You Don’t Have to Pay to Upgrade to an Overwater Bungalow in Bora Bora!

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Emily and I celebrated our 2nd honeymoon in Bora Bora.  We used 50,000 IHG Rewards points to book a room at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora.  But we also had to pay $175 per night to guarantee an upgrade to an overwater bungalow.

Thanks to readers for letting me know that you can now directly book an overwater bungalow with your IHG Rewards points.  This means that you save  ~$175 per night because everyone is guaranteed an overwater bungalow!

You Dont Have To Pay To Upgrade To An Overwater Bungalow In Bora Bora

50,000 Points Gets you an Overwater Villa at the InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Link:  InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa

Emily and I stayed in an overwater villa at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora during our 2nd honeymoon, but we paid $175 a night to confirm a room in an overwater bungalow.

It used to be that all award bookings at the InterContinental Thalasso were booked into a Coral Garden Suite.  But we didn’t want to go to Bora Bora and stay in a garden suite.

So I contacted the hotel’s general manager and negotiated a paid upgrade to the overwater villa.  Here’s my post on how to contact the general manager of a hotel.

We had a great time in Bora Bora and never thought that miles and points could get us there!  Bora Bora is expensive and there isn’t much to do once you’re there, so read our Trip Report to get a sense of whether a Bora Bora trip makes sense for you.

But now the standard award room at the InterContinental Thalasso in Bora Bora is an Emerald overwater villa!

So you can skip contacting the general manger and avoid paying an upgrade fee by booking an overwater villa directly with your IHG Rewards points!

Booking An Overwater Villa

Link: IHG Reservations

You can book award nights with your IHG Rewards points directly on the IHG website.

Step 1 – Search For Reward Nights

Enter your destination (Bora Bora), travel dates, and select “Reward Nights.”

Let’s say you wanted to spend Memorial Weekend (May 23 to May 26, 2014) in Bora Bora.

You Dont Have To Pay To Upgrade To An Overwater Bungalow In Bora Bora

Step 1 – Enter Your Destination, Dates & Reward Nights

Step 2 – Select Your Hotel

There are 2 InterContinental hotels in Bora Bora: the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora and the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa.

You Dont Have To Pay To Upgrade To An Overwater Bungalow In Bora Bora

Intercontinental has 2 Hotels on Bora Bora, but Only The InterContinental Thalasso Lets you Book an Overwater Bungalow With Points!

But only the Intercontinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa offers overwater villas for reward night redemptions.

And the InterContinental Thalasso is the nicer hotel in my opinion!

Step 3 – Book Your Room

You can pay 50,000 IHG Rewards points or  73,212 Pacific Francs or ~$832 a night for an overwater villa.

I’d rather use points!

You Dont Have To Pay To Upgrade To An Overwater Bungalow In Bora Bora

Hmmm…Which is a Better Deal? $832 or 50,000 IHG Rewards Points!

How To Earn IHG Rewards Points

If you’re short on IHG Rewards points, here are several ways you can earn points.

1.  60,000 to 80,000 Points From the IHG Rewards Card

This FlyerTalk link talks about potentially getting 80,000 IHG Rewards points with the IHG Rewards card.  This is better than the usual offer for 60,000 points.

And you get a free night at ANY IHG hotel each year on your card anniversary.  IHG Rewards hotels include Candlewood SuitesCrowne Plaza,  Holiday InnHoliday Inn ExpressHotel IndigoIntercontinental Hotels & Resorts, and Staybridge Suites brand hotels.

You can’t use the free night immediately, but the free night is valid at ANY IHG Rewards hotel including the expensive InterContinental hotels.

Emily and I both have this card and don’t plan on canceling it because the $49 annual fee is well worth 1 free hotel stay in any IHG Rewards hotel!

That said, this isn’t the best card to put all your spending on, but it is certainly worth keeping!

2.  Buy Points

You can buy 150,000 IHG Rewards Club points, directly from IHG Rewards, for 1.15 cents each.  So 50,000 points would cost $575 (50,000 IHG Rewards Points X  1.15 cents per point).

I don’t recommend buying points at 1.15 cents per point, but you’d save cash if you bought points for $575 instead of paying $832 for 1 night at the InterContinental Thalasso.

That said, finding a room is usually easier when you pay with cash than with points.

3.  Cash & Points Trick

You can also buy IHG Rewards points for 0.7 cents using the Cash & Points Trick.  50,000 points would cost $350 (50,000 IHG Rewards Points X 0.7 cents per point).

So you’d save $482.  That’s $832 for the regular room minus $350 for buying 50,000 points with the Cash & Points trick.

