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It is time for February hotel promotion update. All the hotels have their promotions up and running again and some like Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group have several concurrent promotions that you can take advantage of.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. Note that you will receive 2000 bonus points for online bookings.

club-carlson-triple-points

Club Carlson “Triple Points – Faster Nights” Promotion – Triple Gold Points Worldwide

Hilton HHonors

Hilton has the most promotions running that you can combine together. You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

Register Your Visa and Get 1000 Hilton HHonors Points + 4000 Bonus for Spending $100

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders + 40K HHonors Points After Four Stays (For All?

You can choose one of these airline promotions as your double dip earnings partner. My personal favorite still is BMI that would earn 1k per night and up to three nights regardless of the Hilton brand.

hilton-hhonors-ana-triple-miles

Triple ANA and Double Emirates Miles for Hilton Stays Until March 31st

Airline Promotions for Air Canada Aeroplan, US Airways Dividend Miles, Lufthansa Miles & More and American Airlines AAdvantage

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

These are the two main promotions for the time. More Points promotion for extra points for each nights and more for weekend stays, and free night certificates for longer resort stays.

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

‘Resort Escapes’ Promotion – Free Night Certificate After Five Nights and Two After Ten Nights

Hyatt Gold Passport

Last month Hyatt didn’t have any promotions running besides the AA one that ended in the middle of the month. Hyatt’s latest promotion just started today. You can earn up to 44K extra points for 16 stays during the promotional period. That is extra 2750 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

Hyatt Announced Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

The first promotion for double points starting from your second stay and the 5/7/15 stays for 5K/10K/15K bonus points are combinable. The first one runs until the end of April and the second until the end of March. Note that you need to choose the bonus after 5, 7, or 15 stays. If you don’t meet the threshold, you won’t get the associate bonus.

Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

There is Anniversary bonus that you can combine with these two promotion. It is extra 1000 Priority Club points for every stay for 90 days after you register. Do not register before the date of your first stay to maximize the promotional period. The promotion code is 6102 and you need to register at http://www.priorityclub.com/register. Please note that I cannot guarantee if this specific promotion will work for your Priority Club account. It never hurts to try, right?

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

Remember that you can have only Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. You cannot have both. You can, however, switch between accounts as often as you wish just by calling the rewards customer service.

ritz-carlton-rewards

Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Earn Free Night Certificate After Two Stays Promotion

Note that you can only register for the MegaBonus or MegaMiles promotion. There are number of different MegaBonus thresholds. Pick up the ones that fits you best, and call the Marriott Rewards customer service if you need to switch your targeted promotion to something else.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood has two different promotions that are both exclusive. The Better By the Night is valid in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The list of non-participating properties is rather long. Note that this is NOT valid in the Asia-Pacific region that has their own promotion.

Starwood Preferred Guest 1st Quarter 2012 “Better by the Night”–promotion

Starwood Preferred Guest Asia Pacific Promotion

The following promotion is valid in the Asia-Pacific region for two free night certificates after 9 stays. Must use MasterCard to pay.

‘Two Days of Happy’ – Stay 5 Nights Get One Free Night Certificate – Stay 9 Nights Get Two Free Night Certificates – 4MCFN

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My friends always think that I would complain a lot about hotels, but that is really not the case. Last year I had more than 300 hotel stays at Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, and Starwood hotels. Of these 300 stays only three were “disastrous” enough to warrant a written complaint; St Regis, W, and Ritz-Carlton hotel.

ritz-carlton-singapore

I have thought about it few times – the higher the perceived quality of the hotel, the more chances they have not to meet your expectations. Not sure if I have ever complained about the physical condition of the hotel. You can always fix/update the rooms, but getting the soft product (service) right is more complicated than that. Especially, when you are staying at “affordable” luxury hotels, they shouldn’t promise you more than what they can deliver. This is usually the reason for discontent.

Normally, I try to resolve any issues I have on the spot. Calling the operator and asking them to connect you to the Manager on Duty, is most of the time enough to get any stay related issues corrected while you are still at the property.  But, when you have many issues going wrong with your stay, then it might be worthwhile to write-up a letter to let the property and possible the franchisor know about the issues you have had. This is also another chance for them to make it right i.e. offer you compensation (read points).

If I have had a bad stay, I never write the letter immediately. It is better to let the things settle and not to write anything when you are “emotional”. I just write down the issues I have had on a notepad and revisit them a week or two later.

