Le Parker Meridien New York and Parker Palm Springs Forced to Leave Starwood Due to Fraud?

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There was a piece on NY Post few days ago about alleged fraud that the management of Le Parker Meridien and Parker Palm Springs, both owned by the same company, had conducted over three year period and milked SPG out of more than million dollars in unwarranted reimbursements.

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According to the NY Post article about the law suit, the management of the hotels had falsified records and fabricated room reservations in order to boost payments from the Starwood’s loyalty program.

January Hotel Promotions Update

January 2013 has kicked in and all the others have already launched their promotions besides Accor, Hyatt & Ritz-Carlton.

You can get cash back for most of your hotel bookings and you can read more about it here: Cashback for Your Hotel and Travel Bookings.

If I have missed any hotel points promotions, just leave a message below or send me an email to john@loyaltylobby.com.

Accor Hotels / Le Club Accorhotels

There are currently no global promotions for extra Le Club Accorhotels points.

You can get instants Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status:

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Accor A-Club / Le Club Accorhotels Platinum Status for New Accounts (and Old Ones Too)

Registration Open for SPG’s Power Up Promotion

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The registration for SPG’s Power Up promotion (that I originally wrote about on December 12) is now open and required by February 28. 2013. You can earn maximum of 18K bonus Starpoints for 20 nights during the promotion period from January 15 to April 15, 2013. You can access Starwood’s website for this promotion here.

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You will earn 2000 bonus Starpoints for every four nights (4/8/12/16) you stay during the promotion period for up to 8000 bonus points after 16 nights. You will receive 10000 additional bonus points for staying 20 nights during the promotional period. You will not receive bonuses for more than 20 nights.

Summary of Pros and Cons of Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club, Marriott & Starwood Preferred Guest

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In the past month, I wrote extensive articles about the good and not so good things about Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club, Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest. I just went back and did some small changes to them based on the feedback that I have received and what else have come to my mind.

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I got some requests to do similar write ups about some other programs  such as Le Club Accorhotels and Club Carlson. Unfortunately, I have not had nowhere near as many nights with these two chains as I have any of the above five of which I have spent anywhere between 300 to 700 nights each.

What do you especially LIKE or DISLIKE about any of these five hotel chains and/or their loyalty programs? Leave you comments below.

W Bangkok – Review of My Stay Over New Years

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W Bangkok has now been open for less than a month. The grand opening is currently scheduled for March, 2013. The hotel only has part of the final room inventory available right now i.e. suites are scheduled to be available starting from February 1, 2013. You can read more about my booking dilemma of this hotel here.

I always advise my friends to stay away from newly opened hotels for at least 6 months. Typically, it takes a while for the employees to get up to the SPG program standards and also get to know the property. I was actually surprised how smoothly everything went during my brief stay. Quite frankly, I was expecting the absolute worst.

Pros and Cons of Starwood Preferred Guest

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For some reason, it took me a while before I started to stay at Starwood properties. I warmed up for other hotel programs first. I have managed to accrue somewhere between 500 to 600 nights (paid & award) during the past five years and have met the lifetime SPG Gold requirements.

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I like to stay at Starwood properties when they have reasonable promotion(s). Outside of the promotional periods? Not so.

Here’s my take what I like about SPG and what I don’t. What is your opinion? Just leave your comment below.

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.

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.

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.

US State Department Takes Over Sheraton Hotel

Yesterday, I was researching hotel options for Sana’a. There is a newly built Mövenpick hotel and Mercure in the city in addition to a Sheraton hotel.  When I was trying to find out the price for the Sheraton, it appeared to be sold out for every foreseeable day.

Sheraton Sana'a
Sheraton Sana’a

When I was Googling around, I came across the following article on the Washington Post. Apparently, the hotel had been taken over by US State Department already for more than a year and it is being reflagged on January 1st, 2013. Some diplomats, referenced on the Washington Post article, were not too happy about this recent development.

British Airways Avios 25% Hotel Points Conversion Bonus

British Airways is offering 25% bonus for converting hotel points to Avios. This offer is valid until January 13. There is no need to register for this offer and you can read more about it here.

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You can convert points from Starwood, Club Carlson, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, Priority Club, and Shangri-La’s programs into Avios.

