Global Hotel Alliance: GHA DiscoveryUpdates: The two-year-old program, whose members include Kempinski and Omni Hotels, rewards loyal guests not with free room nights but with a range of cultural encounters, such as a guided tour of Roman catacombs.
Best Feature: Enrollees automatically start with a Gold membership. Staying 30 nights in a year earns you Black membership and ultra-exclusive experiences.
Treat Yourself: Kung fu lessons from monks in Fujian, China (Black level members).
Hyatt: Hyatt Gold Passport
Updates: Hyatt is rolling out new benefits that allow members to earn or spend points even when they’re not staying overnight. Just stopping in for a massage at the spa or a dinner in the restaurant at certain properties can help boost your points balance.
Best Feature: travelling companions can combine their point balances to score a free room.
Treat Yourself: Suite upgrade for up to four nights (6,000 points).
Marriott: Marriott Rewards
Updates: Buy airline tickets, pay for car rentals, or purchase travel insurance with a combination of Marriott points and cash. A new auction program lets members bid for special experiences.
Best Feature: Get a head start on preserving tier status by pushing excess qualifying stays into the following year.
Treat Yourself: Dinner and theatre tickets for two in London (50,000 points).
Hilton Worldwide: Hilton HHonors
Updates: Members can now spend points at an online marketplace that sells everything from sporting and kitchen equipment to restaurant vouchers and admission to shows.
Best Feature: The Double Dip benefit allows members to earn both HHonors points and miles on their chosen airline for their room nights in the Hilton Worldwide portfolio.
Treat Yourself: A Kindle Touch 3G (180,500 points).
The Leading Hotels of the World: Leaders Club
Updates: Members can enjoy perks, even when they’re not travelling, at hotel restaurants and spas in 13 cities.
Best Feature: Leaders Club ($150 annually) includes a free room upgrade when available, Internet, and breakfast for two, even at luxe properties such as Paris’s Hôtel de Crillon.
Treat Yourself: Unlimited membership ($1,200 annually) grants VIP access to 600 airport lounges.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts: Starwood Preferred Guest
Updates: The chain, which owns such brands as W, Sheraton, and St. Regis, now offers the chance to earn lifetime elite status. Also, road warriors who log more than 75 nights a year can use their own 24-hour check-in/check-out window.
Best Feature: You receive credit toward elite status even when you use reward points.
Treat Yourself: Tickets for two to a Sting concert in Paris (15,000 points).
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