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Choosing the right hotel is not something to overlook. Make your traveling work in your favor so you can reap the benefits later. I’m actually writing this blog post from a Hawaii hotel I booked using Hilton points for business stays throughout the last two years. It’s not hard, just takes a little planning.

Here are the simple Pros and Cons of the major hotel chains.

Starwood
Pros: Very well represented in major cities and major tourist areas. Usually affordable especially if there is an Aloft or Element available. AAA and Set corporate codes can help you nab decent rates on Sheratons & Westins as well. Plat status is easy to attain with only 21 nights including award stays. (Assuming you have theĀ Starwood Card from American Express.) Points are the most valuable out there.
Cons: Not so well represented in smaller cities and for road travel. Platinum treatment (mainly upgrades) need some serious improvement. And up until March this year Gold status was pretty much useless. (Late checkout doesn’t do much for a business traveler.)

Hilton
Pros: Amazingly situated. Between Doubletree, Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton you can find a decent, clean and affordable room with great CS just about anywhere in the US. Especially if you are a road traveler. Diamond and even gold treatment are top notch. In fact I think I’ve been treated better when I was Hilton gold vs. a Starwood plat.

Cons: Awful points system. Although with some time and patience there are ways to make it work for you and get the best value for your points. Also it’s 28 nights to achieve diamond status. It’s well worth it though.

Hyatt
Pros: If you can afford to stay at the mid to upper Hyatt brands (Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt, Park Hyatt and Andaz) their hotels are usually the best out there. Great point value, some of the best reward hotels out there for vacations as Dan always points out. Diamond status is definitely worth holding onto.

Cons: Usually a fortune in major cities while the lower end brands (Hyatt Place etc.) are not so well placed and pretty far from the major business areas. This makes it quite difficult to achieve and retain Hyatt status if you’re on a limited budget.

IHG
Pros: Very well represented in rural areas. Easy to achieve platinum status. hotel Indigo.

Cons: Not worth staying with them to earn points or status as they can be earned easily by other means. Mid to lower end brands can be a nightmare. Plat treatment is nothing to write home about. Crowne Plaza in NYC doesn’t even give plats club access. Also no plat benefits on award stays.

Marriott:
About to become one with Starwood.