Has Hilton devalued its nonexistent award chart? If the new Waldorf-Astoria property opening this year in the Maldives is an indication, it might. “Standard” rooms at this property are now available for booking — for 120,000 Hilton points per night. While that’s exciting on the one hand in the sense that it’s a great value compared to paid rates (and considering how often you can buy Hilton points cheaply), on the other hand it’s a huge increase from the previous cap of 95,000 points per night for standard rooms.
No award chart, but Points Explorer suggests 95K is the cap for standard awards
While Hilton stopped publishing an award chart years ago, standard room redemptions have capped out at 95K per night at the vast majority of properties ever since. A very small handful of properties don’t have “standard” rooms, but that’s very much the exception to the rule. From the Conrad Maldives to the Conrad Tokyo, from the Waldorf-Astoria Beverly Hills to the Doubltree New York Times Square on New Year’s Eve, 95K has been the top price for standard room rewards.
In fact, Hilton recently introduced a new “Points Explorer” tool that purportedly tells you the range of redemption prices for standard rooms at Hilton properties. We published a post last week showing how inaccurate the tool is (See: Hilton’s junky new Points Explorer tool isn’t always accurate). While the tool isn’t perfect, I find it interesting what they say about standard rooms:
How many Points do I need for a free night?
Free nights can be redeemed for as few as 5,000 Points per night and no more than 95,000 Points per night for a Standard Room. The actual number of Points required may vary depending on the hotel, time of year, and cost of a room. Use this search tool to see the lowest and maximum number of Points required per night for each hotel.
However, that doesn’t appear to be true anymore…
Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi now bookable on points
The new Waldorf Astoria property in the Maldives is set to open in July 2019 per reports at One Mile at a Time. Cash rates are high, ringing in around $1800 per night or more for the standard villa before taxes and fees. It seemed exciting that these rooms might soon be available for 95K points per night — or just 76K per night on average for a 5-night stay (as has been the case for over water villas at the Conrad Maldives for some time now).
Unfortunately, that’s not the case. One Mile at a Time reports that standard rooms are now available for booking on points — at a cost of 120,000 Hilton Honors points per night.
The disappointing thing here is that the 120K rate isn’t a “Premium Room Reward”, but rather it is clearly labeled as a “Standard Room Reward”. Clicking through to the rates verifies this again.
On the one hand, 120K Hilton points for a room that otherwise costs more than $2,200 per night with tax included is a fantastic value for Hilton points as compared to our Reasonable Redemption Value of 0.45 cents per point. If you want to stay at this property, getting a $2200 room for every $40K of unbonused spend on your Hilton credit card seems like a great return. With bonus category spend, you could convince yourself that the return is downright amazing.
Even better, since Hilton sells points so cheaply, you could very often buy enough points for a night here for $600 (including in the current sale) — or even less after considering the 5th night free (though note you’d have to combine forces with others and pool points in order to get around annual purchase limits). A 5-night stay would come down to $480 per night in purchased points. Here’s how that works out:
- 120K per night for a standard room x 4 = 480,000 points
- 5th night is free on award stays for members.
- Average cost per night: 480K / 5 = 96K per night
- Buy 96K points for $480 through the current sale (which you’d have to do under multiple accounts to get around the cap — since Hilton allows you to pool points with up to 10 people, it is easy to do this)
Forget the Hilton cards — earning 2% cash back would give you the $480 you need to buy the points after just $24,000 spend. Here’s how that works:
- $24,000 * 0.02 = $480
- Use that $480 to buy 96K points (again, you’d need to get some friends to help you pool points)
When I’ve previously debated the value of points, some readers have told me that we should value points based on cash rates. If you did that, getting a $2200 room per $24K spend looks like an amazing return on everyday spend. Of course, I don’t value things that way — I’d be more apt to value the room at the $480 cost to buy the points at max, but to each his own.
But this is still a bad thing
In my opinion, this is still bad news despite how easy it is to use this news to justify how great it is to spend on your Hilton card or what amazing value you can get out of purchased points. Obviously, an increase in the maximum cost of standard room rewards at one property signals something that can happen at other properties. And this isn’t a small increase in the top tier: 120K is a more than 26% increase over the previous max of 95K points (25K/95K = 26.3%). That’s pretty significant.
Sure, the Maldives property looks amazing (seriously – check out the photo gallery). Those villas are probably an incredible value at $480 per night (and it only gets better if you luck into an upgrade). I’d love to go check it out. But if any property can get away with charging 120K per night, how long will it be before the Conrad Tokyo or Conrad Maldives Rangali Island or Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills or Doubletree New York (at least during high demand times) want to charge more than 95K?
I took a look to see if there had been any change at other properties and I do not see any other properties charging more than 95K per night at this point. That’s good news for today, but today’s news overall indicates a negative change in my opinion.
For those interested in booking the Waldorf Astoria Maldives property, it is undoubtedly exciting to see that the property can now be booked on points and that free weekend night certificates should therefore also now be accepted for reservations (though I wouldn’t be surprised if some phone agents get confused and think that the 120K price represents an ineligible “premium” reward). However, to me, this represents a devaluation that is inconsistent with the Points Explorer tool they launched just last week. That tool has plenty of inaccuracies at the bottom end (my post last week showed some of the bottom prices are inflated by more than 40% over what you can find with actual searches). Now, within less than a week since it launched, its top end has been blown out by a property charging more than the old cap for standard rooms. That doesn’t bode well for the tool or for Hilton Honors members. While devaluations happen, an increase along the lines of 5% or 10% for the top end would have been a lot more palatable than a 26% increase that will surely allow others to slowly creep up by 15% or 20% or more.