Marriott, Hilton, and IHG – Show Me Elite Benefits

In Part 2 of the hotel mega-chain comparisons I look at elite membership in Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club and IC Ambassador, and Marriott Rewards.

Hilton HHonors, IHG Priority Club and Marriott Rewards were all rated by in 2007 and side-by-side ratings can be viewed here. The interesting statistic for me are the high ratings Marriott Rewards members give to their program. Marriott’s ratings far surpass member ratings for the other two programs with about 500 voting participants in each loyalty group. But two years is a long time in loyalty programs and changes have been made in each program since then.

Marriott Rewards restructured their strongest competitive advantage in 2009 with the change in reward tables from a per night discount for any multiple night stay  to a basic 5th night free redemption program.   

Hilton HHonors has the highly popular Points & Miles earning preference for members to accrue both hotel loyalty points and airline miles with a hotel stay.

Priority Club is the program for promotion junkies into amassing points. The ability to earn 30 points per $1 spent on hotel stays is likely and even 50 points per $1 is reported by some promotion savvy members.

Here is a Loyalty Traveler blog post from February 2009 with a comparison of elite levels in Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Starwood, along with a list of reasons FlyerTalk members state they like Hilton HHonors or Marriott Rewards.

This post focuses more on published elite member benefits. Marriott Rewards has a table comparing the benefits of their different Rewards elite levels.

Marriott Rewards Silver Elite = 10 nights in a calendar year to qualify

  • 20% elite bonus points
  • 10% discount on Friday or Saturday nights at Courtyard and SpringHill Suites (AAA should be just as good or better rate)
  • 10% discount at Marriott-operated gift shops
  • Elite-only rewards and special offers
  • Late check out 



Hilton HHonors Silver VIP = 10 nights or 4 stays in a calendar year to qualify

  • 15% elite bonus points
  • Benefits
  • complimentary fitness center/health club access (Marriott makes no reference to this type of benefit)
  • access to VIP reward multi-night stay discounts using points


IHG Priority Club Gold = $50 or 15 nights or earn 20,000 points in a calendar year or join Ambassador Club ($150)

  • 10% Bonus Points


Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport

Hilton Garden Inn San Francisco Airport






Marriott Rewards Gold Elite = 50 nights in a calendar year to qualify

  • 25% elite bonus points (10 base points per US$1 + 2.5 points elite bonus for 12.5 points per $1) 
  • Room upgrade 
  • Lounge access at Marriott, JW Marriott, and Renaissance hotels with lounges and complimentary breakfast.  
  • Complimentary breakfast Mon-Fri at Marriott and Renaissance hotels without a lounge. 
  • Free local phone and 15 pages FAX at Courtyard, SPringHill Suites, and Fairfield Inn 
  • Room type guarantee in USA (Gold members are eligible to receive the Room Type Guarantee at any Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn or Suite, SpringHill Suite or TownePlace Suite property located in North America.)





Hilton Gold VIP = 16 stays, 36 nights, or 60,000 base points earned in calendar year.


5 published routes to Gold elite qualification. (Hilton has easier qualification than Marriott Rewards gold elite.)

1.       New first-year Surpass credit card member receives one year complimentary Gold elite)

2.       60,000 base points = $6,000 Hilton hotel stay spend which may be easier qualification bar than $20,000 in credit card spend for some members or stays and nights.

3.       16 Hilton brand hotel stays. HHonors counts award stays towards elite qualification.

4.       36 nights

5.       Hilton also runs periodic promotions for Gold elite typically with 4 stays in 90 days.


HHonors Gold VIP members earn 25% elite bonus points. A person selecting Points & Points earning preference receives 10 points per US$1 + 5 points (Points & Points bonus) + 2.5 points Gold elite bonus for 17.5 points per $1.



HHonors elite benefits vary with brands: Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree


  • Room upgrade
  • Complimentary continental breakfast for member and one guest, even if not provided lounge access for stay.
  • Complimentary internet
  • If upgraded to Executive Floor room, lounge access guaranteed [lounge access is not guaranteed for Gold member who does not get upgraded to Executive Floor; hotel’s discretion.]
  • 1,000 bonus points


Embassy Suites Benefits:

500 bonus points or complimentary internet or choice of sodas, fruit, water


Hampton Inn Benefits: 250 points and two bottles of water


Hilton Garden Inn Benefits: 750 points and full American breakfast for member and one registered guest.


