First of all, I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong way. I kinda have my rule of thumb. Since 2004, I have had more than 300 hotel stays early. Normally, I choose a hotel from Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, or Starwood collections due to the fact that I have the top tier status with all of them.
Last night I was researching hotels in Kiev, where I was supposed to be later today. I will write about my experience with PS (Ukraine International Airlines) at some later date that made me change my plans at the very last minute.
Ukraine, where Kiev is the capital, is one of those interesting former eastern bloc countries that still have relatively low standard of living, but where hotels are very expensive. The city is hosting a football tournament next year and quite a few new hotels are coming online, including Fairmont, Hilton, and Sheraton. Hopefully this will bring the prices down.
So, last night when I was looking at the hotels I had to make a choice between a Hyatt Regency Kiev and the InterContinental hotels. The Hyatt had a best available rate of 330 euros and InterContinental 295 euros per night. Both hotels had award inventory available as well. Hyatt at 18000 Gold Passport points and InterContinental at 30000 Priority Club points per night.
Both hotels had a travel industry rate available at 165 euros per night. I normally check this rate just to see what the lowest rate is that I should try to come close. Plugging in a couple of rate codes, the InterContinental was 180 euros and Hyatt 217 euros per night. InterContinental also had a friends and family rate of 163.63 euros per night, which does not qualify for stay credit or any possible promotions that they are running. Friends and family rate also doesn’t qualify for the InterContinental Royal Ambassador benefits. Award nights also give very few benefits – unlike with Hyatt where there is no difference whether the stay is paid using points or cash.
At this point, I decided to have a look if either Hotwire or Priceline offer properties in Kiev. Both did, but only on the conventional side. Neither of the two had any “opaque” properties in Kiev. I tend to use these two services after I have exhausted all other options. Hilton and Hyatt tend to honor the status benefits even when booking is done through opaque service where Marriott, Starwood, or InterContinental Hotels Group do not.
If I would have gone with the award option with the InterContinental, there would have been yet another choice to make: whether I would like to substitute some cash for points, essentially buying Priority Club points at $0.006.
The points + cash options were 25K PC + $40 or 20K PC + $60. The first one sells the points at $0.008 per PC and the latter at $0.006.
At this point I decided to drop the Hyatt as an option. There are no worthwhile Hyatt promotions running and the price is not competitive with InterContinental, although Hyatt Kiev is considered to be a better hotel.
If I pay for the stay, I would earn the basic RA earnings of 4K PC per IC stay + partial Ambassador accelerator points (around 1K) + 2K from the current brand multiplier promo. So, I would earn in excess of 7K Priority Club points plus get a stay credit for the Royal Ambassador Renewal.
When I compared the paid rate of $236 (all included) that would have earned around 7K PC, and guaranteed all the Royal Ambassador benefits, with an award stay at 30K PC per night that would not, I chose the former. This was a borderline wash. So, I made the booking using a referral link that would have given me 5% cashback for my stay. Unfortunately, I had to cancel the stay due to the trouble I had with Ukraine International Airlines.