The structure of the complaint

– Your name and address

– The confirmation number

– Your account number with the hotels loyalty program

– The date(s) of your stay

First paragraph: I normally include some information about the number of hotel stays I have had and statuses, if any, I have with the hotel loyalty programs.

Second paragraph: There is always something positive about the stay as well. I always start with the things that I liked about the hotel.

And then the complaint part. I always try to be as short as possible and straight to the facts. I tend to use points to make it clearer. One or maximum two lines per issue or problem.

Third paragraph: If you know what would be your preferred resolution for the complaint, don’t hesitate to communicate it. I normally request points in the hotels loyalty program.

Fourth paragraph: Just closing the letter and thanking them.

Where to send the complaint?

With the chain hotels, like the ones I listed above, there are always two ways. You can send it to the attention of the General Manager of the property in question, or you can send it to the corporate who will delegate it to the property. I tend to send it to the corporate because then it gets to the attention of the person at the property who deals with issues like this.

How to send it?

With Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton, and Marriott you can just send it by email. I don’t like using web forms for issues like these that Hyatt requires, so I just fax it to the Hyatt customer service department.

How long to wait for a reply?

I would say that hotels are typically very fast at resolving any issues raised post stay. You should hear back from the property itself, or the guest relations department of the loyalty program, in just a few days.

Conclusion

I really don’t like the word “complaint” at all. Think of it as giving feedback to the property about the issues that they should be looking more into. Business are generally happy when you give them the opportunity to make things right. Also, there must be quite a few guests that have come across the same issues, but who have never taken the time to give feedback.

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InterContinental Hotels Group’s Priority Club just launched their first quarter 2012 Points Break list. These hotels are great way to use Priority Club points at deep discount as all these hotels are only 5000 Priority Club points per night.

priority-club-point-breaks

My favorite hotels of this group are the InterContinental ones. The Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Crowne Plaza hotels are way too inconsistent for my taste. I am sure that there are brilliant Holiday Inn hotels, but you never know before you are actually at the property. If you are only planning to sleep at the hotel, I am sure that all these will do as well.

There are only nine InterContinental hotels on the Points Break list. The most interesting one is probably the property in Tahiti, and I am actually quite surprised to see it on the list, although you can usually find rates for less than $200 there.  The one in Phnom Penh is quite nice. I have stayed there couple of times. Normally the rates there are around $100 per night.

The problem that I have, when I am redeeming “free” nights at InterContinental properties, is that officially the main Royal Ambassador benefits like upgrades, 8AM check in and complimentary minibar do not apply. Other problem is that, if you consider qualifying for the Royal Ambassador status that requires around 50 nights at IHG hotels, there is opportunity cost as well. Let’s consider the following points:

– On average, I have earned 7K Priority Club points per paid stay (1 night) at IC’s considering Royal Ambassador, Platinum, Ambassador Accelerator, quarterly stay, and three times a year global bonuses

– Value of confirmed Royal Ambassador benefits – maybe $20 per stay

– Value of qualifying stay for IC RA renewal – maybe $10 per stay

– Possibility of getting cash back for a paid booking – have varied from 5% to 13%

So in my opinion, it doesn’t really make a sense to use a Points Break night unless the InterContinental hotel is at least $150 considering the points that I made above. [click to continue…]

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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced on January 3rd that on January 18th 25% of the hotels are going up and 20% of the hotels are going down in the number or Priority Club points needed for a free night. Unlike other hotel companies, IHG refused to provide a comprehensive list of properties, which will change, stating that not releasing a list is a competitive advantage. In my opinion it is just being foolish. Anyone could combine a list of category changes, as I have done for InterContinental hotels.

intercontinental-changes-1

IHG also stated that all the hotels would be bookable at old levels over the phone until March 18th. It is somewhat confusing, how someone would know whether the hotel has moved up or down, if a list of hotels is not provided. Also, the customers that have made award reservations before hotel going down in number of points needed are required to call to get the difference in points credited back to their account.

intercontinental-changes-2

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go through all the 4500 hotels of the IHG. I have today, however, gone through all the 187 InterContinental Hotels that are listed on www.intercontinental.com website. Please note that not all of these hotels are operational at the moment. Some will be opened later this year or next year.

intercontinental-changes-3

Twenty InterContinental hotels are going down in number of points (10000) required for an award night (from 40K to 30K). 26 are going up 10K points per night, and one property, Perth IC, is going up from 30K to 50K Priority Club points per night. Nine went from 30K to 40K per night and 17 from 40K to 50K per night.

intercontinental-changes-4

When I was going through these at www.priorityclub.com, I also noted what would be the nightly rate for May 15th, 2012. This is the figure that is immediate to the right of the arrow. The bolded number of most right is the value of Priority Club point in dollars for that night. It is rarely more than a cent.

intercontinental-changes-5

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There has been a subtle change in Terms and conditions when it comes to earning points at InterContinental Hotels. Until February 15th you will continue to earn flat 2000 Priority Club base points at all InterContinental hotels regardless of the length of the stay or money spend.

