Using Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price” to Save on Hotels

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Over the years, I have saved a lot by using Priceline for hotel bookings. As a matter of fact, Priceline got me hooked on hotel programs, when you were able to get a Hyatt hotel for $50 bucks and it would be a qualifying stay for both  promotional purposes and a stay credit as long as you had a minimal charge and used a MasterCard to settle the bill.

Those days are long gone, but there are still lots of opportunities to save on hotel stays using Priceline. I usually try first getting a decent deal by booking direct, but sometimes it just doesn’t produce the rates that I am happy to pay.

There are several websites that can provide tips and assistance on Priceline bookings. The two that provide the most information are BiddingForTravel (www.biddingfortravel.com) and BetterBidding (www.betterbidding.com). Both of these sites contain list of successful bids for various cities that bidders have successfully gotten on Priceline and other useful information about Priceline strategies etc.

My Bidding Experience for Vancouver BC

The other weekend I was in Vancouver. The rates at the downtown hotels were on the high side and I decided to give a Priceline a try.

First, I checked both the BetterBidding and BiddingForTravel to get an idea about the hotels that one might expect to receive and the price range. Both websites also provide a list and star rating of hotels that are available in each of the Priceline zones.

I was targeting a hotel in either of the two zones in downtown Vancouver. It didn’t matter if the hotel is in the downtown or entertainment district, but I needed something four stars according to the Priceline.

Priceline Zones

For Vancouver area Priceline has 11 different zones. These help with rebidding as only 4 of the zones has four star properties. I could rebid total of 8 times if I include the two downtown zones to get the best deal around.

You have to be very careful with the Priceline zones. Sometimes Priceline has a hotel that is exactly on the border of the zone.

Placing the First Bid

As always I want to get some cashback for my online purchases. There are several sites that offer cashback for Priceline. This time I decided to use TopCashBack that had 3% rebate for Priceline “Name Your Own Price” bookings.

Priceline is now offering three different kind of bookings; the traditional hotel booking that shows the name of the hotel and the price, the Name Your Own Price bidding, and Express Deals. You need to choose the “Name Your Own Price” tab for the best savings. I have not found the conventional prices on Priceline to be anything worthwhile, although I used them once for a Best Rate Guarantee with Marriott.

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When you choose the “Name Your Own Price”, you will be then presented with a “Lighbox” to enter the city and the dates.

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I chose the Downtown Vancouver zone.

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Then you need to choose the star level of the hotel. I chose four stars. There is a box on the bottom next to the bid amount that “shows” the supposedly median price for a four star property in downtown Vancouver. Priceline basically just tries to get you to overbid. You can just completely disregard it.

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Based on the reports on both BetterBidding and BiddingForTravel, I decided to start at $76. There were fairly recent winning bids on the downtown zone for around $80 per night. The total price with the Priceline fees with this bid amount came to $95.30. The real tax rate in the Vancouver is 15.74%. The Priceline’s fee in this instance would have been in excess of $7.

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You should always decline the “garbage” Trip Protection Offers that all the travel websites are offering. They are there to fatten their bottom line. You should, however, have comprehensive travel insurance.

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It is good idea to familiarize yourself with the Priceline’s rules. Basically all these “Name Your Own Price” bookings are nonrefundable and noncancellable. Do NOT book through this service if your plans are not firm. I only use Priceline for same or next day bookings when I am already in the city. Then you need to fill out your credit card and address information.

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You will then see a Priceline “negotiator” screen for few seconds while Priceline is trying to match hotel offers with the price that you bid.

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If your bid was not successful but  was close to a price that Priceline could offer, you are then presented an offer to up your bid to a certain amount, on this instance to $89, without having to choose any other options. You should always decline this offer as you can get the hotel at significantly less through the rebidding process.

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As I pointed out earlier, there are numerous rebidding opportunities in the Vancouver area where there are no 4 star hotels offered by Priceline. I decided to up my bid by $1 at a time and just go through number of different zones.

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After adding couple of different zones my bid had been upped to $79.

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This time I received a message that Priceline was working on my request. This is usually a sign that your offer has been accepted.

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My bid of $79 was accepted at the Renaissance Harbourside hotel. This suited me well because I am a Marriott Platinum member and the status benefits typically are extended to Priceline stays as well.

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The lowest rate on Marriott website was 239 CAD for the night in question before the taxes.

How was my stay at the Renaissance?

It was not the most modern Marriott chain hotel and obviously they do have some sort of revenue problem if they need to dump rooms on Priceline for $79 per night during the height of the summer season.

I received probably the smallest room I have had so far this year, but all the Platinum benefits including welcome amenity and lounge access were extended. Cannot really complain considering the price I paid.

Conclusion

You should always keep in mind that there is an option of bidding hotel rooms through Priceline’s “Name Your Own Price”. The savings are usually significant enough to put up with the bidding process and the time it requires.

Priceline works remarkably well in North America but not so in some other countries.

Why Am I Hooked to Chain Hotels?

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Over the past eight years Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood hotels have been my home. When traveling, I have hard time staying at other brands due to benefits associated with the top tier statuses I have.

