Has IHG PointBreaks Hit Bottom? My Picks of the Winter 2016 Crapola

IHG PointBreaks are quarterly 5,000 points/night award promotions that IHG releases to fanfare and booking frenzy. The new list for travel January 25 – April 30, 2016 will be available for booking sometime the US morning of January, 25, 2016. The IHG Blog has a preview with the booking link to use when it is live.

There are two use cases for PointBreaks:

  1. Snap up a hotel deal on a trip already planned.
  2. A deal so good as to plan a trip around it, such as when Intercontinental Bora Bora goes on the list and people wet themselves about flying much father and at greater cash/miles expense than needed to see a beach. Or, closer to home, something that makes for a fun unplanned getaway or staycation.

I don’t subscribe the Intercontinental or bust view of IHG. Unless you pony up for Ambassador status, or better yet, get Royal Ambassador status, your IHG elite status is hardly worth putting on the reservation for most properties. You get a nice, staid hotel to fit your tweed coat and pipe.

In contrast, Crowne Plazas can be quite nice in certain parts of the world and IHG elite treatment, while inconsistent and not guaranteed, can be great. Eastern Europe, Middle East and China are areas I have had great IHG stays as an IHG Platinum. I will pit the Crowne Plaza Belgrade breakfast against all European comers (not a difficult fight).

Crowne Plaza Belgrade Breakfast 01 Crowne Plaza Belgrade Breakfast 02

Even Holiday Inns can be luxurious in some markets. Indigos are wildly inconsistent from awesome Shanghai to Anaheim, a Hampton Inn with bright colors.

Hotel Indigo Shanghai 01 Hotel Indigo Shanghai 02

That all said, this list is snooze. The recent trend of not a single Intercontinental continues. Many are airport or roadside hotels that are not worth a detour or may only be useful for business travelers.

Here are my picks that might interest leisure travelers:

Asia:

  • China: Crowne Plaza Tianjin Meijiangnan, good location in the city I lived in for 2 years, will be chilly in winter (beware the other China Crowne Plaza in the southern city of Guangzhou, it is far from the center in a city with awful traffic).
  • Japan: both Crowne Plaza Toyama and Crowne Plaza Okayama, neither are tourist towns but any town in Japan is good for me and this is a great value to plan a stay.
  • Thailand: Holiday Inn Express Bangkok Sukhumvit, with hesitation as there are so many cheap hotels in this great city
  • Vietnam: Crowne Plaza West Hanoi, upper-end hotels in Vietnam can be quite pricey so I would jump on this one if heading that way

Central and South America:

  • No.

Canada:

  • No.

Mexico:

  • No.

United States:

Europe (lots of middling-looking hotels in great cities, I am only considering the hotels themselves here):

  • Lithuania: Crowne Plaza Vilnius, a PointBreaks regular, great hotel, a little isolated so a car is best, not the prime season to visit the Balts. Here and here are what I did in Lithuania.

Readers, what are your picks?

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  • Agree, not a great list of hotels.
    I also liked the idea of HIE Sukhumvit, but at $43/night, you might as well pay cash and earn some promotional points…

  • No real picks but just wanted to agree with you that IHG Platinum status is worthless. I hate that I can’t even get breakfast at run of the mill low category cheap Holiday Inns…

  • P T

    Agree about the Indigo Atlanta Airport if only for the nearby restaurants. We really enjoyed Pecan. The limo driver was quite accommodating and took us to church and back on Easter Sunday.

  • pointster

    I’m thinking about hitting up the Columbia, MO Candlewood Suites for a Mizzou basketball game, but other than that, total snooze.

  • Joanna J

    I am a Marylander by marriage. I commented to some other posts. I do not recommend a Crown Plaza Annapolis if you want to experience Annapolis. Instead try http://www.historicinnsofannapolis.com/ and choose Maryland Inn. there is ambiance and charm that you cannot replicate at Crown Plaza in a distant location.

