Top 10 best hotel loyalty programs to join in 2019

Monday newsletters always feature top 10 travel lists to inspire.

Today (April 1, 2019): Top 10 best hotel reward programs.

Almost all major hotel chains own a lucrative loyalty program that allow guests to earn hotel points and redeem them for discounted or free stays. Everybody should participate in these programs as they can save you tons of money (although many programs have devaluated in the last couple of years). Unfortunately, the high-end luxury hotel chains are rather reluctant to the idea of a loyalty program, hence why only very few of them offer one. I hereby present the 10 most rewarding hotel loyalty programs for luxury travel and what they offer (with pros and cons). However, always keep in mind that deciding which hotel loyalty program is best for you will mainly depend on 4 factors:

  1. The number of hotels in a chain (larger chains offer more options to earn and redeem points);
  2. The benefits that are most important to you;
  3. The destinations where you travels take you to (some chains are better represented in certain countries as compared to others);
  4. The type of hotel you want to stay at (ranging from budget to ultraluxurious).

What’s your favorite hotel reward program? Leave a comment or take my poll below.

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10. DISCOVERY

Discovery is the loyalty program of the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA), the world’s largest alliance of independent hotel brands. With recognition across 34 luxury hotel brands – all with their own unique character – and more than 550 hotels spread around the globe, Discovery members can experience a property that truly reflects the culture and traditions of its location, while enjoying all the benefits of loyalty, including room upgrades and comfort-enhancing perks.

GHA DISCOVERY


9. LE CLUB ACCORHOTELS

AccorHotels is a French multinational hospitality company that represents the largest hotel group in the world outside of the United States. It operates in 100 countries, with more than 4,200 hotels and 250,000 employees worldwide. AccorHotels recently acquired Swissôtel, Raffles and Fairmont properties and entered a strategic partnership with Banyan Tree, drastically increasing its share in the luxury market. AccorHotels’ loyalty program is called Le Club AccorHotels and it very simple: for every 2,000 points you collect, you can redeem for a €40 Accor voucher (which comes down to receiving cashback – in Accor vouchers – of 5% as a base member).

LE CLUB ACCOR


8. JUMEIRAH SIRIUS

Named after the brightest star, the Jumeirah Sirius recognition and rewards program illuminates the very best experiences that Jumeirah Hotels, Resorts & Residences present across the world. Members earn Jumeirah Sirius points and exchange them for valuable rewards when they stay at one of the more than 20 Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts in the world (in fascinating destination such as Dubai, the Maldives, Frankfurt, London, and Rome). Jumeirah’s flagship hotel is the world-famous, self-proclaimed seven star hotel, Burj Al Arab in Dubai.

  • Official websiteJumeirah Sirius
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: Sirius Jumeirah points can be used for a free stay at Jumeirah’s iconic and world-famous Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai.
  • Hotel brands: the program is of use when staying at hotels owned and/or managed by Jumeirah.


7. GOLDEN CIRCLE BY SHANGRI-LA

Golden Circle is the complimentary loyalty program of Hong Kong-based Shangri-La, regarded as one of the world’s finest hotel brands. Owning and/or managing over 100 hotels and resorts throughout Asia Pacific, North America, the Middle East and Europe, the Shangri-La group has a room inventory of over 40,000. Golden Circle is a program that allows members to earn and redeem points at all Shangri-La hotels (including restaurants & spas) across the globe.

  • Official website: Golden Circle
  • The program’s best standout feature: Golden Circle’s top tier members enjoy cash advance of up to $300 USD per stay on major credit cards (no hotel commission or handling fee).
  • Hotel brands: the program is valid for all Shangri-La hotels. Members also earn credits and have access to loyalty benefits when staying at other hotel brands managed by Shangri-La, such as Traders Hotels, Kerry Hotels and Hotel Jen. As a Golden Circle member, you can also earn and redeem points every time you stay at any Taj hotel.


