As part of a week long trip to South Africa with my family, we were going to have a couple of nights in Johannesburg on each side of a trip to Kruger National Park. Johannesburg has a reputation, not without cause, for crime and danger so my primary concern was finding a well-located and secure location for my family. Almost everyone recommended the Rosebank or Sandton areas which are in the northern part of the metropolitan area and home to many large companies, upscale shopping and dining, and a wide selection of hotels.
While the Hilton Sandton is more of a business and conference hotel, it was located conveniently in Sandton and I was certain that I could know what to expect and my Diamond status would accrue the normal benefits while on-property. Additionally, the rate was outstanding (see below for details).
In advance of our stay, I worked with the concierge desk to arrange a private tour for my family to visit downtown Jo’burg and historical sites in Soweto. The concierge desk was responsive and was able to answer my questions, give me options, and book the tour for me. Check-in was smooth and we were given rooms on the Executive level. There was nothing specatular about the rooms but they were clean and the internet service was good.
We used the Executive Lounge for breakfast on two days and evening drinks and canapes. The breakfast selection was excellent with a wide range of choice but the evening hors d’ouevres and canapes were not very robust. The service from the lounge host was excellent on all occasions. We also ate dinner in the Tradewinds Restaurant and had an excellent meal with good service. This Hilton particpates in an environmental campaign and, as a result, turns their lobby and restaurant lights out from 8:30 – 9:30 p.m. so we had a very nice dinner by candlelight.
The hotel runs a free shuttle to the Sandton Mall located just a few minutes away. This mall has an extensive selection of shops and restaurants and we could have easily spent a full day there after six days in the African bush. The hotel also offers airport transfers and has a Hertz Car Rental desk in their lobby although we did not use it. We were also able to exchange money at the front desk with no problem.
All in all, I would certainly recommend this location as long as you don’t mind being a few minutes away from the mall and other attractions.
Final Grade: A
Points and Dollars
This was one of my best reward redemptions ever as I used the “Points & Money” rate for both of the stays. Like many European hotels, the rooms here are not really capable of accomodating four people so I needed two roooms for each night. The going rate per room was over $250 per room or I could redeem 30,000 HHonors points for each room. However, the Points & Money option allowed me to book each room for $25 USD plus 15,00o points. So, for two rooms for two nights, I spent $100 plus 60,000 points instead of $1,000 or 120,000 points.
But, it gets even better. At about the same time I was booking this hotel, Hilton was running a 30% “Get Points Back” promo so I have received 18,000 of my points back into my account. Plus, I was able to earn points for the “money” component of the rate plus incidentals charged to my account. I transferred the folio charges from my second room to my primary room so all my spend would be eligible for base points.
As a result, I earned 3,750 base points, 50% bonuses for my earnings preference and my Diamond status, 2,000 points as my Diamond amenity, 1,000 points for booking on-line with my AMEX, and 2,584 points for the Q2 Double Points promo. This brings my total HHonors earnings to 13,084 plus I’ll receive 9 points per dollar spent since I charged the rooms to my HHonors Surpass Card by AMEX. With incidentals, my spend was $430 (dinner and a organized tour charged to my room) so this brings in another 3,870 points to bring the total HHonors earnings to 16,954.
Therefore, I spent $100 USD and a net of 25,046 HHonors points (60,000 less 18,000 Get Points Back less 16,954 earnings) for a rooms that would have cost me over $1,000. Using the $1,000 figure, this works out to a value of 3.6 cents per point!