My Hotel Award Dilemma for Doha Qatar


I have been to Doha few times in the past when flying on Qatar Airways. The city is an easy stop for a longish transfer of less than 24 hours or for a short stopover. Normally there are only a handful of people at the luggage claim as most of the passengers are on transit. The immigration has always been a breeze. Airport is close to the city center and the taxi fares are cheap

It is not the most exciting city in the Middle East, but there is enough to do for a couple of days.

I have checked out the W, InterContinental (old one), and the Sheraton hotels on my previous trips. There are new hotels popping up almost every few weeks and decided to try something else this time around. The headline prices for hotels in Doha seem to start at $200++.

When there isn’t a stellar promotion around, I tend to check both the paid options and award options for quite a few chains. Preferably, I would have liked to have a stay at any of the three Club Carlson brands that are giving away points enough for a free night (see the promotions here, here, and here). Unfortunately there are no Club Carlson properties in Doha.

So, I decided to check Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, Starwood, and Wyndham options for Doha and eventually settled for Points & Money option with the Hilton.

Hilton HHonors


There was four options for Hilton; pay 820 QAR, use 40K HH points, Points & Money option of 20K HH and 254 QAR, or use the last free night certificate from the Hilton’s promo last year.

Hyatt Gold Passport

The Grand Hyatt in Doha is located close to the sports world complex and now burned Villagio mall. The location is horrible if you are planning to do sightseeing in Doha.



With Hyatt there are basically two options, pay the 1000 QAR or use 15K Hyatt Gold Passport points. There is a nice promotion going on with the Hyatt for the airline points, but not worth paying the premium for this hotel, however.

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club

There are two InterContinental hotels in Doha. The old one, where I have stayed at previously, and the new one that is located in the city center, and is very close to the nice City Center mall.



Both were in the 900 QAR range and would require 40K PC for the old and 30K PC for the new one. Hotels had points and money option available as well.

Marriott Rewards

To my surprise Marriott had the greatest number of properties in Doha and they would have been the best deal using points.



The Renaissance and Courtyard hotels are both collocated at the City Center mall that I was referring earlier. You have direct access, at least from the Courtyard, to the mall itself. The number of points require for the Renaissance is 15K and for the Courtyard 10K. I think that both of these present exceptional point redemption value. Then there is the older Marriott that is located close to the airport. It also requires rather modest number of points (15K) considering the going rates of 950 QAR at this hotel.

There are also two Ritz-Carlton properties that are Tier 1 point wise in the Ritz-Carlton Rewards. I probably wouldn’t use points at these two properties, but could considering using a free night certificate that the Ritz-Carlton was giving on their last promotion.

Starwood Preferred Guest

There are three Starwood properties in Doha, and I have previously stayed at the W hotel right after it opened few years ago and at the Sheraton Doha Resort late last fall. I like the location of both of these hotels. There is a brand new St Regis in Doha as well, but the location of that hotel is disadvantageous.


The Sheraton Doha Resort (category 6) is absolutely horrible value point wise. It would require 20K SPG and didn’t have any cash & points available.


The W is category 5 hotel and would have had a price tag of 999 QAR for last night. The number of SPG points required for a free night would have been somewhat reasonable 12K, but the Cash & Points at 4800 points + 90 USD for the night is a great deal for Doha.


The St Regis had the highest price at 1400 QAR and category 6 award level. Neither 20K SPG or 8K SPG + 150 USD would had represented any value for me.

Wyndham Rewards

I haven’t stayed too much at the Wyndham family for hotels. Last time when I stayed at the Ramada in Colombo, I later found out that I would not earn any points. This was not clearly presented on the website, but was rather hidden in the terms and conditions of the rewards program. You won’t earn any points for stays in Sri Lanka and number of other countries.




Wyndham family would have had three options in Doha; two Ramada properties and one Wyndham. All these are located in the old city center of the Doha and are quite close to the airport.


The cheaper Ramada property would have required 15K points and the more expensive 30K points.


It pays to be part of number of frequent guest programs as not all the chains has coverage in all cities or offer reasonable point based pricing.

On this trip I decided to check out the new Hilton in Doha and use Hilton’s Points & Money awards. I am going to be back next week for a night as well and have decided to stay at one of the Marriott Rewards properties as they are offering exceptionally good redemption value for Doha.

Sometimes SPG’s categories seem to be somewhat unreasonable as is the case in Doha. Both the old Sheraton and the brand new St Regis are very expensive to use points. The best Starwood option is the W that is still category 5 hotel.

Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Collection Hotel – Review of My Stay


This is probably one of the most aspirational properties for Hilton HHonors members to spend their points. The hotel used to be under the Hilton brand before switching to Waldorf Astoria collection.

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Under the Waldorf Astoria flag the property requires whopping 60K Hilton HHonors points per night during the high season and 50K points per night on shoulder months. I did, however, use two free night certificates from a promo that Hilton had last year. I had some trouble making the reservation as the inventory was constantly changing and wrote a piece about it.


Although the hotel is very expensive points wise, the paid rates aren’t always that bad. For some dates this coming summer, the rates can be as low as 187 euros per night, that is really competitive and not worth spending the points. Of course, the prices can vary a lot based on the season and promotions that the Hilton is running. The Points & Money rewards are sometimes available as well.



The location on a rather steep hill overlooking the Vatican was perfect for my stay as I had been to Rome before and seen the usual sights. If you want an easy location to act as your base when you do sightseeing, the hotel may not work as well for you.


The hotel does provide a scheduled bus schedule from/to hotel to the Piazza Barberini. I didn’t take advantage of this bus, but saw some in the lobby who did.

The location on the hill does provide its advantages as well. You are somewhat secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city self and can spend some relaxing time by the pool.

Transportation to/from Airport

As I was arriving on a relatively late flight from Shanghai, I decided to take an airport bus from the airport to a place close to the Vatican. The price was 8 euros. If you have more than one person, you probably won’t save a lot over just taking a regular metered taxi. Their rates to the Cavalieri are around 50 euros. From the stop close to the Vatican, I then took a taxi to the hotel. There might be other public transportation options as well, but I was quite tired at that point and wasn’t willing to spend any more time getting to the hotel.


When I was leaving from the hotel, the lady at the Imperial lounge printed me a time schedule of the bus service to the airport from the same spot I was originally dropped off. The taxi during the day time was bit more than 10 euros + the bus fare of 8 euros.

Check In

This was probably the least good part of my stay. I was getting tired and bit cranky. There was some confusion about the credit card guarantee and identification requirement. As Italy is (still) part of the European Union, I can use my identity card that is issued by a European Union country for identification purposes instead of a passport.

As a matter of fact, I later called the front desk and spoke with a supervisor and apologized for being bit cranky that night.

Room 435

The room overall was very nice, although bit on the traditional side. You can get the best idea to have a look at the video above.


Although this was not a suite, it was very spacious room for Europe. I had a view of the Vatican instead of the TV tower that would have been my view, if I had had the room on the other side of the building.


It had a nice sitting area and a work desk. The first room had two beds, but I switched to a king one the following day.



The April days that I was at the hotel were somewhat chilly and there were occasionally only a handful of people by the pool. I did have my breakfast by the pool on both mornings.


Probably not the wisest idea to position yourself close to the restaurant, if you want to just relax by the pool, and not to have too many eyes watching at you.

Fitness Center


I was actually really surprised that the fitness center had the latest equipment that is available. The fitness center was on a lower level by the SPA and you could use the sauna and the steam room as well.

Imperial Club

This hotel has two lounges for hotel guests. Hilton Gold and Diamond members used to have access to the Imperial Club by the default, but now the hotel has a second lounge that is used for Hilton HHonors members, and it is called Colosseo Lounge. I have never been to this Colosseo lounge, but it is described not to be nothing close to what the Imperial Club has to offer.


I was given the Imperial Club access for the two days that I spent at the Cavalieri, because the other lounge was closed. The Colosseo lounge is closed during the lower occupancy or when fewer number of Hilton Gold/Diamond members are at the property.


This Imperial Club is one of the best, if not the best, lounge on the Hilton system. They had continuous food presentations throughout the day as well as wine/prosecco. The view of the Rome and the Vatican is fantastic from the balcony.

The staff at the lounge was fantastic. I spent quite a bit of time just working with my laptop and they were continuously asking if I need something else when cleaning the nearby tables. I don’t think that I have even seen a Hilton hotel lounge that has had as many people working at any given time from morning to the night.

If you can choose between a breakfast at the lounge or at the L’Uliveto Restaurant, I would most certainly choose the latter, however.

Breakfast at L’Uliveto Restaurant

The breakfast spread was at the two restaurant rooms. It is buffet style, but I did find the hot items to be fresh. Sometimes these buffets turn very stale, if the food items are not replaced often enough. The variety of pastries, breads, and some cakes was very good.


Overall, the quality and the variety of the breakfast items were very good, but not as great as you can often find at similar hotel restaurants in Asia.


