My Hotel Status Strategy For 2020

Filed Under: Hilton, Hotels
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I’ve been thinking lately about my hotel loyalty strategy for 2020. I think the reason this has been on my radar is because my Marriott Ambassador status expires as of the end of this month, and I’ll be dropping down to Titanium.

How will that impact my hotel choices going forward? Let me share my overall travel plans for the year, and then I’ll talk more specifically about my hotel loyalty strategy for 2020.

What my hotel stays in 2020 will look like

Everyone’s hotel needs are of course different, and for me 2020 will be different than past years. Not only do I not live in hotels anymore, but this will also be a year where I travel more purposefully:

  • I’ll continue to take review trips, with the goal of minimizing my time away from home and reviewing as many airlines as possible
  • When Ford and I take “real” vacations, we’re doing so much more purposefully than in the past, primarily due to other things going on in life; for example, we’re going to Namibia, Greenland, to a couple of weddings, etc.
  • We’ll be traveling as much as we can this year with my mom, the way she wants to travel; for example, she likes cruises, so we’re going on a cruise for the first time in eons

In other words, even more so than in the past I won’t be spending an exorbitant number of nights this year in hotels, and for the nights I do spend in hotels, I won’t be choosing them blindly based on my loyalty.

My 2020 hotel status strategy

Given the above theme, 2020 is a year where I’ll be more of a hotel “free agent” than in the past. With each trip I’m focusing on what the overall best option is for a stay (based on value, quality, ability to confirm upgrades, etc.), rather than blindly staying at a Marriott or Hyatt.

I currently have status with Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, and Marriott, so what are my plans for requalifying for status in the coming year?

World of Hyatt Globalist

World of Hyatt Globalist is my favorite top tier hotel status, and this is the status I plan on requalifying for this coming year. That requires 60 elite nights, though I can get a short cut to that with the World Of Hyatt Credit Card (review):

  • You get five elite qualifying nights per year just for having the card
  • You get an extra two elite qualifying nights for every $5,000 spent

My plan is to stay as many nights as possible, and then supplement that with spending on Hyatt’s credit card.

There’s so much to love about Globalist, though in particular what matters most to me are the following:

  • I love the Guest of Honor feature, especially this year, as we can book a separate room for my mom, and she gets Globalist benefits as well
  • I love the four confirmed suite upgrades you get every year, which can be used to confirm an upgrade at the time of booking; this allows me to guarantee upgrades on the stays that matter the most to me
  • Hyatt just does a better job than other groups when it comes to delivering on expectations

As we take my mom around the world this year, I’ll definitely be focusing on redeeming points at Hyatt thanks to Guest of Honor. I also love the Hyatt Prive program, so I can get extra perks when booking paid rates at many higher end Hyatt properties

Keep up what you’re doing, Hyatt, and please don’t change. Of course Hyatt doesn’t have properties everywhere, and that’s where the below status comes into play.

I love being able to use confirmed suite upgrades with Hyatt

Marriott Bonvoy Titanium 

I’ve been Marriott Ambassador for many years, and have had a fantastic Ambassador. I’ll miss having access to him, though realistically I just couldn’t justify the nights and spending requirement with Marriott anymore.

This year I’ll be Titanium, which would require 75 nights to requalify. However, I’m also lifetime Platinum with Marriott, and my plan going forward is to just rely on that, and no longer put effort into earning status with Marriott. To me the incremental perks of Titanium over Platinum aren’t worth it (and I’m looking at that from the perspective of having to do zero nights vs. 75 nights, rather than 50 nights vs. 75 nights).

For me this is a pretty major move — for the first time in over a decade, Starwood/Marriott won’t be one of my primary hotel groups anymore, and I won’t go out of my way to stay at them.

The reality is that Platinum meets my needs plenty, with breakfast, lounge access, and guaranteed 4PM check-out. Room upgrades are too much of a headache to care about, and I just don’t see much incremental value to Titanium.