  • Nicholas

    @Dan – forget about the worthlessness of Platinum status. I have the newly minted Spire Elite and can’t find any tangible benefits. For goodness sake – Gold at Hilton gets free breakfast and it gets lounge access at Marriott….. everyone gets breakfast at a Quality Inn in the states……And I’ve got to pay twenty bucks for breakfast at a Holiday Inn? You’ve gotta be kidding me. IHG needs to have some on-property guaranteed benefits to get me to choose them over anyone.

  • AndyTLe

    Timely post. Will be looking at the ATL Hotel Indigo for a overnight layover in Atlanta.

  • John

    That staybridge in Omaha is really nice. It’s only a few years old.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Joanna J – when I pull up the map I see it is quite remote, too bad.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Dan @ Points With a Crew – it is region-specific for IHG Platinum, unfortunately the most mainstream places have the worst recognition. Out in Eastern Europe, for instance, that Crowne Plaza Belgrade upgrades, free full breakfast and lounge access in a great lounge with many windows. Intercontinental Mumbai is a rare IC that gave me a great welcome, huge room, free massage.

  • Joanna J

    I feel perplexed at not being able to obtain any advantage from Spire status. I hoped that it would proffer some special benefits at the beginning of 2016.Alas that is not the case at all.

  • brteacher

    I’m planning to go back to Panama in October, so I might book the Holiday Inn Panama Canal. It would be a good choice for someone with a Panamanian domestic flight out of Allbrook, and it’s obviously very close to the Miraflores canal viewing platform. Also a solid hotel for someone renting a car who wants to explore Sobernia or the other national parks near the canal, take a daytrip and drive or take the train to shop in the giant free trade zone at Colon, etc. Stay in one of the higher floors and you should get great views of the ships on the canal. I’m definitely spending a day or two in the canal zone national parks, and I was going to book the Radisson Summit with Club Carlson points, but this may work better.

  • Tom

    Re: SPIRE status, I’ve had many Holiday Inns in the US tell me point blank that they “do nothing for Spire elites.” It really is almost worthless.

  • Some useful ones on the list for tourists

    Holiday Inn Express Hyderabad Gachibowli
    Holiday Inn Panama Canal
    Crowne Plaza Chicago – Northbrook
    Holiday Inn Express Albuquerque South – Belen
    Holiday Inn Express Pahrump (Death Valley)
    Holiday Inn Staten Island (1.25 hr to manhattan via free ferry)
    Holiday Inn ExpressPortland-Jantzen Beach (useful only with a car)
    Holiday Inn Express Gent
    Holiday Inn Naples

  • calwatch

    The Staybridge Natomas is one of my go-to hotels when I have business in Sacramento. It’s not in a bad location to use as a jumping off point for day trips elsewhere, although Sacramento as a city is pretty forgettable. The hotel has Tuesday-Thursday “receptions” in addition to breakfast and is reasonably close to the airport so would be a good choice for the “Travel is Free” types that want to avoid paying for meals as much as possible.

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  • Dennis

    I just hopped on a couple of Pointbreaks rooms for NCAA basketball final four in Houston in early April. Have tix and was sitting on some expensive Candlewood Suites rooms at $135/night as my safety lodging. Got two Intercontinental Houston Pointsbreaks rooms to replace them. Nicer hotel, and when I convert the points I’m saving $800 ($100/night x 2 rooms x 4 nights)! I’m a bit shocked that IHG made this hotel available for 5000 points/night for Final Four when it’s only 22 minutes from the arena.

  • Dennis

    Oops; editing my above comment. Apparently my reading comprehension is lacking today. Hotel I booked for Pointbreaks isn’t “Intercontinental Houston”, it’s “Holiday Inn Express & Suites Houston INTERCONTINENTAL Arpt”. I zoned in on the “Intercontinental” part.

    Still a savings by doing so, but not quite the upgrade from Candlewood Stes that I thought…although still a big $ saver.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Dennis – I was about to say, wow, wow, wow.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @calwatch – great inside info, I love those kind of receptions.

    @asar – thanks for the great list, especiallys one with non-obvious titles like Pahrump near Death Valley.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @brteaher – I enjoyed the drive up the canal, not sure about stopping overnight or at least more than one night, here is my recap and also of the other lock.