Updated on March 26, 2014
Updated on March 26, 2014
We love IHG Rewards points because we love PointBreaks. (Or maybe we love PointBreaks because we love InterContinentals… anyway…)
Despite a very so/so opinion of Athens as a travel destination, I am not going to complain about 4 free nights at the InterContinental Athenaeum whose lounge overlooks the ancient Acropolis. Cheap and luxury shouldn’t be allowed in the same sentence, but there it is. At 5,000 points a night, taking advantage of PointBreaks allows cheap luxury hotels to be a possibility.
In this post I’ll give you an idea of what PointBreaks is and how you can take advantage of it by earning IHG rewards points and burning them at the generously slow rate of 5,000 points a night like we did for our InterContinental Atheanum stay.
The Currency: 25,000 IHG Rewards points booked during PointBreaks
Tools: PointBreaks list
How to earn: Paid stays, promotions, etc. (This post of Drew’s will teach you a lot!)
What you will learn: What “PointBreaks” is and why it’s such an awesome way to spend IHG Rewards points
What is PointBreaks?
Every two months, IHG puts out a list of hotels whose prices in points are discounted to 5,000 points a night. This diverse list is posted on a specific page of their website you can get to here, and consists of everything from Holiday Inns to InterContinentals. The hotels can be booked for the two months following the posting of the list, (basically until the next list comes out.) Simple.
We basically earn plenty of IHG Rewards points by familiarizing ourselves with the many promotions you can use to earn big with each paid stay. (Again, you can find out the details of that earning by reading this post.) So we spend at lower end IHG brand hotels like Holiday Inns, earn loads of points by making sure to register for lots of promotions, then save those points for a PointBreaks stay.
You can also just buy points when IHG has a points-sale. The most recent one allowed you to buy 5,000 points for $28 which, when saving your points for PointBreaks, could mean a $28 night. Then, if you have IHG’s credit card you can also factor in the %10 “rebate” in which card holders receive 10% of their redeemed points back. That’s more like $25 per night.
Now, because we are flexible travelers, we can look at the PointBreaks list and choose the hotels and locations that interest us most, which is essentially what we did with the InterContinental Atheanum. We had Zakynthos in mind anyway, so Athens seemed like a nice place to burn some points while in the vicinity anyway.
In other words we don’t plan a trip to Athens and say “Gee I sure hope the InterContinental Atheanum happens to be on the PointBreaks list!” ….Well…ok we do have a wish list in mind sometimes (like the InterContinental Berchtesgaden…we’d love to see that on the PB list…) but in general we have the flexibility to go where the good deals are. And obviously that means we have the flexibility to save our points for the InterContinentals or Crowne Plazas that pop up on the list and ignore all the Holiday Inns. Holiday Inns are good for earning points, not spending them.
Essentially, it’s a great way to make your points last, which is exactly what non-stop travelers need to do.
So for the same price in points as 4 nights at the Holiday Inn next to the airport, we spent 4 nights at the InterContinental Atheanum next to the Acropolis. Ok, it wasn’t so close you could throw rocks at it (who would do such a thing anyway) but it was close enough to oogle at as we sipped champagne in the lounge.
Staying at the IC Atheanum also meant that we had free transportation to the city center just below the acropolis since the InterContinental provides a shuttle that leaves every half hour in the morning and every hour from 11 on until 8. (For some reason after 5 it switches to leaving every hour on the half hour…)
The rooms were nice too and it’s obvious that the hotel focuses on artwork as a wide variety of modern works can be found all throughout the hotel. The rooms are modern as well with a simple, clean-lined style.
Each night the lounge offered salad and hors d’oeuvres of grilled meats and vegetables as well as an assortment of cheeses. Plenty for us to make a meal.
This is also where the best view of the Acropolis is as there’s a very nice outdoor seating area facing it. It even includes a telescope in case you want to watch the miniature tourists peruse around.
I was really glad the IC offered a shuttle because while the location does provide a great view of the Acropolis, the area is otherwise a pretty run-down industrial part of town that is in no way walker-friendly. Besides one of my favorite things about InterContinentals tend to be their awesome locations smack dab in the middle of where you’ll want to be. It’s unlikely they’ll ever build an IC beside the parthenon though 🙂 so across town with a shuttle is a good plan B.
Once you grab the free bus, there’s no end to the site-seeing spots. The Acropolis alone includes the Parthenon, The Temple of Athena Nike, The Erectheion and The Propylea.
The all-inclusive Acropolis tickets also allow you to visit the Agora, the ancient market place. I actually found this easier to enjoy in part because the crowds are much more spread out.
One thing I would have loved to see is the Odeon of Herodes Atticus. It’s the ancient theater which is impressively still in use for various shows to this day. Unfortunately it is apparently closed for the month of August. Next time I guess. (If the InterContinental Athenaeum is featured on the PointBreaks list again!)
In short, the InterContinental Atheanum allowed us to spend 5 days not only a hop and a skip away from one of the most famous historical sites in the world, but in 5-star luxury as well.