I still have nearly two million Marriott points to burn, so I’ll keep using them strategically. For example, we’re staying at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto next month, and at the EDITION Bodrum this summer, all with points.

I’ll be staying at the Ritz-Carlton Kyoto soon using Marriott points

Hilton Honors Diamond

Hilton is a brand that has grown on me so much in recent years:

  • They’ve greatly increased their portfolio of luxury hotels, which makes me actually want to stay at more Hiltons
  • Just for having the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (review) you get top tier Honors Diamond status; on top of that, the card more than pays for itself based on all the other perks, like an anniversary free weekend night, a $250 resort credit, a $250 airline fee credit, and more. The card does have a $450 annual fee (Rates & Fees).
  • Hilton has gotten better at delivering on elite benefits than Marriott has in many ways; Hilton now offers free breakfast at all brands, while Marriott excludes many brands, including EDITION and Ritz-Carlton

In cities where I might have otherwise chosen a luxury Marriott property, I’m now finding myself gravitating towards Hilton properties. For example, during an upcoming stay in Osaka I’ll be staying at the Conrad, rather than the St. Regis or Ritz-Carlton, which I would have otherwise selected.

I love the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

IHG Rewards Club Platinum

IHG is very much my backup since their elite benefits are weak. However, the IHG® Rewards Club Premier Credit Card (review) offers Platinum status and an anniversary free night certificate on your account anniversary every year, so I do frequently find myself staying at IHG properties.

I’ll only do so in situations where there aren’t better Hilton, Hyatt, or Marriott options, but that happens more often than you might think.

I used a free night certificate at the InterContinental Johannesburg Airport

Virtuoso & other programs

The truth is that you don’t actually need to be loyal to a hotel group to actually receive elite-like benefits. There are all kinds of programs offering room upgrades, breakfast, hotel credits, and more, all based on the method you use to book.

These include Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, etc.

Since I’m not on the Marriott status requalification hamster wheel anymore, there are more situations where I’ll stay at a cute independent hotel, rather than a less exciting chain hotel.

For example, during an upcoming stay at Frankfurt with my mom I’ll stay at Villa Kennedy, rather than one of the points options I might have otherwise considered.

Villa Kennedy Frankfurt

Bottom line

For about a decade now I’ve maintained top tier status with both Hyatt and Starwood (and Marriott after the merger). This will be the first year where I won’t be making the effort of going for status with Marriott/Starwood — I have lifetime Platinum, which is enough for me, and I don’t think Titanium is worth the effort required.

I continue to think Hyatt Globalist is worth going for, and I increasingly appreciate the value of Hilton Honors Diamond status, given how easy it is to earn, and the solid benefits it offers at an increasing number of nice hotels.

Being less focused on hotel loyalty than in the past sure feels liberating…

What’s your hotel loyalty strategy for 2020?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees).

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Comments
  1. Our household has jumped off the qualifying for status hampster wheel. I’d like to give thanks to Marriott for opening our eyes and telling us not to bother. We went freelance last year and could not be happier. I have an upcoming trip to Hawaii and rather than pay I’m using points for 5 nights Hilton and 5 nights RC. Going forward, we will use points when it makes sense but when we are paying it will be at a hotel that makes our heart sing rather than who is having a promotion or what points can be gained.

  2. Lucky your strategy sounds great – in full agreement.

    @ Vicky indeed, I also have to thank Marriott for telling me not to bother. Earlier today I tried using my Amex free night certificate for a Sunday towards the end of March in Austin. The representative checked all the properties in downtown Austin and nothing was available. I then redeemed 35K points for one night, but 30 minutes later I cancelled after finding a cute place on AirBnb for $90 plus fees.

    @Marriott in case you are reading, you destroyed SPG, ruined Marriott Rewards and continue to lie to us by saying you have conducted surveys and customers are happier. Adios Marriott!