My suggestion would be to have the breakfast outside by the pool, if the weather allows.

Hilton HHonors Benefits

Back in January Hilton first quietly changed some terms and conditions of the program when it came to the Diamond benefits at various Hilton family of hotels. Then in February Hilton sent out emails regarding the enhanced Diamond benefits.


Rome Cavalieri has a handy chart up on their website what benefits you can expect based on your Hilton HHonors status at their property:



These are the minimum benefits that you should expect and to be positively surprised if you receive something extra like the Imperial Club access and the Rome view that I had.


Rome Cavalieri is a wonderful hotel. The location may or may not work for you, however, as I have pointed above. Also, I don’t like the fact that they opened a “special” Colosseo lounge just to be able to deny Imperial Club access from Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members,


The best time to visit would be the slower months when the paid rates are rather reasonable. This hotel is also a very good place to burn any promotion free night certificates that you might have from Hilton promotions. Instead of burning 120K Hilton HHonors points, I just used two free night certificates.

Hilton HHonors Taking Its Time to Redeposit Points (Weeks)


Apparently Hilton HHonors is having some sort of computer problems as of late. Not only is the website down more often than usually, but there are problems of getting points credited back to ones account, if an award reservation is canceled as well.

I had two reservations for Conrad Hong Kong; one for Friday using a free stay certificate and points & money award for Saturday. Late on Friday, I decided to go to Macau for Saturday and Sunday nights instead of staying put in Hong Kong. I had done day trips to Macau from Hong Kong previously, but decided to stay there for couple of nights to check out the Grand Hyatt and the brand new Conrad hotels.

The Conrad Hong Kong was able to cancel the stay for the Saturday, but they already informed me that getting the points credited back to my account would take some time, but they would send an email to Hilton for getting them to expedite the process.

I sent an email to Hilton as well and received a reply within couple of hours that it would take 7 to 10 business days (read two weeks) for getting the points back to my account. (I am really impressed how fast Hilton’s Diamond desk replies to emails btw.)


Two weeks later, I sent another email to find out what is dragging the process. This time I received a response that they were sending a request to have my award canceled and points deposited back to my account. This would take 10 to 15 business days.


This really doesn’t make too much sense. Shouldn’t the points go back to the account automatically if an award is canceled?


You really need to start paying attention to whether Hilton is correctly issuing the number of points that you are due, and that points from canceled reservations actually go back to your account. If I need to cancel a point reservation, I typically check that everything is fine and points back to my account. I hate chasing points that due but not posted due to “computer” problems etc.

Air Canada Aeroplan Conversion Bonus Offer of 20% to 26.7%


Aeroplan is offering bonus for transfers in from number of loyalty programs excluding US based Amex cards. There doesn’t seem to be a requirement to register for this promotion in advance.


The bonus is 20% for transfers at 5K, 20K, and 50K levels, 25% at 100K, and 26.7% bonus at 150K.


My favorite program to transfer out is Starwood Preferred Guest. For transferring 80K SPG would eventually become 125K Aeroplan miles. SPG gives a 5K bonus for every 20K transferred so 80K transfer would actually be 100K when it hits the Aeroplan account. This then gets the additional 25% promotional Aeroplan bump.

Aeroplan used to be one of the favorites Star Alliance programs to redeem international business and first class flights. Award chart adjustment and starting to charge YQ’s (fuel surcharges) for number of redemption partners have made the program less attractive as of late. But if you have some miles sitting on your Aeroplan account and would need to top it, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.

Here is the list of eligible transfer partners:

CIBC Aventura®World MasterCard™ Card, CIBC Aventura® Gold Visa™, CIBC Aventura® Visa Infinite™, CIBC Aventura® MasterCard™ Card, American Express Membership Rewards – Canada, BankAmericard® Power Rewards® credit card, Diners Club® Club Rewards®, Starwood Preferred Guest®, Hilton HHonors™, Marriott Rewards, Wyndham Rewards®, Best Western Rewards, Choice Privileges®, Coast Rewards, Club CarlsonSM, Le Club Accorhotels (Accor hotels), Golden Circle Award, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards,

