Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Capital One, Chase, Citibank and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
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!
InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa
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.
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.
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!
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 Suites, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hotel Indigo, Intercontinental 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.
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.
You can now book an overwater villa in Bora Bora for only 50,000 points a night.
With no strings attached!