  3. I am Platinum with Marriott and have no trouble reaching that threshold each year. Very close to lifetime as well. With their continued devaluation, I have no desire to exceed platinum. Hilton is more than a backup, it’s more like I have a 1a and a 1b. Will be applying for the aspire card within the next couple of months.

  4. I totally understand if this is a personal question you prefer not to answer, but I’m curious how Ford’s travel agent career affects how you stay when traveling together. It’s my understanding that travel agents have access to heavily discounted rates. Can he earn points/stay credit when booking those rates? Can you book it under your name so you earn the points if he presents his IATA card at check in?

  5. @Lucky The situation in Japan seems to be spiralling out of control. Take extra caution if you find yourself in Japan next month and safe travels!

  6. Sadly Australian so don’t have the luxury of credit cards like you guys do in the US. I am endeavouring to keep my Hyatt Globalist – hopefully my status will be one of the ones extended to 2022 as I have been impacted by the challenges in Asia (have emailed my concierge to confirm) . I do have a plan to retain it even without the extension (only just though!). Through my Australian Platinum AMEX I am Hilton gold and Bonvoy gold. Am also IHG platinum.
    Question @ben – have never been to Frankfurt before – well I have been to the airport 12 times and never left (same as Miami and Auckland). This time I plan on actually spending a couple of nights in Frankfurt. Are there any Hyatt’s worth staying at or should I just skip them at stay at Villa Kennedy? I am more focussed on location. Sorry have been busy researching other parts of my extended holiday and have not got to Frankfurt. I am a fan of people using google!

  7. As a Marriott loyalist, I would like to thank everyone for claiming that they are jumping ship to go to Hyatt! From the bottom of my heart, I cannot wait until the benefits that they have added as a marketing ploy to get you to jump ship from Marriott, or at least claim to, get watered down. You surely will all get annoyed within a few years time since all of this is clearly cyclical. But hey, I’ll gladly accept my upgrades and points as they come and understand that Marriott is a business that makes decisions based on their business needs!

    THANKS!

  8. @Lucky, good to hear that you’ll be dropping Marriott, burning Bonvoy points, and relying on lifetime status. Maybe if enough people actually abandon Marriott, it’ll hit them where it hurts – $$.

    Also, I agree with your overall strategy, except that I’ve actually distanced myself from Hilton over the last few years. My biggest gripe with them has been the huge devaluation of points. They used to be excellent for redemptions. Now, it’s hard to find good value when they’re asking for 60-70k points per night for middle of the road, full-service brands or even 40-50k for Hampton Inns in the suburbs.

    As much as IHG’s lack of elite benefits sucks, they’ve been pretty solid for me. Even without the Chase 4th night free and/or 10% rebate, they’ve been good for point redemptions. But, I really hate that their promotions and benefit terms exclude reward and cash & points stays.

  9. I’m focusing on Marriott Platinum this year – should get there with business travel. Otherwise Hilton Gold and Amex FHR have me covered. I’m also building up UR points for Hyatt, but no plans for status there. Diversity is good when it comes to hotel programs

  10. Sorry to be a party pooper but my hotel strategy is different from airline strategy. For me, it’s price + location + opinion of the place. Hyatts are nice but they are expensive so I haven’t stayed with them for about 3 years.

    For 2020, the shampoo and soap situation makes a difference, not liking the communal shampoo or communal urine shampoo that Marriotts and IHG’s have. That leaves some Hilton Garden Inns and other Hilton chains used more often.