Please note that while Membership Rewards® points from U.S. American Express Cardmember accounts may be converted into Aeroplan Miles, their conversion is not eligible for the bonus promotion.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Maximum 40,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles can be earned per Aeroplan Member. Bonus offer valid only on conversions made between May 21 and June 18, 2012 (11:59 EST). Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be issued by Aeroplan as follows: 1,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is between 5,000 and 9,999 Aeroplan Miles; OR 2,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is between 10,000 and 19,999 Aeroplan Miles; OR 4,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is between 20,000 and 49,999 Aeroplan Miles; OR 10,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is between 50,000 and 99,999 Aeroplan Miles; OR 25,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is between 100,000 and 149,999 Aeroplan Miles; OR 40,000 Bonus Aeroplan Miles will be deposited into the member’s account when the total Aeroplan Miles earned by converting points from any combination of eligible partners programs during the promotion period is 150,000 or more Aeroplan Miles. Conversion of Membership Rewards® points from U.S. American Express Cardmember accounts into Aeroplan Miles are not eligible for this promotion. Aeroplan Miles procured via a Trade transaction with another member on are not eligible towards the conversion bonus threshold. BONUS MILE CREDITING: Bonus miles are credited 7-10 days following successful receipt by Aeroplan of a conversion transaction from the partner. Note that some partners may take up to 2 weeks to submit point-to-mile conversions to Aeroplan. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Why Hotel Websites (Hilton, Hyatt & InterContinental) Are So Unstable?

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When you are trying to make a booking around noon EST and there is a message about a “scheduled” maintenance, you can be 100% sure that there is nothing “scheduled” about it.

Yesterday, for the first time, all these three websites were down simultaneously when I was trying to make some reservations, check prices, and make sure that points/stays had posted correctly.

Hotels are trying to make their very best to channel as many bookings through their websites as possible. The main reason is that travel agents typically get a 10% commission of the room revenue, and websites like Expedia have much higher margins on their prepaid rooms.

Quite often only the bookings made through hotel chains own channels are eligible for stay/night credits and points, unlike with the airlines, where it doesn’t really matter whether you book on the Expedia’s of the world or the airlines own websites. I have always preferred online booking sites like Expedia over the airlines ones i.e.

This is the reason why it is imperative that the sites are actually up and running. Quite often I make bookings for the same day arrival, and I really don’t want to deal with the phone reservations. Hyatt has probably lost more than 10 stays from me alone in the past 14 months due to the non-functioning website that has these outages several times throughout the week. Sometimes, I have been able to make a reservation using the mobile site when the main site has been out.

I was somewhat surprised that yesterday

InterContinental Hotels Group was down:


Hilton was down:


Hyatt was down:


Are all these hotel companies buying the infrastructure from the same vendors? Having non-functioning websites at this day and age is totally unacceptable.

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

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Home2 Suites is relatively new Hilton brand that has only handful of locations. I have never been close to a one. Now, Hilton is offering 2000 Hilton HHonors bonus points for a stay done before August 15th, 2012.


You can combine this with other Hilton promotions, but do notice that Home2 Suites normally earn less on partner airline programs when double dipping that other Hilton brands.


Here are the terms of this promotion:

Offer valid for first time stays completed between May 15 and August 15, 2012 (“Promotion Period”) at any participating Home2Suites Hotel. HHonors™ members must first register at prior to check-out of your stay within the Promotion Period. Must have a valid HHonors number. Offer valid only once per HHonors™ member. Bonus Points earned on Base Points do not count toward tier qualification. Please allow six to eight weeks from completion of the promotion for Bonus Points to appear in your HHonors account. Offer is not applicable to Home2 Suites Fayetteville, NC and Home2 Suites Jacksonville, NC. Offer is not transferable, is not valid for groups and cannot be combined with other select offers. Hilton HHonors™ membership, earning of Points & Miles™ and redemption of Points are subject to HHonors Terms and Conditions.

Hilton HHonors “Diamond Special Arrangement” Also Known as “Diamond Force”


The best part of the Hilton HHonors Diamond benefits is the ability to “force” an award room in an otherwise sold out hotel. Sometimes this Diamond Special Arrangement is also called as a Diamond Force. This service was very beneficial until the summer of 2011 because you could force an award room also if only the award category rooms were sold out, but higher ones were available. Since Hilton introduced the premium room awards, this ability was taken away.


Most of the time, I book my hotel at a very last minute. I am not one of those that books months in advance. The other day, I booked the Conrad Macau just 45 minutes before arrival. If you want to take advantage of the Diamond Special Arrangement, you need to contact the Diamond desk at least 48 hours before scheduled arrival time.

I am scheduled to arrive to Singapore later today. Last week when I was looking for hotel availability for a Tuesday night in Singapore, I realized that something was going on. Quite a few hotels were sold out and only higher category rooms were available at others. I was exploring quite a few options.

