Why it makes sense to hotel hop… maybe?

A lot of hotel chains offer promotions that are stay based as opposed to night based. For those of you not familiar with the distinction, stays are how many times you actually check in and check out of a hotel (consecutive nights at the same hotel are always a single stay), while nights are how many total nights you spend at a hotel. For example, if we’re talking about the two Andaz hotels in New York City, a three night stay at the Andaz Wall Street counts as one stay and three night credits. A one night stay at the Andaz Wall Street followed by a one night stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue followed by a one night stay at the Andaz Wall Street counts as three stay credits and three night credits.

The challenge is, when on vacation, just how far do you push this? I’ve covered this in the past when Hyatt was running their “Big Welcome Back” promotion, whereby you earned one free night anywhere in the world after every two stays. Obviously it was pretty tempting to switch hotels every night in order to earn as many free nights as possible, though it’s a bit impractical when traveling with family.

On the other hand, next month I’ll be in Kuala Lumpur on my own for three nights. In the past I stayed mostly at Hyatt and Priority Club properties. Unfortunately Hyatt doesn’t have any hotels in Kuala Lumpur, though Priority Club has several hotels, including an InterContinental. So as a Royal Ambassador the InterContinental would have been the obvious choice. One of my major frustrations with InterContinental is that you earn the same number of points for an InterContinental stay regardless of how many nights you stay or how much money you spend. That’s right, you earn the same number of points whether you make a one night, $80 stay, or a 10 night, $150,000 stay (and yes, that’s possible).

However, I did status match to Starwood Platinum recently, and this presents a new opportunity (or challenge, depending on how you look at it). Starwood has three hotels in Kuala Lumpur, all within a mile or two (at most) of the InterContinental. The prices are all roughly the same, somewhere in the range of $150 per night all-in.

I could just spend all three nights at the InterContinental and earn 4,000 Priority Club points (plus bonuses). Or I could switch hotels every day. I would still earn the 4,000 points for my InterContinental stay, plus would earn the benefits for two separate Starwood stays. Now, I don’t actually need to requalify for Starwood Platinum this year (because my status match is good through February 2013), so that’s not a consideration. However, Starwood did announce their excellent second quarter promotion, whereby you get a free night at a Starwood resort after every three Starwood stays. This would earn me two of those three stays. I would also earn points for both nights, and if I’m not mistaken, the Platinum welcome gift of 500 points per stay.

The other consideration is that I get to review two more hotels. After all, one of my goals with travel is to have content to come back and write about.

Yes, in general this sounds like a pain, but as an elite member I don’t think it would be that bad, especially thanks to 4PM check-out. Without late check-out it would be a pain to switch hotels, since a room might not be ready at the next hotel, but if I check out in the afternoons, I don’t think it will be a huge issue.

To keep the math simple, I value the one free Starwood resort night at $225, which I think is a fair valuation. Since I need to make three stays to earn that, I’m basically getting $75 towards that free night every time I make a Starwood stay. So in this case, switching hotels is basically cutting the cost of my hotel stays in half. And of course I’m not on an unlimited budget, so that is a significant amount of “value.”

So am I crazy? What would you do? Switch hotels every night and rack up additional stays/points/free nights/blog content, or actually stay in the same place for three nights?

Filed Under: Advice, Hotels
  1. Go hang out in Bangkok instead and pop back and forth between the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit and the Westin Sukhumvit next door. The hotel is used to accomodating this and will even move you directly from room to room…

  2. I’d probably go ahead and hop.

    One quick thought on the “math” aspect of it. I think your valuation of the free night is reasonable, so it makes sense to say you’re taking $75 of the cost of the rooms. But…this means you can’t really consider it a free night whenever you redeem that free night. That would be double dipping.

    Either, these stays cost full price and you get a free night down the road, or these stays cost $75 less and the “free” night costs $225. Either way you’re saving $225 at some point. Counting it on both sides is trying to claim a $550 savings that isn’t actually happening.

  3. Life is too short to completely pack up your room, be required to return to the first hotel, transport your belongings, and unpack at the second hotel. If I’m staying 3 nights, I prefer to find the hotel with the best locations and quality/service/value, and then enjoy my stay. I know I’m passing up getting credit for multiple stays, and while that is a shame, being able to use my time at the destination more productively has value. I guess that’s why the loyalty programs often use stays as a criterion, only a few people would go to the trouble of the daily switch.