  11. Marriott: Have LT Titanium… but dumping Marriott/SPG this year for myriad of reasons:
    (1) the latest is they’ve diluted the points redemption blackout policy significantly i.e. if there’s a standard room available, you no longer necessarily can get it on points
    (2) redemption price increases – it’s getting ridiculous with multiple changes a year
    (3) if you now have 3 people in a room, they charge a huge amount more for a redemption (even when the room has 2 queen beds) e.g., St Regis Bangkok, St. Regis Hong Kong

    So, I’ve switched over to Hyatt for the majority of stays, then sprinkle in IHG. Hyatt is hands down is the best program, particularly given the SLH hotels addition

    I stay at IHG where there aren’t Hyatt’s or where they have a good offer such as the current 4x earning offer. I haven’t really considered Hilton, simply as their earning rates are usually similar to IHG, but Hilton’s redemption values are always so much higher

    E.g., Intercon, Kimpton, Regent are 40-70k, while Hilton, Conrad, Waldorf nearly always 70-100k.
    Plus, while I won’t hold my breath, I’m looking forward to see what redemption opportunities Mr&Mrs Smith brings (per IHG, should be available soon)

  12. @Lucky, no point of retaining Bonvoy Titanium, Lifetime Platinum has a higher upgrade priority than titanium does anyways.

  13. I am moving increasingly away from Marriott too, even though I am Titanium.
    My reasons are 1) I am losing count of the problems that I have had with reservations and points since the merger, 2) the serial devaluations that have dramatically reduced value in the program over the last two years (even before the March 4 massacre) and 3) the inconsistency of elite benefits provided by different brands and properties.
    I really wish that Hyatt had a footprint that worked well with my travel patterns, that Hilton had more nice properties in places that I frequent and that IHG did not hate their elites, but I do find value in all of those programs as well and will just become opportunistic, given my disillusionment with Marriott.
    Oh how I miss the old SPG program.

  14. Hi Ben, I notice that you don’t cover Accor in your strategy. I am presuming that is because it has little presence in the USA, or you regard it as a crap program.

    I was extremely loyal to Hyatt before they changed their program to World of Hyatt, and my travel patterns changed, not to mention one hotel I regularly stay at, jumping ship from Hyatt to IHG.

    As an IHG Spire Ambassador member, I have seen benefits dwindle – both in the published benefits and in the informal benefits. I used to get an informal upgrade to a suite about 50% of the time. I have not received a single suite upgrade for over a year – since IHG changed its benefits.

    I am likely to do much less domestic travel after mid-year, and more overseas travel, so I think I am moving to be hotel loyalty program agnostic, and choose my hotels on the basis of experience, cost, value and service, rather than by brand or loyalty scheme.

    Having said that – I’m looking at booking a fortnight in Bali soon, and Hyatt is looking like the program to book through – largely because of two interesting Hyatt properties, and access to the Alalia brand. To be continued . . .

  15. @Lucky can’t wait for the Edition Bodrum review, really hope you enjoy it, Bodrum itself is such a great place to visit during the summer time!

  16. World of Hyatt is the only loyalty program worth “chasing” now IMHO, but boy oh boy is the effort well worth it in my experience. I was blown away reading about the difficulty getting upgraded in Marriott’s program: Hyatt consistently surprises and delights in this regard. Hyatt properties gave us at least 60 nights upgraded last year into large suites, including $1000+/night suites at the Grand Hyatt in NYC, $1400 suites at the Park Hyatt in Shanghai (on a free awards stay, no less!), the “Governor’s suite” at the Hyatt Huntington Beach, and extended stays in the awesome suites at the Hyatt on the Bund in Shanghai, with their jaw-dropping views of the Lujiazui skyscraper district.

    I love that Hyatt’s “confirmed suite upgrades” offer some advance certainty about potential upgrades. If your upgrade clears and you know the hotel, you have a good baseline of what to expect.

    The gift of free AA Executive Platinum status to Globalists (including me) was the cherry on top last year. We spend a lot of money at Hyatt now but boy do we get a lot in return. Most loyalty programs seem to find endless excuses to cut benefits; my perception is that Hyatt has added more value and more options each passing year. So long as Hyatt’s program retains a reasonable approximation of what’s offered now, I’ll surely be buying into it as long as it exists.

  17. Ben, I hope your mom is doing well and am happy you guys are going to travel with her this year – please keep us posted if she is ok with you sharing that

  18. Status is nice if you are a very frequent traveler. For many others I think it is more for the ego than the perks. I’ve slowly been downgrading/canceling cards because when you really run the numbers they aren’t looking good.

