Well, I have finally found the right moment to share my story of how 1 million Hilton points turned into an incredible trip. As you know, earning these rewards, especially outside America, is no easy task, but redeeming them is very rewarding, and I will share with you how I stubbornly managed to go the extra mile.
If you follow this site, you know I love loyalty points and that you can save so much money through them.
You know I love travelling in style without breaking the bank (hello! This website is all about that).
Some of the best experiences in my life are because of points, like my business class flights. I went for Umrah in Ramadan 2015 and saved over £18,000 on the last ten nights staying at the Hyatt hotel. This and many more experiences are thanks to loyalty programs.
This whole website started, so I could help people travel more and make their money work harder for them.
I always say that you must always have a strategy in mind when you start working on accumulating points. Here is my latest post on this.
Going for price vs loyalty obviously saves you in the short term. However, if you stick with it and go for loyalty in the long term, I have found that the benefits outweigh.
This is exactly what happened when I realised living in Doha was way too exciting to just stay in a typical flat!
Call me crazy because I am! But thanks to my supportive husband, we opted to live in a Doubletree hotel for a year to benefit from all the things we could.
When we moved to Doha, we lived in hotels, as I mentioned. Rent in the city is expensive; think London prices!
And having a long-term deal with a hotel was not as difficult since many are serviced accommodations, or they have expats living in hotels.
When we arrived for the first month, we stayed in the Doubletree in a standard room. However, Doubletree Doha also offers studio apartments.
After living for a year in a flat on The Pearl, one of the best locations in the city, we decided to move and live in the Doubletree to earn enough points for some amazing trips.
I knew I definitely wanted to go to the Maldives and Bora Bora and experience the best I could. These places are not cheap, so loyalty programs were the way to go.
So in 2018, we went from 1500sq meters flat in the best area of Doha to the studio at Doubletree Doha, which is about 500sq meters, I believe.
Our friends thought we were crazy, but we moved to a studio in the Doubletree Doha and never looked back.
The benefits we had
- Everyday cleaning – helloooo no need to say anything else
- Amazing view of Doha
- Everyday breakfast
- A diamond status which gave us also coupons for food and drinks plus more
- A Million points – well, thank you!
I have to say work colleagues really appreciated all the breakfast snacks since eating a big breakfast every day after the first month wore off as a novelty.
We ended up eating just fruits and sandwiches.
It also helped that my husband’s work moved literally across the street, so his commute in the morning was just crossing the street!
Talk about luck!
We didn’t have a child back then, and it was easy just to move and live in the studio.
It also helped that we didn’t kill each other at the proximity and close quarters! Thank God!
When I was pregnant and started nesting, we decided to move to a place with more space so I could feel more comfortable, though again, it was the Al Najada serviced hotel with some similar benefits. I mean, why would I change from the good life!
It’s a shame we can’t do the same in Saudi since prices there are even higher than in Doha.
How I collected 1 million Hilton Points
Thanks to Hilton’s very generous points offers of x4 points in some of the months we stayed there, we averaged approximately 100,000 points per month.
This included the night stays, point offers, and the extra honors points every ten nights.
Some we even went around 150,000 points.
Our rent for the month was approximately £2,000, which we used to pay in the Pearl as well but with bills on top and not the extra benefits.
For the ten months we were there, we accumulated a Diamond status and just over 1,009,000 Honors points in total.
I mean, every month, my brain couldn’t comprehend the possibilities of how to use these points.
From staying at the lowest category hotels for months to some of the most luxurious and expensive ones, which are, of course, we ended up doing.
As we are from the UK, we don’t have a credit card to accumulate the points any other way.
We could transfer from Amex to Hilton, but it is a silly conversion, and I will be losing money on it. The same applies to pretty much any other option since we can’t get free stays with cards like in the US.
Sometimes I just want to move there for the loyalty programs.
Between our stays in the Doubletree in Doha, we also used Hilton hotels for our holidays since with Diamond status; you get perks like breakfast, lounge, and upgrades.
Though, if I have to be honest, I received the same with a Gold Hilton status. This is very disappointing considering how many more nights you need for a Diamond.
