Award Trip Breakdown: Planning Our 2nd Anniversary Trip to the Maldives! Part 2 – Hotels

Earlier I published how to fly to the Maldives using frequent flyer miles from several different programs, including the miles I used for a $17,000!!! ticket to the Maldives flying Etihad in Business and First class. This post will go over some of the hotel options you have in the Maldives, the hotel points you need for free nights and how we booked our hotel, the Park Hyatt Maldives.

Even though it is a distant, hard to get to tropical destination, there are several hotels you can use points at from the major hotel chains. Some of these options are much better than others with the Park Hyatt Maldives being the best option in my opinion. At a cost of 30,000 Hyatt points a night (25,000 points a night if you booked it before 1/22), this hotel seems to be the most affordable from a points perspective. The Park Hyatt is a true 5 star luxury hotel that encompasses its own private island – that’s right there is literally nothing else on the island except the hotel. See the photo below.

The Park Hyatt Maldives

The Park Hyatt Maldives

The Park Hyatt Maldives appears to me, at least based on the research I’ve done, one of the most luxurious properties in the Maldives you can use points at along with the W Maldives. So if your goal is true luxury, I recommend the Park Hyatt Maldives. Hyatt points are quite easy to obtain thanks to being a transfer partner of Chase Ultimate Rewards so any points earned from the Chase Sapphire or Chase Ink cards (hello 5x at office supply stores), can be transferred to Hyatt. This would also be an excellent place to use the two free nights you get for signing up for the Chase Hyatt Visa credit card. With room rates always over $1,000 (sometimes closer to $1,200) and this being a top tier Category 7 Hyatt hotel (there are only 6 others hotels in this category) this in fact might be the single best hotel in the Hyatt system to use your free night at. Free nights either via the credit card or points book into beach villas and you can upgrade to pool villas or over the water villas for $300-$450 a night.

Another option though significantly more expensive now after the big Hilton devaluation is the Conrad Rangali Island Resort. As a top tier category 10, this hotel costs 95,000 points a night! While it’s true that Hilton HHonors points are worth a lot less than Hyatt points and HHonors points can be acquired more easily and quickly, that is still a ton of points. If you have any form of Hilton elite status (and you definitely should if A) you are planning on staying here to get free breakfast and B) how easy it is to get status from one of their credit cards), you can get the 5th night free on award redemptions, dropping the cost to 76,000 points a night on a 5 night stay. Free nights book into a beach villa and you can upgrade for similar amounts like the Park Hyatt. Cash rates can fluctuate between $550-$800 a night.

Conrad Maldives

Conrad Maldives

The Starwood options include the Sheraton Full Moon and W Maldives but neither is a great option on points. The Sheraton Full Moon is a category 6 hotel that costs 20k to 25k SPG points a night. While I obviously haven’t stayed there, the reviews aren’t too great on this hotel and it costs a ton of SPG points for this level of hotel. The W Maldives, which by all accounts seems like a fantastic hotel, is a limited participant Starwood hotel, which means its costs a boatload of SPG points (upwards of 90k points a NIGHT!). With SPG points so hard to acquire, I don’t think either hotel is a viable option and other hotels in this post offer better value.

The IHG option in the Maldives is the Holiday Inn Resort Kandooma Maldives. This is definitely a lower tier hotel compared to others in this post but costs only 35,000 IHG points a night. Paid rates seem to range from $250-$300 for base level rooms. While not for me, this could be an attractive option for some looking to save money or save more valuable Hyatt or SPG points.

There are no Marriott nor Ritz Carlton hotels in the Maldives so you cannot use Marriott or Ritz Carlton points here. There were rumors of a Marriott property opening in 2015 but I can’t find anything on this.

Supposedly in July 2015, there will be an option to use Club Carlson points at the Radisson Blu Maldives Hulhumale but the projected opening date of the hotel has been pushed back many times already so I wouldn’t plan on this option until it actually opens (if ever).

As mentioned previously, we decided to book the Park Hyatt Maldives for our 2nd anniversary trip since I had abundance of Hyatt points and two free nights from Andrea’s application for the Hyatt credit card. While we don’t need luxury on every trip we take (we’re quite content to stay in 3 star hotels), this is a special trip so I splurged points-wise for both the flights and hotel to have a more luxurious trip. If I didn’t have Hyatt points, I would most likely focus on earning Hilton points and getting free nights from the Citi Hilton Reserve credit card to stay at the Conrad.

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American Express Hilton HHonors Signup Bonus Increased to 50,000 HHonors Points & $50 Statement Credit

Update: Per Gary in the comments there is an offer for 60k points. See my response in the comments but I believe both offers to be equal. The offer I listed below requires $750 in spend as opposed to $1,000 for the 60k offer.