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Right now, I am here in Bangkok that has great number of very good hotels that are not associated with any of the five chains mentioned above, but I have very hard time trying any of them and here is why.

1. Upgrades

If I stick to any of the hotels, where I tend to stay here, I am almost always guaranteed a suite upgrade i.e. Renaissance, JW Marriott, InterContinental, Royal Orchid Sheraton, Plaza Athenee, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, St Regis etc.  I have learned to bypass the Hilton properties here in Bangkok, where their elite treatment is the minimum required by the Hilton HHonors.

2. Lounge access

When traveling in the United States, I could care less about the lounge access, but here in Asia the lounges are actually worth something; the breakfast spread tend to be quite good, you often have afternoon tea and evening cocktails with some substantial food offerings as well.

3. Breakfast

I am not normally a breakfast person, but you can easily turn them into an early lunch like I did this morning. Quite a few of the hotels let you choose whether you prefer to have the breakfast in the lounge or in the hotel restaurant.

4. Early Check In/Late Check Out

Most of the chains guarantee you a 4PM check out that comes handy if you have a flight out in the evening. Hotels tend to charge a half day rate for late check outs if you are not an elite member.

5. Problem resolution

Few times a year the hotel stay doesn’t just go as smoothly as one would expect. It is just reassuring to know that the chain will back up their service promise even when the specific hotel has dropped the ball. I end up lodging a complaint four/five times a year and typically have resolution in couple of days if not sooner.

6. Points/Free Nights/Promotions

If you plan your hotel stays around the numerous promotions, it is rather easy to rack up lots of points and/or free night certificates. I essentially consider these as a rebate of the price I pay. For the most part the hotel chains are interchangeable for me. I can stay at a Marriott or Starwood property, but the chain that offers a better value proposition when points/promotions are factored in, gets my business.

When I don’t care about the benefits?

Sometimes I am arriving very late and then leaving very early in the morning. Unless there is a stellar promotion from one of the chains, I could practically care less about the hotel/brand as long as they have working and free wireless internet and the bed is comfortable. I might even use Priceline to get a rock bottom price for the night.

Conclusion

Having a top tier status with one or more of the global hotel chains can make your traveling a smoother if you take advantage of the associated benefits. I would love to try more independent hotels but the benefits package that I receive from the international chains if hard to beat.

Hyatt Gold Passport Autumn “Imagine the Possibilities” Promotion

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Hyatt Gold Passport just announced their “Imagine the Possibilities” autumn promotion that is valid from September 1st, to November 30th, 2012. Please note that the registration for this promotion will open on August 15th, 2012. You can register for this promotion here.

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You will earn 5000 bonus Gold Passport points after 5 nights and then 10000 bonus points after every five nights for up to 35 nights during the promotion period. The maximum number of bonus points that you can earn is 65000. Hyatt credit card holders will get 20% bonus.

One way to look at this promotion is to think of earning 1000 bonus points per night for the first five nights and then 2000 bonus points per night for the next 30 nights during the promotional period.

Conclusion

It has been somewhat disappointing year for Hyatt Gold Passport bonus opportunities compared to recent past. 1000 to 2000 Gold Passport bonus points per night is not bad, but if you consider that G-bonuses and FFN (Faster Free Night) promotions have apparently been “retired”, it is nothing special.

Hotel Promotions Update (August 2012) Le Club Accorhotels, Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges, Club Carlson, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest & Wyndham Rewards

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There are number of bonus points opportunities with number of hotel chains at the moment. Remember that you need to register for most of these promotions before your stay for the the bonus points/miles to post..

Le Club Accorhotels

There are current no global promotions for Le Club members. You can, however, earn 500 Air Canada Aeroplan or Delta Air Lines SkyMiles for singing up for Le Club membership.

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Sign Up For Le Club Accorhotels Membership And Get 500 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

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Le Club Accorhotels & Delta Air Lines SkyMiles Promotion – Get 500 Mile For Signing Up

Best Western Rewards

Best Western Rewards is offering a free night certificate after three stays. This promotion started on June 17th and ends on August 19th. You can only earn ONE free night certificate.

Best Western Rewards Summer Bonus Offer SUM12 – Free Night Voucher After Three Stays

best-western-aeroplan-offer

The alternate promo is 2000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles per stay for up to three stays. The bonus is 1750 miles per stay.

Best Western Rewards Aeroplan Bonus Offer – 2000 Miles Per Stay for up to 3 Stays

Best Western is also offering 1000 bonus points for stays in South America. You need to stay at least two different Best Western properties to be eligible for this.

Best Western Bonus Points Offer For South America 1000 Bonus Points

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

The Big Night Giveaway promotions for Radisson/Radisson Blu, Country Inn & Suites, and Park Inn are now over. The Park Plaza version of this promotion is valid until August 28th, however. The 50K bonus point version is oversubscribed, but they have an offer for 15K bonus points for a stay up for now

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Club Carlson Park Plaza Ultimate Night Giveaway – Earn 50K Bonus Points

Radisson has an offer for Europe, Middle East and Africa for 3rd night free + 2000 bonus points when paid by American Express. This is valid until September 30th, 2012. There is a separate offer for double points at selected Club Carlson properties.

