It all happened kinda fast.
Hilton devalued their chart, my buddy burned some of his Hilton points and a certificate earned from his Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card, and the next thing I knew, I was being forced to snowboard for the first time. Still sore.
I met a couple friends at the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria property in Park City, Utah and since the room didn’t cost me anything, I was all in. I used some Southwest Rapid Rewards points to get from Austin to Salt Lake City via Denver.
I was pumped about this stay because I’ve heard great things about this Waldorf Astoria and I’m all about trying out new properties. Yes, even if they aren’t a Hyatt. And even though I’m still pissed at Hilton, I really enjoyed my stay. Especially the hot tub and free Spa amenities. Great for recovering from snowboarding for the first time.
I had my buddy ask for an upgrade during check-in and throw in the fact that all three of us were Gold Hilton HHonors members (nothing pushy, just dropping lines). Well, it worked. We got upgraded from a king studio guest room to a one bedroom residence. Big difference.
The one bedroom residence has a full kitchen, washer/dryer, separate bedroom, huge bathroom, living/dining areas, and two gas fireplaces. More on the residence later.
I also prepped my friend beforehand to ask about getting the $32 daily resort fee waived because he booked with points/certificates. They waived the fee as well! Boom. That meant free valet/parking because it’s included in the daily resort fee.
Check-in was smooth and we were treated very well, even though it’s a posh resort. No snooty service here.
The hotel lobby was extravagant. It was definitely a great place to come hang out while you waited on others because there was a large fireplace and plenty of seating options.
The one bedroom residence was perfect for us. The couch pulled out into a queen sized bed. The mattress was a soft memory foam style which made it pretty comfortable to sleep on, but the blankets that were provided were a little too thin for me. I’m not used to cold weather.
The gas fireplaces in the bedroom and living rooms had timers. Nice touch, and helped prevent us from leaving them on all night long. There was a washer and dryer that came in handy since we went to the hot tub several times, and my “ski pants” (don’t ask) were soaked from snowboarding. Rookie.
There was a full kitchen with marble countertops and stainless steel appliances, but the only thing we did in the kitchen was make coffee. There were 2 bottles of water stocked in the fridge when we arrived. The water and coffee were re-stocked daily.
The bedroom was a nice size with a gas fire place and another 42″ inch TV. There was a large window with a nice view that let a good amount of sunlight in. Important for Texans.
The bathroom was legit with a full walk-in shower with two shower heads, and a jacuzzi tub. Oh, and the shower products were incredible! I have never smelled so good. Seriously, so fresh and so clean, clean. And yes, there was another 17″ TV in the bathroom. I don’t usually watch TV in the bathroom, but since it was during the NCAA tourney, I did.
The last day we were at the resort, the sun came out and I was able to enjoy a little time on the balcony before getting too cold.
There were two hot tubs and a heated pool in the middle of the resort. After hitting the powder (ha) all day, it was great to hit up the hot tubs to recover and warm up. I never got into the heated pool, but I highly recommend hitting up the hot tubs if you ever make it to the resort.
The on-site storage was only a quick walk from the main entrance and right next to the gondola to the ski shops, restaurants, and ski lifts.
Even though it was a quick walk, we were taxied by one of the resort cars to the gondola. And this is also the Mercedes that took us to dinner and picked us up for free. Just a perk.
There’s a cafe and restaurant on site. The cafe closes pretty early (1pm), so we never made it there for lunch even though we tried. But we did breakfast at Crave. Hilton Golds do receive breakfast at most Hilton properties, but not at this Waldorf. Even though when we asked about it, the front desk rep was pretty close to extending us the benefit.
The lounge was the standard luxurious ski lodge style, and was quite good.
We all got the french toast, which was highly recommended to us by several people. It was pretty good, but not great. Maybe my breakfast standards are too high from my Hyatt Andaz stays. It was pretty affordable, though, at under $12. Probably not the best place to come with a family for breakfast, though.
The second day of the trip, we went to see what the spa had to offer (for free). And it didn’t disappoint. I think we ended up killing over 4 hours at the spa.
First, we were treated to granola, dried fruit snacks and green tea. Delicious.
Then after hitting up the hottest steam room I have ever been in, soaking in the hot tubs again, and showering in a shower with 36 shower heads, we settled in the “gathering” room to watch basketball.
It was a great room with a large couch, huge table, 2 gas fire places, and a TV. It was perfect for relaxing and watching basketball. You can even order food down there, but we went classy and ordered a pizza. I don’t think the guy selling time shares at the front desk was too amused.
I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend trip to learn how to snowboard. There was even fresh snow!
The Waldorf Astoria in Park City was a great use of my friend’s HHonors points and weekend certificate earned through the Citi Hilton Reserve card. I especially enjoyed that the resort fee was waived because we booked with points. It’s a bummer that Gold members didn’t get free breakfast, but there was the room upgrade and free interent, so who can complain about that? Not I.
