Here is a nice opportunity for any winter sports enthusiasts who happen to have some IHG points. The Holiday Inn Express in Mont Tremblant is currently showing very reasonable reward rates for dates in early 2022 including over March Break. Even if you don’t have an IHG stash, it would still be a good deal to buy points if these redemption levels stick around.
Holiday Inn Express & Suites: Tremblant
Mont Tremblant is in the Laurentian mountains of Quebec, northwest of Montreal. The Holiday Inn Express is in a great location right in the resort village with easy access to the slopes. I stayed there in August 2015 on a PointBreaks trip not too long after it joined IHG and was very pleased with the stay.
The complimentary breakfast is the standard Holiday Inn Express fare which is perfectly acceptable and quite convenient considering the pricey nature of eating establishments nearby. And if you’re lucky, you might get a status upgrade to a suite with a kitchen where you can make your own meals if you desire. (We were upgraded to a two-level suite with two bathrooms, but it was in the summer so a similar upgrade during a busier time is probably a little less likely.)
March 2022 reward rates
When the hotel first joined IHG it had an introductory rate of 20,000 points per night which was a good deal. After a while, it was bumped up to 30,000 and then to 35,000 in 2018. Since the change to dynamic pricing, reward rates vary day to day, ranging from down in the teens to over 50,000.
Consequently, I would’ve expected dates in March to be on the higher side as it’s ski season and also when most schools have their winter break. I was quite surprised to see decent rates, including over Nova Scotia’s March break in the middle of the month.
Multiple room types available on points
Usually, the most one can hope for when booking with IHG points is a choice between a base level room with one bed or two, but at this Holiday Inn Express you can also get a larger room depending on availability. (There is only one option if you’re looking for two double beds however).
For example, on March 13-18, 2021 there are four room types available including these three one queen options. Notice the larger size of the third one:
Here are the corresponding cash rates:
Note the cancellation policy
You’ll see in the rate details that unlike a typical points reservation that may be cancelled up to a day or two before arrival, this one must be cancelled well in advance to avoid a penalty. For the example above, it’s 15 days. That’s pretty onerous, so if something comes up when you’re past that window, you’d have to try to find a friend or family member who wants to use the reservation unless the hotel will work with you to change the dates.
Here is the cancellation policy for the dates mentioned above, March 13-18, 2022:
Canceling your reservation before 6:00 PM (local hotel time) on Saturday, 26 February, 2022 will result in no charge. Canceling your reservation after 6:00 PM (local hotel time) on 26 February, 2022, or failing to arrive will result in forfeiture of your deposit. Taxes may apply. Failing to call or show before check-out time after the first night of a reservation will result in cancellation of the remainder of your reservation. Points + Cash bookings are charged immediately in USD, and cancellations are refunded in points only.
This corresponds to the Best Flexible Rate (Member Exclusive), whereas the Advance Saver rate has free cancellation up to 7 days before arrival.
Purchasing IHG points
Because the cash rate is comparatively high, this is a scenario where purchasing points would save you money. For a four night stay, March 14-18, the reward rate is currently 25,000 points per night while the cheapest room in cash is $281 per night or $1339 total after tax. You can buy the points for much less than that.
Until November 5, 2021 or until supplies last, one can purchase IHG points through the Daily Getaways sale put on by the US Travel Association. The 100,000 point package is $500 USD. If your credit card charges a foreign transaction fee there will be an extra 2.5% on the cost. Otherwise, you can buy IHG points directly. There are fairly frequent discounts including one going on right now where you receive a 100% bonus (minimum purchase varies by member) until November 8, 2021. With the bonus, a purchase of 100k points would be $500 USD. Note that direct sales are processed by Points.com, a Canadian company, so you will be charged HST.
Reward rate variability
Usually any points you purchase will show up in your account quite quickly, but it’s not a sure thing. It could take a few days and by then (or by the time you’re even reading this post) those favourable reward rates could have disappeared. So if you do buy points, be prepared to pivot to a Plan B if necessary.
Other chain hotels
In addition to this IHG property, in the resort village there are also two Marriott Bonvoy hotels (a Westin and a Residence Inn), a Homewood Suites and a Fairmont. The Residence Inn is 60,000 points for most nights in March while the Westin is 70,000. Standard rewards at the Homewood Suites range from 55,000 to 80,000 with no availability on several nights over March break. There are of course numerous non-chain hotels as well.
Reward rates in the ballpark of 25,000 points per night at the Holiday Inn Express in Mont Tremblant during ski season are a super deal when compared to the cash rates of $300+. If you have a stockpile of IHG points and think you might want to head there for March break, it would be a good idea to lock it in now as they will likely only go higher. It could also be worthwhile to buy points to make the booking as long as you know that IHG’s reward rates are volatile and flexibility would be useful if your preferred dates slip away.
I wrote on the blog yesterday about Marriott Bonvoy’s recent announcement about dynamic pricing coming to their program next March. I believe the IHG example in this post shows that variable rewards are not entirely bad news and if you keep your eye out for deals, you can find them. Hopefully it will be the same with Marriott.