Monthly Archives: December 2012

The Tale of Three InterContinental Ambassador Packages: Gold, Platinum & Royal Ambassador

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If you are singing up for InterContinental Ambassador membership, you can also maximize the number of Ambassador membership packages that you get. They always come with the Ambassador free weekend night voucher and code for some Priority Club points that you can deposit to your account.

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I just opened Gold, Platinum, and Royal Ambassador packages and noticed that:

Review of My Worst Hotel Stay of 2012 – M.G.M. Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar

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Right now Yangon and Myanmar are going through very fast growth period once few countries such as United States eased or completely withdraw the trade embargo after successful open election earlier this year. Foreign companies are trying to establish themselves to the country and the hotel availability haven’t kept up. And this shows on the prices.

There are only two or three Western quality hotels in Yangon; Governor’s Residence (where I stayed earlier this year), Traders and Strand. All these three were very expensive for the date in early December I was looking at. The Governor’s Residence had their daily rate exceeding $600.

Marriott Rewards Elite Benefits Guarantees

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One good thing about Marriott are their guarantees in case of something goes wrong; you are being walked, hotel fails to honor your bed type, or they fail to provide you with the Platinum Amenity. I as able to invoke the guarantee first time after 500 or so Marriott stays two weeks ago. But more of that later.

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Marriott Ultimate Reservation Guarantee

My Starwood New Year Stay Dilemma in Bangkok: Paid, Award, SPG50 or Cash & Points?

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New year seems to be quite popular time for hotels in Bangkok. I just arrived here the other night and started to look for options to stay on 31st. All the Marriott hotels are sold out, Grand Hyatt is sold out, InterContinental Hotels Group properties are sold out and only higher category rooms available at the Millennium Hilton hotel that I don’t like due to its location.

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Starwood had availability at both St Regis (only high cat rooms – no awards) and at the newly opened W hotel. W was selling base level rooms at 9000 THB rack rate for the night or 10K Starpoints.

Marriott Spring 2013 MegaMiles Promotion Returns

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Marriott just announced their spring 2013 MegaMiles promotion that is valid for stays between February 1 and April 30, 2013. Registration for this promotion open on January 10 and ends of April 30, 2013.

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You can access your personalized offer at www.marriottrewards.com/MegaMiles after January 10. Note that you need to have changed your earning preference to miles to be able to access the offer (at least you have had in the past).

SPG Toast To You Highlights of 2012

SPG started last year to publish some interesting figures about what their members has been doing in 2011. They have done the same for 2012 as well that is based on the activity by November 30, 2012. You can access the SPG’s A Toast To You webpage here.

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There is also a personalized version available for SPG Platinum members that you can access here.

How Many Star Alliance Carriers Have You Flown?

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During my EgyptAir flight earlier today (my first ever dry flight), I was reading the inflight magazine and route map. I came across this latest Star Alliance advertisement about the Shenzhen Airlines joining the alliance.

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I decided to count the Star Alliance carriers on whose flights I haven’t been yet. There are only six of them:

Hyatt Exclusive Level Stay Certificates Now Available for Purchase

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Few months ago, I wrote about good deals that you could get at Hyatt hotels if you buy Hyatt Stay Certificates beforehand and use them to pay for your accommodation. All the Hyatt Gold Passport status benefits apply on stays booked using these, but you won’t get points for the room rate or stay credit.

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Hyatt had a list of properties that would accept this Exclusive level stay certificates before they were even available for sale and I wrote about it last year.

Update on Priority Club, Amtrak Guest Rewards & Points.com

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Yesterday, I wrote about a good deal for exchanging Priority Club points to Amtrak Guest Rewards via Points.com. Amtrak Guest Rewards had recently became a partner of Points.com and I thought that they were having a promotional offer for getting some exchanges done.

Alas, this was not the case. Someone at the Points.com had had a fat finger and loaded an incorrect trade value for these programs. Some had their point trades canceled while others that got their trade early in did not.

Pros and Cons of Marriott Rewards

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Marriott Rewards is one of the hotel chains that I used to frequent a lot. I have more than 500 qualified nights and probably close to 550 nights if award nights are counted as well. My patronage in the past few years have been on the low side, however.

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I believe that Marriott Rewards can be a reasonable program if you can put in a lot of nights. Their MegaBonus promotions typically rewards customers that stay up to 25 nights during a three/four month period.

Turn Priority Club Points for Hyatt Gift Cards, Starwood Award Nights, Amtrak Travel, Hilton HHonors and Choice Privileges Points at Very Good Value

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Priority Club and Amtrak Guest Rewards are transfer partners via Points.com. Once you have signed up for Points.com account, you can then link number of your accounts and perform transfers between them, often at very unfavorable rates. But it is worthwhile sometimes to clean up old accounts or for meeting some promotional activity requirements.

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Now, you can transfer Priority Club points to Amtrak Guest Rewards points at very favorable ratio, however. You 3 Priority Club points will turn to 4 Amtrak Guest Rewards points. The minimum number of points that you need to transfer from Priority Club is 10000 but there doesn’t appear to be upper limit and you can transfer any amount over 10K.

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Amtrak Guest Rewards Points for Hyatt Gift Cards and SPG Cat 1 to 4 Hotels

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Guest Rewards members can redeem 10K points for $100 Hyatt gift card that is valid in United States, Canada and the Caribbean. So, 7518 Priority Club points gets you a $100 Hyatt gift card.

Pros & Cons of Priority Club (InterContinental Hotels Group)

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This is one of the chains that I have had a love hate relationship over the years.  I didn’t have stays for couple of years (had lot of stays from 2006 to 2010) and then started to stay again late last year and had probably around 100 nights this year. I have already booked one Point Breaks hotel for a month starting early January.

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Overall, the program is VERY rewarding IF you can work the promos of earning points and using them for Point Breaks hotels at 5K Priority Club points per night. If you are Royal Ambassador and have one night stays at InterContinental Hotels, the program is very good on both earning points and status recognition.

My main gripes are the lower end hotels like Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inns that are very inconsistent especially in North America. You never know if the Holiday Inn is a three or  four and a half star one before staying at.

Hyatt Backpedalling on Program Terms and Conditions Changes

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On December 9th, I wrote about terms and conditions changes that Hyatt had quietly introduced and hadn’t informed the program members at all.

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There were four major changes that may affect you:

1.  Walk in guests (no prior reservation) may not be eligible to earn Hyatt Gold Passport points regardless of the rate paid.

2. Guest must be a Hyatt Gold Passport member to earn miles on program partners.

3. Paying for dining & spa charges partially using points, the rest will become ineligible charge for point earnings purposes.

4. Platinum Extras Award have been discontinued

Hilton Points & Money Rewards

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Hilton introduced Points & Money awards last year. These are similar to SPG’s Cash & Points. Hotels can decide whether they participate to this award type and the availability can fluctuate a lot. Obviously, hotels don’t offer this award type if they are close to capacity. You can consider it as an intelligent way of discounting.

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Hilton used to have a list by categories the number of points and cash required for a free night. This was later removed, however, and the point and cash amount is no longer tied to the category.

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