How to pay £1,872 for a £10,187 five night stay at the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi

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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.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives on points

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):

Waldorf Astoria Maldives pricing

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.

If you want to find out more about the resort, there is an excellent promotional video which will have you rushing to build up your Hilton Honors points.

The resort website is here if you want to learn more.  The current ‘buy points’ offer is here.

How to earn Hilton Honors points via UK credit cards

As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Hilton Honors points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Hilton Honors points.  That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

One man's tale of a week on points at a luxury resort whilst spending no money
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  1. If you open 3 new accounts to buy points, expect pooling to fail and with fraud flags raised on the accounts. Should be fine with established accounts that have recent stays.

    Does having the 5th night free makes much of a difference? If you are someone who happily spends £1872 on a hotel for 5 nights, then £2340 (to buy 600000 points for 5 nights) for what is nominally priced over £10000 is still pretty good, and works out to 1.7p per point (5x Rob’s valuation).

    Someone mentioned the Hilton Garden Inn Vienna South a few days ago. With 600000 points you could stay there for 2 months. When I stayed over Christmas at 10K points, the paid rate was around €170, so I nominally got 1.5p per point.

    • Yes of course 5th night free makes a difference, to the tune of 20% cheaper. If you took out Amex Plat for £450 this comes with Hilton Gold, which would save you the extra £468…

    • Yes 5th night free matters as a wasted opportunity costs us money/points against value for points principles exception being no choice.

  2. OT but Hilton related: has anyone else had those mystery platinum visa 5000 bonus points for recent stays removed? Just noticed as I was making a booking that the points awarded on a 2nd Feb stay have been removed.

  3. Hi Rob, nice to see my articles mentioned.

    One of your HFP readers has just arrived at the Conrad Rangali, so I’ll be asking him his thoughts on how he found the resort later this week.

    Regarding… “As well as being brand new, this property will have one crucial 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.”

    How well have you researched the costs for the Speedboat transfers?
    (Spolier, they ain’t cheap, this is the Maldives and a Waldorf Astoria)

    I bought points in the recent 100% bonus sale, and I’ve been amassing Amex MR points to punt to HH, but 120k seems a tad rich, I’ll await reviews of the quality of snorkelling on the coral reef at the WA before deciding if it’s for me.

    Aa a comparison approx £6k gets you 10nights full board at Vilamendhoo inc UK economy flights + seaplane transfers, that’s a decent resort I’d recommend folks looking at if they don’t have points.

    • New Card says:

      Hello from Rangali Island! We’ve only just arrived but it is pretty special here. The WA must be amazing to justify 25k points per night more (although the lounge masseuse did tell me it would be better when it opens…)

      FYI seaplane transfers out here are now $590pp.

      • Excellent name dropping with the “lounge masseuse”, love it. 😀

        Enjoy your stay, be sure to ask for an invite to the managers drinks reception and careful in the sun, it’s pretty strong out there.

      • Dont forget to available ‘ free photoshoot’ the resort offers. 5 pictures for free (choose from 50)
        you can pay 150 usd for the full shoot. Book on snorkel and diving tours early as get pretty filled up
        have fun

        • New Card says:

          Thanks for the tips! Our invite for manager’s drinks tomorrow just came through, and we’ll book in that photoshoot – sounds like a good deal!

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      I view the seaplane as part of the holiday. To me the flight is a fantastic experience and after a long haul journey there the lounge with views over the … what is the water equivalent of the apron and runway?… is joyess.

    • Boat was free when we went to the One & Only, admittedly 10 years ago.

      • Boat transfers are no longer free at O&O RR – expect to pay around $600 round trip per adult and $300 per child.

    • Over on FT there has been discussion for a while on this topic. Yaght transfers from Male appear to be $386 per person but still to be confirmed exactly if this was roundtrip or each, each way. If the latter, that’s expensive as also mentioned the resort taxes on top of that at 23%. You would need a min of 7 x days there to get the full experience.

  4. Over on FT, posters are stating the transfer to this resort is $370pp each way. Ouch.

  5. On the other end of the scale I finally got round to staying in the Hilton Leeds at the weekend.

    Upgraded to King Corner Suite (only HH Gold, but I asked nicely if they had availability). Good size, & condition, although maybe due a refurb in a few years.
    Bottle of wine in room (no exec lounge)
    Breakfast included – Omelette made to order by friendly smiling chef + smoked salmon (on request)
    Checked out the pool, tad but on the small side so probably more suited for families than keen swimmers. Also has Sauna/Steam room
    On-site Parking on floors 1-2 is £15, handy it’s in the same building, but pretty tight to manoeuvre round even in a small SUV.

    Overall a decent stay, it was 20mins walk from the First Direct concert arena, didn’t need a taxi although reception kindly offered to book for us.

