Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

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

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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.

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.)

Comments (136)

  • Marcw says:

    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…

    • Adnan says:

      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.

  • 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?

  • Judge says:

    Rob, you have trained us that points are only worth what we would actually pay for flights and hotel redemptions. How much would people actually be prepared to pay in cash for this hotel?

    • John says:

      I’d be prepared to pay £100 a night. But evidently some people are prepared to pay 20 times that, though they would be silly to do so when they can buy the points…

      • Darren says:

        Think you’d struggle to find a place in the Maldives for £100 per night.

        • Richmond says:

          It’s possible. I stayed in 3* resort with breakfast and dinner included, 1 person £108 per night. Boat transfer was a bit rip off at $190 return. I chose the place based on underwater reviews and coral reef. That was most important thing to me in Maldives, not the luxuries which I can have anywhere. Accommodation was dated and not very attractive to the eye, but everything worked, was comfortable, food was ok and beach was very nice. I enjoyed my stayed and wouldn’t hesitate to go back for snorkeling.

        • Darren says:

          I agree, the most important aspect for me is the snorkelling and diving, but recent reports of bleaching have deterred me from a return in the last few years. The more southern attols such as Huvadhu may have fared better than others.

          So £54 per person per night DBB or £216 per room DBB? Or a single room of £108 DBB?

        • TripRep says:

          Richmond which resort?

          And yep specific price per couple/board would be good. Diving/ Snorkeling my top priority too.

        • Richmond says:

          Biyadhoo Island Resort, I was alone and paid £108 per night with half board. However resort was sure there’s two of us coming and were very surprised to see only me. I guess they counted on 2 x $190 for boat transfer which is pure profit for them. I booked via Hotels.com. Prices will probably depend on time of the year, I was in November and booked in August. As stated earlier, I chose it based on coral reef reviews.

        • Richmond says:

          Some photos from snorkeling from the beach http://azmgallery.com/MaldivesNov2016/

    • TripRep says:

      Judge that’s why I quoted Vilamendhoo as a comparison for a cash stay, ok not a Conrad/WA but a very good resort.

      Having stayed twice at the Conrad Rangali, I can honestly say that if I didn’t have access to points I would also cough up ££ to go back to Vilamendhoo.

    • Rob says:

      Clearly enough to fill it. I was with a reader the other day who did 10 days over Christmas at a similar resort AND used double Avios (1.2 million) to force open 4 Club World redemption seats!

      A disproportionately large % of the parents at my kids school spend Christmas in the Maldives, in the same way that a large % of the families head to the same 2-3 Dubai resorts in October (and tend to be on the same flights).

      • marcw says:

        What a boring life…

        • BlueHorizonuk says:

          Nothing to do with boredom. It’s about going somewhere tried and tested. If you and up at a resort that is good and caters for everything you need and (most importantly) the children are happy!! then it is no issue to return to the same place.

          When you have kids (making no assumptions as to your situation marcw) then your whole outlook on holidays change. You cant do a ex-eu with 4 stops before arriving to your destination anymore and forcing a double Avios booking becomes a lifesaver).

        • Rob says:

          Let me point you towards Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

        • TripRep says:

          I’m sure Maslow would say luxury holiday resorts were not on his list of requirements for human survival. 😉

        • Russ says:

          This takes me back. As a published author on Maslow I’m open to consider Christmas in the Maldives as contributing to someone’s self actualization.

        • The Savage Squirrel says:

          I’m intrigued too how flying to the same resort as the rest of your existing social circle helps you to self-actualise.

          It does seem like a modern version of the old factory-fortnight or stop-fortnight in northern industrial towns – where the factories would close for 2 weeks in summer and the workforce would often all go on the same value package holiday together to the same resort (keenly priced due to the obvious economies of scale for travel companies in chartering transport). This seems just the same with fewer pies and pints and more quinoa and botox….

        • Callum says:

          “Nothing to do with boredom. It’s about going somewhere tried and tested.”

          A rather hilarious description given you’re trying to convince people it’s not boring!

          As a kid we always went to different places on holiday (generally campsites!) – but then that might be different to Robs circle as we were neither rich nor spoilt? If we dared to “not accept anything other than a fancy kids club in Dubai” then I imagine we wouldn’t have been going on holiday at all!

      • Boi says:

        I know what you mean…. I generally dont like going to the same place as I believe theres so much more to see in the world. BUT since our trip to Dubai thats all the kids are asking for. And even if/when we go back I doubt they will accept anything else than what we had. We stayed at Madinant Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf and they rave about kids club and its facilities/service. Kids outlook is totally different.

        • BlueHorizonuk says:

          Yup, Kids completely change your outlook on what is a good holiday and at the end of the day its about them really. Loads of time to explore new places when they are older and more interested. All they want to do when young is go to kids clubs and swim…..lol

  • What's the Point says:

    Seems a bit pricey on points for my liking, although even the “standard” room gets you a private pool. I can’t see the cash prices staying this high vs for very long. My guess is that its just too high vs established hotels in the Maldives?

    The Curio is now open fro bookings from 1st Aug 2019, and is a relative bargain at 65,000 points or from £200 p.n

  • MDA says:

    OT: do supplementary card holders need to do anything when the main cardholder is closing their a/c? in terms of MR points they technically belong to the card holder right?

  • Boi says:

    OT: Where would people recommend for a nice romantic break that has sun, sea and sand but doesn’t break the bank? I want somewhere really memorable and outstanding. Not sure I can afford £10K. I have stayed in Rob’s favourite Madinant (booked 2 rooms) and we absolutely loved it. I now want to plan for our 10 year wedding anniversary.

    • marcw says:

      Fuerteventura/Lanzarote. Or what about Morocco?

    • Shoestring says:

      Thailand off the commonly beaten track for beautiful beaches, great climate if you time it right, cheap 4*/5* hotels – and fresh seafood Michelin 2* quality every night for laughably small money

    • JP says:

      What about south Florida, the Gulf Coast and/or the Keys? We’ve done Mauritius, Maldives, Dubai and Florida Keys in the past few years and the standout for us was the Keys. It’s beautiful, relaxed and never stuffy or pretentious. Great beaches and snorkelling too!

    • Darren says:

      My last two breaks have been Thailand and the Florida Gulf Coast and loved both for different reasons.

      The Far East gives more bang for your buck.

      • TripRep says:

        Did a few day trips to the Gulf/Nature coast of FL in December. Gorgeous beaches, it’s far quieter in away from Festive holiday season though..

        Would be interested in going back to Serendipity @ Koh Lipe in Thailand….

    • Benylin says:

      Just came back from Koh Samui, stayed at Silavadee for 3 nights and AVANI+ for 2 nights. Can recommend both, probably leaning on first one.

    • BrotherBear says:

      Oia in Santorini

      Best views ever.

      Properties are built into the cliff. We stayed at Fanari Villas in the honeymoon suite and we still rate it the best place we’ve stayed. Lots of amazing places to stay though.

    • Waddle says:

      Depends on your budget. My other half and I went to Punta Cana and stayed at the Now Onyx. At around £2,500 booked through BA Holidays including economy flights I believe this was good value for 7 nights. We stayed in the “Preferred” adults-only section junior suite with private pool. The Master Suites have sea view but are very far back in shore and more expensive.

    • Cat says:

      The Seychelles in an Airbnb or Hotels.com property, either Praslin or La Digue gets my vote a million times over!

  • A270 says:

    Other than free breakfast, what other Diamond benefits is this resort offering? Also standard villa occupancy seems 2 adults…