Much has been written about the Hilton HHonors program and how they gutted their reward program in March. I wrote before the change occurred that you would want to make your award bookings before the deadline so that you could lock in the old rates. Due to some very tardy point transference, I did not get to book a property in time that I had been waiting for (the points posted the next day). So, now that this happened over a month ago, what has changed and what is there to look forward to?
Hilton HHonors Changes
Changed from 7 Categories (8 counting the Waldorfs) to 10 Categories
We will be expanding to ten hotel reward categories to account for all of the new hotels and resorts that have opened in the past few years. With 3,900 hotels and resorts in 90 countries you are sure to find the perfect place for your next reward stay.
Changed to Seasonal Pricing
For most of our hotels and resorts, we will introduce seasonal pricing for reward stays. The amount of points needed for a Standard Room Reward and a Points & Money Reward will vary during certain times of the year.
5th Night Free
Now members with Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will get a free night* when they book a Standard Room Reward stay of five or more consecutive nights.
For the top properties, this was a very bad change. It upgraded many of the best Hilton properties to the new Category 10. In essence, many of the top Hilton hotels went from 50,000 points to 95,000 points in high season! With such a change, the top properties became much more difficult to attain.
Changes Good for Runners!
These changes actually were not that bad for runners, however. While I would really like to stay at the top Hilton properties, none of those are near races. 🙂 So, for the traveling runner, the category changes and seasonal pricing changes actually worked out pretty well. It dropped the Category 1 hotels from 7,500 points to 5,000 points while other categories have lower points during off-season than they used to cost at the old level (for example, Category 4 used to cost 30,000 points and now has a range of 20,000-30,000 points).
Mid-range hotels are typically the hotels that are used by marathons as host hotels or official race hotels. Hiltons are very popular for that purpose given how many there are and how large they are. There are still many hotels that have not changed in their prices, or have even gone down in point requirements.
Let’s check a couple of the hotels for some upcoming fall marathons.
St. George Marathon
St. George’s Marathon is October 5th. The absolute best hotel is the Hilton Garden Inn. This hotel is right next to the expo site and the pre-race dinner. Marathoners know how great it is to be that close. It is more than convenience – it is peace of mind!
In this case, if you book an award stay for Friday-Sunday, it is still available for 30,000 points! If you were to pay, it is $180 a night!
The Richmond Marathon is November 16th. The host hotel is an Omni (which I stayed at when I ran the race and found it very nice and convenient), but the next hotel on the list is Hilton Garden Inn Downtown. This hotel is 1 block from the starting line! That is as good as it gets! The cash cost is $179 per night. Instead, it takes 30,000 points.
Kansas City Marathon
The Kansas City Marathon is held on October 19th. The host hotel is a SPG hotel, but there are still Hilton options in the area. The best option is the Hilton President Kansas City. It is only 1 block away from the host hotel and is a really great looking hotel! This is one example where the price did go up a little. The hotel is a category 5 so it use to cost 35,000 points per night – now it costs from 30,000-40,000 points. This is considered high season so it will cost 40,000 points. That is still not bad and the possible increase in points may help to increase availability. This hotel costs over $220 a night – instead, you can use 40,000 points.
So, while most of the point earning community continues to cry over the devaluation of the Hilton HHonors points program, runners can rejoice at some better deals that are now coming your way! Check for another post this week showing you how you can get a lot of Hilton points!