Hilton Grand Vacations benefits: two bottles of water per stay and 1,000 bonus points


Waldorf Astoria Collection benefits: one category room upgrade and either 1,000 bonus points or free movie. Two bottles of water per stay. Welcome beverage for member and guest. Late checkout.



IHG Platinum Elite = 50 nights per calendar year or earn 60,000 points

  • 50% elite bonus points (10 base points per US$1 + 5 elite points for 15 points per $1.
  • Complimentary room upgrades (subject to availability)
  • Guaranteed room availability (72 hours in advance)




Marriott Napa entrance water fountain

Marriott Napa entrance water fountain





Marriott Platinum = 75 nights

  • 50% elite bonus points (10 base points + 5 elite points per US$1 = 15 points per $1)
  • Platinum Arrival Gift bonus points = 500 points at Marriott, Renaissance, Marriott Vacation Clubs
  • 250 points at Courtyard outside US
  • 200 points in USA at Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites
  • (Members earning miles will not earn platinum amenity points) 
  • Room type guarantee worldwide
  • “Platinum members are eligible to receive the Room Type Guarantee at any Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn & Suite, SpringHill Suites or TownePlace Suites property worldwide.”
  • 48 hour reservation guarantee




HHonors Diamond VIP = 60 nights or 28 stays or 100,000 base points or HHonors American Express Surpass $40,000 per year credit card spend.


  • 50% bonus points (Points & Points 10 base points + 5 Points & Points bonus + 5 elite points = 20 points per $1. Points & Miles earns 15 points per $1 + variable or fixed miles.)
  • Guaranteed reservation when made by midnight hotel local time 48 hours before day of arrival. (check Marriott)
  • Complimentary continental breakfast for elite member and one guest each morning of stay.
  • Lounge access is guaranteed for Diamond member even if not upgraded to Executive Floor.



Hilton HHonors Executive Lounge Access Policy

If you select a space-available room upgrade as your on-property VIP benefit, the following policy will apply effective August 15, 2008, at all Hilton®, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts and Doubletree® hotels:

If you are a Gold VIP, you’ll be given access to the Executive Floor lounge when you receive a room upgrade to the Executive Floor. If an Executive Floor room upgrade is unavailable, you’ll still receive daily complimentary Continental breakfast in lieu of lounge access.

If you are a Diamond VIP, you’ll enjoy access to the Executive Floor lounge, even if you don’t receive a room upgrade to the Executive Floor, including daily complimentary Continental breakfast.

At hotels without Executive Floor lounges, Gold and Diamond VIPs will receive complimentary Continental breakfast for themselves and up to one additional registered hotel guest each day. If breakfast is included in the room rate, you’ll receive an alternate welcome amenity that varies by hotel.

Hilton Executive Lounge policy:



InterContinental Ambassador $150 annual fee (also confers Priority Club Gold elite membership).

Benefits at InterContinental Hotel brand:


  • Guaranteed room upgrade
  • Fresh fruit and mineral water
  • Certificate for complimentary weekend night on two-night stay
  • 4pm late checkout
  • Complimentary pay TV film per stay
  • Earn 20,000 bonus points every 15 nights at InterContinental Hotels in calendar year.


InterContinental Royal Ambassador – by invitation only for top 1% of Ambassador members offers expanded benefits considered by many frequent guests to be the best hotel loyalty program elite status. FlyerTalk members state minimum criteria appears to be at least 50 IHG brand hotel nights and 3 different InterContinental Hotel stays per year.



Loyalty Traveler’s take on InterContinental Ambassador: Buy your way to elite recognition for a small fee that is rebated with a single certificate for a free weekend night. Most InterContinental Hotels are over $150 per night and the free night can be worth over $300 in many locations. This is a great deal for anyone planning any stays at an InterContinental Hotel.



This is simply an overview of elite membership and by no means a comprehensive or thorough analysis.  Please comment if there are other aspects, benefits, or limitations of elite membership with these programs. I will edit the post to include or clarify items I neglected to mention. The goal here is to have a quick one-post comparison for Loyalty travelers.


Bottom line for loyalty travelers is the program that best meets your needs will depend on your hotel preferences, travel spending pattern, and benefits most desired for your stays.

Starwood Preferred Guest

New Members Offer for Instant SPG Gold Elite through February 2011 (normally requires 10 hotel stays or 25 nights in a calendar year), plus 1,000 bonus points per night through March 31, 2010.


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 in 2008.

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