  4. Great points from both Gary and Zach

    I would definitely do the hotel hopping if you are travelling solo. As you mentioned, it’s much more of a pain when with family or friends that aren’t used to the types of things we do

  5. Just did this in Boston, not for points but for balancing hotel nerdery with budget and the only drawback was that the hotels weren’t that close and it was raining super hard when it was time to switch. The only other thing would be if you had plans during the day, feeling the need to get back to check out on time (4pm is sweet though)

  6. For solo travel…..mattress hop!!!! I did in Vegas, 3 hotels in 6 days. However it was only to enjoy each hotel, I wasn’t into points yet.

  7. Personally, I can’t do it because I’m usually traveling with a work team. But in your case you should since, as you state, reviewing the hotels is now part of your job.

  8. @Kate, changing hotels in the BOS rain is no fun, especially if there is a Noreaster.

    The best options for mattress running are local hotels where you check in and out and rotate your stays so as to multiply your stays. With a 4pm checkout, true mattress running while actually traveling should not be that cumbersome providing the hotels are not located too far from each other.

    @Lucky, I would value the free nights at potentially more than $275, if you book award stays at hotels that cost $400 or ā‚¬400 a night.

  9. Life is too short not to hop. I pack lightly, and always hop. It’s fun. Or, if I’m with my husband and we don’t change hotels, I check in one night, my husband checks in the next, etc. I ask the front desk if we can stay in the same room (makes housekeeping easier for all involved). Since I/we stay in a lot of hotels for only one night, I leave a decent top for to housekeeping – either $5 or $10 per day.

  10. How many days do you need in between stays at the IC? Could you not go back after day 2 and start a new stay if you have a gap in between?

  11. I am a marriott platinum. When i travel for long periods of time (e.g. i spent 2 weeks in london last month), i generally hop after every 2-3 nights. The reason for this is that when you show up with a two week reservation, marriott isnt willing to upgrade you to a nicer room – they will say no availability. So i always end up in a small room (and those of you traveling to london know how small those rooms can get). Now, if you are there for only 2-3 nights at a time, you have a better chance of getting upgraded to a nicer room (or a suite in my case each time). It also gives you an opportunity to check out other hotels and do some comparisons. during my two weeks there, i stayed at chancery court, london hall, grovenor house, and grovenor square.

  12. I did this recently and will do it again. I have a routine trip that requires a 2.5-hour drive after flying across the nation. I stopped after 1.5 hours to stay at a Marriott brand to add 1-night and 1-stay to my account. With another stay at the end of the trip before an early flight out I got two stays in one trip and a free Cat-4 certificate.

  13. Crazy. KL is a massive pain to move about in. You’ll waste most of your vacation moving your belongings around.

  14. I have a six night stay planned in Los Angeles in a couple of weeks. I was not planning on hotel hopping until the great Starwood promo was announced. Now I will change rooms every night between the different LAX hotels at a cost of ( Approx $125 per night) in order to score two free resort nights. Probably will use the freebies at The St Regis in Punta Mita ,Kuai or W South Beach. If redeemed at these places, I value the night at approx $400-$600.

  15. Thanks for the feedback, folks!

    @ Ralph — You don’t think I’m revealing that so easily, do you? The award portion of this is the true masterpiece. Stay tuned. šŸ˜€

    @ Jon — Sure, but it will only count as one stay, no matter how many times you check in and check out, if the nights are consecutive.

  16. While chasing the free nights is always tempting. The hassle of packing makes it not worth it. This is especially true for me when on vacation where my number one goal is get as much out of it as possible. Moving hotels will just get in the way of sight seeing. Now on a business trip I would go for it.

  17. I think everyone’s situation is different. If you were traveling with 3 young kids, moving hotels probably doesn’t make sense. However, if you are traveling alone it can be a lot easier. There’s also a number of us who rely on award stays to make travel affordable. For us it can be worth it.

  18. Don’t forget to take advantage of SPG BRG while you’re at it for an extra 2k/stay. (A very large portion of my SPG bookings are with it)

  19. @ Nybanker — That’s what I value them at, and not the retail price. I wouldn’t pay more than $225 for an award stay at any of the hotels on the list, especially given that I don’t earn points, stay credits, etc. There are plenty of great resorts out there, so I don’t see any reason I should want to pay more than that for a one night stay.

  20. On a per stay, free nights type promotion like BWB, you have to, its such a good deal. I was hopping between Hyatt and Hilton every night when Hilton also had the free night promotion. I wished there were 2 Hyatts in my area but there werent. I used the free nights at the Park Hyatt Shanghai and Grand Hyatt San Francisco and Hyatt Regency Monterey. It was well worth it.

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