The service was great and not pretentious at all. I had a great time enjoying all the amenities the resort offered, especially the hot tubs, steam room, and gathering room. There’s even smores at 7pm, but we never made it to that. Could be fun.
I wouldn’t hesitate to go back, and hopefully next time I won’t spend so much time on my a@#. Felt like I was in a car crash.
(Disclaimer: I receive a referral credit if you decide to apply for the Citi Hilton Reserve card in the post. Thanks for the support if you do!)
— Noob MasterRead More
If you’ve lost touch with reality, then you may not know that Hilton recently devalued their award chart drastically. Award chart inflation is a normal part of life, and a big reason why there’s the “earn and burn” mantra, but this was a massive kick to the groin.
Here are a few ways the Hilton HHonors devaluation changed my life.
Made me pull the trigger on a Conrad Maldives booking
Remember that you have until March 28th to book any Hilton properties under the current rates. I had been stockpiling Hilton HHonors points because it was so easy with the multitude of rewards cards and through buying Vanilla Reloads at CVS. The plan was to burn them using an Axon award sometime next year, but I had no specific date in mind.
Anyway, time is critical, so I booked an Axon award trip to the Conrad Maldives for 145,000 Hilton HHonors points. Awesome sauce. If I waited to book this award until after March 28th, it would cost 95,000 points a night or 380,000 total! Talk about an increase. Hilton hasn’t announce what the prices for Axon or Glon awards will be if they stick around after March 28th, but I imagine they will take a big hit too.
Since I have Gold status from holding the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card - I will receive the benefits below (based off confirmation email):
- One bottle of wine upon arrival
- Chocolate & Fruit amenities upon arrival
- Daily Happy Hour at Vilu restaurant
Sadly, the Conrad Maldives doesn’t extend Diamond or Gold members breakfast or room upgrades anymore. I’ll see what politely asking does.
I had to cancel my trip to Ireland/London
Since I have no idea what the future holds, I went ahead and canceled our Dublin/London trip that was scheduled in a couple months. It’s sad, but I didn’t want to book Maldives in the future and then not end up being able to go. Plus, we already had the days blocked off on our calendars and getting to Dublin and London is easy, so we can do that trip at a later date.
Cemented my loyalty to Hyatt (if there was any question)
I never should’ve wavered on my loyalty to Hyatt. I’ve had some incredible stays at Hyatt as of late, but I get restless. My Diamond status ran out last month and the plan was to hit Hilton Diamond through spending $40,000 on my Citi Hilton Reserve, but it’s not worth it now (for me). I will be focusing all my efforts on earning Diamond status with Hyatt now, and they have more than enough to win my loyalty.
I value Diamond status with Hyatt because of the suite upgrades, free internet, late checkout, amenities, and the club access/breakfast. The standard requirement to achieve Diamond status with Hyatt is 25 stays or 50 nights in a calendar year. I won’t be doing that. Instead, I inquired about a Diamond trial. I emailed Hyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org with a copy of my Priority Club Platinum Ambassador status. Hyatt agreed to let me have a Diamond trial which means I have 60 days to complete 12 nights.
Some people try for the Hyatt Diamond trial offer just so they can get the four suite upgrades (mine already posted), or so they can get two suite certificates from the Hyatt Visa, instead of just two free nights. Plus, if you don’t plan on meeting the trial, you will still have Diamond benefits for 60 days since Hyatt gives you Diamond status during the trial (ahem… unlike Starwood).
With the upcoming trips I have planned, I’m actually going to complete my trial. Thanks Hilton devaluation, for getting my head back on straight. Hyatt is the hotel program for me, especially because it’s a transfer partner of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards. You just have to hold a Chase Sapphire Preferred®, Ink Bold®, or Ink Plus® card. I have 6 of those cards in my household.
Changed my credit card spending plans
My number one goal in spending was to hit $40,000 on my Citi Hilton Reserve card so I could achieve Diamond status with Hilton. I was excited about the challenge and I couldn’t wait to see what Hilton had to offer. Now I’ll just have to be happy with Gold status from the Reserve card, which honestly is quite good. You get free breakfast, internet, and a possible upgrade to the executive floor with lounge access.
Now all my trips to CVS and Valero to buy Vanilla Reloads for Bluebird are to earn Ultimate Rewards points or meet minimum spends. All my quarterly tax payments, charitable giving, and Amazon Payments will go back to normal, too – meeting minimum spends or Ultimate Rewards points. Getting my priorities back in line.
I was bummed to cancel our London trip, but thanks to Hilton gutting their program, I’m now going to Maldives. That’s something I kept putting off, so thank you Hilton for making me get off my a@# and make the trip happen. I’m pretty pumped about going!
It just feels right for me to be focusing on Hyatt again. I kinda felt like I was cheating going after Hilton Diamond status anyway.
Well, this is how the Hilton devaluation affected me. Please comment below if the changes to Hilton’s award chart dropped a grenade in your life.