    I’ve never flown a ton and in the past year it has only been 3 trips so I’ve let status go on several airlines and didn’t take the offers that the airlines offered. I figure I can buy first/business or PE and be satisfied for my limited travels and for long flights use my miles.

    While I have the Aspire card (used to stay in Hiltons when I traveled more), domestically I don’t think it gives you much and if you can’t use the credits, the Gold status you get with AmexPlat is sufficient. I used to use the Hilton credits at a resort in AZ but now that I live there, I don’t really need it.

    As others mentioned, hope your mom is doing well.

  19. @MDA the HR Mainz is a nice property. Amazing buffet and Mainz has beautiful architecture and a nice museum on Guttenberg. It is a little outside of Frankfurt but easy to get to with the trains.

  20. My husband and I just stayed at the Villa Kennedy, booked including breakfast and an EUR85 credit through AMEX Platinum. It is a lovely hotel and easy to walk to lots of sites in Frankfurt. Other hotels we enjoyed on our trip were the Andaz Munich (great suite upgrade but when we got stuck in Munich an extra night, the “regular” room – an upgrade I guess – was lovely as well. Rooms at Andaz Amsterdam were on the small side but overlooked the canal. Grand Hyatt in Berlin was fine but no suite upgrades available. It had a nice pool. We also stayed at the Westin in Hamburg – it is an incredible building and the view was excellent, but the hotel itself was just ok. The gym and pool are in the old warehouse part of the building so no views. Have a great trip with your mom.

    And Japan is fine so far. I am far more worried about catching the flu or being hit by a car than Covid-19. It hasn’t impacted our lives at all. As usual during flu season, we are careful to wash our hands frequently and wipe down gym equipment before and after use. Normal precautions.

  21. @ben – so you mind if I ask how you get a balance of 2 million marriot points! That is just incredible.

    Is it all stays? Credit card spend? Blog referral links?

    I make $250k a year and travel a lot. And I have 70,000 marriot points. I can’t fathom how someone can have 2 million

    what % come from hotel stay / personal card spend / business spend / and referral sign ups?

  22. @Leo Liang – Bonvoy Platinum DOES NOT have a higher upgrade priority than Titanium – Titanium is the higher level and gets priority. Rest assured I have confirmed this.

    Lucky – sounds very reasonable. I’m lifetime Bonvoy Titanium so no need to worry about any stay requirement there. Like you I have status with Hilton and IHG through cards although only Gold at Hilton but planning to run $40,000 through my card to get Diamond through 2021. I was Diamond for 15 years and, while nice, I don’t see the value in paying for the Aspire card just to get it. That may change over time but, for now, Gold with a push to Diamond on spend works.

    Not any status with Hyatt and do need to look into that one.

    My situation is a little different since I don’t stay over 20-30 nights a year anymore at ANY of the major chain hotels combined. I’m retired and like to travel (both US and International) but I travel a lot to casinos (poker primarily), am Caesars Diamond Plus and pretty much either get comped or a very low rate for all my hotel stays. That is my primary hotel chain now. I do Hilton, Marriott, IHG, etc as needed around this travel but nothing major. When I travel ALONE internationally I do book these chains (Intercontinental Frankfurt coming up next month) but the rate was only around $140 a night and I just couldn’t justify spending 50,000 points (.028 cent/point) so I’m paying for it. I’m lucky enough that I can afford to pay for any stay (or other travel) I want and only use my points if I get good value. When I travel with my wife (and sometimes our daughter) I tend to stay in boutique hotels, preferably suites with multiple bedrooms if our daughter is with us, so usually just find a really great hotel (or apartment) and pay for it.

    Again, strategy is good and I agree no need, especially given lifetime status available and status simply by having a credit card, to EVER chase nights or focus on a specific chain simply for that.

