Best Hilton resorts for domestic US summer travel

17
Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront

Recently I compiled a list of the best Hyatt resorts for domestic US summer travel and the best Marriott resorts for domestic US summer travel.  And I promised to do the same for Hilton.  So, here you go!  Without further ado, here are the best Hilton resorts for domestic US summer travel…

OK, wait.  We need a tiny bit of “ado”…

In this post I’ve looked exclusively at Hilton and aimed to answer this question:

Which Hilton resorts within the lower 48 states would be good candidates for a summer vacation?

To keep the list down to a manageable amount, I used Hilton’s resort property page to find properties that Hilton identifies as resorts. This is especially useful for Hilton Aspire cardholders.  Among many other great benefits, cardholders get $250 Hilton Resort Credit per membership year.  This means that you can use your Aspire card to pay for anything (including the room cost itself) at any of these resorts and Amex will automatically rebate your account up to $250 each year.

I also removed from consideration any resorts located in places that are likely to be too hot for summer travel and I removed Hawaii since this is meant to be a list of places to drive to this summer (since many of us aren’t eager to board planes just yet!). In the near future I hope to add additional posts like this one with the best choices for cold weather travel.

Luckily, Hilton made it easy to filter out certain states:

With resorts in the remaining states, I also dismissed those that are in parts of the state that are likely to be too hot to enjoy this summer.  For example, I kept Nevada on the list in case there were resorts in Lake Tahoe, but I dismissed any in the Las Vegas area.  And I kept most California resorts except for those in the Palm Springs area.

Further, in one case I removed resorts from consideration if the average Trip Advisor review score was below 4.0.

With each resort, I looked at room rates and award availability for 5 nights (August 2 to August 7 2020).  By booking 5 nights, we get maximum point value thanks to Hilton’s 5th Night Free awards.  And I picked August because I figured that it’s far enough into the summer to be pretty sure that we can travel domestically by then.

Here’s what I found….

East Coast

Maryland

Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $524
  • Standard Award Price: 90,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 360,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.73 cents per point (very good value)

Pennsylvania

DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Lancaster

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $163
  • Standard Award Price: 40,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 160,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.51 cents per point (fair value)

Virginia

Hilton Virginia Beach Oceanfront

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $303
  • Standard Award Price: 70,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 280,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.54 cents per point (fair value)

Midwest

Illinois

Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $171
  • Standard Award Price: 30,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 120,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $15/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.78 cents per point (very good value)

Missouri

Hilton Branson Convention Center

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $196
  • Standard Award Price: 50,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.49 cents per point (fair value)

Mountain States

Colorado

DoubleTree by Hilton Highline Vail

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $173
  • Standard Award Price: 50,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $40/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.53 cents per point (fair value)

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $132
  • Standard Award Price: 33,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 132,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.50 cents per point (fair value)

Hilton Denver Inverness

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $285
  • Standard Award Price: 42,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 standard points rate available? No (Premium award: 610,000 points for entire stay. Don’t do it!)
  • Resort fee: $22/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.73 cents per point when standard award rates are available (very good value)

New Mexico

Hilton Santa Fe Buffalo Thunder

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $222
  • Standard Award Price: 50,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.56 cents per point (good value)

Utah

DoubleTree by Hilton Park City – The Yarrow

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $113
  • Standard Award Price: 34,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 136,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $20/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.49 cents per point (fair value)

Sunrise Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations Park City

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $164
  • Standard Award Price: ? (dates I checked had only premium awards)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No, Premium Awards Only: 268,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.31 cents per point w/ premium award (very poor value)

Waldorf Astoria Park City

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $322
  • Standard Award Price: 89,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 356,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $40/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.51 cents per point (fair value)

West Coast

California

Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $348
  • Standard Award Price: 95,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 380,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $35/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.50 cents per point (fair value)

The Waterfront Beach Resort, A Hilton Hotel (Huntington Beach)

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $315
  • Standard Award Price: 80,000 points per night
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 320,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $33/night (waived for award stays)
  • Award value: 0.54 cents per point (fair value)

Methodology

To keep the list down to a manageable amount, I used Hilton’s resort property page to find properties that Hilton identifies as resorts. This is especially useful for Hilton Aspire cardholders.  Among many other great benefits, cardholders get $250 Hilton Resort Credit per membership year.  This means that you can use your Aspire card to pay for anything (including the room cost itself) at any of these resorts and Amex will automatically rebate your account up to $250 each year.

I also removed from consideration any resorts located in places that are likely to be too hot for summer travel and I removed Hawaii since this is meant to be a list of places to drive to this summer (since many of us aren’t eager to board planes just yet!). In the near future I hope to add additional posts like this one with the best choices for cold weather travel.

With resorts in the remaining states, I also dismissed those that are in parts of the state that are likely to be too hot to enjoy this summer.  For example, I kept Nevada on the list in case there were resorts in Lake Tahoe, but I dismissed any in the Las Vegas area.  And I kept most California resorts except for those in the Palm Springs area.

Further, in one case I removed resorts from consideration if the average Trip Advisor review score was below 4.0.

With each resort, I looked at room rates and award availability for 5 nights (August 2 to August 7 2020).  By booking 5 nights, we get maximum point value thanks to Hilton’s 5th Night Free awards.  And I picked August because I figured that it’s far enough into the summer to be pretty sure that we can travel domestically by then.

I always recorded the best available cash rate even if the rate was prepaid.  That said, I did not look for special rates such as AAA, senior, or government rates.

For each resort, I calculated the point value as 5 X [(the daily rate) + resort fee] / (# points required for the stay). The reason I added the resort fee to the daily rate is that the resort fee is only incurred on paid stays not point stays with Hilton.

Finally, I described point values as poor to good based on this chart (which I made up for this purpose):

  • Point value <0.4 very poor value
  • Point value 0.40 – 0.45 poor value
  • Point value 0.46 – 0.54 fair value
  • Point value 0.55 – 0.65 good value
  • Point value > 0.65 very good value

Conclusion

I didn’t find many hidden gems here.  In most cases the value you would get for your points is average: about 0.5 cents per point (which is, incidentally, the same price at which Hilton sells their points during point sales).  And I didn’t find many places where the cash rates were all that great either.  Still, there are some worth checking out:

Overall, the best point values I found were:

  • Hilton Ocean City Oceanfront Suites (90K points per night vs over $500 per night)
  • Hilton Chicago Oak Brook Hills Resort and Conference Center (30K points per night vs $171 + $15 resort fee)
  • Hilton Denver Inverness (42K points per night vs $285 + $22 resort fee — Note thought that standard 42K awards were not available on my dates of interest)

And those looking for cheap cash rates might find this one of interest:

  • DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Breckenridge ($132/night)
  • DoubleTree by Hilton Park City – The Yarrow ($113/night)
  • Sunrise Lodge by Hilton Grand Vacations Park City ($164/night)

In most cases I found that point prices were very close to half a cent per point compared to cash prices.  This is not too surprising except that our Reasonable Redemption Value (RRV) for Hilton points has long been pegged at 0.45 cents per point.  This roundup suggests that it may be time for us to nudge that RRV upward to 0.5.

Next steps

This series of posts has left out the chain hotel resorts that are located in typically hot destinations such as Florida, Las Vegas, etc.  But there are many resorts in those locations and they can be awesome for fall, winter, and spring travel.

Stay tuned for a series of similar posts listing the best resorts for domestic travel.  But this time we’ll look to the places best suited to escape the winter cold…

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