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While everyone was watching the giant Marriott/Starwood merger play out to become Bonvoy Rewards, there was a story with wider appeal developing that was not getting as much play. That is the news about how many new brands have joined the other hotel loyalty point programs.
It used to be that if you wanted to earn World of Hyatt points, you stayed at a Hyatt. To earn IHG points, you stayed at a Crowne Plaza or Intercontinental. Then the companies bought out brands and started new ones until we couldn’t figure out who owns which hotel brand anymore. The combined Marriott, for example, currently has 29 brands in its portfolio and there’s talk of adding more.
As many of us know, however, these big business chain hotels can be rather charmless and predictable. With some it’s easy to get disoriented when you wake up because you’re not sure if you’re in Cleveland, Cairo, or Cartagena.
Fortunately, they’ve been buying some cool luxury brands with credibility and teaming up with others in rewards point partnership arrangements. So now you can earn loyalty points without really being loyal. If you’re not sure where to use your chain hotel points you earned on your business trips when you go on vacation, there’s a good chance you’ve got better options than you thought.
Hyatt Adds Thompson Hotels, SLH, and Joie de Vivre
The pickings used to be pretty slim with World of Hyatt. Their only real upscale choice where you could earn hotel loyalty points or use them was Andaz, where they have some fine choices like Andaz Peninsula Papagayo in Costa Rica and the fairly recent Andaz Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya. Now they’ve taken a big leap forward, however, by adding Thompson Hotels (like The Cape in Los Cabos) and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, which includes 167 properties in its system. Coming soon are Joie de Vivre and Alila.
Design Hotels With Marriott Bonvoy
The cool and minimalist Design Hotels members around the world couldn’t be more different than a Courtyard by Marriott, but either one will earn you Bonvoy loyalty points. They don’t make this at all obvious on their website though, not even listing this company as one of their affiliated brands. They don’t have a lot in Latin America anyway, so you have to peck around a bit to figure out if the Design Hotel you want to stay at is included.
Of course Marriott also has JW Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, and The Luxury Collection, so they are ahead of most of these conglomerates when it comes to high-end options.
IHG Includes Kimpton
It took a while for IHG to integrate the cool boutique hotel brand Kimpton into their rewards portfolio, but the two systems are aligned now. This is a beautiful thing for those who found the other IHG brands too staid and gives an alternative to Intercontinental as the only high-end choice.
Wyndham Includes Caesars and Nobu
This won’t help you in Latin America, but if you’re headed to a gambling destination stateside, you can use your Wyndham Hotels points for Caesars and Harrah’s.
They’ve also teamed up with Nobu, which will help you soon if you want to head to Los Cabos.
AccorHotels Le Club Includes Fairmont, Swissootel, and Banyan Tree
French hotel chain Accor has been on an acquisition spree the past decade and has snapped up formerly independent smaller chains like Fairmont Hotels, Swissotel, Raffles, and Banyan Tree.
This gives them an enviable collections of luxury properties around the world to earn points from, though only a few in Latin America. You get the Swissotel in Lima and Quito, plus the Banyan Tree Mayakoba and Acapulco. They do have a few of their own Sofitel and MGallery ones scattered around though.
Hilton and Radisson Take a Pass on Partner Loyalty Points
Unfortunately, Hilton Hotels has been very quiet on this front and we’re surprised they haven’t struck a deal with one of the remaining partners like Preferred or Leading Hotels of the World. Since they are increasingly looking brand-poor anyway compared to the others, and in Latin America currently only have Waldorf-Astoria Panama as a luxury property logo, they seem to be sitting this race out.