Some of your go-to independent spots around the world may now have a loyalty program component that could bring big-time perks like free stays, amenities including free breakfast and wireless Internet, or instant upgrades and recognition for elite status members. That’s right: Independent hotels are partnering with the big brands without losing their unique identities.
These are often called “soft brands” that allow hotels to keep their own individuality and local style but still participate in the distribution chain and loyalty program of a bigger chain. Ascend Collection, part of Choice Hotels, and The Luxury Collection, now part of Marriott International, have been at this for years. Some of the latest entrants include Curio Collection by Hilton and Tribute Portfolio from Marriott.
In fact, Marriott International has big growth targets for its portfolio of independent hotel brands. For example, The Luxury Collection, Autograph Collection, and Tribute Portfolio brands are expected to grow by 20 percent this year and by 50 percent in two years, adding independent hotels in 50 countries and territories.
The next time you check in, be sure to take note of any new brand connections, and always ask at check-in if a hotel participates in a loyalty program. Sometimes, it is not obvious.
Here are some of the newest “indies” tying up with a brand.
Curio Collection by Hilton
The Hotel del Coronado, a National Historic Landmark hotel just minutes from downtown San Diego, has been a staple of luxury in southern California for decades. And this fall, it will become part of the Hilton Honors loyalty program by joining the Curio Collection by Hilton. Guests can now earn Hilton Honors points for using its spa, dining in its restaurants, and, of course, spending the night.
In Rome, the Aleph Rome Hotel has reopened as a member of Curio Collection by Hilton. It was once a bank headquarters but has been kitted out with Italian furniture and a rooftop pool overlooking the Eternal City.
The Trafalgar Hotel in St. James, on the south side of London’s Trafalgar Square, will also become a Curio Collection by Hilton hotel this fall. When it joins, guests will be eligible to earn Hilton Honors points, including bonus promotions like the one going on this summer for double points.
DoubleTree by Hilton
If you’ve got a hankering for the signature warm chocolate-chip cookie that is part of the welcome experience of every DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, then The Strathallan in Rochester, New York, could be your next option. It is already participating in the Hilton Honors program, making it eligible for the double points promotion.
Tapestry Collection by Hilton
As Hilton’s newest brand, this collection of hotels is busy adding independents that represent the spirit and culture of their destination. Hotel Skyler in Syracuse, New York, once a synagogue, is the first hotel to join Tapestry Collection by Hilton and will offer all the familiar Hilton Honors perks. It is the city’s first LEED Platinum hotel (and one of only five LEED Platinum-certified hotels in the United States) showing off its eco-friendly renovation efforts.
Choice Hotels has a unique bundle of independent hotels. One of the newest to join is the Curtiss Hotel in Buffalo, which was recently renovated from a historic building into a new hotel with a hip rooftop lounge downtown.
If you’ve bunked at the super-swanky Nordic Light or Nordic Sea hotels in Stockholm, you might be surprised to learn that they are part of Ascend Collection. Book two stays before the end of the month at any Ascend Collection hotel and earn a $50 gift card to popular retailers, courtesy of the Choice Privileges loyalty program.
Two famous independents are hopping on the bandwagon with Marriott Rewards. Hotel Beaux Arts in Miami and the Adolphus in Dallas are both joining Marriott’s Autograph Collection. In addition to Marriott Rewards points earning, the Beaux Arts is offering a discount to Florida residents on spa treatments and dining from now through Labor Day. Stays at participating Marriott Rewards properties between now and Labor Day can earn as many as 4,000 points with this current promotion.
The Luxury Collection
This prestigious roster of hotels has added two London legends: The Wellesley in Knightsbridge and The Westbury in Mayfair. In northeastern Italy, Cristallo, A Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, is also a new member; it is associated with the 1956 Winter Olympics. Longtime members include Hotel Danieli in Venice, The Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona, the Prince de Galles in Paris, The Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu, and the uber-modern Hotel Paracas near the famous Nazca Lines in Peru. These aren’t exactly budget hotels, so why pass up the loyalty points?
If you’re collecting Starwood Preferred Guest points, you can earn double points on weekdays and triple points on weekends at participating properties.
Several well-known hotels like La Posada in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Great Northern Hotel in London, and the SLS Las Vegas are now part of Tribute Portfolio. These properties, already popular among loyal guests, participate in the same Starwood Preferred Guest promotion as The Luxury Collection.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts
In the biggest hotel addition in its history, Best Western has added the Stratosphere Casino, Hotel, and Tower in Las Vegas and the Aquarius Casino Resort in Laughlin, Nevada, to its portfolio of hotels. Both properties are joining the Best Western Premier Collection brand, which includes upscale, value-focused hotels around the world. Earn a $10 Best Western gift card for each night you stay at a participating property from now until Labor Day.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
Did you know that The Savoy in London is a member of Fairmont Hotels & Resorts? There’s also the famous Peace Hotel on the Bund in Shanghai; it, too, belongs to Fairmont, meaning perks like room upgrades, spa discounts, and free wireless Internet for its President’s Club members.
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Ramsey Qubein Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.