4.  Transfer Ultimate Rewards

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards points earned from your Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Plus, and Ink Bold cards.  Points transfer on a 1:1 ratio.

You can also transfer Ultimate Rewards points earned from your Chase Freedom card.

Here are step-by-step instructions on how to transfer points from the Chase Freedom to a card which allows you to transfer them to IHG Rewards points.

Even with a 1:1 transfer ratio, I don’t transfer my Ultimate Rewards points to IHG Rewards points because I use them for Hyatt stays and airline tickets.

That said, it is a better deal if you redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points for a statement credit of 1 cent per point and then buy IHG Rewards points for 0.7 cents per point using #3 above.

You Dont Have To Pay To Upgrade To An Overwater Bungalow In Bora Bora

We Transferred Ultimate Rewards Points for a Maui Vacation

5.  The “Big Win”

You could earn 20,000 points or more in the “Big Win” promotion.

If you already have stays planned at IHG hotels such as Holiday Inn etc. it might be worth it to complete your assigned “Big Win” tasks and earn bonus IHG Rewards points.

That said, not all Big Win offers are worth completing.  So do the math to make sure your offer is worth completing.

6.  Stack IHG Rewards Points

You can earn lots of extra points on paid IHG Rewards stays.  That’s because you can register for a lot of promotions and earn thousands of extra points.

See this post by Bart Lapers for more information on how to stack IHG Rewards promotions.

Bottom Line

You can now book an overwater villa in Bora Bora for only 50,000 points a night.

With no strings attached!


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18 responses to “You Don’t Have to Pay to Upgrade to an Overwater Bungalow in Bora Bora!

  1. Yay!!! If only I had the miles to get there…..

  2. My wife and I went to Bora Bora a few years ago. We called it “Boring Boring.” Moorea was much more beautiful!

  3. Can you use the credit card free night for a stay in bora bora in a bungalow?

    • @Sujith – There’s a Citi American Airlines personal and business card with 50K miles currently which should get you there!

      @scott – We liked both Moorea and Bora Bora, but Moorea was certainly easier to get to!

      @danny – You sure can!

      @Brandon – It seems to be a permanent change…

  4. This is awesome news! Do you know how long it will be available to purchase with points? Or is it just temporary like a month long thing, promotional period, etc.?

  5. Also, for any of you that may have already booked a stay with your IHG rewards points for a Coral Family Suite, and then contacted the hotel to PAY the additional fee to guarantee an Emerald Overwater Villa (like myself for our August honeymoon), you can call IHG and explain your situation and they will work with you.

    I just spent the last hour being transferred around the IHG membership line, and finally one nice woman was able to help me out. After very clearly explaining the situation, the IHG supervisor contacted the Intercontinental Thalasso and they will credit me the extra funds paid to guarantee the Emerald villa for a 4 night stay, which was 68,400 XPF ~ $780 USD.

    The hotel manager updated my reservation with the already paid money to cover any incidentals (meals, excursions, travel) and will refund the remaining amount upon checkout.

    Remember.. in the miles game, anything is possible if you get the right person on the phone!

  6. @scott exactly.
    im at borabora righr now with my wife for a honeymoon and its “boring boring” especially when we cant swim well and wife is pregnent..(only figured it out day before the departure to borz bora ) And having hard time finding good food 🙁 thallaso food is really ….. …… in my opnion

  7. “boring boring” and “especially when we can’t swim well”? that’s the most hilariously ironic thing I’ve ever read! Going to a tropical paradise surrounded by water knowing you can’t swim well, LOL that’s like someone who hates the cold and can’t ski well booking a trip to Park City, Utah for a weeklong ski-trip and then complaining about the cold and how he/she can’t ski well! I hate hot weather and sand – *books trip to Sahara desert* … *posts review on TripAdvisor about how hot and sandy it is there*

  8. We found that snorkeling there was probably amongst the best in the world. The lagoon was surreal. We had fun our first couple of days, but then the cruise ships left and everything shut down. Restaurants were closed, bemos(truck transports) weren’t running, no tours, etc. It was nice to walk around and talk to locals, but not really worth the expense to get there.

  9. @MillionMileSecrets if you use the “Cash & Points” trick using your Chase IHG Card, do you also get 5points per dollar on that purchase?

  10. I booked an awards night at the Thalasso in December for our honeymoon stay in April. I transfered our Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to make the reservation for the garden suite. Just looked up our reservation the the IHG website and our room has been changed to the Emerald Overwater Villa. Suhweet!!!!

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  13. @Chrissy — did you notice any availability earlier on than your April trip? It looks like there are no available OWB’s at Thalasso in the next 12 mos. Hopefully I’m just looking at it wrong 🙂

    Thanks for the tips, Daraius!!

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