Radisson & Radisson Blu 3rd Night Free + 2000 Bonus Club Carlson Points

Club Carlson Double Points in Europe, Middle East & Africa at Participating Hotels

Club Carlson has a separate promotion for Asia Pacific region. You will receive 10000 bonus points for stays of 2 nights or longer.

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Club Carlson Asia Pacific Promotion “Two Nights. 10,000 Points” – 10K Bonus Points For Stays Of Two Nights Or Longer

If you are new to the Club Carlson, you can read about the various status levels with the program and the status match opportunities:

Club Carlson Red, Silver, Gold, & Concierge Status Levels Explained

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson Status Match

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice is offering 8000 Choice Privileges points for every two stays that you can redeem for $50 gift cards with number of retailers. Note that the definition of a stay is TWO nights at select Choice properties. This promotion ends on August 15th, 2012.

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Choice Hotels Summer Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn $50 Gift Card

Hilton HHonors

Hilton’s 3rd quarter promotion is for double points for weekday stays and triple points for weekend ones. Please note that the number of properties that have opted out of this promo is rather long.

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Hilton HHonors 3rd Quarter “Triple Your Trip” 2012 Double or Triple Points Promotion

You can also get 2000 bonus Hilton HHonors points for your first Home2 Suites stay. This offer is valid until August 15th, 2012.

Hilton Home2 Suites Bonus Offer – 2000 Hilton HHonors Bonus Points for First Stay

Hilton HHonors and Delta has teamed up offering triple Delta SkyMiles at selected Hilton family of hotels until September 20th, 2012.

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Triple Delta SkyMiles for Stays at Selected Hilton Family of Hotels

You can read about getting a status match with Hilton HHonors:

Hilton HHonors Gold & Diamond Status Match & Challenge & Fast Track Offer

Hilton HHonors Gold VIP Fast Track Offer Through MVP Program. Gold Status After Four Stays or Nine Nights During 90 period

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders

It can make sense to use Virgin Atlantic as Double Dip partner and then transfer the miles back to Hilton. You can read more about this here:

Hilton HHonors Double Dip Strategy with Virgin Atlantic’s Flying Club

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt has teamed up with number of airlines; Air China, Air France-KLM, ANA, American Airlines, British Airways, China Eastern, Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Southwest, and United to offer up to five times the miles or points.

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Hyatt Gold Passport Summer 2012 Promotion for up to Five Times the Miles

Hyatt also offers status matches/trials. You can read more about them here:

Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Status Match – Hyatt Diamond Trial Challenge As Of 2012

Sometimes it makes sense to use Hyatt Stay Certificate instead of paying. You can read about more of them here:

Hyatt Stay Certificates – Way to Save Money On Hyatt Stays

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

As always, Priority Club has number of promotions that you should sign for.

You should sign up for onetime bonuses that Priority Club also has. These were offers that were emailed to a number of Priority Club members and are supposedly “targeted”. With Priority Club these targeted offers are open for anybody, however.

Quarter 3 Stay bonuses

These started on July 1st and end on September 30th, 2012. You should sign up for an offer that you know that you can achieve

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Summer Bonus of up to 20K Priority Club Bonus Points

You will get 1000 bonus Priority Club bonus points per nights + 250 points per stay for booking online. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

5000 Bonus Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for a Stay

This is a nice bonus for a stay in Canada. You need to have the stays by December 30th, 2012 to be eligible for the bonus miles.

Priority Club Vacation Pay Offer

You can get a $75 prepaid MasterCard after a rebate for a two night weekend stay. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

$50 Travel MasterCard for Two Night Weekday Stay

This is similar to the weekend offer, but is valid for weekday stays. This offer is valid until August 2nd, 2012.

Priority Club $25 Gift Card Offer for Booking Directly Online

Priority Club is offering gift cards for bookings made online.

Priority Club Meeting Rewards Offer of Triple Points

Priority Club has an offer for meeting planners. You can get triple points for meetings.

2000 Bonus Points for Priority Club Surveys

You can get couple of thousand bonus points for completing bunch of short quizzes.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott summer promotion started on June 1st and is valid until August 31st. You needed to register by June 30th. There are number of variations of the offer.

Marriott Summer Promotion of Free Night Certificates or Bonus Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott also has a MegaMiles promotion from July 1st to October 31st, 2012 for triple airline miles with selected airlines. Note that you need to change your earning from points to miles before you can sign up for this.

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Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Triple Airline Miles

Marriott has already announced their fall 2012 MegaBonus that starts on September 15th, 2012

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Marriott Rewards Fall 2012 MegaBonus

Marriott also offers status matches or taste of Platinum/Gold. You can read more about the procedures of getting one here:

Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum Status Match – Taste of Platinum & Gold Challenge

If you haven’t been targeted to any of the promotions or you would like to change to another one, you can follow the instructions to get the promotion fixed for you.

Changing Targeted Marriott Promotions

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Ritz-Carlton has exciting Extraordinary Returns promotion started on July 15th and ends on October 15th, 2012. You can get 30000 bonus points for a stay of 4 days or longer.