I was in the processing on making a reservation today on Hilton.com (they had $99 rooms at the Hilton Waikoloa Village as part of their Cyber Monday promotion which worked out great for my trip to the Big Island in April) and I noticed a better offer for the no annual fee American Express Hilton HHonors credit card of 50,000 HHonors Points and a $50 statement credit! The public offer is currently 40,000 points with no statement credit. The only way to get this offer to appear is to go through the process of booking a hotel room on hilton.com and on the payment page you will notice a small box in the lower right hand corner with the credit card offer. You do not have to book a room to get this offer to appear.

Look for the offer next to where you enter your credit card information

Look for the offer next to where you enter your credit card information

Here are the key details to know about this offer:

  • You must spend $750 within 3 months of membership to earn 50,000 HHonors points
  • The $50 statement credit is awarded after 1st purchase
  • No annual fee so you could keep this card for a long time for AXON awards though they are much less valuable now
  • You also receive Hilton Silver Status which basically gives you 15% bonus points on stays and the ability to get a 5th night free on award stays
HHonors50k_2

Details of the offer

 

While this is an improved offer over the public one, this isn’t an amazing offer as 50,000 points will not even get you a free night at some mid-tier Hilton family hotels. After the massive Hilton devaluation last year, Hilton points are only good for low to mid tier hotels (see award chart below). For hotels in the higher categories, I would recommend other Hilton credit cards like the Citi Hilton Reserve before this one.

HiltonAwardChart

Hilton Award Chart

 

I personally have this card as I used it in the past to book a AXON award for my honeymoon in Bora Bora – back then you could book a 4 night stay at the Hilton Bora Bora for only 145,000 points total! Now, a single night goes for 95,000 points or 300,000 points with the new AXON awards! If you plan on using Hilton points for aspirational hotels, I would pass on this offer and focus on a card like the Citi Hilton Reserve which offers two free weekend nights at any Hilton in the world. I can only recommend this offer if you 1) have applied for pretty much every other Hilton credit card or 2) need to increase your Hilton balance quickly to book an award stay. I could also see recommending this card if you know you could actually take advantage of the low point rates at the category 1-4 hotels though I imagine for most those hotels do not align with their travel goals.

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Bonuses to Starwood, Hilton & Virgin Atlantic

American Express is currently running three different transfer bonuses to convert Membership Rewards points into either Starwood, Hilton or Virgin Atlantic points/miles. I’ll recap each one briefly and give you my opinion whether any of them are worth taking advantage of.

1. 50% Transfer Bonus to Starwood SPG (Targeted) – The biggest transfer bonus on the list at 50% but unfortunately all that means is that you can convert Amex points at a 2:1 ratio instead of the standard 3:1 ratio. Starwood points are more valuable than Amex Membership Rewards points but not double the value in my book. One possible way this promotion could work though is to transfer to an airline that is not a transfer partner of Amex but is a partner of Starwood.

As you might know, if you transfer 20,000 Starwood points to an airline, you automatically get a 5,000 point bonus so if you were to transfer say 40,000 Amex points over to Starwood, you could end up 25,000 airline miles in programs such as Alaska or American, places you cannot transfer to Amex points too normally. By using Starwood as the “middleman”, you can backdoor your way into all of Starwood’s transfer partners here. I don’t have a personal need to do this but this could make sense for some. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.

SpgTransferBonus

2. 35% Transfer Bonus to Virgin Atlantic – Even though Amex is offering a 35% on transfers to Virgin Atlantic, I’ve discussed how Virgin miles can be difficult to use (though View From the Wing has some great uses of Virgin miles). You can’t depart London without incurring huge fuel surcharges but Virgin Atlantic is a great option to go TO London which is only 13,125 miles + $134 as I’ve written about before here.  Another possible use of their points is on Virgin America, especially if you live on the West Coast as it is only 10,000 miles one way on certain routes, such as LA to San Fran. I am going to sit the transfer out as I just applied for the 90,000 Virgin Atlantic Mastercard and I have no pressing needs for more Virgin miles. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.

3. 33% Transfer Bonus to Hilton HHonors (Targeted) – Amex’s hotel partners are historically pretty bad so its not that surprising to see that even with a transfer bonus, this is a bad deal. In this case, a 33% transfer bonus to Hilton means Amex points convert at a ratio of 1:2 instead of the standard 1:1.5. Unfortunately, Hilton gutted their award chart a few years ago and any upscale property is for the most part an unreasonable amount of points. I’m talking 95,000 HHonors points for a single night stay when you used to be able to get a 4 night stay at the same property for 145,000 points (ex. Hilton Bora Bora). I don’t mind plan on taking advantage of this transfer bonus and don’t suggest it either unless you need to top off your account for an award stay. This transfer bonus expires on 11/30.