And on top of lounge access and priority boarding, you’ve also unlocked another valuable perk, and one that’s unique to the Velocity Frequent Flyer program: an instant upgrade to Gold status with Hilton Honors or Gold Elite in the IHG One Rewards loyalty program.
But you need to choose which Gold membership you want, because you can’t have both – and there’s quite a difference between the Gold-plated perks of each hotel program.
The benefits of Hilton Honors Gold
Gold is widely seen as the ‘sweet spot’ in Hilton Honors. Normally yours after staying 40 nights, it serves up 80% more points, food and beverage credit or continental breakfast at select brands, and free room upgrades up to Executive room types – subject to availability.
Here are some of the big ticket items:
- Space available room upgrades at Hilton properties, which includes Conrad, DoubleTree by Hilton and Waldorf Astoria, to name a few
- Access to the Executive Lounge at Hilton, Conrad and DoubleTree by Hilton properties, if upgraded to an eligible room on the Executive floors
- Depending on the hotel and region you’re travelling in, you’ll receive a daily food and beverage (typically $25 per person per day at luxury hotels) or a continental breakfast
- A Milestone Bonus of 10,000 points when you complete 40 eligible stays in a calendar year, plus an additional 10,000 for every 10 eligible nights thereafter
- Every fifth night free when redeeming Honors reward points for stays of five nights or more
Hilton Honors allows members to earn and redeem points at over 7,200 hotels in 122 countries, predominantly across Europe and the United States. In Australia, the brands include Hilton, DoubleTree by Hilton, and Curio Collection by Hilton.
More info on the Hilton Honors program can be found here.
The benefits of IHG One Rewards Gold Elite
IHG One Rewards Gold Elite, on the other hand, is a little more accessible. You only need to complete 20 Qualified Nights or earn 40,000 Qualified Points (you can read more about those two here) in order to enjoy its gilded delights… even if they’re somewhat limited.
IHG has more than 6,000 hotels within its ranks, with a larger footprint in Australia compared to Hilton. InterContinental, Kimpton Hotels, Crowne Plaza, Voco, and Hotel Indigo are just a handful.
The key benefits for travellers are:
- Earning 40% bonus points on top of your base points for every stay
- Rollover nights to help you retain your status in future
More info on the IHG One Rewards program can be found here.
As you may have noticed, IHG Gold Elite doesn’t come with breakfast or room upgrades, nor does it provide access to its Club Lounges, unless you’ve booked a designated Club room.
With this in mind, Hilton Honors Gold would be the one we’d recommend.
Maintaining your free Hilton or IHG status
While free hotel status is a great complement to your frequent flyer status, it’s sadly a one-time deal. You’ll only get the invite when you first hit Velocity Gold, with the offer not repeating whenever you retain your status with Virgin for another year.
Of course, if your flying patterns take you to Velocity Platinum status, you’ll once again be given a choice of hotel status: Honors Diamond or IHG One Rewards Platinum Elite.
(Naturally, if you drop from Velocity Gold to Silver but later climb back up the ladder, you’ll get a second shot at this free Gold-level status with either Hilton or IHG.)
Although your new status is valid for 12 months in either hotel program, it’s easier to retain IHG Gold Elite than Honors Gold in terms of calendar nights per year after the grace period.
IHG requires either 20 nights, whereas Hilton needs 40 nights.
It’s worth noting that you can also qualify for Honors Gold by completing 20 stays – that’s 20 check-ins, regardless of the length of your stay. This is a handy way to maintain the status if you generally only ever stay for a single night.
With Honors, if you satisfy either the ‘nights’ or ‘stays’ requirement, your status is secure – there’s no need to reach for both.
Our call: Hilton Honors Gold Elite
Unless there are particular aspects of IHG One Rewards that really appeal to you, Honors Gold Elite – with its handy room upgrades and breakfast inclusions – make this a no-brainer, particularly if you travel overseas regularly.
If your travel habits see you stay closer to home, IHG One Rewards does unlock a greater number of domestic hotels, making the 40 nights to reach Platinum Elite status (where complimentary room upgrades can be yours ) more achievable.
How to lock in Virgin Australia IHG One or Hilton Honors Gold
To take advantage of the offer, simply login to your Velocity Frequent Flyer account and click My Benefits. You’ll then see ‘Complimentary Hotel Membership’ on the list.
Click on Read More and you will be able to select your preferred hotel partnership. If you’re not yet a member of your chosen loyalty program, sign up with that first and then return to this page to lock it in. After that, happy travelling!