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards Extraordinary Returns – 30000 Bonus Points for a Four Night Stay

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood launched their much anticipated SPG Nice Choice promotion on May 1st that hasn’t gone down too well. You can read about the initial leakmy ability to confirm that the leaked information was real, and the strategy that you should take. Essentially, this is a double or triple Starpoints promotion that is very weak compared to free night promotions that SPG was running during 2010 and 2011. Note that you needed to choose what you would like to earn and when by June 30th, 2012.

Westin Kierland and Sheraton Wilde Horse Pass have exciting bonus points opportunity. Stay once at both properties and earn 10000 bonus Starpoints.

Stay at Westin Kierland & Sheraton Wild Horse Pass for 10000 Bonus Starpoints

You can get 1000 Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for booking a special (expensive) rate plan.

1000 Bonus Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for Sheraton Club Bookings

Starwood doesn’t offer straight status matches, but they can offer you a challenge:

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Status Match – Platinum Challenge

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham Rewards is offering quadruple points or miles starting from the second stay for up to four stays.

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Wyndham Rewards Summer 2012 Promotion for Quadruple Miles or Points

Hyatt Stay Certificates – Way to Save Money On Hyatt Stays

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There is a way to save some significant money when staying at Hyatt properties by using Hyatt Stay Certificates.  They come in five different levels; Classic $109, Choice $145, Premier $185, Elite $249, and Inspire at $319. These prices are per night and include all the taxes and fees. You can buy these directly from Hyatt here.

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Check the Stay Certificate Level of the Property

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You need to check the lowest level of stay certificates that the property accepts. You can do this Hyatt’s Stay Certificates website here. I couldn’t get the locator to work using Firefox but it did open up using Internet Explorer

Availability Using Stay Certificates

You can check the availability using stay certificates by plugging in the appropriate stay certificate code to the “Special Offer Code” field on the reservation screen. If there is availability using stay certificates, you will see a message “Rate Confidential”.

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Classic Level – HSCLN1
Choice Level – HSCHN1
Premier Level – HSPRN1
Elite Level – HSELN1
Inspire Level – HSINN1

Stay Certificate or Pay?

When you pay your stay using a Hyatt Stay Certificate, it is not an eligible stay for points or stay credit. You do, however, get all the benefits associated with possible status that you have with Hyatt Gold Passport.

You should calculate the number of points you would earn with all possible promotions that Hyatt is has, and compare the “prices”.

Making Reservation

There is no need to call in the reservation. Just make the booking at Hyatt.com using the appropriate certificate code.

Order Certificates

After you place the order for the certificates, they should arrive in about 5 to 10 days. Make sure that order them two to three weeks before your intended stay.

The address to order the Hyatt Stay Certificates is certificates.hyatt.com.

Here are few examples

Park Hyatt Sydney (Inspire) $319 VS $783

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Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo (Elite) $249 VS $511

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Grand Hyatt Jakarta (Premier) $185 VS $339

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Hyatt Regency Incheon (Choice) $149 VS $234

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Park Hyatt Mendoza (Classic) $109 VS $238

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Conclusion

Hyatt doesn’t actively advertise these Stay Certificates that are very good deal if used correctly.

As you can see from the few examples above, it is possible to save about 50% off of the best available rates. The drawback is that you need to order the certificates in advance and the fact that the stay is not eligible for points or stay credit.

Hyatt Web & Kiosk Check In – Do They Work or Make Any Sense?

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The simply answer is to both is that they may work at times, but you probably will end up spending more time working the machine and getting the room you booked rather getting an upgrade by working  the front desk. I have had the check in kiosk work few times at the limited service Hyatt Place locations where I prefer to bypass the front desk altogether.

Hyatt Web Check In

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The web check in is enable at some Hyatt properties in the North America. For my stay this past Saturday, I received the email very early on Saturday morning PST.

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You can also see the web check invitation if you log in to your Hyatt Gold Passport account.

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When you click the link on the email or at the Hyatt.com, you will see the screen connecting to their web services that is simultaneously pulling up your check in information.

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You can then choose your preferred check in time, allow Hyatt to email you a notification when the room is ready, and for you to change the option of receiving miles or points for the stay.

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Normally, I would choose Hyatt Gold Passport points, but the current promotion that Hyatt has is for airline miles. I decided to choose American Airlines miles for the stay and entered my AAdvantage account number.

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Then I chose to proceed further and shortly received the web check in confirmation.

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About half an hour later the email confirmation that my room was ready arrived.

Hyatt Check In Kiosk

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I decided to use the check in kiosk to pick up the keys to the room.

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The kiosk was unable to find the reservation using the credit card & using my name.

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The Kiosk was able to find the reservation using the confirmation number, but requested me to proceed to the front desk for completing the “transaction”.

Front Desk

Quite frankly it would have been faster had I completely dissed the kiosk and just went to the Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum/Diamond area. I just wanted to test if Hyatt had had any development on the kiosk user interface and if they had finally got it to work.

There was no line at the front desk and I got checked in very quickly. I managed to score an upgrade to a nice suite as well that I would have not received had the kiosk actually worked.

Conclusion

In general, I do like the idea of being able to check in over the internet or using a kiosk in the lobby. Hyatt also used to have 1-800-CHECK-IN service over the phone, but this has been discontinued. If Hyatt wants people to start using either web check in or kiosks, they need to make sure that one is able to complete the process without having to see the front desk as happened with my case.

If you do not care about an upgrade at the full service Hyatt and if the kiosk happens to be able to process the check in transaction, you should give it a try. I do continue bypassing these, however, at full service Hyatt properties and rather use traditional front desk.

Hyatt July Edition of the 48 Hour Sale – C48JUL

Hyatt is having their monthly 48 hour sale where you can save 15% to 30% off of best available rates (BAR). Sometimes you can save quite a bit of money and sometimes you cannot. These rates are valid at selected US, Canada, and Caribbean hotels between August 1st and November 7th, 2012. The promotional dates for individual properties vary. You need to use promotion code C48JUL when making the reservation.

hyatt-48-hour-july

Sometimes it is actually better to book an AAA rate that might include some extras like a complimentary breakfast. AAA rates are also normally not prepaid and cancellable.

Offer valid for bookings only between 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday July 24th and 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday July 25th Central Daylight Time, for travel between Wednesday August 1, 2012 and Wednesday November 7, 2012 at participating Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Park Hyatt and Andaz properties in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking. Offer is for a limited time only. Simply request offer code C48JUL when you book your reservation and pay the 48 Hour Sale rate. Discount is off the Hyatt Daily Rate for the room type requested at time of booking. Rate is per room, per night, excluding service charges, taxes and other incidental expenses. Rate is based on double occupancy. Additional guests may be subject to additional hotel charges. Additional charges apply to room-type upgrades. A limited number of rooms are allocated to this promotion. Full, non-refundable, Prepayment due at time of reservation. No changes, amendments or cancellations allowed. Changing to a different property is considered a cancel and re-book, and is non-refundable. Canceled reservations and no shows will forfeit the full prepayment. Promotional blackout periods may apply due to seasonal periods or special events, and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, minimum length of stay and day of week restrictions. Offer may not be combined with other offers or discounts. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this program at any time without notice. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts® encompasses hotels managed, franchised or leased by subsidiaries and affiliates of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The trademarks Hyatt®, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Park Hyatt®, Andaz®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Place®, Hyatt House™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2012 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

Hotel Changing Flags or Is Reflagged – What Happens to Paid/Award Reservations?

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When hotel changes flags or is reflagged, it is rebranded as other chain hotel, or the hotel is becoming independent non-affiliated hotel. This happens numerous times per year at all chains. Both the individual hotel in question and the chain are often contractually not allowed to inform about possible change before it actually happens or at most couple of weeks prior.

Here’s what you need to consider if you are holding a paid or award reservation at a hotel that is changing flags/reflagged.

Status benefits

The status benefits that you might have had with the original brand no longer apply. If the hotel is reflagged under other global brand with which you have status with, there is no necessarily change i.e. Starwood affiliated hotel moves to Hilton chain and you have Hilton Gold/Diamond status.

Reservation

If you no longer wish to stay at the hotel, you should work with the hotel and request them to cancel the reservation without any cancellation fees. You can always argue that the reason why you chose them in the first place was the affiliation with the previous global brand, and that the change thus is significant.

Prepaid Reservation

This could be bit trickier as the hotel already has your money, but they tend to be flexible if you decide to cancel. You need to work this out with the property. If the reservation department is inflexible, I would escalate the issue all the way to the General Manager of the hotel.

Award Reservation

This is somewhat trickier and there are really two different ways how these are normally handled:

1. Your award reservation is honored, but you won’t receive any possible status related benefits.

2. Your award reservation is canceled, but the chain is trying to accommodate you at their other nearby property. If the number of required points is higher, this is usually waived.

Conclusion

Normally the first sign, that something is going on, is when your reservation disappears from your upcoming reservations display. You might also get a call from the customer service regarding the award reservation you have.

Personally, I do care about the miles and points and the benefits that I receive from the programs that I participate to i.e. suite upgrades, club access, early & late checkouts. I really have hard time staying at hotels, where I don’t get any of these benefits.

You have to consider all the options on hand and proactively suggest options that suit you best. Hotels and chains are normally very eager to work with you to find an acceptable solution for both parties in a situation like this.

July Hotel Promotions Update: Accor Hotels, Best Western, Carlson Hotels, Choice Hotels, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood & Wyndham

There are number of very good hotel promotions going on at the moment. Club Carlson has better than free night promotions in each of their four different brands. Marriott Rewards has their summer Mega Bonus for extra points or free night certificates. Best Western is offering a free night certificate after three stays.

Le Club Accorhotels

There are no current promotion for Accor. Sign up for our email alerts to be notified when they launch a new global promo.

Best Western Rewards

Best Western Rewards is offering a free night certificate after three stays. This promotion started on June 17th and ends on August 19th. You can only earn ONE free night certificate.

