Earlier this year, American Express was offering record high sign-up bonus offers for a variety of their cards, most notably to me were the Hilton HHonors cards. The fee-free Hilton HHonors card was offered with 75,000 HHonors points and the Hilton Surpass had a bonus of 100,000 HHonors points. Citi also had an offer for their fee-free Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card for 75,000 HHonors points. I decided to go with the free versions of these cards to keep long-term without having to pay an annual fee.
After meeting the minimum spend and buying some groceries I had 160,000 HHonors points at my disposal. United sent out an email for discounted flights to Hawaii around the time I finished the minimum spend so I decided I would go to Hawaii for the first time.
I looked for Hilton properties and the DoubleTree – Waikiki Beach was 40,000 points per night. The Citi HHonors Visa gave complimentary HHonors Silver so I received the 5th night of a reward stay free, making the DoubleTree 160,000 points for a 4 night or 5 night stay. I elected for the longer stay because it increased the value of the points from about .78 up to .97 cents/point (cpp).
Upon arriving at the DoubleTree I was met by a tiered entrance: first the driveway for cars, then the valet desk (no personal parking) with escalators leading to the lobby floor, then the front desk. I had already checked in because I was emailed with an option to check in and select a room a day before arriving.
The person at the front desk welcomed me to the hotel, the city, island and state, showed me a ground map of the area (TheBus map) and highlighted Waikiki beach. I got a welcome bag of 2 water bottles and a cookie (yummy) because of my status (Silver and up get an extra complimentary water bottle) and then made my way up to my room. I think it was peculiar that numbered floors started at Floor 5 even though the floors went LL, L, M, 5…
I was surprised by how big my room was (double queen) and quickly snapped photos then went out to my lanai to see the view. Once I got situated I explored the hotel and found the ceilings to be rather low, mostly about 6.5 feet with some sections being a little taller (tall people beware of sprinkler heads).
This property offered a digital key so I was able to use my phone (with Bluetooth enabled) to unlock my room door and access the fitness center (thanks to being at least Silver) and pool areas without needing my room card. Having a smartwatch meant Bluetooth was always enabled on my phone so I never had to worry about remembering to enable it when trying to open my room door.
I used my Platinum status with IHG (from the IHG Rewards Club credit card) to be matched to Hilton HHonors Diamond, which offered me free continental breakfast or a $9 personalized omelet (with access to the continental still). Despite being a continental breakfast, the selection was vast with several meats and cheeses, different dry cereals, oatmeal, various juices, coffee and tea, and some other food items. The omelet normally costs $25 but it really is only worth the $9 it cost me when I tried the omelet on my last morning in Hawaii.
As an incentive for guests to help the hotel be more ecologically friendly, DoubleTree allowestheir occupants to hang a placard from their doorknob to refuse room service. In return, guests receive a $10 voucher to the hotel restaurant & bar during dinner hours. I received a total of 3 of these vouchers for $30 total because there was a maximum of 3 consecutive nights and not available on day of departure. The vouchers reduced my battered fish and french fry dinner with a cookie sundae to only $5 one night, and then a cookie sundae for free another night. I wanted to try the chocolate torte but both days they were out.
The hotel was booked to capacity each night I stayed so asking for a late a checkout was a reach but I was allowed to checkout at 1PM (12 noon is normal). This allowed me to have a more relaxed morning. Additionally, the valet desk offering free luggage storage after checking out meant I did not have to haul my suitcase and backpack around with me during my final afternoon. I was being picked up by SpeediShuttle around 6 PM so I did not want to sit around the hotel valet desk for 5 hours after check out.
To get an idea of the value of my Diamond (and comparing Gold) status from being matched I looked at comparable pricing for the same type of room at the same DoubleTree but for a 5 night stay this month (off-season for this hotel is Jan-June, Sept-Nov). I found the following rates:
- Best Available Rate: $229/night ($217 for HHonors discount)
- Bed and Breakfast: $242/night
- Breakfast and WiFi: $252/night
- Family Fun Package: $249/night (same as Breakfast and WiFi but $3 cheaper for the different name)
These prices put the value of Gold and Diamond at $13-25/night because of the complimentary continental breakfast. Diamond has an added $7-10/night for free premium WiFi compared to standard WiFi for the other HHonors levels. Since this DoubleTree has a 13.96% fee, these values increase to roughly $15/night and $25/night.
Overall, booking a Best Available Rate (with the HHonors discount) for the 5 night stay would have cost about $1550 making my redemption of HHonors points valued at 0.97 cents/point (cpp). If you look at other bloggers and travel experts they’ll value HHonors points at around 0.5 cpp at most, so I nearly doubled the value of HHonors points with a stay in Hawaii.
You can apply for the Hilton HHonors credit card from American Express and earn 50,000 HHonors points after spending $750 in the first 3 months of owning the card if you apply from this link.