This is a guest post from @RobertDwyer
One of the great things about having a platform like this blog is that it provides a way to reach millions of readers every day. Actually I have no clue how many readers this site gets, but I like the way that sounds.
Even if that’s not true I suspect that the people who run Hilton’s loyalty program read this blog. I say that because I’ve been keeping an eye on a couple of the award searches I was doing while trying to determine whether Hilton Diamond Force for award stays was still a thing. And since writing that post things have changed – for the better.
Surely, it’s cause and effect – like when Gary Leff writes about AA award space being as pathetic as it’s ever been then a few days later some space opens up. Or not.
At any rate, I’ll take it because I booked an award at a Hilton property that was otherwise sold out thanks to Hilton Diamond status.
A comment on my last post from Pan suggested checking the Virginia Beach Hilton Oceanfront on May 27th. Sure enough, when I logged into my Hilton account with Diamond status I saw award availability whereas when I was not logged in there was none.
I’ve been oscillating on whether I might sneak down to Orlando next week during the busy President’s Day week school vacation. I’ve been poking around looking for rooms and things were bleak: Expensive rooms and scarce award availability in Orlando on these dates.
But today when I re-did an award search at the Waldorf Astoria Orlando I saw award availability pop up where it previously didn’t exist. And still doesn’t exist if you don’t have Hilton Diamond status.
The dates I’m searching for are February 21, 2017 for 2 nights. There are all kinds of properties in Orlando that are sold out and/or have no award availability. This goes for Hilton and other chains.
Here’s what I see when *not* logged to my Hilton account:
Here’s what I see when logged in with Hilton Diamond status:
If I proceed to “Book a room” (without clicking the “Use points” button):
If I click the “Use points” checkbox I miraculously see award space! Might Diamond Force be a real thing after all?
What’s going on?
I have no idea. But I’ll take it.
Other luxury properties in Orlando go for $600/nt (Four Seasons)-$1,000/nt (Ritz-Carlton) for these dates. The Waldorf Astoria was going for $500+/nt when I was able to shake free some paid space with Diamond status a couple weeks ago. So being able to book an award at standard levels is very nice.
I’m a huge fan of the Four Seasons Orlando (absolutely one of the top family-friendly resorts in the US in my book) but I’m interested in checking out the Ritz-Carlton and the Waldorf Astoria as well.
There are all kinds Hilton properties that are sold out in Orlando on these dates. And Diamond status fails to shake award availability loose for most all of them.
Because of this I’m really interested in figuring out when, where, why and how Diamond status is able to open up award availability. Especially because I know of no such maneuver with Hyatt nor Marriott/SPG.
Is it phantom space?
No, it’s not.
After I saw the space I called the Hilton Diamond line and booked the room straight away without incident. The only gotcha was that the room has a 5 day cancellation policy. But I was able to book the room with Hilton points.
This is the kind of thing that potentially makes elite status compelling, even for occasional leisure travelers. If your points can’t be used, what good are they? But if elite status opens up award space it’s intriguing.
Since Hilton Diamond can be earned entirely through spend ($40,000 on the Citi Hilton Reserve or AmEx Hilton Surpass) it increases the value of those cards. But since it’s such a mystery whether Diamond Force is a thing I don’t know how to value it.
It’s fun to tinker with reservations like this – especially when they work out favorably. But I remain perplexed yet intrigued as to how Hilton Diamond status can open up award availability where it otherwise doesn’t exist.
Have you had any luck shaking a standard award loose via Diamond Force? Any theories on the patterns?