  23. Mine is simple. I have let Bonvoy and Hilton status slip and am free agent. Mostly booking through the cheapest OTA, sometimes direct with the hotel. I have to say not having to monitor and count nights is a relaxing experience.

    My partner still holds on to Bonvoy Platinum so whenever the choice is something out of the Marriott stock, I am not the one booking.

  24. I stayed 103 nights with Marriott last year. I was $500 short of a spend requirement I had no idea existed… did not get Ambassador status. Buh-bye. I canceled probably 30 nights this year from Marriott and booked with others.

    As someone else here said… thanks Marriott for waking me up from my loyalty slumber.

    I love Hyatt status, I am in a Hyatt suite right now… I am just going to stay more with them and mix in others.

  25. Why is nobody talking about All, the new Accor program with a new highest tier – Diamond. That does it for me perfectly.

  26. Yes:
    1) Marriott is making it easier and easier for me to turn my back on them, after years of being a dedicated Starwood loyalist. I have burned most of my Marriot points for stays later in the year.
    2) Hilton is the easiest to obtain top tier Diamond status, solely with their credit card, and are getting more and more of my focus in 2020, EXCEPT that….
    3) Hyatt makes it difficult to acquire status for people who are a) starting from scratch, b) do not have the World of Hyatt credit card, and c) are semi-retired and is no longer a road warrior. That said, since I hold top tier Diamond status with Hilton without the need to spend a single night, *when* there is a Hyatt — and when that Hyatt is price competitive — it will be my first choice. The problem is, as everyone agrees, is a) their small footprint, and b) their (often) higher prices.

  27. The only reason that you won’t try very hard to keep your status with Marriott is because you are a lifetime platinum member. However, this is yet again another article written in the face of the writer that does not apply to the situation of most people. For example, unless you travel a lot for work, most people won’t meet 60 nights per year on the road.

    I would say although many authors and commentators on websites like this complain about the Marriott program, the benefits of being a platinum member are far superior to other programs such as IHG, Hilton, and Hyatt. For example, Platinum IHG gets you a room upgrade and a late check out only. Platinum Marriott does give lounge access (not for St Regis, Ritz, and other special brands), room upgrade, late check out, and breakfast at most hotels. Many hotels of special brands, such as Edition or luxury collection in Asia have something in lieu of a lounge if they do not have one. Also Marriott affiliated properties tend to be more strategically located.

  28. @Jason Brandt Lewis – A few thoughts about Hyatt status, and earning Globalist with relative ease:

    1) If it is possible for you to get the WoH credit card, it absolutely makes sense. It’s basically free when you consider the value of the free night(s) and other base benefits. Free promotional nights at Hyatt now count toward qualifying stays on the way to Globalist.

    2) Hyatt status-seekers should couple the WoH credit card with two or three other cards from Chase: the Chase Sapphire Reserve, earning 3X points on travel and restaurants, and the Chase Freedom Unlimited, earning 1.5X points on everything (and 3X points for the first $20,000 you spend on the card). Those points are directly transferable 1:1 for Hyatt points, which can then be used for qualifying nights in World of Hyatt, and free parking for Globalists on points stays. Points stays can really help you out when rates seem ridiculous: I recently booked some free points nights in San Francisco when I found the nightly rate exceeded $900. That’s a good use of points. 🙂

    3) If you have a lot of money you can try telling Hyatt you have a lot of money and travel a lot and see if they’ll let you challenge into the program as a top-tier elite.

    4) Hyatt’s footprint is excellent if you travel internationally, particularly in Asia, and many of the Asian locations are both beautiful and relatively inexpensive versus American properties. A good and enjoyable way to pick up a lot of nights if you have time to explore Asia’s natural wonders.

    5) Even Hyatt’s prestige locations sometimes go on sale during the low season: we’ve paid as little as $108/night at the Grand Hyatt in prime locations in Manhattan, NYC.

    6) If you’re into the outdoors check out Hyatt’s Category 1 hotels near to some of America’s better national parks.