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Conclusion

Airlines tend to intermittently run promotions for hotel point conversion to their miles. These offers tend to vary. Would I convert any of my hotel points to Avios due to getting 25% conversion bonus? I absolutely would not, but it doesn’t mean that this promotion could not work for you.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

  • This promotion is only open to Eligible Participants. An eligible participant is a person aged 18 or over and is a British Airways Executive Club Member (“BAEC”) (membership terms and conditions apply) and is enrolled and registered with one of the hotel partner loyalty programmes. By taking part in this promotion, Eligible Participants confirm that they accept the Terms and Conditions below.

  • Eligible Participants can earn up to 25% Bonus Avios between 13 December 2012 and 13 January 2013 for any qualifying hotel loyalty points converted into Avios. BAEC members must enrol via the hotel property links provided on http://www.britishairways.com/travel/points-to-avios/public/

  • To convert your points, please contact the hotel whose points you wish to convert to Avios.

  • Taxes, fees and charges remain payable by the BAEC member.

  • Bonus Avios can take 4-6 weeks to show on your account from the date of conversion. Once they have been credited, you can start redeeming them for flights, hotels and Avis car hire.· Bonus Avios is non-redeemable for cash and non-reversible.

  • Bonus Avios is issued subject to the BAEC Terms and Conditions http://www.britishairways.com/travel/termcn/public/en_gb and all passengers and baggage are subject to the general terms and conditions of carriage.

  • Reward flights are subject to availability and capacity control and availability may be limited at peak times.

  • Hotel loyalty scheme membership, and earning and redemption of points are subject to the Terms and Conditions of each specific hotel’s loyalty scheme in addition to British Airways Terms and Conditions, as applicable.

  • This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with any other British Airways offers or promotion.

  • Promoter reserves the right to withdraw the promotion or amend these terms and conditions without prior notice at any time, for whatever reason, and without any liability to customers for doing so.

  • This promotion shall be governed by the laws of England & Wales and the exclusive jurisdiction of the English Courts.

  • This promotion is provided by British Airways Plc Waterside, PO Box 365, Harmondsworth, UB7 0GB. Registered No. 1777777 England

Starwood Cookie Consent and 130+ Networks They Use for Ad Targeting

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For the past week, I have been in the European Union that has far stricter privacy laws than most countries in Asia or North America. I have seen somewhat annoying messages to deny or allow cookies from number of companies/media whose websites I frequent.

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When you click the Evidon tab that shows up on the SPG’s website, you are then presented with a Cookie Consent Tool.

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Starwood uses three cookies for storing essential log in information to their website.

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They do use, however, excess of 130 companies/cookies for ad servicing.

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For ad targeting, SPG uses 19 partners.

Conclusion,

SPG, for being a large multinational, works with a number of partners that is well represented by the number of cookies and services they use to serve advertising and personalize it.

If you ask how many cookies LoyaltyLobby stores in your computer, I quite frankly have no idea. The only thing that we use for visitor tracking is Google Analytics.

SPG Power Up Promotion: 2000 Bonus Starpoints for Every Four Nights + 10K Bonus for 20 Nights

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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) just announced their 1st quarter 2013 Power Up promotion that is valid from January 15 to April 15, 2013, and registration is required by February 28. The registration for this promotion will open in early 2013. You can access SPG’s page for this promotion here.

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You will earn 2000 bonus Starpoints for every four nights (4/8/12/16) you stay during the promotion period for up to 8000 bonus points after 16 nights. You will receive 10000 bonus points for staying 20 nights during the promotional period. You will not receive bonuses for more than 20 nights.

Note that the nights can be over number of stays. Although award nights yield a stay credit, they are not eligible nights for promotional purposes.

