Update March 6: Point Stretcher participating hotels and dates can be found here. Now I see them and thanks to TMtravelworld for posting the correct link on BoardingArea.com a few hours before I published this original post. And the link was posted on FlyerTalk about 12 hours before I originally posted. That is what happens when I spend a day in meetings and then try and write something quickly without checking FlyerTalk first! The information updates never stop and of course FlyerTalk is almost always where the best information is reported first.
TMtravelworld also points out the PointStretcher rate shows up as a 25% discount. I did a sample booking and the award amount for a 30,000 point Category 4 hotel showed as 22,500 points for a night (25% off). HHonors Representative posted February 26 on FlyerTalk that the award should be 40% off and there is a technical glitch to be corrected. So you should be credited back the point difference if overcharged on a Point Stretcher.
The rest of my post is apparently irrelevant, except for the fact that Hilton’s website navigation for Point Stretcher awards still does not take you to the link shown at the beginning of this post, two days after the list has officially been posted on the HHonors site. The HHonors rewards page link goes to a page stating “Point Stretcher dates are currently unavailable.”
[my original, and out-of-date before it was posted content, is below]
After more than seven months missing in action the Hilton HHonors Point Stretcher is back. You just can’t see them online yet. HHonors Representative, who appears to have joined FlyerTalk around the time the message appeared on the HHonors website stating “Point Stretcher Dates are currently unavailable,” has announced over 500 hotels have Point Stretcher award dates currently available through the phone reservation system for stays through June 30, 2010. Point Stretchers offer a 40% discount on the normal award cost.
The problem though is availability over the phone doesn’t do you much good unless you already have a location and dates in mind to ask. In the past Point Stretcher dates were generally scattered with just a few days or perhaps a week in any month. Some hotels may only have a single week or less over a several month period. So trying to locate a hotel and date over the phone is a tall order or a very lucky coincidence.
The 40% savings make these high value awards. 24,000 points for a category 6 hotel works out to be fewer points per night than a standard category 3 award at 25,000 points. The good news is that 500 hotels sounds like the number of participating hotels will make this a more viable award offer in 2010. Hopefully the hotels will be posted online soon. Here is the Hilton Point Stretcher web page to check.
Another encouraging sign is the comment that awards for July 1 to December 31 will be posted in late spring 2010. I guess this could technically mean around June 19, but that would at least be better than the former pattern of posting point stretcher dates for the second half of the year in late July and finding many of the best offers have already past.
Then again, the last official word way back in August 2009 said Point Stretcher award dates would appear again in September 2009.
The phrase that aptly fits HHonors the past couple of years is “Seeing is believing”.