2014

Don’t Leave Points on the Table – Check Your Big Win Offer

I have long wanted to see the Anne Frank House, and recently the stars aligned to make a quick trip to Amsterdam potentially viable in a few weeks. So I made a reservation at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam, where the cheapest room during my timeframe was priced at €500 (about $680) per night. While I am frugal, I don’t believe that price and value are synonymous. The cheapest option doesn’t necessarily offer the best value, and in this case I think a splurge is justifiable. Situated on the Amstel River and considered the premiere hotel in Amsterdam, the InterContinental is where the champagne-and-caviar crowd lunches.

IHG Amstel exterior

Of course I’m kidding. I’m not paying $680 per night. But before getting to what it cost me (hint: nothing) we have to slog through the “how to.”

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), whose brands are pictured below, is running the Big Win promotion through April 30, 2014.

IHG brands

Big Win is fairly complex as hotel promotions go, and analyzing its value is further complicated because each participant receives a personalized set of “challenges” to complete in order to earn points. Your offer will most likely differ from mine, perhaps vastly. However, if you’re not currently an IHG Rewards Club member, signing up (which is free) will likely get you a generic new-member offer similar to this:

New member Big Win T&Cs hypothetical

One strategy is to complete this challenge in four nights to earn 34k Big Win points.* The key to coming out ahead is rate arbitrage: pay for stays at cheap hotels to earn points, then redeem those points at expensive hotels to save cash. So the analysis boils down to (1) what is the cost for those four nights, and (2) what is the value of the points earned?

  1. Four nights can be had for under $400 quite easily. The challenge above doesn’t specify any brands except Holiday Inn (which is one of the cheaper brands anyway). In many locations it’s common to see sub-$100/night rooms at the lower-cost brands. It won’t be in midtown Manhattan and it will be pretty Spartan, but it is do-able.
  2. Valuing points is subjective, but I generally value one IHG point at $0.007. My actual redemptions are usually much better than that (as we’ll see on my InterContinental Amstel booking), but hotel points are an illiquid asset so I discount their value relative to cash.

In this scenario, after spending $400 on four nights we earn 38,000 points valued at $266.

Revised Big Win points

 

Worth it?

Maybe.

If you have no other reason to buy four hotel nights then it’s not worth it. Why convert $400 in (liquid) cash to $266 in (illiquid) hotel points?

But…if you have travel plans that require hotel nights anyway, and IHG properties would meet your needs, and there are no superior hotel promotions available to you in the same timeframe, then you leave points on the table by ignoring this promotion. Even if you only need one or two nights and don’t complete the entire challenge, you can still earn points for individual components.

As I mentioned, each member gets a customized challenge based on their stay history. Analyzing my offer is not particularly meaningful in that the offer only applies to me, but it illuminates what is possible when you play the miles and points game and will hopefully help you evaluate your own offer.

My offer is for about 150k points. I can complete it in four nights for under $400 by playing strategically. (By strategically, I mostly mean slumming it at Holiday Inns versus staying at InterContinentals). Since I travel often, I am always needing hotel stays so I would need those four nights regardless.

In addition to 150k Big Win points, I can earn another 20k points or so from the same four nights through a combination of base earnings (every paid stay earns 5 to 10 points/$), bonus earnings (because of my membership level), and other combinable promotions. (I also earn 5 credit card points/$ but for simplicity I have omitted those in the analysis.)

So I earn 170k points valued at $1,190 (assuming 1 point = $0.007) from spending $400 on four hotel nights.

(By the way, absent this promotion, I would’ve shifted my business to another hotel chain and earned points there. This happened to be the best promotion available to me this quarter, but it’s always good to know and evaluate your options.)

So, what did the InterContinental Amstel cost me?

If I spend $400 and earn 170k points, my acquisition cost is $0.0024/point. A reward night at the InterContinental Amstel costs 40k points/night. At that rate, I’m effectively paying $96/night (40k x $0.0024).

Amstel reward rate

$96 is less than the rack rate of a Holiday Inn located 27 miles from the city center on the same dates.

But wait.

I’d argue that the InterContinental Amstel stay actually cost me nothing. Because my $400 was not spent on acquiring hotel points, but on four needed hotel nights.

This is why I play the miles and points game.  😉

____________________________________

*An alternative strategy: complete the challenge in as few as three nights by forgoing the “Change your view” component. Doing so would earn only 31,000 Big Win points but would require one less paid night.