The purpose of these “look back” posts at the end of the year is two-fold. They give you a reminder about our trips of the past year but more importantly they force me to review how I spent our points and money on hotel stays over the past 12 months.
When I did this review in 2017, we had split our hotel stays over six hotel chains and several independent properties. I decided in 2018 that I’d focus on minimizing out-of-pocket spending on hotels and ended up spending very little cash and burning a bunch of points and free night certificates. It also meant we spent many nights in Marriott hotels because of the fifth-night free benefit on reward stays.
I was missing the variety of hotels from the prior year, and even if it wasn’t a rule, I set to diversify our hotel stays in 2019. Did I meet my goal?
The first thing different about this year’s travels is that, for the first time, we spent solo time away from home. I took my first, and then my second, business trip this year and Sharon took two different extended weekend excursions while I was stuck home at work.
Here’s how our stays broke down for the year.
- Hampton Inn – 16 nights
- Hilton Garden Inn – 8 nights
Well, I sure wasn’t planning for Hilton to be my number one hotel brand for stays this year. I also wasn’t planning on having two stays, covering 23 nights, in Charlotte, NC and Jamaica, NY, paid for by my employer.
With these hotel stays, I’d qualified for Hilton Silver status. This only goes to show that it doesn’t pay to be loyal because if I wanted Hilton status I could just get the Hilton Aspire AMEX and have automatically become a Hilton Diamond member.
Cost: 23 nights paid by work and 1 night with 16,171 Arrival+ points
When it comes to our leisure stays, Marriott captured most of our hotel nights.
- Courtyard by Marriott – 7 nights
- Renaissance Hotels – 5 nights
- AC Hotels – 2 nights
- Luxury Collection – 2 nights
- Le Meriden – 2 nights
We started off our year by using our suite night upgrade certificates for five nights at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel London. We also stayed at two Courtyard properties, one in New York using the Citi Prestige fourth night free benefit and another in Johnson City, Tennessee that was so much like our stay in Knoxville that it wasn’t worth reviewing.
We also went back to the Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, Austria, which is a member of The Luxury Collection, as well as our first stays at an AC Hotel in Lower Manhattan and a Le Meriden Hotel in Frankfurt.
We took advantage of our Marriott Platinum Status, which we didn’t requalify for in 2020. That’s OK. It was nice to get lounge access (or free breakfast) while it lasted but we’re just as happy having breakfast at a local Starbucks.
Cost: $1,773, 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and three free night certificates from the Marriott AMEX Bonvoy, Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier and the Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus Business card.
- Candlewood Suites – 8 nights
We stayed twice at our favorite hotel in New Braunfels, the Candlewood Suites. It hasn’t changed much since our first review of the property. Each stay was for four nights. One of the stays we used the Citi Prestige’s fourth-night free benefit and for the other stay, I redeemed IHG points.
Cost: $364.32 and 72,000 IHG Rewards Club points
I can’t even tell you the last time before this year that either of us has stayed at a Best Western hotel.
Sharon was staying with a group of friends for her solo trip to Rhode Island and the preferred hotel was the Best Western. I used Rocketmiles for the booking and earned 3,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for the reservation.
I spent one night at a La Quinta hotel this year because it was the cheapest option in the area and I wanted to keep my Wyndham points active.
My post-concert stay in West Palm Beach near the airport was perfectly fine for what I paid. Most of all, it was cheap.
Our only stay at a non-chain affiliated property this year was two nights at the TWA Hotel.
Given that we booked this hotel the first day that rooms became available, we probably overpaid. We didn’t want to risk the hotel selling out if it was exceedingly popular. It was also the only hotel we stayed at all year that charged a resort fee.
We definitely diversified our hotel stays in 2018. Instead of limiting ourselves to three hotel chains, we stayed at six different hotel chains and one non-chain hotel.
In total, we paid $3,695, redeemed 288,171 in points and 3 free night certificates we received from credit cards.
By far, this was the most number of nights I’ve stayed away from home because of my work trips. For Sharon, this year was equal to the most nights away from home because of her trips to keep me company when I was on the road, and her two solo trips.
I didn’t realize how many nights I spent in hotels and even with all that time away from home, I still wouldn’t qualify for top tier status with any hotel chain. It makes me respect those who live their lives on the road even more.
In 2020, I’d like to get away from Marriott hotels for our travels and since we’re no longer Platinum members, there’s less incentive to stay with them. Still, I booked our first two stays of the year with Marriott brand hotels. I guess some habits are hard to break.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary