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)

  • Benylin says:

    On the topic of Maldives, any other resort redemption recommendations anyone from Hilton / other brands?

  • s sud says:

    Re the maldives, is it me our has anyone ever wandered what happens if your on a distant atoll and there’s an emergency? I don’t just mean a natural occurrence (eg. tsunami), but also say a medical one while at the resort.

    The maldives has never interested me. The sea plane transfers are about the only thing I think I would look forward to! But the above has always been a niggling question in my mind – what happens when you are 40 or 50 mins away from civilisation in an emergency? Are the resorts even required to put contingency evacuation plans in place?

    • TripRep says:

      S Sud, speaking from experience, it is also possible to be “50 minutes away from civilization” in the British Isles….

      • Chris Tracey says:

        Lol! Like that!

      • Cat says:

        I found it rather frightening how long it took for an ambulance to get to my Mum when she was on holiday in Stiffkey in Norfolk. She swallowed a wasp and the resulting stings left her struggling to breathe.
        Fast forward 6 months, and my sister couldn’t come out for my Mum’s 70th back in Lincolnshire, because she was 7 months into a rather complicated pregnancy, which could have become more complicated at any minute, and she would have been an hour away (even blue lighting all the way) from a hospital that could actually give her an emergency caesarean because most maternity services have shut down at the nearest two hospitals.
        TripRep’s not wrong, although I’m not entirely sure that’s what he meant!

  • TripRep says:

    S Sud – the Conrad has an onsite doctor.

    Any decent medical insurance would get you out on a seaplane to Male hospital or if necessary to a ME country or repatriation to UK.

    • Anna says:

      This issue has made me seriously consider whether I would go back to the Maldives (I definitely wouldn’t with children.) Even with a decompression chamber on the island, a diving accident would be very bad news, and there are numerous situations where an injury or serious illness wouldn’t be worth the wait for a seaplane (let alone repatriation!) I don’t have any figures for the Maldives but in Grand Cayman where an ambulance is no more than 10 minutes away and there are two state of the art hospitals, there is on average one water related death per month.

  • BlueHorizonuk says:

    Is anyone having difficulty finding any availability?

  • Freddy says:

    Interesting article….starting to collect some Marriott rewards points…anything ideas on a similar luxury break (though with 3 kids in tow)

  • Ralphy says:

    All thanks to Headforpoints, and a bit of travel, I secured Marriott Platinum with 16 nights and recently status matched to Hilton Diamond and completed 8 stays.
    Booked flights to do Rio the first week in March and THEN looked at hotels. They are only typically 3 times normal price, transpires its Carnival time!
    Due to stays to become Marriott Platinum, accrued 100,000 points. The Rio Sheraton is 25k per night, but with the 5 four 4 deal, scored a real winner in value here! Thanks as ever Rob! I would never have known about any of this without you!

    • Anna says:

      Am I missing something with SPG? The Rio Sheraton is 25k points per night but the Grand Cayman Marriott is 50k (and looks rather grotty by comparison). Is this 2 separate schemes?!

      • Genghis says:

        All prices are now in Marriotts. SPG as a hotel scheme no longer exists.

        • Anna says:

          But how can a 5 star hotel cost more points than a (barely) 4 star?

        • Anna says:

          So…presumably they stick the hotel in the highest category they think the market can bear, regardless of the quality of the property?

        • Genghis says:

          Cayman is expensive. You go there on holiday.

        • Callum says:

          Anna – Would you expect a five star hotel in Hull to be more expensive than a four star hotel in Mayfair?

          If you stop and think about it, it’s blindingly obvious why a hotel in the Cayman Islands is more expensive than Rio – regardless of quality!

        • Anna says:

          I know how Cayman works, I’m just starting to work out how SPG/Marriott works!

      • Sir Kenneth says:

        And be prepared for double currency conversion too. Go to Bermuda instead. Cayman wants to be Bermuda. BVI wants to be Cayman. Jersey – on a sunny day – is better than all three. Obviously Bermuda is north Atlantic. If you want to be Caribbean and need to be OneWorld check out AA from Miami to some of the nicer Caribbean islands. Having said that Cayman to Bahamas can be done for 4500 BA reward saver on BA widebody. I always take a light case with me.

      • Sir Kenneth says:

        GC Marriott is right on the beach. Literally. It’s a thin hotel. And there is a nice poker joint on the other side of the main road.

    • Jj says:

      Hi Ralphy, hate to be the bearer of bad news the Sheraton Rio was damaged substantially last week in the storms, all public areas of the hotel and pool were completely flooded. The hotel was evacuated and is now closed. From seeing the news reports and pictures it looks unlikely to be open within the next couple of months.
      Check the thread on FT for more information, I’d look at make backup plans in case the hotel is not reopen by your trip.

  • Rash says:

    Sorry slight OT: My sister-in-law is staying at the Hilton Doha tomorrow, I’ve booked and paid and am Diamond status. They’ve emailed me (as I flagged up that I am not checking in) and said they would charge her for breakfast as I am not there. Should I let them charge and argue it later with Customer services? or is there any other suggestions on how to get round the charge? Thanks

    • will says:

      As you’re not staying she will not be eligible.
      What I would normally do is put her down named on the room as well as me. That way she can check in and then it would normally be passed off. If it’s pre paid leave without checking out formally, keys left in room.

      Always be prepared to pay in these cases though, it’s a bonus if they comp it.

    • John says:

      You are not allowed to book a paid stay for someone else under your Hilton account. Award stays only.

    • Anna says:

      Rookie mistake! I booked a night at an airport Hilton for my sister last year and put her as the 2nd guest – when she checked out for her very early flight they gave her 2 breakfast bags!

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Never say you aren’t checking in. Just let them check in as second guest, alone, then if there is a second guest just join later.

      I’m not really a fan of that Hilton after my last stay (checked out and moved to the W)

    • Tracy says:

      I recently booked a night at HGI Glasgow for a show at SSE hydro for in-laws. Put my father in law as second guest. They were over the moon, they got breakfast for 2, 4 drinks vouchers for the bar and free parking. All on a £70 night. Plus I got 6000 points and extra for paying on my Hilton card, win win 🙂

      • Anna says:

        You and I think alike, Tracy!

      • TripRep says:

        On balance I’m sure many UK Hilton properties are okay with this occurring occasionally, they get extra base revenue out of it, sometimes drink + dinner, it could be very useful boost for their turnover especially during off season.

  • Gary Martin says:

    Any update on the launch of a new U.K. Hilton credit card? I recall some market testing last summer but nothing since.