    With current bonus, it earnt almost 5k points for a £100 booking. Would use again if I happened to be in Leeds, although IHG have also just taken over the Met.

    • I stayed at Hilton Leeds in late 2017. What a dump, even in the suite. They still owe me a free night in a suite but doubt I’ll take them up on it. But agreed on breakfast, v good kippers.

      • I stayed in Hilton Leeds in probably 1996, very early in my career, and it was a dump then!

      • I was offered a free upgrade to a suite after leaving a bad review a couple of years ago for the Hilton Leeds. I never took them up on the offer. The brand new Doubletree just around the corner is infinitely nicer and almost always cheaper as well.

        • The UK must be the only country where DoubleTree’s are better than Hiltons 😀

          The Tower Hill DoubleTree is now my parent’s favourite choice when they’re in town, and it’s much cheaper on Saturday nights. Rooms (and beds) probably still beat the Hilton Park Lane (haven’t stayed there in ages though).

        • @Alex – believe it or now but many DT properties in London are nicer and newer than Hilton proper which look Soviet or E.German at their best…

    • What not the Met Leeds to get the ihg free night…

    • I stayed 2 years ago and it was pretty good, in terms of Hilton which i stay at regularly.

      Interestingly, it’s the only hotel other than Syon Park that has proper free weights, not just dumbells!

      There’s a whole set of articles around exercise that could be explored – good for running / weight training etc.

    • The Savage Squirrel says:

      I lived in Leeds for many years.

      The Hilton has the styling and ambiance of a multi-storey car park (and sometimes the vague aroma of piss too).

      There are many other better options at all price ranges and loyalty schemes close to the arena and yes the Doubletree is newer and better too.If you want a mid-range predictable but uninspiring property on points, the Marriott is nicer and better located than the Hilton. For cash and a functional basic room to see a show, the large and new Premier Inn directly opposite the arena will serve most peoples’ needs.

  6. With the 5th night free, do you need status when you book or also when you stay?

    • Just when you book.

      • Are you sure they don’t check? They had an up to date register of all clients on status as I was silver when I booked and diamond when I arrived at Rangali. I was greeted by name and as being a Diamond member was mentioned numerous times by the host to us.
        I wouldn’t chance it, pick up Gold through Plat or fast track, status match.

    • If you don’t have status when you stay you will be paying through the nose for breakfasts. It will probably be more expensive than Rangali.

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Best to have good when you stay aswell.

      Considering it’s not hard to get I.e. Amex plat it has to be worth the trouble if not a diamond status match

    • To get the 5th night free it’s when you book afaik as the hotel don’t usually mess with the points redemptions in my experience

  7. Booked my 5 nights 10th to 15th of December. But the yacht is very expensive at $340 + taxes return per person

    • @ Dean
      Just to confirm, on your quote was the Yacht transfer Definetly $340 per person roundtrip or each way so all in to two people $680 or $1360?
      Was there also any mention of taxes of 23% on top of that charge?

      • My reservation says “A shared return transfer on the resort’s private yacht is charged at US$370 + taxes and service per person.”

        So actually 370 not 340 put is return

  8. I hit the £10,000 spend on my HH credit card in December but haven’t been upgraded to Gold yet. Barcleys tell me to contact Hilton and Hilton tell me to contact Barclays. Anyone have any ideas on how best to resolve this?

    • Complain to barclays and escalate to financial ombudsman.

    • I had a similar issue. Was already Gold but wanted to make sure I had hit the spend for the following year. There is no flagging up when you hit the spend, apparently they don’t have the capabilities to do this, you just need to add it up for yourself. After a number of emails they finally confirmed that yes, I had hit the spend (and then some!) and was Gold for the remainder of the year (was around September 2018) and all of 2019. Would be nice if they had a similar system to Amex and let you know when you hit the target. If Amex can do it surely it’s possible for everyone?

      OT heading to Hilton La Romana for xmas/new year 2019/20 as it’s all-inclusive I’m guessing Gold doesn’t count for much? anyone had any experience with this?

    • I had to chase them up to get silver when I first got the HH visa, Hilton amended my account after I contacted them via the website. I’m now gold via Amex but that appeared automatically.

  9. It’s only a saving when you already committed to pay the full fare. Otherwise, you’re stupid to pay 10k when you can manage to pay only 1,5k.
    Having said that…. Pooling is not that easy though. If you open a new account, you have to wait at least 90 days to buy points…

    • As an alternative to pooling, can you ask someone to “gift” you the miles instead? I assume there is no limit on how many miles a member can be gifted and there is a bonus on gifting right now.

  10. James Ardron says:

    Just booked for first week in Feb 2020. Will keep an eye on boat costs though and the potential resort tax. Do guest certificates work there I’m guessing not?

  11. Still a bit of work to do!!

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