6. EXPEDIA REWARDS

One of the web’s biggest travel sites, Expedia, offers a very lucrative loyalty program. Guests can earn Expedia points based on nights stayed as well as on dollars spent, dividing program members into three ascending tiers. Free membership automatically gives you blue status, followed by silver status after you spend $5,000 USD on eligible bookings or staying 7 qualifying hotel room nights, and gold status after spending $10,000 USD on eligible bookings or staying 15 qualifying hotel room nights. Points earned can then be redeemed on Expedia for future trips.

  • Official website: Expedia Rewards
  • The program’s best standout feature: with Expedia Rewards you can triple dip. When you travel as an Expedia+ member, you may still be able to earn your airline frequent-flyer points and credit-card rewards points as well as Expedia Rewards points on applicable bookings.
  • Hotel brands: the Expedia Rewards program covers all hotels worldwide, as long as you make your bookings through Expedia.


5. HILTON HONORS

When you become a Hilton Honors member, you earn Honors points for staying at one of the 4,600 hotels and resorts worldwide within the Hilton portfolio. You also earn Honors points whenever you travel, shop, dine or spend with Hilton’s partners, which includes airlines, car rentals, redit cards and wine clubs amon others. Rewards include free nights with no blackout dates, but you can also redeem Honors points with the program’s travel, shopping, dining and entertainment partners.

  • Official website: Hilton Honors
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: in 2018, Hilton Honors introduced ‘Rollover Nights’ that allows members to roll over nights that they earn over the status to the following year.
  • Hotel brands: members earn and redeem points across Hilton’s 13 hotel brands: Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites, Home2Suites, Hilton Grand Vacations, Canopy by Hilton, Tru by Hilton, and Curio Collection.


4. IHG REWARDS CLUB 

IHG hotels provide more than 744,000 guest rooms globally, serving over 150 million guests each year. IHG’s 14 brands range from the friendly comfort of a city-center Holiday Inn hotel to the luxury of an award-winning InterContinental resort. To advance in the IHG program, all you need to do is stay at hotels in the IHG portfolio, which includes several affordable venues. The loyalty program is split into four tiers, ranging from Club to Spirit Elite, and allows you to earn and redeem points. IHG recently acquired the ultra-exclusive Six Senses brand, although it remains to be seen whether Six Senses wil participate in IHG Rewards Club.

  • Official websiteIHG Rewards Club
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: every two to three months, for a limited time only, IHG Rewards Club releases a number of IHG PointBreaks properties where reward nights are yours for only 5,000 points for a stay in the following couple of months. From time to time, the list includes top properties, such as the Intercontinental Bora Bora. IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks is absolutely one the best hotel points redemptions in the industry!
  • Hotel brands: members earn points and exchange them for rewards at the following brands: InterContinental, Kimpton, Regent, Voco, Avid, Crown Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Hualuxe, Even Hotels, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn Resorts, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites, and Candlewood Suites.

IHG REWARDS CLUB


3. HOTELS.COM REWARDS

Hotels.com, which is owned by Expedia, has an excellent loyalty program, designated ‘Hotels.com Rewards’, and its simplicity may be its primary selling point. When you book and stay 10 nights at eligible hotels, you’ll get 1 night free to redeem at another (coming down to a 10% cash back in Hotels.com vouchers). Hotels.com works out the average value of all the 10 nights you’ve collected and gives it back to you as a free night. You will also enjoy additional benefits, such as priority customer service and hassle-free travel guarantee when you book and stay at 10 nights (Silver membership) or 30 nights (Gold membership) during one calendar year.

  • Official websiteHotels.com Rewards
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: Hotels.com gives freedom in your hotel choices. Members of brand-specific hotel loyalty programs tend to stay at hotels of those brands in order to receive the extra perk associated with their elite status, but that way they often pay more and miss the opportunity to stay at the very best hotel in the area.
  • Hotel brands: the Hotels.com Rewards program covers all hotels worldwide, as long as you book your stays via Hotels.com.

