Reevaluating My Hotel Strategy

I like accumulating hotel points for free stays, but hotel point collecting has always taken a back seat to collecting airline miles.  My travel focus for the last few years has been on international travel, and the opportunities to stay in hotel chains are not always available or appealing.  It doesn’t thrill me to stay in a Hilton in Malta, for example.

This summer has marked some changes in our travel patterns.  As our oldest grandson has reached the ripe old age of four, he has become a reasonable travel companion; that is, if we don’t venture too far away from home.  I read trip reports of folks taking one or more toddlers to Europe, and I don’t envy them.  Surely the time will come that we will take grandkids overseas, but that time is sometime in the distant future.

We are leaving in a few days for a trip to North Georgia and North Carolina with our grandson.  We want to take him on a four-hour train trip in the Appalachians and afterwards spend a little more time in the mountains.   It is still too hot to camp, and I have some hotel points burning a hole in my pocket.  Here’s what I’ve redeemed so far for this trip:

1.  Fairmont Inn Gainesville– 7500 Marriott points

2.  Holiday Inn Express Sylva-20,000 IHG points

3.  Holiday Inn Express Hiawasee–15,000 IHG points

These are not fancy hotels, and I don’t expect them to be, but I’m sure that they will be comfortable.  As I looked at my points balances, and the credit-card signup bonuses that provided the points, it appears that I am getting some decent value for my points.  Let’s look at the cash prices of these hotels, and compare them to the points prices.

1.  Fairmont Inn Gainesville–$168–  2.24 cents per point (!!!)

2.  Holiday Inn Express Sylva– $127–0.635 cents per point

3.  Holiday Inn Express Hiawasee–$117–0.78 cents per point

The Holiday Inn points valuations are slightly higher that what I am used to getting.  Usually I get 0.3-0.4 cents per point from IHG points.  But the Fairmont example really surprised me!  I was getting as good value from my Marriott points as I had been getting from SPG Starpoints.

I am going to be looking closer at my hotel credit cards and points balances.  They have just been the icing on the cake in my points accounts, but now I will take a more critical view.



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