Back in October, I read Gary’s View from the Wing post “Ten Year Hotel Stay Comes to an End” about a woman who lived in a hotel for 10 years. Ever since then, I’ve wondered whether a person could reasonably live at a hotel at a low rate by leveraging hotel loyalty awards. It’s not that I would want to do this, and it’s not that I’d recommend doing this, but it is a fun thought experiment. At least, it is to me.
For this post, I’ll focus on Club Carlson hotels. With this chain, you earn a very generous 20 points per dollar for regular stays. Once you reach their top level Concierge status, you get a 75% bonus, for a total of 35 points per dollar. They will also give you a 3000 point bonus each time you book through clubcarlson.com. If you have your own business (it may be worth creating one just for this purpose) you can sign up for a business account and get 8 more points per dollar (10 points if you book online at clubcarlson.com).
For this exercise, let’s assume that you find a decent Club Carlson hotel that can be booked using points for 9000 points per night (Club Carlson’s lowest award level). Next, let’s do the math assuming that you have a business account and have reached Concierge status. Concierge status can be obtained by staying 75 nights, so if you actually live at Club Carlson, you will reach that level in just over two months so it’s not an unreasonable assumption. Here is how the math breaks down:
- Booking bonus = 3000 points per week (assuming one new booking each week). Yes, I imagine you could make a new booking each day, but that would be a huge hassle! Also note that I’m not sure that you would get more than one bonus when staying at the same hotel for each booking, but for the sake of argument, we’ll assume that you can get one bonus per week.
- Points earned per dollar = 20 (base points) + 15 (Concierge status) + 10 (business) = 45 points per dollar!
- Cost per night (when not using points) = $80. I found, as an example, a Country Inn & Suites near Nashville, TN that goes for $63.75. With taxes & fees it comes to $77.88. So, I’ll round up the assumed base rate to $65 and the rate with fees to $80.
- Cost per month = $80 X 30 = $2400
- Points earned per month = $65 X 30 days X 45 points/$ = 87750 points + 4 X 3000 booking bonus points = 99,750 points per month.
- Free nights earned each month = 99,750 / 9000 = 11.083
- Use those points to book nights whenever possible, and then you get the following savings in the form of points = 11.083 / 30 = 37%
37% savings is good, but in reality you would do much better. Lately Club Carlson has been running amazing promotions such as 50,000 points after one night at a Radisson; 9000 points for each award stay; and triple base points for each stay. Each of these would dramatically increase your savings when staying at a Club Carlson hotel. I think it is quite safe to say that you can easily improve your average savings from 37% to 50% by taking advantage of Club Carlson promotions whenever they come along.
With 50% savings, your monthly “rental” cost would be $2400 / 2 = $1200. Is that a good rate? On the plus side you would get a furnished room with daily housekeeping, linens & shampoo, free breakfast, free utilities & wifi, free cable TV, and free pool and exercise room access. Also, with your concierge status you would probably score a suite upgrade. On the down side, you would be living in a hotel room! No full kitchen and very little room to store your stuff. I could imagine this working for a single adult who hasn’t found the right digs yet, but I would guess that most people could find better options.
UPDATE: A helpful reader pointed out an error in my math above. As he pointed out, you would average 50% off if you received 30 free days for every 30 you paid for. Since, in this example, you would earn about 15 free days for every 30, that comes to about $1600 per month or 33% off.
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