As travel has ground to a halt over the last year or so, many of us have had to grapple with expiring free night certificates and travel credits. Similarly, I racked up a significant number of free Hilton nights thanks to my Hilton Aspire Card. I was looking to redeem free nights for an award and immediately started looking for destinations that would provide great value. I eventually decided that I’d use these certificates for a trip to the Maldives. Hilton has three hotels in the Maldives.
Hilton Hotels in the Maldives
- Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi
- Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
- SAii Lagoon Maldives, Curio Collection by Hilton
I started poking around on the Hilton website and decided that my first preference would be the Conrad, followed by Waldorf Astoria. Much to my surprise, both properties showed almost no availability for 1, 2, 3 and 4 night stays.
Standard Room Availability
In order to book a free night with Hilton using points or free night certificates, you need to book a hotel that’s offering standard rooms available. Premium rooms cannot be booked using free night certificates. Given Hilton’s absurd points pricing, booking premium rooms by using Hilton points is a very bad idea at most upscale Hilton hotels, let alone in the Maldives.
Award Availability Search
If you select the flexible dates option, then Hilton makes it pretty easy to look for nights using points. However, I kept looking for many month in 2022 as well, but neither Waldorf Astoria or Conrad showed any free nights available.
However, the moment I switched my search to a 5 night stay, award availability suddenly appeared, just like that. I was able to see availability for the Conrad Maldives.
On the contrary, the Waldorf Astoria Maldives is a completely different story altogether. It’s blocking standard room availability even for stays as long as 5 nights.
Many bloggers have also written about similar experiences where Hyatt properties have blocked certain types of awards. In the past, I’ve written about how I was once looking to book the Waldorf Astoria Maui a few years back. I found that there were no standard rooms available. Since it was not peak season, I was surprised that no standard room was available. I called Hilton’s customer service and escalated the matter to a supervisor. Within 24 hours, the property released inventory and I was able to book my award stay.
The Pundit’s Mantra
As a Hilton loyalist, I’m disappointed but not surprised that booking award nights is still such a cumbersome task with Hilton. Moreover, you still have to call customer service in order to redeem free night certificates as opposed to simply redeeming them on the Hilton website.
Also, it begs another question. Hilton and Amex have been giving up points like candy over the last few years, thanks to some really good promotions and credit card offers. What’s the use of those points and free night certificates if individual properties simply block off availability to members for redeeming their points and free night certificates, even during off peak times?
Have you encountered similar issues while trying to book a free night at a Hilton hotel in the Maldives? How has your experience been while trying to do the same with other hotel chains like Hyatt or Marriott? Tell us in the comments section.
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