So, for London Turn-Up-&-TIPPLE I needed to find a place to stay that was close to metro provision and speedy to get over to Westminster but the weekend chosen was the London Marathon weekend which was horribly pricey with anything close to the Tube or Light Railway costing $300++ per night. Thus my sights settled on the Aloft Excel an SPG brand property built next to the Prince Regent Light Rail station and London’s Excel Centre and within sight of the City Airport which whilst priced at £300/$400 for the night was a category 4 and hence redeemable for 25,000 points. That’s 1.5c per point, a true redemption bargain...
Except that, well, as the London Turn-Up-&-TIPPLE approached the price dropped, and dropped, and dropped. Not that much in Londons central core (indeed County Hall just kept increasing remorselessly) but at the Aloft, down and down it went. Until by beginning April it was £140/$180 and has become the cheapest next-to-metro property in zones 1-3.
So I faced a dilemma, do I change my mind and buy, or hold onto my 25,000 redemption? Now as I already had my redemption booked I decided to look at it as an exchange, do I want to buy back my 25,000 points for $180? But even that question is wrongly phrased, since paying for the room would earn points, in fact it would earn 1,600 base points plus 1,600 double points promo plus 1,200 Titanium bonus and 600 points from the SPG AMEX spend making a total of 5,000 points. So that means my $180 room-rate would be buying the returned 25,000 points and the 5,000 earned on the spend, a final total of 30,000 points.
So is that worth it? Well it’s a price of 0.6c per point which is less than half the 1.2c per point Marriott sells them for (which would cost $375 for 30,000) but we all know that’s a poor bargain, only to be used if you really need a quick top-up for a must-have redemption. But Marriott has actually put its points up for sale for the first time in a practice inherited from Starwood and the current 25% reduction means points can now be purchased for 0.95c per point. Now that is just, and only just cheaper than the value I ascribe on redemption meaning Marriott is offering 30,000 points for sale at $280. But I’m not talking 1.2c, 1c, or even 0.9c, changing my Aloft redemption to a cash booking is 0.6c per point, that’s 30,000 points for $180 - so do I take it? Yes, I do! I’m a little light on points at the moment because I’ve been on a bit of a redemption splurge as there’s quite a lot of Bonvoy bargains out there redeeming at 1c-2c per point, so a top-up at 0.6c looks good to me!
The Aloft room itself was the very nice typical Aloft setup, I actually received a notice indicating I’d been pre-upgraded to a “savvy suite” but that wasn’t ready for the early 1pm checkin I needed and I was very happy they were able to check me in at my 1pm arrival to the king room I’d reserved-
And adding to all that the Aloft Excel is a very enjoyable place to spend time. Great rooms, right next to the Prince Regent DLR station and utterly right next the Excel, in fact my room overlooked the Avengers Expo-
I returned from TIPPLE at 1am to find the bar hopping - now that’s a good place! And then the breakfast next morning, no select service powdered eggs and plastic-wrapped bagels here, loads of the good stuff, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, hash-browns, baked beans, toast and made to order eggs and omelettes too with a fruit and cereal selection plus juices to wash it all down. And all part of my Platinum breakfast benefit, no upcharge payable! Smashing start!
So, the “point” here is that even if redeeming it’s worthwhile continuing to check rates and doing the maths. I know I’ll easily redeem those 30k points at $300, in fact this year my 240,000 points redeemed so far have redeemed at $3,000 - it’s good to do the math!
But have I done the right thing? Would you have stuck by the redemption or bit the paying bullet?