Starting February 15th there will be a partial change.

Effective 2012 February 15, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean plus all Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn, and Holiday Inn Express hotel brands worldwide, you will receive ten (10) points for each USD dollar or local currency equivalent paid toward Eligible Charges on your individual hotel room bill, when you pay Qualifying Room Rates.

InterContinental Hotels & Resorts outside of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and the Caribbean plus all InterContinental Alliance Resorts worldwide, you will receive 2,000 points per Qualifying Stay .

intercontinental-hotels-group-earnings-change

I really thought that they couldn’t make this program any more confusing. They are already running two programs simultaneously that are partially overlapping; Ambassador/Royal Ambassador programs, which only apply to InterContinental Hotels, but earn you Priority Club points, and Priority Club that has Gold and Platinum levels which only apply to all other hotels of the InterContinentalHotel Group than InterContinentals themselves. What a mess, right? [click to continue…]

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As I was flying to Dubai and my destination was actually Abu Dhabi, where I needed to be the following day, I decided to spend a one night at this Holiday Inn Express (HIX) hotel. I am quite familiar with the brand as I have stayed at few newly built HIX hotels in the United States over the years. Normally it is value for money and without the glamor.

holiday-inn-express-dubai-internet-city-reception

Also, I had to get my fourth different InterContinental Hotels Group brand stay to qualify for the brand multiplier promotion that they were running last year. I was thinking at one point whether I really should stay at this hotel or just leave. Of course you don’t need to STAY if you want the stay credit. Checking in is enough.

holiday-inn-express-dubai-internet-city-lobby

Location

This hotel is located close to the Dubai Marina but there really isn’t anything in the immediate area for touristic purposes.  To be fair this hotel is not geared for tourists but for business travelers visiting the nearby companies/educational institutions. [click to continue…]

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IHG Priority Club just announced their latest promo that is valid from January 23rd to April 30th, 2012. You can get double points or miles starting from your second stay. You can start earning from your first stay if you stay at Candlewood or Staybridge Suites.

intercontinental-hotels-group-1q-2012-promotion-double-points-or-miles

Please note that you can combine this with the promotion that I wrote about on December 16th for 5K/10K/15K Priority Club points for 3/7/15 nights.

This promotion doubles the number of base points/miles you can earn from your stay that is dependent of the brand.  During the promotion period you will earn 20 Priority Club points per USD at Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Hotel Indigo’s, and 10 points per USD at Candlewood and Staybridge Suites. For InterContinental hotels, it means another 2000 Priority Club points per stay regardless how many nights you stay or how much you spend is during the stay.

Please note that the number of base miles earned depends of the airline. You can check the various airlines and the number of miles earned per USD spend here: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/1/en/c/2/content/dec/pc/0/en/miles/us/airline.html.

You can register for this promotion at https://secure.priorityclub.com/hotels/us/en/global/offers/q112/pts_mls.

The participating airline partners for this promotion are: [click to continue…]

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Please refer to February hotel promotions update: February Hotel Promotions Update: Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood

By now all hotel chains except Hyatt have announced their first quarter 2012 promotions. Here are the Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood Preferred Guest promotions.

Hilton HHonors

Hilton HHonors has two ongoing promotions that should be combinable. “Resort Escapes – you can get one free night certificate after contiguous five nights stay and second one after another five.

Hilton 'Escape to a Resort' Promotion

The other promotion is More Points promotion that is basically extra 1000 Hilton HHonors bonus points per night + 5000 extra bonus points for two night contiguous weekend stay. Weekend is defined as Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night. You can earn one 5000 bonus points per weekend. [click to continue…]

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It is the time of the year again when hotel groups tend to tinker with their redemption charts. In 2010, when Hilton devalued their program, IHG even saw it as a marketing opportunity and launched a Luckiest Loser campaign. This time, however, it is IHG’s time to devalue theirs. We’ll see if Hilton will run a campaign to “give” back to IHG.