Then I realized that because the Conrad hotel was sold out I could force an award room there. I had one night award certificate about to expire in two weeks and this would be absolutely the best way to use it. I thought that a simple phone call to the Diamond desk would have this resolved.


The Diamond Reservation Guarantee is very clear:

Diamond Reservations Guarantee:

The Diamond Reservations Guarantee allows Diamond members to place a guaranteed reservation at a sold out hotel when made 48 hours prior to arrival, except during Extraordinary Demand Date periods, when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 10%, and for some hotels when the hotel becomes overbooked on inventory by more than 2%.

48 hour guaranteed room reservations can be made by Diamond members online at by clicking “Reward Stays” or over the phone by calling the Diamond Member desk or the Hilton Reservations and Customer Care office nearest you. These reservations are only applicable to paid stay reservations for all room types and reward stay reservations for standard rooms. Promotional Rewards are not applicable for reservations booked under the 48-Hour Reservation Guarantee. For complete details, click here.

First the lady, who picked up my call, said that there is no way for her to make a reservation for a sold out hotel, and supposedly, according to her, I was already within 48 hours of arriving to the hotel that was most definitely not the case. I called them about 70 hours before my scheduled arrival time.

Then, I was quoting her the paragraph that I have pasted above, and she was still saying that there is nothing that she could. I asked how much the hotel was oversold and she said 5% to 10%. The reservation guarantee doesn’t apply if the hotel is oversold by more than 10% that was not the case here. There is a small number of hotels where the guarantee doesn’t apply at all and longer list where the hotel can only be oversold by 2%. Conrad Singapore is not on either of these two lists.

Obviously this lady wasn’t really up to the task, and I asked her to transfer the call to the supervisor. So, I got this another lady who worked for “escalations”. I requested her to make the reservation for me. She wasn’t very co-operative either. I asked her to do a “Diamond Special Arrangement”. She said that there had been a change to it lately and that she would need to read the memo they got. Anyway, she put my request in and gave me a case number.


On Monday, I received a confirmation and an email from the Diamond desk that my request had been approved. When I checked the availability of the hotel, it was no longer sold out, and they would have had even award rooms available. Availability of hotels often firms up the day before, so it pays up to check the availability.


They answer as Hilton Diamond Desk to the phone calls, but I am not sure that one actually exists. The service that these “Diamond” agents provide  is very uneven.Even the supervisor didn’t know that Singapore is both a city and a country at the same time. She kept asking what city in Singapore and/or what country is Singapore at. You would imagine that they would know better?

I always try to deal with any issued that I have with Hilton by email, because they reply fast and most of the issued can be resolved this way.

You need to know the terms and conditions of the program and what you are entitled to. They didn’t volunteer to do the Diamond Special Arrangement or Diamond Reservation Guarantee. Why have these in place if it is like pulling a teeth to get Hilton to honor the terms of the program?

I was sure that they would come through at the end, but this is not the correct way to deal with supposedly your best customers aka Hilton HHonors Diamond members.

Hilton The Great Getaway Sale 2012

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Hilton is offering again prepaid rates that are non-cancelable/refundable for Hilton family of hotels worldwide. The offered discount off the BAR varies by region from America’s 20% to Europe’s 40%.  These rates are bookable from May 10th to July 23rd for stays up to September 30th, 2012 with the exception of Europe where the discount is valid on weekends until the end of the year.


As you can see from the charts below, these offers really vary from regions to region when it comes to the dates offered and the booking window i.e. 3 or 7 day advance purchase requirement.

The offered discount in the America’s isn’t that great considering that you need to give up a lot in flexibility. I would probably stick to AAA or MVP rates that should offer similar, if not lower, prices with more flexibility i.e. cancelable until 4PM on the day of arrival.

Other offer to keep in mind is the PR13CB “Corporate Benefits Employee Offer”. This can often yield similar discounts as the Great Getaway Sale. The PR13CB is often, if not always, excluded from promotions like the current double points or miles. It does qualify for the regular points/stay credit, however.


Here is a rate display for Conrad Bangkok. The sale rate is almost the same as the “Corporate benefits Employee Offer”.


Here’s one example from the United States. Hilton Miami downtown doesn’t have this sale rate loaded at all. They do, however, have advance purchase rate and the MVP one available. As the Americas sale is up to 20% off, the MVP rate would be equal to it and doesn’t require 7 day advance purchase.

Middle East and Africa regions: Participating hotels are offering a 25% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate.