Conclusion

This is essentially 500 bonus points per stay if you reach the 4/8/12/16 nights requirements + 10K bonus for reaching 20 nights. If you do 20 eligible SPG nights during the promotional period, the prorated nightly bonus is 900 Starpoints.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

SPG Power Up Terms and Conditions

Text Message Reminders: SPG® members who reside in the U.S. or U.K. can opt to receive a text message reminder to register for the promotion when the registration window opens. Submit keyword “PWRUP” to 44264 in the U.S. to opt in. Submit keyword “PWRUP” to 447950080934 in the U.K. to opt in. Opted-in members will receive three text messages from Starwood for this campaign. One message will be sent right after opting in, asking you to respond with keyword “YES” to verify that you would like to receive the reminder text. Once you do so, you will also get a text confirming that you have been opted in. Then, when the promotion is live, you will get the reminder text with registration information. Message and data rates apply. Supported carriers in the U.S. are AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Nextel, Boost, U.S. Cellular and Alltel. Supported carriers in the U.K. are Three, O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Virgin and Vodafone. If your mobile operator is not participating, you may not receive a reply to your message. To receive help information, text “PWRUP HELP” to short code 44264 in the U.S. or text “PWRUP HELP” to 447950080934 if located in the U.K. You may also opt out at any time by sending “PWRUP STOP” to 44264 in the U.S. or by sending “PWRUP STOP” to 447950080934 if located in the U.K. We will not share or use your mobile number for any other purpose. We will only use information you provide to transmit your text message.

Earning: Once registration opens, SPG members will have until February 28, 2013, midnight ET to register at spg.com/powerup. Members can earn 2,000 bonus Starpoints® after every four eligible nights, up to a maximum of 8,000 bonus Starpoints after 16 eligible nights. Members can earn an additional 10,000 bonus Starpoints once they have stayed 20 eligible nights. Members may earn a maximum of 18,000 total bonus Starpoints for eligible nights from January 15, 2013, through April 15, 2013 (the “promotion period”).

Bonusing: Bonus Starpoints will post to the registered member’s account within 2–4 weeks after the qualifying stay posts that includes the 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 20th eligible night. Bonus Starpoints will be awarded after the complete stay posts, regardless of when the qualifying nights within a given stay occur.

Eligible Nights: An eligible night is a night at any of the over 1,100 SPG-participating hotels and resorts paying an eligible rate during the promotion period. Nights do not have to be consecutive and can be accumulated across multiple stays. An eligible rate is any rate that is eligible to earn Starpoints in the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. SPG-participating hotels and resorts and a description of eligible stays and eligible rates can be found at spg.com under program terms and conditions. See Section 1.4 for the complete definition of eligible rates, but note that certain prepaid rooms where the booking is made through a third party (including but not limited to travelocity.com, expedia.com and orbitz.com) are not eligible rates and do not earn Starpoints or qualify toward promotional earnings.

Qualifications and Starwood Terms: All promotions are subject to the Starwood Preferred Guest program terms and conditions, which are subject to change without notice and can be found at spg.com. Offer is applicable to individual members only and not to groups. Not responsible for omissions or typographical errors. Starwood reserves the right to discontinue this offer at any time. To update your communication preferences or learn about our privacy practices, view our Privacy Statement on spg.com/privacy, or access our privacy information line by calling 1-877-782-0071 in the U.S. and Canada or +353-21-4930474 in all other countries. Starpoints, SPG, Preferred Guest, Sheraton, Four Points, W, Aloft, The Luxury Collection, Le Méridien, Element, Westin, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. Void where prohibited by law. ©2012 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All rights reserved.

Year End Hotel Elite Status Dilemma (Hilton, Hyatt, IHG/Priority Club, Marriott & Starwood)

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It is the time of the year when many of us are looking at the hotel account statements for stay & night counts. You may have enjoyed the benefits of the elite status such as Diamond or Platinum and are now few stays short on qualifying or, for the first time, you may be few stays short of qualifying for the higher tier.

Does it make sense to do few mattress runs (un-needed stays) to qualify or requalify for hotel elite status?

Overall, if you are, let’s say, 3 to 5 stays short, in most cases, it probably does make sense. You should consider your travel patterns in 2013. Do you expect to have about the same number of stays as this year or is your travel going to pick up?

You could always do bunch of stays in early 2013 before your status lapses and then requalify for all the way to early 2015.

How much do you realistically value the benefits that you have received in 2012 based on the elite status such as:

1. Upgrades

2. Club lounge access / breakfast

3. Welcome amenities

4. Extra points

5. Problem resolution

6. Complimentary internet access

When I say realistically value, I mean, how much you would have paid for those extra benefits. I don’t mean what is the “rack” rate i.e. between a room you booked and the suite you received.

