Basically, I called up HHonors customer service, and they offered me a deal whereby I could get myself quickly to HHonors Gold VIP status by with four stays or nine nights in the next 90 days. This was a great deal for me since I was already booked to stay at a Hilton property for seven days for a conference. I agreed to the challenge, and booked myself a couple of one-night stays in addition to my seven-nighter. In both cases I was traveling on business and chose Hilton properties over other, slightly cheaper options. (This, of course, explains why loyalty programs are valuable to hotels. I chose a Hilton property over an equally nice hotel that was about $10/night cheaper. The loyalty program got Hilton my business.)
Three stays, nine nights:
- One night at the Hampton Inn Manhattan-Chelsea. This was a very nice Hampton with great views from every room. Also, a pretty good deal for NYC at $169/night, with breakfast and internet included.
- One night at the Hilton Stamford Hotel & Executive Meeting Center. This is a gorgeous hotel that used to be a Westin. For some reason, my Silver VIP got me a room upgrade to a Jr. Suite. The suite had a nice sitting area, a huge (48", I think, but I didn't whip out my tape measure) flat screen TV. The best part, though, was the big sliding window above the bed that opened into the bathroom. I could watch the TV from the shower, the tub, or the toilet. (Alas, I wasn't there long enough to do so.) They also scored me a pair of coupons for the buffet breakfast.
- Seven nights at Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Downtown. I like Garden Inns, which (to my understanding) are the Hilton equivalent of Courtyard by Marriott. This one was clean, recently renovated, and featured some of the most helpful hotel staff I'd ever met. When I first checked in, there was a problem with in-room internet. After a few calls to the front desk, I was eventually connected to "Al," the Hilton chain's head internet tech for the whole region. Al eventually gave me his cell phone number so that I could call back if problems persisted. This sort of problem solving went above and beyond my usual experience. (The manager on duty also offered to get my rate — a pretty inexpensive $139/night — honored at another nearby Hilton property in case the internet problem wasn't fixed.)
So I got my nine nights. A few days after the Garden Inn stay, the nights posted to my Hilton account. But my status still said "Silver VIP." I waited a few more days, and after no change, I called Hilton customer service. Ten minutes later, the customer service rep explained that the Fast Track code had been entered, but it was the wrong code. Her supervisor fixed the error immediately, and 30 seconds later my online HHonors account said "Gold VIP."
So now I have Gold status with Hilton. I'm looking forward to taking it for a spin. At the moment, I'm trying to figure out what the meaningful difference is between Gold and Diamond status. They seem to get almost the same perks.