Europe: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 40% discount. Participating Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts properties are offering a 40% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate. Participating Hampton by Hilton™ properties are offering a 15% discount on Best Available Rate. 7-day advance purchase requirement is reduced to 3 days from July 27 through August 30. Discount applies only to weekends (Friday through Sunday) unless otherwise specified. Some hotels may extend this offer to stays that include a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday night regardless the day of arrival. The discount applies seven days a week from July 30 through September 9, 2012.
Booking period extends through September 30, 2012; stay period extends through December 30, 2012.
***Discount does not apply from July 14 through August 12, 2012 the following hotels: Hilton London Park Lane, Hilton London Metropole, Hilton London Paddington, Hilton London Euston, Hilton London Olympia, Hilton London Kensington, Hilton London Green Park, Hilton London Hyde Park, Hilton London Islington, Hilton London Tower Bridge, Hilton London Canary Wharf, Hilton London Docklands Riverside, Waldorf Hilton, The Trafalgar, Wembley Plaza, DT West Minister, DT Tower of London.
***Discount does not apply at the following hotels on the dates listed next to them:
Hilton Manchester Deansgate, DT Piccadilly Manchester, Hilton Manchester Airport – 26, 28, 29, 31 of July and 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of August.
Hilton Newcastle – 25, 26, 28 of July through 4 of August inclusive
Hilton Cardiff – 25, 26, 27, 28, 31 of July and 1, 3, 4 and 10 of August
Hilton Glasgow – 14 of July through 3 of August inclusive
Hilton Coventry – 24, 25, 26 and 27 of July


Asia Pacific region: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 33% discount. Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are offering a 33% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate. Otherwise, participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts are offering a 25% discount on Best Available Rate. Participating Hampton by Hilton™ properties are offering a 15% discount on Best Available Rate. At some participating hotels, 7 day advance purchase requirement is reduced to 3 days.


North and South America regions: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 20% discount on Best Available Rate seven days a week EXCEPT that from September 1 – 30, 2012 discount applies only to weekends (Thursday through Sunday). Some hotels may extend this offer to stays that include a Monday, Tuesday and/or Wednesday night regardless the day of arrival.Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts properties are offering a 20% discount. Participating Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton™, Home2 Suites by Hilton™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™ properties are offering a 15% discount. NOTE: Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton™, and Home2 Suites by Hilton™ hotels require a three (3) night minimal length of stay for Tuesday arrivals and a two (2) night minimal length of stay for Wednesday or Thursday arrivals. At participating Hilton Grand Vacations, a three (3) night minimal length of stay for Thursday arrivals and a two (2) night minimal length of stay for Friday or Saturday arrivals is required.


Here are the Terms and conditions of this rate promotion:

General Terms:

Offer is subject to availability at participating hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, offer details stated herein, and the selected hotel’s booking terms and conditions. Applies to stays on select days of the week/weekend, which vary by location as detailed below. Book between May 10, 2012 and July 23, 2012 and stay between May 17, 2012 and September 30, 2012 (except in Europe, as described below). Offer not available at Embassy Suites by Hilton™. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking. Your credit card will be charged immediately for the total amount quoted for the entire stay as reserved and refunds or credits will not be issued unless otherwise indicated by local law. Charges cannot be applied to other stays, services or merchandise. Booking cannot be changed. Must book at least seven (7) days in advance of arrival, except as noted below.

Each hotel has a policy addressing cancellations and/or blackout dates that may apply. Offer not valid with group bookings and cannot be combined with other offers. Unless otherwise stated, quoted rates are per room per night, based on double occupancy and do not include taxes, gratuities, resort fees or incidental charges. The Hilton Minibreaks offer, which includes a second room for children at half-price, cannot be combined with this offer.

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

Both Hyatt and Starwood had their new promotions starting at the beginning of May. Carlson Hotels, Marriott, and Ritz-Carlton don’t currently have promotions going on. I will continue to patronize Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group due to their current promos and will probably max out the Hyatt’s airline related promotions as well. Personally I am very underwhelmed about the SPG’s summer promotion of 2012.

Accorhotels – Le Club

Accorhotels is offering triple points for weekend stays until June 10th, but these need to be booked by May 10th, 2012. Also there is an offer for 500 Le Club Accorhotels points for playing a game on their Facebook page (no Facebook account needed).

Le Club Accorhotels 500 Points for Free & Triple Points For Stays Including Weekend Night


There is another offer for 1000 Delta SkyMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan miles for a stay by May 31st, 2012. You can earn this only once.