I am also happy to see that Hilton recently changed their upgrade priorities, and now there are possibilities for better upgrades.
I have also used points for my holidays to the USA and hotel stays in New York, where hotel prices were so high.
Keeping an eye on the points every month was hard, as they accumulated, and I did have to email Hilton a few times since they did miss some points.
Below is a statement I had asked for some missing points, but it gives you a good indication of the points we earned in 5 months.
For those 5 months we spent approx $14,000 / £10,000 and earned 438,000 Hilton points.
I will keep this easier and just concentrate on these five months because this is precisely the amount of points I needed to redeem for the Waldorf Astoria Maldives.
My Best Redemption Yet!
As I mentioned earlier, I always have a strategy when it comes to points and ways to redeem them.
Even when we were in the Doubletree, the staff always mentioned I have so many points, and I could use them to book a month of free stays, but that would have been a bad strategy in my books.
I could afford to pay £2,000 rent a month but using 400,000 points for it was not worth it.
Considering that my answer always was that I am using these points for the Maldives and the new Waldorf Astoria Ithafushi, they just let me be.
I also have to be one of the very few people who have booked and cancelled the Waldorf Astoria 4 times since they opened before finally working out logistics for the trip.
After the Waldorf Astoria Maldives opened, it became tough to use redemption as they started to limit them. However, by some miracle, I managed to book six nights for December 2021.
I assume someone cancelled last minute because I also managed to book 5 of them for 120,000points a night and one night at 150,000 points.
I could have also booked this for 120,000 points, but I didn’t want to risk the points not returning in time for redemption since I did wipe the last of my points balance!
I had not used the last 650,000 Hilton points just for this reason, so if ever I needed the points for redemption at the Waldorf Astoria Ithafushi, I could use them.
It is a good indication of what you can do with planning and how much you can save for a dream trip.
Since the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is currently one of the best in the Maldives and has fantastic reviews, it is an experience you can’t pass up on, considering the cost.
What I Earned for Five Months of My Year of Living in a Hilton Hotel
We paid – $14,000 for 5 months and earned 483,000 Honors points
Five nights booking at Waldorf Astoria Maldives cost
120,000 points per night with the 5th night free which is 480,000 points for King Reef Overwater Villa
150,000 points for one night extra that I didn’t want to cancel and rebook for 120,000 points.
In total, we spent 630,000 Hilton points.
Price per night is $3,000 x 6 nights = $18,000 including taxes in Demeber 2021.
On some of the nights, the price was $4,000 with taxes.
When I booked the resort the prices were super high as you can see from my Amex card when I checked their offer.
This also did not include the transport cost of about $825 per person return with their yacht.
I managed to actually hack the transfer boat to the Waldorf Astoria Ithafushi by going to a local island first and getting them to pick me up from there. You can read about this here.
In total, I would say the hotel price fluctuated between $18,000 to $30,000 for our 6-night stay with breakfast without including our transport and meals.
I don’t think many people will be able to afford a $30,000 holiday, and even if I could afford this, I don’t think my heart could manage to part with this kind of money for six nights.
Using loyalty programs and planning in advance afforded me to visit the most popular honeymoon destination without parting with this kind of money.
We only paid for our transport, meals, and activities while in the resort. Don’t get me wrong— we’re not cheap, but also not overly big spenders, especially when I know I can get it through loyalty.
In my books, the cost of our holiday in the Waldorf Astoria Ithafushi is a free holiday.
We needed a place to stay in Doha. We made the most of our money and had a long-term plan in place to maximise our points.
Everyone who wants to do this can, because even if you don’t stay in a hotel for a year to earn 1 million Hilton points, you can accumulate them by even just buying points on offer or staying in an actual Hilton and maximising their promotions.
It is all about planning and being willing to go the extra mile.
This was definitely one of our most memorable holidays. The fact my daughter was old and saw dolphins and wanted a pool in our house was worth it to have experienced this with her.
You can read more posts here about the Maldives
Waldorf Astoria Maldives King Reef Villa – Part 1
Your Guide to Maafushi for the Maldives on a Budget
Kaani Hotel Review Maafushi Island