Well it all depends……………since you can’t book eco-lodges on points (though you can get pretty close). I’m sure no one has missed the hubbub in the travel blogosphere and FlyerTalk. The Priority Club devaluations were expected as they had been announced in advance. The SPG devaluations on the popular cash and points rates were a surprise, although they at least gave notice that you can book the old rates until 5 March. The most frustrating thing is that not all of their hotels offer C&P rates or they only put them up a few weeks in advance like the Maui properties. Some people are liking the new option to use more SPG points to book upgraded rooms or suites. Loyalty Traveler has an excellent analysis of the new rates.
So, do I as an eco-traveler care? Not really. Although we do plan to stop in Maui on the way home from Central America and were planning to use either SPG or Hyatt (via Ultimate Rewards) points; we may just Priceline it. Otherwise, we only really use chain hotels in gateway cities such as Lima, Peru to rest up between an international flight and the domestic leg to the national park we are headed to. SPG is a big part of my miles and points earning plan but I have better use for the transfers of points to airline miles and I prefer to use other programs such as Priority Club and Club Carlson for gateway hotels. If they stopped giving the bonus 5000 miles with every block of 20,000 points sent to an airline such as AA, THEN I would be pretty upset!
Moving on to Priority Club…………..FlyerTalk had been speculating for days and in some cases, the devaluations were huge, but there were some bright spots. Once again, Loyalty Traveler has an excellent blog about it. Another hotel point specialist blogger, Loyalty Lobby has a great PDF with ALL the Priority Club properties on it which makes it very easy to see the potential gateway cities for our eco-adventures as well as his intended purpose of tracking the new point requirements.
We will be visiting Bali after 2 weeks of birding in West Papua in a couple months. Nice little treat after hiking through rainforests and sleeping in small guesthouses! Priority Club gaveth (HI Baruna went from 25k to 20k) and tooketh away (IC Bali went from 30k to 35k). I still have my fingers crossed for a PointsBreak here when the list goes up probably next week.
Most Australian properties went up, bad news for birders and everyone else since the AUD is so strong right now, last thing anyone wants is something else to go up! Gagudju Crocodile in Kakadu National Park which is one of the top eco-tourism destinatons in the world (and you can stay there on points!) went up from 15k to 20k – Ouch! Alice Springs went down from 25k to 20k but it’s really just a jumping off point to better birding in the Outback.
HIX in Cuiaba, Brazil stayed the same. This hotel can be useful as a jumping off point to the Pantanal but be mindful that Cuiaba is undergoing a lot of roadworks and it’s easy to get lost getting out of the city. I got it last year on a Pointsbreak but regretted going so far from the main highway to the Pantanal. I got lost and had to pay a local R$20 (about $10 USD or AUD) to escort us to the highway! Also in Brazil and useful to eco-travelers is the Crowne Plaza Belem which went down from 25k to 20k.
The Pacific Islands fared a bit better. The IC Fiji stayed the same at 30k, but the HI Suva went down from 20k to 15k and Suva is where you have to change planes on Air Pacific (soon to be Fiji Airways) hops around the islands. Over in Tahiti which I plan to visit in 2015 to see the Ultramarine Lorikeet in Ua Huka, the IC Papeete stayed the same at 30k but the much more pleasant IC in Moorea went down from 30k to 25k – hope it stays down!
I was happy to see CP Jerusalem go down from 25k to 20k as we plan to visit the Holy Land after the World Parrot Congress in Tenerife next year. (More on that as the time approaches, but it’s every 4 years and I hoard miles for it).
Anyone want to see the endangered Puerto Rican Amazon? The IC which is the closest to El Yunque Rainforest and an easy day trip stayed the same at 50k ( I would use a Chase free night for this one) but if you don’t mind a bit of a drive the HI Mayaguez is still only 15k.
Has anyone else noticed any devaluations I missed that would be of interest to eco-tourists?