The proof of the pudding lies in eating it. I’m frequently asked what is my strategy to burn my miles/points and why should people believe in the power of loyalty programs. While I am usually able to dish out stories about my redemptions on flights, such as the fantastic Singapore Airlines all business class flight I booked with PremierMiles, or the Etihad First Class booked with AAdvantage miles, I am usually saving up my hotel points for special trips such as the proposal trip and the Maldives one.
I frequently advise people not to use their PremierMiles at 0.45 paise or their Diners Club points at INR 1 value for booking tickets at so on. I hold my own advise good since I don’t remember ever having paid with these points, yet, to book a cash transaction. Having said that, I always ask them to transfer their points and book as an award. Why?
Awards are frequently force multipliers for the travel industry and for the customers. While we may think we should be out their getting the cheapest deal, I don’t mind paying a few rupees extra when I have the opportunity to earn in a loyalty program. As long as you are backing the right horse(s), you should be getting outsized value from your points/miles rather than 0.45 INR or 1 INR.
Take the recent trip to the Maldives, where I booked my hotel stay on points. When Hyatt awarded me 90,000 Gold Passport points, I did not have a lot of time to go far off, so I settled for the Maldives which was just 12.5 hours away from home (as I later realised!), but a great place to go away to regardless.
The Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa quotes at USD 700 ++ (add 10% service charges and ~13-14% GST, approximately USD 870). And that is for a base category villa. Since you are at a captive destination (the island is approx. 400 m x 450 m, and only houses the resort and staff), you depend on the hotel for your F&B unless you shipped your food along!
On points however, the hotel is just 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points a night, inclusive of GST & Service Charges. To add to it, as a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond member, I was offered free breakfast for two every morning, as well as a free drink and canapes every evening. For two people, that adds up to about USD 100 per night. Plus, as a Hyatt Diamond, on a space-available basis, I was upgraded to the Pool Villa, which goes for USD 905 ++ per night (USD 1120 approx.).
So, in total, for a 3 nights stay, we got ourselves a USD 3660 (USD 1120×3 + USD 100×3) worth stay only for 75,000 Gold Passport points. That is a phenomenal INR 241,560 taken at the current USDINR exchange of INR 66 = USD 1, and an INR 3.3 value for one Hyatt GP point (about 5 cents!)
We can always debate how much value we can derive our points, but I just wanted to answer the part where I wanted people to know how loyalty programs can generate unique vacations and memories, without you having to be a billionaire.
What have been your best redemptions: airlines or hotels?