Le Club Accorhotels Offer of 1000 Bonus Delta SkyMiles or Air Canada Aeroplan Miles

Best Western Rewards


Best Western’s promotion for a $50 travel card started on April 15th and ends on June 3rd. You can also earn Air Canada AeroPlan bonus miles + bonus points for booking online and paying using Best Western MasterCard.

Best Western Rewards Spring Bonus Offer JUMP12 – $50 Travel Card for 3 Stays + Bonus Points & Miles

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

No promotions as of now.

You can get a Gold status with Club Carlson by being a Rezidor shareholder.

Club Carlson Gold Status for Rezidor Shareholders

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

You will earn 8000 Choice Privilege points for every two stays. Note that in lower quality Choice brand a stay is defined as two or more nights for this promotion. This promotion that started on March 8th runs until May 8th.


Choice Hotels Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn One Free Night

Hilton HHonors

Hilton’s second quarter promotion is for double points or miles. You need to choose one or the other, and you cannot change your selection.


Hilton HHnors 2nd Quarter 2012 Double Your Honors Promotion – Double Points or Miles

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?

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

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

This time Priority Club has two parallel promotions. One is based on nights and the other is based on stays. You can earn 5000, 10000, or 15000 depending how many nights/stays you have during the promotional period until June 30th, and to which promotion you sign up for.

Priority Club 2nd Quarter Stay/Night Bonuses

Currently there are six different one time Priority Club bonus points offer that you should sign up for.

Six Priority Club Promotions to Sign Up For (UPDATE)

Then IHG has teamed up with Visa to offer you 1000 Priority Club bonus points for registering your Visa card + an additional 5000 points for using the same card to pay for a stay by July 31st, 2012.


Priority Club Rewards On the Go – 1000 Bonus Points for Signing up + 5000 Bonus Points After a Stay

You can earn 2000 Priority Club bonus points for just signing up for three different Priority Club programs (no purchase required).

Priority Club Shopping Bonus – Receive 1000 Priority Club Points for Signup Up & Registering Your Credit Card + 500 Points Dining Bonus + 500 Points Sailing Bonus

Priority Club is offering 5K/10K/15K bonus points for 3/5/6 nights at InterContinental hotels in the Americas and the Caribbean by the June 30th, 2012.

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

Marriott Rewards

Marriott’s nest promotion starts on June 1st, 2012 and has the usual number of different variations.


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

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood just launched their much anticipated SPG Nice Choice promotion that hasn’t gone down too well. You can read about the initial leak, my 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.


SPG Nice Choice Promotion Finally Launched

Starwood seems to be promoting their Sheraton brand hard these days. There are three different promotions for Sheraton stays going on.

There is a promotion of 1000 extra Starpoints for booking a Club accommodation at Sheraton hotels and paying using an American Express card.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

Some renovated Sheraton hotels are also offering 1000 bonus Starpoints.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Staying at a Newly Renovated Sheraton Hotels

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

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.

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

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


Hilton has been offering fast tracks or instant status to Hilton HHonors Gold status via MVP program, which requires 4 stays during a 90 day period, and through a credit card affiliation in the Asia Pacific regions that requires no stays but rather a Visa card (you can get this work in other regions as well). If getting a gold status is important, I would take advantage of one of these two offers.

Sign up for our daily blog updates by email and follow us on TwitterFacebook for not to miss on valuable program information and promotions that Hilton HHonors offers.


But, if you prefer having an instant or fast track offer to Gold or Diamond status via status match from a competing program, that is possible as well, although Hilton doesn’t make it as easy as Starwood, Hyatt, or Marriott. You can read more about Starwood Platinum challenge, Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond trial/challenge and Marriott Rewards Gold/Platinum Match/Taste of Gold/Platinum.

Hilton HHonors offers a fast track to Diamond and here is what you need to do:

– You need to gather your 2011 year end activity that shows the number of stays and nights at the competing chains.

– Hilton considers year end summaries from the following chains: Marriott, Hyatt, Starwood, IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), Fairmont Presidents Club, Choice, and Accor

– You need to mail or fax the competing year end summary or summaries to:

HHonors Service Center
PO Box 9003
Addison, TX 75001
Fax: 972-788-1818

Alternatively you can try emailing them to

– If they consider you to a fast track offer, you will most likely get a match to Silver or Gold status instantaneously, and then a fast track to Diamond offer that usually requires 21 nights during a 90 day period.

– Although Hilton says that they do not match to Diamond status, they have done it previously. Maybe, if you are able to show a very high number of nights at competing chains in 2011, they might offer you one.