If you have decided to requalify or qualify for the higher status and are few stays/points short, here are my tips for various chains:

Hilton

Hilton has offered fast tracks for qualifying Gold and Diamond status several times over the years. They have also not downgraded me on some years from Diamond to Gold, when I have been few stays short.

Hilton properties in non-resort locations are rather inexpensive around the holidays, when business travelers are gone. Hilton just announced excellent public Friends & Family sale that qualifies for stay credit and points. You can snag very good properties at exceptionally low rates. You can also try other discount rates such as Little League, UK Public Employee Offer, Corporate Benefits Employee offer and MVP. Note that Hilton’s awards also count for stay/night credit.

Hilton has a very good Gold level status program and it is probably not worth a lot trying to make a Diamond. Gold gives you access to VIP awards, free internet access and for breakfast and/or lounge access. The latter is not guaranteed.

You could always do a MVP Gold challenge early next year and qualify for Gold status until February 2015.

Hyatt

Hyatt’s Platinum status is fairly useless and gives you just complimentary internet access. Hyatt just announced that they are going away with Platinum Extras Awards that Platinum members used to get for every three stays.

So, I would only do a mattress run to get to the Diamond status. Hyatt doesn’t count award nights for status qualifying purposes, so you need to pay for a going rate that can get very expensive very fast if you are located outside of the United States.

You may be able to take advantage couple of discounts that around the holidays this year; “Home for the Holidays” and “Make the Moments Last”.

InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club

With Priority Club you can qualify based on the points that you have earned or the number of nights that you have stayed at their properties.  They are changing the qualification criteria next year to only count the base points that you have earned from the stays or the nights. Currently all earned points count towards the status.

If you haven’t signed up for any Priority Club promotions for a while and have at least Gold status, you can easily get in excess of 10K points out from a paid stay due to numerous one time bonus offers that I have written here.

Alternatively, you can stay in a hotel that offers extra Priority Club Points that will also count toward the stays.

The last option would be to just buy the number of points that you are short off. These counts as well.

Marriott

Marriott’s requirements for Gold Status (50 nights) and for Platinum (75 nights) are high compared to other chains.

You can always buy back the status that you have this year in 2013 IF you don’t qualify or they don’t extend your status based on your stay history.

Other options would be to do the Taste of Platinum or Gold match early next year.

Reward nights do not count toward status.

Marriott’s also awards 10 elite qualifying nights, if you arrange a meeting at their property. This “meeting” can require as little as renting a conference room for couple of hours at a Courtyard for hundred bucks or so.

Overall, the difference between the Gold and Platinum with Marriott are relatively insignificant especially if you are traveling in North America and mainly use limited service properties.

Starwood

Starwood introduced several new levels within the Platinum status this year; 50 nights gives you SNA’s (Suite Night Awards), 75 nights gives you fourth Starpoint and You24, and 100 nights personalized Ambassador.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother reaching for 50, 75, or 100 nights unless you are just couple of stays short. The benefits are not that significant. I haven’t used a single SNA, never tried using You24 (not confirmed but rather based on availability), and have used the Ambassador only handful of times.

But if you are just few stays short of Platinum status, I would most definitely try to reach it. Paid, award and cash + points now all count toward the 25 stays or 50 nights requirement.

If you find a really good rate, you can make the booking for THREE rooms. You can book up to three rooms under one membership number and get a stay/night credits for all the rooms. Note that the SPG member must pay for them all.

Conclusion

It really is a last call when it comes to qualifying for 2013. I have given up on both Marriott and Hyatt this year.

I have been Hyatt Diamond since around 2004 and this is the first year that I am not qualifying. They just haven’t had enough good promotions and the lack of reasonably priced international locations have been both deterrents. I had had more than 30 nights as awards, but they don’t count with Hyatt.

With Marriott, I am going to do a challenge next year or use the elite buy back process that I was referring above. Not sure what I am going to do with the Hyatt,however. SPG Platinum, Hilton Diamond and Priority Club Platinum/InterContinental Royal Ambassador are all banked at this point.

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