The secret of maximising the value of hotel loyalty points is to redeem them in ludicrously expensive places, where even the maximum possible price that the loyalty scheme can charge looks like a bargain.
I doubt there is a better place to find examples of this than The Maldives.
For many years, the Conrad Rangali resort, part of Hilton Honors, has been the de facto ‘best bang for your buck’. 95,000 points per night for a beach villa – which is the highest points price that Hilton Honors has for a standard reward – is a great deal given the cash rates there. One of our readers wrote a long review on Conrad Rangali for us which you can find here.
The days of Conrad Rangali holding the crown for ‘best Hilton redemption’ may be up, however. There is a new kid in town.
Meet Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
As we first mentioned last April, a new Waldorf Astoria resort has been under development for some time.
This will be called Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. A picture of one of the very modern overwater bungalows is above. Those of you with long memories will remember that there used to a Waldorf Astoria resort in The Maldives a few years ago but it was rebranded.
As well as being brand new, this property will have one advantage over Conrad Rangali – it is accessible by boat from the airport in Male. If you stay at the Conrad there is a $500 per person charge for a seaplane transfer. (EDIT: it seems the Waldorf is planning to charge $370 plus taxes each way for the short return boat transfer which seems a bit of a swizz.)
The good news is that you can now book, for stays from 1st July.
The bad news is that Hilton Honors has decided to break its ‘95,000 points per night’ price cap. This is understandable but could be the thin end of the wedge.
Take a look at a typical price for November (click to enlarge):
Yes, it is pricing at 120,000 Hilton Honors points per night. This is not a Premium Redemption. It is clearly marked as ‘Standard Room Redemption’. Of course, in this case a ‘Standard Room’ is a 2,500 sq ft beach bungalow with a private pool.
And yet …. this is exceptionally good value.
Hilton offers ‘5 nights for the points of 4’ to anyone with Hilton Honors status. Be clear: you need Hilton status to get ‘5 for 4’, a basic Blue member will not get this pricing.
A five night stay in a King Beach Villa With Pool will cost you, based on random November dates:
$13,101 included taxes (cancellable with 15 days notice) or
480,000 Hilton Honors points
To save you doing the maths, you are getting 2.12p per Hilton point.
My standard Hilton Honors points valuation is 0.33p. You are getting SIX TIMES my ‘normal’ value here.
You can BUY Hilton Honors points for 0.39p each in their current 100% ‘buy points’ offer here (click to read my article, click here to buy). The annual cap, including the 100% bonus, is 160,000 points per person. Some people will unfortunately see a lower 80% bonus. This is part of market testing by Hilton.
Three Hilton accounts showing a 100% bonus could buy 480,000 points between them for $2,400 (£1,872).
This would get you $13,101 (£10,187) of stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, assuming that the person booking has Hilton status and can get ‘5 nights for 4’.
The relatively new Hilton ‘points pooling’ scheme which we discussed here lets you merge your points together, and the pooling limit of 2 million points per year means you can easily fit in a 5-night booking!
As well as buying points, you can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Hilton Honors at 1:2, or Virgin Flying Club miles at 2:3.
How to earn Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards (July 2021)
There are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Did you know that the Virgin Atlantic credit cards are a great way of earning Hilton Honors points? Two Virgin Points can be converted into three Hilton Honors points. The Virgin Atlantic cards are the only Visa or Mastercard products in the UK which can indirectly earn Hilton Honors points. You can apply here.
You can also earn Hilton Honors points indirectly via American Express Gold, the American Express Rewards Credit Card and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold and Business Platinum.
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)