— Noob MasterRead More
Hilton was feeling left out, so they decided to join Priority Club (via Gary, from View from the Wing), Marriott, Hyatt, and Starwood Preferred in making changes to their program. Hilton definitely makes those other changes look good.
[Honestly, I'm waiting to see how AXON awards are affected before I start drinking heavily.]
Inflation and changes to award charts are here to stay, so I’m never shocked when I see a chart devalued. It’s what is expected and a big reason why there’s the “earn and burn” mantra among many miles collectors.
Here are the important changes from Hilton’s website that are going to go into effect March 28, 2013:
- Reward Categories – We will be expanding to ten hotel reward categories to account for all of the new hotels and resorts that have opened in the past few years. With 3,900 hotels and resorts in 90 countries you are sure to find the perfect place for your next reward stay.
- Seasonal Hotel Reward Pricing – For most of our hotels and resorts, we will introduce seasonal pricing for reward stays. The amount of points needed for a Standard Room Reward and a Points & Money Reward will vary during certain times of the year.
- 5th Night Free – Now members with Silver, Gold or Diamond elite status will get a free night* when they book a Standard Room Reward stay of five or more consecutive nights.
Right now, there are 7 categories of Hilton hotels (excluding the Waldorf Astoria 50k -80k), but that will be “expanding” to TEN categories. The more categories there are, the more points you’ll need to use. Here’s what the new chart looks like:
Yup, yup. More categories means more points. We’re looking at 70,000 – 95,000 A NIGHT for a top 10 category hotel. In the current chart, category 7 hotels are 50,000 Hilton HHonors points.
Another gem is the new “seasonal” hotel pricing. Translation: when you want to book a certain hotel, it will most likely be more expensive, unless you’re flexible with your travel schedule.
There’s no chart for the new “seasonal” pricing, but there’s a search tool to help you see the prices and new categories. I do like the simplicity of the search tool.
Hilton is pimping the new “5th night free” for members who have elite status, but they fail to mention anything about the Axon and Glon awards. I only redeem Hilton points for Axon awards, so when they announce that those are being devalued, I will cry it out.
Read my previous post on Axon and Glon Awards to fully understand the incredible value they once were (assuming their value is about to be shredded).
Why This Hurts The Heart
Simple. Hilton HHonors points have been the easiest to collect. There are about 100,000 rewards cards that give you the ability to earn HHonors points. Citibank and American Express both have a couple of Hilton-branded options. There’s the 2 Hawaiian cards and a Virgin Atlantic card that transfer to Hilton at a 1:2 ratio.
Plus, for the past few months, you could earn 6x points per $1 at drugstores with your Amex Hilton. People have been stockpiling Hilton HHonors points! That’s legit.
Also, I’ve written several times about the ability to earn top tier Diamond status with Hilton by spending $40,000 in a calendar year. I loved this option and actually got halfway there with my Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card. Boo to these changes! I will still receive a free weekend certificate for spending $10k in a year, but even that has the possibility of being devalued.
The certs that come with the Citi Hilton Reserve card are good for category 1-7 properties. Will it be updated to 1-10? I’ll try and find out. If not, this hurts my heart.
Silver Linings Playbook?
Jordan and I saw the movie, Silver Linings Playbook a few weeks back, and Bradley Cooper was the main male lead, always looking for the positive in every situation. Yes, even the most awful of scenarios. Like a hotel award chart being devalued.
So, are there any “silver linings?” Maybe.
- It appears that some of the lower category hotels could be cheaper. That’s not for everyone, but it is for some.
- Also, it gives us an opportunity to be creative and search for those gem properties that are still a bargain. That’s fun.
- If Axon awards aren’t tremendously affected, then I will still be able to find insane value (not counting on it).
- Hilton HHonors points are incredibly easy to accumulate, so there’s that.
- If the Citi Hilton Reserve cards 2 free weekend certs are upgraded to category 1-10, I will be happy. Even though it should be a no-brainer.
- It’s time to burn your Hilton points before the devaluation, which means…VACA! I like vacas, and this will force me to plan a trip. You just have to book before the changes (March 28) so you can lock in the lower price.
My Strategy & Conculsion
I was pumped about trying Hilton Diamond status. I have Hilton HHonors points saved and I was giddy to burn ‘em. Now, I will be looking to burn them sooner than expected and I won’t have the Diamond status I was trying to achieve.
If anything, this has solidified my loyalty to Hyatt and I will spend my efforts re-qualifying for Diamond status through them.
I will be hanging on to my certs earned through the Hilton Reserve in hopes they will upgraded to reflect the new changes. And the Gold status I get from the card is still a good deal since I will receive Gold status (free breakfast, room upgrade, internet, possible lounge access). I don’t think I will be holding onto the card for a second year though.
Devaluations are a way of life, but I thought the Hilton changes were pretty drastic. Oh well, time to burn!
Please comment and leave your thoughts on the changes down below.
— Noob MasterRead More