Best Western Rewards Summer Bonus Offer SUM12 – Free Night Voucher After Three Stays

best-western-aeroplan-offer

The alternate promo is 2000 Air Canada Aeroplan miles per stay for up to three stays. The bonus is 1750 miles per stay.

Best Western Rewards Aeroplan Bonus Offer – 2000 Miles Per Stay for up to 3 Stays

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Carlson has come up with the most exciting summer promotion this year. You can register for four different promotions and earn enough points for a free night and then some from each one of them. You only need to register and try out each of their different brands once.

You can get 50000 bonus Club Carlson points by registering for their Big Night Giveaway and have a stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu property worldwide

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Radisson Big Night Giveaway Promotion Is Now Live

Then there is the Country Inns & Suites version of this promotion. You can get 44000 bonus Club Carlson points by registering for their Stay 1 Get 1-promotion and staying a night at any of their Country Inns & Suites.

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Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Stay 1 Get 1 Promotion – 44000 Club Carlson Bonus Points

And Club Carlson’s third promotion is for the Park Inn-brand. You will get 44000 bonus points after registering for their Stay One Get One-promotion and staying at any of the Park Inn locations by July 22nd.

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Club Carlson Park Inn by Radisson Promotion Get 44K Bonus Points for a Stay

The newest of the four is the promotion for the Park Plaza-brand. You can get 50000 bonus points after a paid stay. You need to register and watch the video first.

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Club Carlson Park Plaza Ultimate Night Giveaway – Earn 50K Bonus Points

If you are new to the Club Carlson, you can read about the various status levels with the program and the status match opportunities:

Club Carlson Red, Silver, Gold, & Concierge Status Levels Explained

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson Status Match

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice is offering 8000 Choice Privileges points for every two stays that you can redeem for $50 gift cards with number of retailers. Note that the definition of a stay is TWO nights at select Choice properties.

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Choice Hotels Summer Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn $50 Gift Card

Hilton HHonors

Hilton’s 3rd quarter promotion is for double points for weekday stays and triple points for weekend ones. Please note that the number of properties that have opted out of this promo is rather long.

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Hilton HHonors 3rd Quarter “Triple Your Trip” 2012 Double or Triple Points Promotion

You can also get 2000 bonus Hilton HHonors points for your first Home2 Suites stay.

You can read about getting a status match with Hilton HHonors:

Hilton HHonors Gold & Diamond Status Match & Challenge & Fast Track Offer

Hilton HHonors Gold VIP Fast Track Offer Through MVP Program. Gold Status After Four Stays or Nine Nights During 90 period

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt has teamed up with number of airlines; Air China, Air France-KLM, ANA, American Airlines, British Airways, China Eastern, Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Southwest, and United to offer up to five times the miles or points.

Hyatt Gold Passport Summer 2012 Promotion for up to Five Times the Miles

Hyatt also offers status matches/trials. You can read more about them here:

Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Status Match – Hyatt Diamond Trial Challenge As Of 2012

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

As always, Priority Club has number of promotions that you should sign for.

Last week, I wrote about eight Priority Club bonuses that one should sign up for. These were offers that were emailed to a number of Priority Club members and are supposedly “targeted”. With Priority Club these targeted offers are open for anybody, however.

Quarter 3 Stay bonuses

These started on July 1st and end on September 30th, 2012. You should sign up for an offer that you know that you can achieve

Priority Club Summer Promotion 1000 Bonus Points Per Night

You can get 1000 bonus Priority Club points per night (capped at 20K) for stays until September 3rd.

15K Bonus Points + Gold Status for 6 InterContinental Nights

This is a nice bonus points promotion for InterContinental stays in the Americas.  You need to get the stays in by the end of July, 2012.

5000 Bonus Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for a Stay

This is a nice bonus for a stay in Canada. You need to have the stays by December 30th, 2012 to be eligible for the bonus miles.

Summer Bonus of up to 20K Priority Club Bonus Points

You will get 1000 bonus Priority Club bonus points per nights + 250 points per stay for booking online. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

Priority Club Vacation Pay Offer

You can get a $75 prepaid MasterCard after a rebate for a two night weekend stay. This offer is valid until September 3rd, 2012.

5K/10K/15K Bonus Points for 3/5/6 InterContinental Nights

This promotion cannot be combined with the 15K Bonus + Gold after 6 stays. This offer is valid until the end of July, 2012.

$50 Travel MasterCard for Two Night Weekday Stay

This is similar to the weekend offer, but is valid for weekday stays. This offer is valid until August 2nd, 2012.

2000 Bonus Points for Priority Club Surveys

You can get couple of thousand bonus points for completing bunch of short quizzes.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott summer promotion started on June 1st and is valid until August 31st. You needed to register by June 30th. There are number of variations of the offer.

Marriott Summer Promotion of Free Night Certificates or Bonus Marriott Rewards Points

Marriott also has a MegaMiles promotion from July 1st to October 31st, 2012 for triple airline miles with selected airlines. Note that you need to change your earning from points to miles before you can sign up for this.

