Jun032015

Choice Privileges competitive edge is suites on points

The competitive edge for Choice Privileges hotel loyalty program seldom mentioned is the option at many hotels to book a suite for the same number of points as a standard room. While the program has a major limiting factor of only allowing bookings with points within 30 days for members without elite status, the major upside is when the booking window opens, there is often the option for booking a suite with points.

I am at the Clarion International Drive Orlando this week. The hotel is a five minute walk to the Orlando Convention Center, directly across the street. To the left and right of the Convention Center are the Hyatt Regency Orlando and Hilton Orlando, also five minutes walk to the Convention Center.

The rate for five nights at Hilton Orlando Convention Center would have been about $1,400 for 5 nights this week, before it sold out. Hyatt Regency Orlando was even more and sold out sooner.

Five nights at the Clarion International Drive cost me 12,000 points per night.

Clarion i-drive rates

The cost for me to buy 60,000 points was $240 during the U.S. Travel Association Daily Getaways sale in April.

Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways Choice Privileges points value in 2 words twice (April 2, 2015).

The Hyatt and Hilton are certainly more upscale market segment hotels, but given that I have only been in my room to sleep and spend a couple hours on my computer made the need for an upscale room irrelevant during this five night stay.

My Clarion suite has two flat screen TVs. I have not turned on the TV since arriving four days ago. I have a mini-frig, patio balcony and the bed is comfortable. I am as close to the Orlando Convention Center as either the Hilton or Hyatt. I can walk five minutes to the Rosen Centre hotel next door to catch the free convention shuttle busses to the theme parks for evening events. For leisure travelers, there is complimentary shuttle service to DisneyWorld from the Clarion.

Clarion also has complimentary breakfast, although the food selection is poor with no fruit at all. I have only had coffee and toast at the hotel. Denny’s is across the street and two meals I ate there were good quality.

Norway in a 3-bedroom Suite

Quality Resort Spa Holmsbu

Quality Resort Spa Holmsbu

Last September I booked a 3 bedroom suite with ocean view at Quality Resort Spa Holmsbu Norway for 16,000 Choice Privileges points per night – the same reward night rate as a standard room. Effectively, that was a $64 rate at the price I purchased the Choice Privileges points.

The published room rate for the suite was 3,642 Norwegian Krone per night. The exchange rate at the time was 6.25 NOK = $1 USD. Two nights was equivalent to $1,165 USD.

That reservation was $1,100 added value for my $64 in Choice Privileges points redeemed reward stay .

For family travelers, Choice Privileges is a program you should check out for its sweet suite reward stay value.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. Not being able to reserve with points more than 30 days ahead is a real pain, so I book with cash, then hope there are rooms available for points a month prior to my arrival date. Not a good feature for Choice Hotels.

  2. The 30 days advance booking is an impediment.

    Another feature though for Choice Privileges is reward nights count for elite. I have Choice Privileges Gold elite from my 13 nights in Norway last year and I will earn Gold elite again this year on reward nights (10 nights in calendar year for Gold elite). The advance booking window for reward nights is 50 nights for Gold elite members.

    I booked a hotel reward stay for mid-July in Boston last week at the 50 day advance date.

    International stays outside North America are 60 days.

    Kind of like Southwest seat assignments, you need to be ready when your booking date opens for rewards. There are not that many elite members so reward nights are generally available.

  3. I noticed that it is 30 or 60 days from your first night. I loaded up on Choice points during the daily getaways this year and was thinking of booking a reservation for something like 23 nights even though I only need 7 and then dropping the first 16 nights once those 7 are in the 60 day booking window. That would give me up to 83 days ahead to book vs. the normal 60.

    Do you see any reason this would not work?

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