Gold stars

When hoteliers first rolled out loyalty perks programs, a few free nights at a midrange chain was considered a score. But these days upscale brands like Ritz-Carlton are jumping on the bonus band-wagon – and guests are reaping sky’s-the-limit rewards. Fighter pilot lessons, anyone?


How it Works: Three levels of rewards, depending on how many stays per year at any of GHA’s nearly 300 hotels: 1 night = Gold. 10-29 nights = Platinum. 30+ nights = Black.

What You Get: Gold-level members can embark on a sunset game drive – and a massage in the wild – at the Kempinski Mokuti Lodge in Namibia. Black status members can go hot air ballooning while at the Omni Tucson National Resort.


How it Works: Book a night at one of Hilton’s 3,700 pads – say the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City – and you receive up to 2,590 points with your plush digs.

What You Get
: Guests who amass 110,000 points can learn to drive a Formula 1 racecar in the south of France. Big spenders (712,500 points) can sign up for a high-altitude session with a fighter pilot – and don a flight suit – in select cities nationwide.


How it Works: For each night that guests slumber at one of Ritz-Carlton’s 75 retreats, they accrue an average of 3,000 to 4,000 points (guests get 10 points per dollar spent).

What You Get: Squirrel away 145,000 points and you actually earn $1,000 to spend on an exclusive Ritz-Carlton Rewards member trip with tour operator Abercrombie & Kent – like a two-week cruise on the Yangtze River in China.

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