HOTELS.COM REWARDS


2. WORLD OF HYATT

Hyatt is one of the best hotel brands in the world, and it owns the highly respected luxury hotel chains Park Hyatt and Andaz (which rank among my favorite hotel brands in the world). The World of Hyatt guest loyalty program is part of Hyatt’s ongoing commitment to making our guests feel more than welcome every time they stay. Members can enjoy exclusive benefits, such as earning five points per eligible dollar spent to redeem toward free nights with no blackout dates, room upgrades and airline miles. There are three elite tiers providing members with even more privileges.

  • Official websiteWorld of Hyatt
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: World of Hyatt’s highest tier members get a free night award in a category 1-7 Hyatt hotel and two suite upgrades. The latter can be used for stays up to 7 nights and don’t require you to book anything else than a qualifying rate.
  • Hotel brands: members earn Hyatt points and exchange them for rewards across Hyatt’s 12 hotel brands: Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Hotels, Hyatt Regency, Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara & Ziva, Hyatt Residence club, Hyatt Centric, and the Unbound Collection by Hyatt. Word of Hyatt members can also earn and redeem points at Small Luxury Hotels of the World and Thomspon Hotels, making this program even more attractive.


1. MARRIOTT BONVOY

In my humble opinion, Marriott Bonvoy, the reward program of the Marriott group, gives you the richest elite benefits in the hotel industry, including the opportunity to achieve Gold or Platinum status for life. Marriott Bonvoy is the new combined progrma for the loyalty programs that used to be known as Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. Marriott manages several luxurious hotel brands, including Ritz-CarltonSt Regis and JW Marriott in the “classic” luxury segment and Ritz-Carlton ReserveThe Luxury CollectionBVLGARIW Hotels, and Edition in the “distinctive” luxury segment.

  • Official website: Marriott Bonvoy
  • Review: read here my review of the program (with pros & cons).
  • The program’s best standout feature: the single best value of Marriott Bonvoy points is to transfer them to an airline partner and book free award tickets or upgrades. The list of airline partners is impressive and the 3 : 1 conversation rate of Marriott Bonvoy points into miles is unmachted. In addition, you receive a 5,000 mileage bonus when you convert 60,000 points into miles (resulting in 25,000 airline miles instead of 20,000).
  • Hotel brands: with the new program, members can earn points and exchange them for valuable rewards when they stay at one of Marriott’s 30 different hotel brands across 6800+ locations in more than 150 countries. You can access the full list of 30 brands here.

MARRIOTT BONVOY



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4 Comments

  1. Dearest luxury travel
    A thousand thank you’s , after booking a room at the Amsterdam Conservatorium , I read your report Hotel 27 . My wife and I just returned from a 4 night completely new hospitality experience, desperately checking our calendar for our next opportunity. This is the 2nd time I smashed the piggy bank and follow your advice and I cannot praise or thank you enough

    Paul

  2. No way, Bonvoy is your #1! Are you serious? Marriott always ran a cheap, tightwad frequent guest program AND it hasn’t changed! Your numbers on transferring points to miles is wrong. It takes 60,000, yes sixty thousand, points to get 25,000 miles in most of the airline programs. 20,000 was the Starwood amount, now it is 60,000. When it comes to topping off say an American or Alaskan FF account, yes Bonvoy maybe the only way to do that. But, since their merger, Marriott is last on my list for everything. Because the good parts of SPG is all they have.

    I avoid Marriott like the plague. They have horrible customer service!!! They cheat on awarding points on all kinds of things. Marriott’s anti-gay, anti-black discriminatory attitudes are pitiful in this day and age! Marriott’s Mormon, Republican attitudes just want to make me puke!

    If you had put Marriott in 2nd or 3rd place, I would have understood, because Marriott currently has the most rooms and many corporate contracts. But my company dropped Marriott, with the exception of a handful of cities, because they raised their rates over 50%.

    With this post, you really have lowered my opinion of your blog.

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