    Hyatt top-tier status has opened our world. As I mentioned before we are spending more than ever on Hyatt stays in the aggregate, but we feel like we get more than a fair return for all of the dollars we’re sending Hyatt’s way. Like you I have top-tier status with Hilton via the Aspire credit card, but in general Hyatt’s program seems more satisfying and more rewarding overall.

  29. Similar thoughts as many others. I’ve been HH Diamond for over 10 years but less worried about it. I have the Aspire and the benefits are great especially in Asia.

    My goal is to creep up the Hyatt ladder. I’m a lowly Discoverist but will make Explorist this year. Maybe in a few more years I can reach Globalist. I like the design aesthetics of their higher end hotels like Park Hyatt. Sometimes Hilton’s are stuck in the 80s design with heavy fabrics and too much wood. Plus, I like the partnership with AA.

    Curious when the Park Hyatt DTLA will open. Seems it’s been delayed a few times. I’m ready for a change from the International which has become party central for 20s crowd.

  30. Hi Lucky
    Indian reader this side.
    I wanted to know why do hotel chains not offer points for stays when booked via OTA?
    Airlines do it.
    In India, booking the same hotel through OTA can help get 10% cashback or extra reward points when the fare is same on OTA and the booking website.
    This is 1 big reason why I am not able to get any status as the immediate cash discount is more lucrative for me than the hamster wheel of completing certain number of stays before being eligible to get my breakfast free.

  31. Another hailing from Australia where we don’t have so many credit card opportunities. And anyway the loyalty schemes are all falling apart. IHG’s program just destroyed itself by cancelling Pointsbreaks. Marriot and Starwood got Bonvoyed. Hyatt only has a handful of properties. Hilton withdrew its award-chart. As for the Accor program, that keeps changing its name but never really gets competitive. Best option, forget loyalty and go with OTA’s like hotels.com, stay in apartments for the same price as hotels.

  32. Sounds like the beginning of the end for OMAAT. The loyalty stuff is boring and for those of us in other countries often irrelevant as we don’t get the same card offers. The interesting bit has been travel reports but less nights in hotels (and more focused travel probably means longer stays) means it won’t be worth coming here much.

    Instead you should be increasing travel and adding video reviews. But, hey, if you want to make the site less interesting for non-USA readers that’s up to you.

  33. I’m a 180-200 night per year leisure traveller. I am in my 7th straight year of Hilton Diamond so I will maintain that. So I get the Lifetime after the 10th year. Sometimes they are hot & miss and the customer service at HH Diamond Desk is dreadful, but when staying I like the consistency, the upgrades which happen more often than not and the breakfasts are a winner for me.

    I was Spire Elite until Dec with IHG. I didn’t quite qualify again so they made me Platinum, even though I did not qualify for that either. But I still fail to see any benefit of IHG Rewards. A few extra points depending on our status. I mostly stay at Holiday Inn Express with this chain and the occasional Intercontinental, so upgrades are unimportant for me in the scheme of things.

    I use Best Western as my very 3rd string. Usually in the USA on road trips as they represent good value in small towns. But the rewards are crap so I only stay simply so I do get a few points.

    So I am sticking with the Butchers from HH for the year.

  34. @Kendor —> Just curious. Did you actually read my post before responding to it? I’m asking because I specifically stated that I am “semi-retired and [am] no longer a road warrior.” That makes 60 nights in a hotel difficult on its face.

    I also said that “The problem is, as everyone agrees, is a) their small footprint, and b) their (often) higher prices.” And while their footprint in Asia *is* marginally better in Asia, 95% of my international travel is in Europe…with the rest in Canada or Mexico. My domestic (US) travel is often either where there are no Hyatt properties, where they are significantly more expensive than other options, or where I have have booked hotels using my Marriott points (as previously stated, I’ve burned most of them for stays later this year).

