Guide to Hotel Loyalty Programs

Guide to Hotel Loyalty Programs

Oliver Munday
Oliver Munday
Oliver Munday

Hotel guests who stay true to one brand will find it easier than ever to earn and spend loyalty program credits.

Global Hotel Alliance: GHA Discovery

Updates: The two-year-old program, whose members include Kempinski and Omni Hotels, rewards loyal guests not with free room nights but with a range of cultural encounters, such as a guided tour of Roman catacombs.

Best Feature: Enrollees automatically start with a Gold membership. Staying 30 nights in a year earns you Black membership and ultra-exclusive experiences.

Treat Yourself: Kung fu lessons from monks in Fujian, China (Black level members).

Hyatt: Hyatt Gold Passport

Updates: Hyatt is rolling out new benefits that allow members to earn or spend points even when they’re not staying overnight. Just stopping in for a massage at the spa or a dinner in the restaurant at certain properties can help boost your points balance.

Best Feature: Traveling companions can combine their point balances to score a free room.

Treat Yourself: Suite upgrade for up to four nights (6,000 points).

Marriott: Marriott Rewards

Updates: Buy airline tickets, pay for car rentals, or purchase travel insurance with a combination of Marriott points and cash. A new auction program lets members bid for special experiences.

Best Feature: Get a head start on preserving tier status by pushing excess qualifying stays into the following year.

Treat Yourself: Dinner and theater tickets for two in London (50,000 points).

Hilton Worldwide: Hilton HHonors

Updates: Members can now spend points at an online marketplace that sells everything from sporting and kitchen equipment to restaurant vouchers and admission to shows.

Best Feature: The Double Dip benefit allows members to earn both HHonors points and miles on their chosen airline for their room nights in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.

Treat Yourself: A Kindle Touch 3G (180,500 points).

The Leading Hotels of the World: Leaders Club

Updates: Members can enjoy perks, even when they’re not traveling, at hotel restaurants and spas in 13 cities.

Best Feature: Leaders Club ($150 annually) includes a free room upgrade when available, Internet, and breakfast for two, even at luxe properties such as Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon.

Treat Yourself: Unlimited membership ($1,200 annually) grants VIP access to 600 airport lounges.

Starwood Hotels & Resorts: Starwood Preferred Guest

Updates: The chain, which owns such brands as W, Sheraton, and St. Regis, now offers the chance to earn lifetime elite status. Also, road warriors who log more than 75 nights a year can use their own 24-hour check-in/check-out window.

Best Feature: You receive credit toward elite status even when you use reward points.

Treat Yourself: Tickets for two to a Sting concert in Paris (15,000 points).


Ritz-Carlton rewards members can now earn points at Marriott properties.

Trump Hotel Collection’s new program earns free nights and upgrades.

MGM Resorts International (Aria, Bellagio, Mirage) has just opened its program to non-gaming guests.

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