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Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Triple Airline Miles

Marriott also offers status matches or taste of Platinum/Gold. You can read more about the procedures of getting one here:

Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum Status Match – Taste of Platinum & Gold Challenge

If you haven’t been targeted to any of the promotions or you would like to change to another one, you can follow the instructions to get the promotion fixed for you.

Changing Targeted Marriott Promotions

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

Ritz-Carlton has exciting Extraordinary Returns promotion starting on July 15th and ends on October 15th, 2012. You can get 30000 bonus points for a stay of 4 days or longer.

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Ritz-Carlton Rewards Extraordinary Returns – 30000 Bonus Points for a Four Night Stay

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood launched their much anticipated SPG Nice Choice promotion on May 1st that hasn’t gone down too well. You can read about the initial leakmy ability to confirm that the leaked information was real, and the strategy that you should take. Essentially, this is a double or triple Starpoints promotion that is very weak compared to free night promotions that SPG was running during 2010 and 2011. Note that you needed to choose what you would like to earn and when by June 30th, 2012.

You can get 1000 Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for booking a special (expensive) rate plan.

1000 Bonus Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for Sheraton Club Bookings

Starwood doesn’t offer straight status matches, but they can offer you a challenge:

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Status Match – Platinum Challenge

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham has two promotions. One is for North America (US, Canada, and Mexico) and the other one is for rest of the world. In my opinion the rest of the world is better. Both of these promotions are ending on July 8th, 2012.

Wyndham Rewards Spring 2012 Promotion – Stay 2 Get 2 – Double Points or Miles + Up To 4 Movie Tickets

Wyndham Rewards Spring 2012 Promotion (non-North America) 10000 Bonus Points Every Two Stays – Max 30000 Bonus Points

Starwood Capital Selling Four Hotels to Katara to Be Managed by Hyatt

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There was an interesting news piece that I came across yesterday. Starwood Capital (not Starwood Hotels as some news sources were referring the seller) was selling four hotels to Katara Hospitality, a Qatari hospitality company, and these hotels are supposedly going to be managed by Hyatt per the unnamed sources.

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The hotels in question are Martinez on the Cote d’Azur, Concorde Lafayette, l’Hotel du Louvre in Paris, and Le Palais de la Mediterranee in Nice, according to a French newspaper Le Figaro.

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This is a very interesting development that would bring nice properties under the  Hyatt umbrella. You would likely to be able to earn and burn Hyatt Gold Passport points eventually too.

Hyatt Website Problems Continue – Double Points Withdrawn for Award Stays

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Hyatt has one of the most unstable hotel websites that I have ever used to book hotels. It can be down for several hours midweek for “scheduled” maintenance.

The only problem is not the instability of the site, but also the functionality. I have had the website to withdrawn points twice for award stays multiple times. It is easy to catch this when there are two deductions on the account history, but that is not always the case. Sometimes the points are withdrawn twice, but there is only one line on the account activity. Last time I noticed this only, because I thought that the balance quite didn’t seem right.

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This is probably not a problem if you only have a small number of points in your account. When you have hundreds of thousands or millions, like some of my friends have, it is not as easy to spot a double deduction of points.

Here’s what have been happening with my account. I made a reservation for the Grand Hyatt Jakarta for the Friday night. When the website prompted for a credit card to confirm it, I just double clicked the field and it was populated with the Amex number that I had inputted previously. Apparently there is something wrong with the syntax because I got the following screen next:

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When I go back and correct the card number manually, I then get the confirmation number.

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When I go back and check my account balance, you can see that Hyatt has now withdrawn the number of points required TWICE for this.

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As I posted above, I have had this happen in the past when there has only been one line, although the points were withdrawn twice. When I have called the Gold Passport they were able to see this on their internal systems and correct the double withdrawal of points.

Buy Hyatt Gold Passport Points & Get 30% Bonus

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Hyatt Gold Passport has just launched a summer promotion for buying points. You will get 30% bonus for buying Hyatt Gold Passport points between June 20th and August 31st, 2012. The maximum number of points that you can purchase is 40K for $960. With the bonus the total number of points that you will get for $960 is 52K. In essence you are paying 1.85 cents per point.

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Hyatt had a similar promotion back in January.

Don’t miss out on any Hyatt Gold Passport promotions. Follow LoyaltyLobby on Twitter.

Does it make sense to buy Hyatt Gold Passport points at 1.85 cents per points? In most cases the definite answer is it does not. But, as always, there are some exceptions to the rule.  Back in January my case was Park Hyatt Sydney where buying points and then using them for “free” nights would have made sense. Not sure if the situation has changed since January with this specific property.

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The other good example is Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, where I have been few times. I don’t like the location of this hotel that is inconvenient unless you are visiting the nearby companies. My personal favorite of the international hotels in Sao Paulo is the Marriott chain’s Renaissance that is located in the Jardins district of the city.

The paid rates at Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo are really high. Currently the price is around $500 per night.

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You can also use Hyatt Stay Certificates to pay for your stay. You can cut your price to $249 per night by going this route.

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Surprisingly the hotel is only 8000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night. If you buy the points during this sale, your nightly cost would be down to $148. That is a very good deal for Sao Paulo at the present as the Brazil’s economy is overheated.