Here are the numbers; 25% (1125) of the hotels are going up, 20% (900) of the properties are going down, and 55% (2475) are staying the same. There are more than 4500 hotels under the IHG umbrella.

The new redemption rates are effective on January 18th but the old point rates are bookable by phone until March 18th. Would it be nice to know what hotels are going up and which ones are going down? It certainly would but IHG won’t disclose it. Apparently, this is for their competitive advantage according to a spokesperson. Starwood and Hyatt both publish a list of hotels that are changing categories and members then have time to book using the old rates.

Here are the new redemption levels for various IHG brands. I have highlighted the new levels.

priority-club-new-redemption-chart

For comparison here’s the old one.

priority-club-new-redemption-chart-old [click to continue…]

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priority-club-last-minute-reward-nights-300Every first full weekend of each month IHG has selection of their hotels for 50% fewer points per night. The catch is that you need to book the hotels on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for the coming weekend. There really isn’t time to plan anything around these sales, but if you happen to be close by, it can make a nice weekend getaway.

This time there are 80 participating properties of which half are in the United States. The number of InterContinental’s in the selection is fifteen from 20K to 15K Priority Club points per night. One of flagship properties in Moorea is included. If you have reward nights reserved there this coming weekend, now it is time to rebook and save half the points used.

priority-club-last-minute-reward-nights

If you have reward nights needs this coming weekend and you have some Priority Club points, it makes sense to check the following link: http://www.priorityclub.com/rewards/us/en/redeem/catalog/hotel/last-minute-reward-nights. For some reason it seems to time out on some browsers. If you get time out, try a different browser or session. [click to continue…]

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Yesterday, I was browsing the PriorityClub website when a banner of 5000 bonus points for stays in Finland and Denmark came up. The terms and conditions also didn’t indicate that one would need to pay for any “inflated” price to get the points, as is often the case. I decided to look into this, because I was going to be in Helsinki next week.

priority-club-escape-to-finland-and-denmark-and-earn-5000-bonus-screen

IHG has been revamping their websites recently and often the links are broken. When you try to click any of the hotel specific links, you only get 404 error:

priority-club-escape-to-finland-and-denmark-and-earn-5000-bonus-points [click to continue…]

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First of all, I don’t believe that there is a right or wrong way. I kinda have my rule of thumb. Since 2004, I have had more than 300 hotel stays early. Normally, I choose a hotel from Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, or Starwood collections due to the fact that I have the top tier status with all of them.

Last night I was researching hotels in Kiev, where I was supposed to be later today. I will write about my experience with PS (Ukraine International Airlines) at some later date that made me change my plans at the very last minute.

Ukraine, where Kiev is the capital, is one of those interesting former eastern bloc countries that still have relatively low standard of living, but where hotels are very expensive. The city is hosting a football tournament next year and quite a few new hotels are coming online, including Fairmont, Hilton, and Sheraton.  Hopefully this will bring the prices down.

So, last night when I was looking at the hotels I had to make a choice between a Hyatt Regency Kiev and the InterContinental hotels. The Hyatt had a best available rate of 330 euros and InterContinental 295 euros per night. Both hotels had award inventory available as well. Hyatt at 18000 Gold Passport points and InterContinental at 30000 Priority Club points per night.

hyatt-regency-kiev-rate-sheet

[click to continue…]

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Priority Club Offer RegisterationThe 2012 promos are slowly strarting to be introduced. IHG’s Priority Club just launched their stay/nights based bonus points promotion for the 1st quarter of 2012. Normally Priority Club member is targeted to one of these based on their stay history, but that doesn’t prevent them for registering one of the other offers if they decide to do so.

Please note that you can only register for ONE of these, and once you have registered you cannot change it.

Depending how many nights you expect to stay during the first quarter of the next year, you should choose 3, 7, or 15 nights version of this promotion. [click to continue…]

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These Points Breaks are one of the best aspects of the IHG’s Priority Club. They are highly discounted hotel awards, for the next couple of months, released four times a year. When IHG first introduced this program, it was promoted quite heavily. For the past couple of years not so.

InterContinental Hotels Group Points Breaks

So the deal here is that, regardless of the brand, the reward night only costs 5000 Priority Club point per night. This is exceptional value considering that some of the InterContinental hotels on the list normally go for 30000 Priority Club points per night or more. [click to continue…]