Category Archives: Hotels

Hotels

Citibank has a HHonors points transfer bonus, should you partake?

Citibank, which recently revamped its rewards portal, is having a transfer promotion for Hilton HHonors from now till Jan 17th.

Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 2 Hilton HHonors™ Points for each Citi PremierMile you transfer by January 17th. That is 0.5 Hilton HHonors Points in addition to the base redemption rate of 1 Citi PremierMile to 1.5 Hilton HHonors Points, for a total of 2 Hilton HHonors Points. Each Points Transfer must include a minimum of 1000 Citi PremierMiles.

Limited Time Offer: Enjoy 3 Hilton HHonors™ Points for every 5 ThankYou Points you transfer by January 17th. That is 1 Hilton HHonors Point in addition to the base redemption rate of 5 ThankYou Points to 2 Hilton HHonors Points, for a total of 3 Hilton HHonors Points. Each Points Transfer must include a minimum of 2,500 ThankYou Points.

I’m not a big fan of Hilton after their huge devaluation (although they did have some excellent service recovery after a bad stay in Pune). I believe that the pundits online value Hilton points at around US$0.005.

Remember that 1 Premiermile converts to 1 Krisflyer mile, so worth 2 cents for economy class redemptions, 4-5 for business. 2 HHonors points is worth slightly over 1 Singapore cent. So not a great deal, all things considered.

I’ve recently learned that although you cannot combine Premiermiles and Citi ThankYou points together into 1 redemption (i.e you need to pay 2 separate conversion fees), if you have more than 1 card that earns Citi ThankYou points (eg a Citibank Rewards Visa and a Citibank Rewards Mastercard) you can call customer service and ask them to pool the points together before redemption. Citibank does not, by default, combine points from different cards (unlike DBS and UOB)

 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease

I don’t really think much of Hilton, ever since they gutted their loyalty program in an act that rivaled the sacking of Rome. But man, their customer service is something else altogether. And I mean that in a good way.

I stayed at the Hilton Shilim Estate Retreat & Spa in Pune, India, for 2 nights during my company’s offsite. This property is located on one of the many hill stations in the area. According to the photos on the site, it’s a idyllic little retreat with nature and greenery all around you.

HL_stespapoolvillavw01_5_675x359_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center HL_poolvillaliving_4_675x359_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center HL_shillimspa02_5_675x359_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center HL_valleybardeck01_2_675x359_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center HL_villaking_6_675x359_FitToBoxSmallDimension_Center

Looks nice. Now here’s reality. Amazing what photoshop can do, eh?

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tears in the curtains around the bed
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spots. lots and lots of spots
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glass not cleaned properly
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more stains
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water (i hope) stains
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dirty curtains and bedsheets

That’s not even to take into account the surroundings, which were full of construction and the associated bugs you’d get from having pools of stagnant water nearby. Service was hit and miss- so big is the property that you need to call for a car just to go from the villa to any of the facilities, but this ended up taking 20-25 mins to arrive each time.

Now, I don’t believe in complaining for the sake of it, but given the expectations surrounding a Category 7 property like this (10 being the maximum for Hilton) I thought it warranted some feedback to Hilton which I duly did.

I didn’t hear anything from them for 2 weeks, but when I followed up with them via their Facebook team, I received the following message

Hello Aaron,

We would like to express our sincere apologies for falling short of our commitment to extend a rewarding experience due to the overall hotel and room condition, lack of diamond benefits, insects, and car service during your stay. In an effort to make amends for your experience, a total of 120,000 points have been posted to your Hilton HHonors account. The Voice of our Customers is critical to ensuring our guests receive a rewarding experience when staying at the Hilton Portfolio of Brands. Thank you for bringing this concern to our attention. Please let us know if we can look into anything else.

Thank you. -Alex

Full disclosure: I am a Hilton Diamond member through a credit card tie up offer, although I don’t make enough stays there to even qualify for Silver. I imagine this must have helped somewhat.

120,000 points is not to be sniffed at by any means. That’s the equivalent of a 2 night stay in the Hilton or Conrad Singapore, or enough for a 1 night stay in one of the “dream” Hilton properties in Koh Samui or the Maldives. Was I expecting this much? Not at all. I appreciate the gesture though.

I think the lesson here is that if something isn’t the way you think it should be, you really need to voice it out to management. Keeping quiet doesn’t help anyone, not least yourself. Of course, that’s not an excuse to be entitled and demand for compensation, but at the very least you’ll know (or hope) that the feedback makes things slightly better for the next guest. And if you get something out of it, consider it to be a bonus.

 

150 Free Starwood Points for Updating Security Questions

I believe that Starwood is one of the last remaining hotel programs  with any significant value left. Starwood points are generally considered to be worth about 2 US cents each. So here’s an opportunity for free US$3 for 10 seconds of work.

security

Simply update your SPG account’s security questions by 31 Oct and you’ll get 150 points for your troubles. Although there is no official acknowledgement of this bonus, it’s been mentioned by the official SPG social media rep on Flyertalk

Too bad I’m currently on a long case in Abu Dhabi with no prospect of earning any Starwood points the rest of this year….