    Do not misunderstand: I agree with everything you said…if I were still traveling for work (I’m not), was in my 30s (I’m 66), and still had time to acquire some sort of lifetime status for when I *do* retire. (Oooops, too late for that!) And as I am SPG Lifetime…oh, wait — they don’t exist anymore, and since Marriott f****d up the whole program, that’s a bit like flogging a dead horse. (Were I Marriott Lifetime Platinum Elite, it would be different story perhaps, but….)

  35. @Iamhere —> I agree things are “better” once you’ve reached Lifetime Platinum with Marriott…for those who have reached Lifetime Platinum. OTOH, for those (like me) who have not, Marriott is not as rosy a picture (or other, a hotel chain) as you paint.

    As for Ben/Lucky “yet again [writing] another article…that does not apply to the situation of most people,” name one blogger in this field who does. You are of course quite right that, “unless you travel a lot for work, most people won’t meet 60 nights per year on the road.” Neither will they meet the 75 nights for Marriott Titanium, or the 100 nights + $20k for Ambassador…and yet for most writers in this field — whether it’s Gary Leff, Brian Kelly (and his top assistants), or Ben/Lucky — this doesn’t seem to be a problem. Indeed, they often hold both!

    Simply put, these bloggers are not you and I — never will be — they are “Superm[e]n, strange visitor[s] from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men” (and women).

  36. #Jason Brandt Lewis Yes sir, I read your post. I am also semi-retired and no longer a road warrior; my wife is not, and we have young kids in school. Nonetheless we exceeded 100 nights in Hyatt hotels last year, paid entirely out of our own pockets. So depending on who you are, where you are, and how you like to travel, my advice might be useful, or not. I didn’t make assumptions and I didn’t know your travel preferences are in Europe.

    The inspiration stands: if you haven’t explored Asia, or if you like Asia, it’s a good place to pick up nights in some extremely nice Hyatt properties. And I mentioned some low-cost, off-the-beaten track opportunities in the Americas as well. If you have flexibility around your travel dates as many semi-retired folks have, Hyatt hotels can be inexpensive, even in prestige locations.

  37. If professional travel reviewers are abandonint Marriot, leisure travelers like me have no business trying to chase Marriott statuses. So glad I abandoned Marriott and go free agent. The one that did it for me is unable to earn status nights on multiple rooms. How do you expect normal people to spend 50 nights a year in hotels? Our annual leave is only 15-20 days at most. Try looking at hotels.com. Their buy 10 free 1 is actually pretty good. Marriott upgrades when given are nice but inconsistent and stressful to argue with the front desk all the time. Who likes to start a holiday with a bad mood? All I can say is #vonbye!

  38. Your strategy sounds like mine for work. Have Titanium next year and earn lifetime Platinum next year. Staying at Hyatt like you to get Globalist status for the first time. I will stay at Marriott where Hyatt isn’t available and after I get Globalist status with Hyatt.

  39. @EC2 where in Malaysia do you like to stay? What Hyatt? I’ve never been, but want to visit. Is it difficult to get around transportationwise? Is English or Mandarin Chinese commonly understood in the places that you like to go?

  40. Here is my strategy:

    Hilton Diamond through AMEX CC
    IHG Platinum through Chase CC and will buy up to Ambassador for $200

    Will not do mattress runs for status for at least another year. Plenty of properties from the above brands available at my destinations.

  41. The Chase travel portal can be esp valuable for booking boutique, non-chain hotels (since you won’t earn status when booking chains anyway on it). The Chase Sapphire Reserve seems to be particularly relevant to your travel planning for the coming year as neither TYPs or MRs offer discounts on their portals and Citi offers no hotel transfer partners. You are likely using Ford, however, for those type bookings thru Prive/Virtuoso/Four Seasons Preferred, so which credit card are you using to book in those instances?

  42. Yes, please post reviews of your cruises! It would be awesome to see your review style expanded to that method of travel and vacation. I can only imagine your review of the ship as though it is a hotel…

    I hope your mother has a good year, and you get to take many wonderful trips with her!

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