Overwater Bungalows with Hotel Points [Infographic]

What are all the Overwater Bungalows that can be booked with points? How can you earn the points? How much does it cost to upgrade? And, how can I get status to increase the chance of a freebee upgrade?

This infographic shows it all (including what the room looks like). These might be the most “aspirational” hotel redemptions on earth.

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An infographic by Drew and Caroline at Travel is Free

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The key here is to 1) get status, and 2) email about upgrades.

However, the infographic doesn’t show a complete list of ways to get status. With Hilton, you can spend your way to Diamond status, or sometimes there are just links to get Gold status. Anything helps and people do commonly get upgrades at certain hotels with status when there is availability.

But for many people, guaranteeing that upgrade to an overwater bungalow is the point of going to a place like the Maldives or French Polynesia. This is why emailing ahead is so important. There are threads on flyertalk for each of these hotels and people post their barterings for overwater bungalows.


Personally, I can’t imagine paying $300+ a night for an upgrade… I’ve never paid that much for a single hotel. However, I get the incredible appeal! Therefore I would try to book into a room, or only book with confirmation of an upgrade. As an IHG Ambassador you get a one category upgrade, and the IC Bora Bora books into an OWB or one category away from it.

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  1. Issue with ambassador upgrade is that benefits are technically not offered on award stays. Now maybe if you email ahead and they are accommodative you might get an upgrade but it isn’t guaranteed as far as I understand it.

    • True. Email and also, you can check on flyertalk. It seems people have been getting an upgrade, at least when I checked a couple years ago.

  2. I have stayed once in an overwater cottage at a place called Poovar in Kerala, India. It belongs to a group called “Club Mahindra” resorts in India ( which operates on time share basis. (I earlier had a membership but then realised it was kind of waste to have a timeshare membership – strictly my personal opinion though). However, one could also get it on rent without being a member, if i am right. Need to do more research as i am totally out of touch of India for quite some time. The experience was quite unique. Worth a day’s stay. It was not that expensive at that time (at least 10 years back), not sure how much it costs now. I think they have now added another place nearby called “Asthamudi” which has floating cottages. These are not part of any hotel chain and one has to shell out cash but may be use barclays arrival for redemption. Hope this tip helps someone.

    • Thanks. Sounds like a neat experience, worth a look perhaps on my next trip to India. At least if I’m in the area.

  3. Nice post, thank you for taking your time in creating this chart.



    • Thanks for dropping in to say thanks!

  4. Drew, are you breaking any ethics or laws of blogging by posting useful info? 😛 Kudos. I’d add that beach and overwater accommodations are the cheapest, if giving out any money in the process, at unaffiliated “resorts.” Places that have the owners living onsite, and living simply. The Philippines has lots of these places scattered around if you want to get super adventurous. Thais near the beaches seem to be getting too savvy about Westerners.

    • Overwaters in the Philippines? Know whereabouts? still haven’t been but wouldn’t mind a trip. I’m aware of some cheap places in Malaysia off of Borneo. Well… no not cheap, but less than Bora Bora and the Maldives.

    • Oooh.. Where are the places in Malaysia?

    • Drew stubmbled upon this old post. Palawan for OW bungalows in Philippines

    • Doh. Thanks… good thing it’s not clickable anyways. Hopefully people follow this.

  5. @ Drew,

    Awesome info-graphic!! I am so amazed, it’s simple and easy to understand, very helpful! Do you learn about graphic design before? How long did it take for you to create the info-graphic?

    Please pardon me but since I am new to hotel bookings, I hope you can help answer my questions:
    1. What does it mean by “4 upgrades to overwater bungalow (ovb)?” does it mean that for example, if I am Hilton Gold status, when I booked standard room using points, then I can be automatically upgraded into ovb? if not, how?

    2. Among all of these ovb, which one is your fave and you think the most easiest to redeem with points?

    3. Looking at the properties under SPG chains, like Le Meridien Bora-bora and St Regis Bora-bora, the award night is very high, average of 100,000 points. How to easily get a starpoints to redeem enough points for 2 nights? even if by applying both SPG personal and business, each only offer 25k points so only get 50k points :( what is the practical and easy way to get the remaining 150k starpoints?

    • Thanks John,

      The 4 categories isn’t always completely relevant, it’s more a frame of reference.

      1) With IHG, you can buy Ambassador status and that guarantees you a one category room upgrade. And therefore if it’s just a gap of 1 upgrade, that’s an overwater bungalow.

      Otherwise it’s showing you how hopeful you are in your upgardes.

      2) Well, right now you can book directly into the OVB at the IC Bora Bora. It’s 50,000 points THE most expensive IHG hotel. Plus you can use this Into the Nights promos free nights on it. However, the availability isn’t the best.

      3) SPG for OVB is just a terrible waste of points. You’d spend a lifetime earning and blowem all in one night. Wouldn’t recommend it.

  6. I’m planning a business/vacation trip to Abu Dhabi and the Conrad Maldives in December 2016 for 2 days. I have a hilton certificate for 1 standard room and tax only stay which I verified via the hilton call center will cover a one night stay for a standard room at the Conrad Maldives. I want to use 95K points for the second night. My question is about the upgrade for an overwater bungalow. According to the chart it cost $200 per night more to upgrade to an an overwater bungalow. Is that correct? Can you use reward points for the upgrade for the 2 nights for the an overwater bungalow?


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