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One thing to remember is that you won’t earn stay or night credits for stays paid using points or stay certificates. You do earn points for the incidentals during the stay. These stays do not qualify for any possible bonuses that the Hyatt is running. My advise for those that need a stay credit is to pay for the first night and then use points or certificates for the subsequent nights.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Offer available for purchases made between June 20 to August 31, 2012 inclusive. Bonus points will be awarded upon completion of individual transactions. Offer only available when points are purchased for the purchaser’s account. Offer not valid for transactions gifting points. Offer may be withdrawn or changed without notice. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer. Only purchases made online are eligible for the promotion.

Price includes all applicable fees. GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents. This transaction is completed by Points.com and will be billed as “Points Purchase Hyatt.” Purchased points are not refundable and transactions are non-reversible. Purchased points are applicable toward all Hyatt Gold Passport awards. Points purchased using this option will post within 24 hours. Purchased points do not count toward Hyatt Gold Passport elite membership tiers. All Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions apply.

Hyatt June Edition of the 48 Hour Sale – C48JUN

Hyatt is having their monthly 48 hour sale where you can save 15% to 30% off of best available rates (BAR). Sometimes you can save quite a bit of money and sometimes you cannot. These rates are valid at selected US, Canada, and Caribbean hotels from the end of June to September. The promotional dates for individual properties vary.

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Sometimes it is actually better to book an AAA rate that might include some extras like a complimentary breakfast. AAA rates are also normally not prepaid and cancellable.

Offer valid for bookings only between 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday June 19th and 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday June 20th Central Daylight Time, for travel between Sunday July 1, 2012 and Sunday September 30, 2012  at participating Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Park Hyatt and Andaz properties in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. Reservations are subject to availability and must be made in advance. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking. Offer is for a limited time only. Simply request offer code C48JUN when you book your reservation and pay the 48 Hour Sale rate. Discount is off the Hyatt Daily Rate for the room type requested at time of booking. Rate is per room, per night, excluding service charges, taxes and other incidental expenses. Rate is based on double occupancy. Additional guests may be subject to additional hotel charges. Additional charges apply to room-type upgrades. A limited number of rooms are allocated to this promotion. Full, non-refundable, Prepayment due at time of reservation. No changes, amendments or cancellations allowed. Changing to a different property is considered a cancel and re-book, and is non-refundable. Canceled reservations and no shows will forfeit the full prepayment. Promotional blackout periods may apply due to seasonal periods or special events, and normal arrival/departure restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, minimum length of stay and day of week restrictions. Offer may not be combined with other offers or discounts. Hyatt reserves the right to alter or withdraw this program at any time without notice. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts® encompasses hotels managed, franchised or leased by subsidiaries and affiliates of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. The trademarks Hyatt®, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®, Park Hyatt®, Andaz®, Grand Hyatt®, Hyatt Regency®, Hyatt Place®, Hyatt House™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2012 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa 50% Off

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There is currently a great offer until the end of this year for Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways frequent fliers (free to join). You can get 50% off of the Hyatt Daily Rate. This is the lowest rate that I have seen for this property after they stopped accepting the Hyatt stay certificates.

I visited this beautiful property back in August and wrote a piece about it, as I also did about the Male city. I also did a piece how to get a great deal using those now discontinued stay certificates or points packages that include dinner as well.

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The rates using the Qatar Airways and the promotional code PHMQA are same as the rate using the Etihad code. Note that the Qatar offer is set to end on November 30th, 2012. Who knows whether it will be extended? The rate rules that you can find on Qatar’s web page for this offer are bit different than those on Hyatt.com under rate rules for this rate plan. You can also earn double Qmiles, although I would recommend collecting Hyatt Gold Passport points instead.

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For the Etihad offer you need to use promotional code PHMEY1. This offer has the same rates as the Qatar one, but is valid until the end of the year.

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Both of these offer exceptional value for Park Hyatt Maldives. Of course getting to Maldives is bit pricey and you need to fork some cash for the internal flights as well. But it is most definitely worth it.

Here are the rate details for both offers

Qatar Airways

Rate Description:
Reduced rate for Qatar Airlines Loyalty Card holders:Tax Excluded: -Booking window: 01MAR12-01MAY12 -Stay dates: 15MAR12-30NOV12 -Guest must present Qatar Airlines Loyalty Card upon check in and choose miles for their stay.

Etihad Airways

Rate Description:
ETIHAD AIRLINES SPECIAL OFFER Reduced Rate:Tax Excluded: GUEST MUST CHOOSE MILES FOR THEIR STAY AND PROVIDE VALID ETIHAD LOYALTY CARD UPON CHECK-IN. – Valid 07DEC11-31DEC12

The additional charges are same for both:

Additional Charges:
6.000 Percent tax
10.000 Percent service charge
Bed Tax: 8 United States Dollars Per Person Per Night USD Other Charges   Cancellation Policy:
Cancel 2-14day 100percent Within 2 Days Full Penalty

Deposit Policy:
Deposit Required By June 13, 2012. Deposit By Credit Card Required. 1 Night(S) Deposit Will Be Charged To Credit Card.

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