There is no better test of a “No Blackouts” Hotel Loyalty Program Points Redemption Policy than looking for hotel rooms using points for a New Year’s Eve stay.
Loyalty Traveler studied the San Francisco hotel loyalty scene for New Year’s Eve rooms. My search results were surprisingly consumer friendly for San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, and a few other places I searched. Hilton, IHG, and Starwood offered most properties for award nights using points in the west coast locations I checked. Marriott and Hyatt hotels typically require more points than their standard rates for New Year’s Eve rooms in the major cities with Marriott Rewards Stay Anytime at double points and Hyatt Gold Passport Plus Awards requiring 60% more points.
California has plenty of opportunities for using your hotel points for a free New Year’s Eve getaway, but compare your options. Hotel room rates for New Year’s Eve are far lower than you might think in some locations making points redemption not so great a value this year.
The combination of a bad economy and hotel loyalty “No Blackout” policies make New Year’s Eve 2008 a good opportunity to spend your hotel points and save some cash.
The objective of this survey is to see what hotels are available New Year’s Eve using hotel loyalty points. Analyzing the relative value of these hotel nights is a task not undertaken for this survey, although I have included the room rate shown for New Year’s Eve on December 12, 2008. My quick assessment is the W San Francisco is the best value for a room redemption using points.
New Year’s Eve Hotel Room Availability Using Frequent Guest Points
All searches for room availability using hotel points were checked online through the hotel websites, except for Hyatt Hotels which requires phone customer service to check for rooms using points if you do not have the points in your account for the redemption nights.
San Francisco Hotels
Hilton Hotels – HHonors
· Hilton San Francisco – 40,000 points Category 6 award ($189.00)
· Hilton Financial District – 40,000 points Category 6 award ($152.15)
· Hilton Fisherman’s Wharf – not available for points or cash
Hilton has too few properties in San Francisco to illustrate what I consider widespread availability of hotel rooms using points for New Year’s Eve around California in San Diego and Los Angeles from what I saw in my room searches.
Hyatt Hotels – Gold Passport
All Hyatt Hotels in San Francisco required Gold Passport Plus Awards at 60% additional points to the regular Hyatt Award Reservation points level. Hyatt Gold Passport is the only website of these five chains that will not allow a member to check award availability if you do not have sufficient points in your account for the free night. I received Hyatt information through phone customer service.
· Hyatt Regency San Francisco –24,000 points Category 4 Plus Award ($236.21)
· Grand Hyatt San Francisco – 19,200 points Category 3 Plus Award ($236.21)
· Hyatt Regency Fisherman’s Wharf – 19,200 points Category 4 Plus Award ($269.00)
· Hyatt Regency Airport – 12,800 points – Category 2 Plus award ($119)
InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club Rewards
· InterContinental Mark Hopkins, Nob Hill area – 40,000 points – high IC Hotel night ($259.00)
· InterContinental San Francisco, SoMa area – 40,000 points – high IC Hotel night ($233.10)
· Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf – 25,000 points ($105.00)
· Holiday Inn Golden Gateway – 25,000 points – ($135.15)
The IHG bargain is the Holiday Inn Fisherman’s Wharf which is a great location for New Year’s Eve, but at $105 for the night, paying for the room is probably a better option than points. Fisherman’s Wharf is mostly unavailable in the other brands except for Marriott at 60,000 points.
Marriott Hotels – Marriott Rewards
· Marriott San Francisco – 60,000 points – Category 6 Stay Anytime reward ($189)
· JW Marriott San Francisco – 60,000 points – Category 6 Stay Anytime reward ($299)
· San Francisco Marriott Fisherman’s Wharf – 60,000 points – Category 6 Stay Anytime reward ($199)
· The Stanford Court, Renaissance Hotel – 60,000 points – Category 6 Stay Anytime reward ($239)
· Courtyard Downtown – 50,000 points – Category 5 Stay Anytime reward ($219)
· Courtyard San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf – 50,000 points – Category 5 Stay Anytime( $249)
Marriott is charging double points for a Stay Anytime award for any San Francisco city property. The Marriott Rewards “No Blackout” policy goes into effect January 15, 2009. Next New Year’s Eve will allow a comparison of Marriott availability with the other chains. For New Year’s Eve 2008 Marriott has all their San Francisco hotels available using points. They are just asking for a lot of points for that free room. Marriott has a great reward search display for seeing redemption room availability.
Starwood Hotels – Starwood Preferred Guest
· St. Regis San Francisco – 20,000 points – SPG category 6 low award ($499)
· Palace Hotel, San Francisco – 16,000 points – SPG Category 5 high award ($230)
· W San Francisco – 12,000 points – SPG Category 5 low award ($389)
· Le Meridien San Francisco – 12,000 points – SPG Category 5 low award ($319)
· Westin Market Street – 10,000 points – SPG Category 4 award ($199)
· Sheraton Fisherman’s Wharf – Not Available for booking with points or cash
St. Regis San Francisco
Starwood has the interesting feature of having two Category 5 hotels, W San Francisco and the Luxury Collection Palace Hotel. The W San Francisco is typically the more expensive hotel, often by $100 or more. The W San Francisco is being offered at the low season rate of 12,000 points for a room that will cost nearly $445 after the 14% city hotel tax is added. The Palace Hotel is 16,000 points for New Year’s Eve, the Category 5 high season rate, for a room that will only cost $265 after tax. The SPG member using points for the Palace Hotel will pay 4,000 more points for an award room that would cost $180 less than the same SPG category room at the W San Francisco Hotel.
On New Year’s Eve I am usually sleeping by the time midnight cheer rings out. In Monterey we have First Night on New Year’s Eve. It is a wholesome family event on the Custom Plaza by the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf.
I even saw the Amsterdam Hilton available on New Year’s Eve for 40,000 points. That was always a Diamond Desk intervention for my past award stays at the Amsterdam Hilton. Make sure to request a canal side room for one of the most incredible fireworks displays in the world for the hour around midnight.
Amsterdam has the most amazing homegrown fireworks show I have ever witnessed as a traditional New Year’s Eve celebration activity. Seeing thousands of rockets continuously explode in colored light every second across the city for over an hour dazzles the eyes. The light display is a cultural phenomenon of the citizens of Amsterdam. The upper floors of the Amsterdam Hilton with a canal side view is one of the best locations in Amsterdam for watching this eye candy event.