Home Hotels Surprise! IHG Rewards Are The Best Points To Book A Hotel In Key West

Surprise! IHG Rewards Are The Best Points To Book A Hotel In Key West

by joeheg

While Sharon and I are starting to make plans for more adventurous trips in the future, we’re still at a point where we’re not wanting to get on a plane and fly somewhere for the weekend. That doesn’t mean we’re not against taking a decent road trip.

Since we live in Central Florida, there are plenty of places we can go within a day’s drive.  I have a long weekend off on the books and we decided to take a trip back to somewhere we hadn’t visited in a while, Key West. It’s a long drive there and back, but it’s all in the same state, which is a big deal right now.

It seems as if the rest of the world has the same idea, as hotel rates in Key West are through the roof for the weekend we have available for the trip.

Those are the room rates per night ranging from the high $300’s to almost $1000 per night. At that price, we’ll stay home. Thank you very much.

I started to look at hotels where I could use points (forget about using free night certificates from credit cards in Key West). We’ve stayed at several chain and independent hotels, and while we like the independent hotels better, you can’t use points to save money when staying there.

There are rooms at the Hyatt Centric Key West for 25,000 points a night. Paying for a 3-night stay would cost an outrageous $3,433.52. While using points would get a value of 4.5 cents per point, that’s more due to the hyper-inflated cash price they’re charging. Trust me, this hotel is not worth over $1,000 per night for a room.

The two Hilton properties near the busy side of Key West are both Waldorf=Astoria resorts, including the beautiful Casa Marina, and are already sold out. There are rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn for 70,000 points a night or $1520 (0.72 CPP) or the Hampton Inn where three nights will cost you $2825 or you can pay a whopping 313,000 points PER NIGHT!!!

Hilton refused to let me proceed from here since I didn’t have 900,000+ Honors points in my account.

I looked to the other hotel point currency where I have a decent stash of points, IHG Rewards.

I know that the Crowne Plaza Key West La Concha is located on Duval St and is a nice place to stay. It’s not special but if you can book on points, it can be a good deal. I went to IHG’s website and looked for award space, hoping the hotel was available. Not only was it showing up, but several other properties lit up the map all around Key West.  I know they didn’t used to be there. What happened since our last trip?

Doing some research, I discovered that Kimpton Hotels purchased Key West Inns, a group of six boutique properties around Key West. Kimpton has taken some time to upgrade the properties, combining two neighboring lots into a single hotel and opening the first and largest of them in March of 2020.

Admittedly not the best time to hold a grand opening party, the hotels have largely flown under the radar with the last of the five hotels, Ridley House, due to open on March 15th, 2021. It’s exciting to see 5 hotels on Key West getting the Kimpton treatment. We’ve visited two of their hotels in Chicago, the Gray and Allegro.  We also just stayed at the Kimpton Arras in Asheville, NCKnowing the care Kimpton takes when restoring older buildings, we’re really looking forward to seeing what they have in mind for the Kimpton Key West Collection.

While not inexpensive, the Kimpton Key West properties are all priced at 60,000 IHG Rewards points a night. For our three-night stay, that’s 180,000 points plus the $101.25 resort fee (which is not waived for award stays). That’s not bad considering paying for the stay would cost over $2000. Subtracting the cash fee means you’ll get 1.06 CPP per IHG point. Since you can often purchase IHG points for 0.5 cents, it’s easy to cut the price of staying at one of the Kimpton properties by half paying with points.

Even better is that I signed up for the IHG Rewards Premier card at the beginning of 2020 and received 140,000 IHG points as a sign-up bonus. By using those points for this stay, they are worth $1490. I challenge you to find another credit card that has a $1500 sign-up bonus for $3,000 in purchases over 3 months.

As a final bonus, I have the IHG Select card which gives a 10% rebate on award redemptions. This means I’ll get back 18,000 points once we complete the stay. If I can get just 0.5 CPP for those points, that’s a $90 rebate for having a card with a $49 annual fee. If we could have stayed an extra day in Key West, the 4th night would also have been free by having the IHG Premier card.

Do the math for yourself.  When we started writing, I said IHG points were the most valuable for our travels. Since then we’ve lucked into Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status and have used Hyatt points for some great hotel stays. However, finding such a great use for IHG points is moving them back to the top of the list.

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

5 comments

Dharm Guruswamy March 14, 2021 - 1:44 pm

Completely agreed. If you aren’t into exclusively luxury properties, IHG Rewards is the best program out there. My only complaint is unlike the cobranded credit cards for Hilton, there’s really no easy way to earn points other than purchasing them or getting an account opening bonus.

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Pam March 14, 2021 - 2:35 pm

Last week, I booked 5 nights at the Casa Marina for mid-April using my 5 extended Free Night Certs, glad to get those (finally!) off the books!

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Brutus March 14, 2021 - 6:22 pm

I had a similar idea when I saw the IHG points flash sale. I only have the IHG Select Card, but would now consider getting the Premier card for the fourth night free benefit. As you noted, this could create some remarkable savings when combined. I recently stayed at Ella’s Cottages, which is nice and well located. IHG now has multiple properties, all in the heart of Key West and I agree that it’s the reward program to use there.

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Christian March 14, 2021 - 10:20 pm

It’s nice that you got good value from your points. The one place where I’m perhaps not in agreement with you is how you value your redemption of those points. You say that you will get around $2,000 in value. That’s a bit of a slippery slope because you only get that value if you would otherwise have paid cash for the same thing. If I use 50,000 Alaska miles to fly Cathay Pacific business class to Asia for a $5,000 cash equivalent redemption, is the value really ten cents a mile if I wouldn’t have paid the cash price? Then again, you could argue that the value of your points was very high because you redeemed them for a price that would have been ridiculous if paying cash. I’ve wrestled with this valuation quandary for years.

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joeheg March 14, 2021 - 10:54 pm

If we really wanted to go over this weekend, the cheapest place we could have stayed would have been over $1,000. In my mind, IHG points are 0.5 cents each. So paying 180,000 points is equivalent to paying $900 for a much better room. If we wanted to stay at a better hotel, we’d have to pay up the $$$$. While I’d never think about paying full price for Cathay’s business, I’ve paid over $400 a night for a hotel before.

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