Given the benefits associated with the Diamond membership level as well as the commitment we uphold for those who achieve Diamond, we currently do not provide tier matching or complimentary status.

What is your experience with Hilton HHonors when it comes to status matches? Were you offered a fast track offer or instant Gold/Diamond status? Please leave a comment below.

It Pays to Check Hilton Award Availability Often – Case Rome Cavalieri – Waldorf Astoria Collection Hotel


I am right now here in Shanghai and on my way to Rome for couple of nights. I participated to the wonderful promotion from Hilton last year, where you would get a free night certificate for every four stays. These certificates are valid at pretty much any Hilton family hotel worldwide. I moved quite a few of my stays to Hilton and was able to get seven or eight of these free night certs.

I have to confess that I have not been to the Hilton’s flag ship hotel Rome Cavalieri before. This was rebranded under the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria collection flag in 2008.


So, I really wanted to try out this hotel and burn couple of these certificates at this hotel. The only problem was that, for weeks, the hotel was only showing premium room award availability for the dates that I was looking at. I even penned an email to the Hilton’s Diamond desk for them to contact the hotel to see if they could open up award availability for me. No luck with the Diamond desk with my request.

This wouldn’t have mattered a year ago when Diamond member could have just used the so called Diamond Force to open up award availability. This was changed last year when Hilton introduced Premium Room Rewards that are 99% off the time waste of points. Every room/suite is available using points as well, but the number of points required per night can be up to hundreds of thousands.

Anyway, I have always had luck with the awards very close to the arrival date. This was the case with the Cavalieri as well. There are often cancellations close to the arrival date, hotels might start overselling the basic rooms and bumping guests to higher category ones & suites etc.


On Sunday morning United States time, however, every day became available this week again, including the Tuesday and Wednesday nights that I was looking at. Call to Hilton Diamond desk on Sunday morning got the two nights reserved and the certificates attached to the reservation.


Unfortunately, if you have free night certificates, you cannot do the booking online. You need to call Hilton and do it over the phone. Bit annoying, but well worth saving the 330 euros per night that this hotel would have been charging for my dates.

Hilton HHonors Custom Upgrades (Nor1) and Guaranteed Upgrades Using Points


I have written about how Hilton often offers space available Nor1 upgrades and confirmable upgrades using points during the online booking process. These offers are often also show when you are checking your reservations online.

Hilton used to call these Nor1 upgrades as “Unique upgrade opportunity”. Now they have rephrased this as “You are eligible for custom upgrade”. The technology behind these is exactly the same. You can choose number of different upgrade options that are not guaranteed before your arrival. Each of these carries a different price.


Here’s an example from my stay at the DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur last week. I made the reservation on and was offered immediately points based upgrades that would have been guaranteed on the sport, and these Nor1 upgrades.


You actually have to click the link to see what the Nor1 upgrade options are. You are taken to a different website that appears like, but is in fact Nor1’s own. On this instance I was presented only two different options, sometime the list of possible upgrades for cash is really long, and chose not to participate.


The actual upgrade was shown on Hilton’s website on the day of arrival, and it was an upgrade to a deluxe suite.

I see very little value on either of these points or Nor1 “custom” upgrades for cash. I am sure, however, that the hoteliers love the ancillary revenue they provide. I have often received far better upgrades for free than what was shown possible using points or cash. Also, the number of points required for these upgrades is insanely high.

I could see value for someone choosing to pay for the executive room upgrade at this property, if they are not Hilton Gold or Diamond member, when the executive lounge access would be complimentary. (You can get complimentary Hilton Gold after just four stays or having certain Visa credit card) You get complimentary wireless access in the lounge, breakfast, tea/coffee/soft drinks during the day and some sandwiches, and evening complimentary happy hour with open bar and plenty of snacks.

British Airways Offering 25% Conversion Bonus for Transfers from Hotel Programs

British Airways is offering a 25% conversion bonus for transfers from hotel programs to BA’s Avios. This offer is valid from transfer made from 20th of April to June 20th, 2012. You can stack this offer with possible transfer bonuses from hotel programs i.e. 20K SPG transferred to BA would become 25K BA + additional 25% conversion bonus from BA.


Please note that you need to be logged in to your Executive Club account in order to see the offer details.

This transfer bonus applies for conversions from Hilton, Marriott, InterContinental Hotels Group, Carlson, Starwood, Shangri-La, Hyatt, and Accor programs.

British Airways revamped their program last year. Long haul redemptions became rather expensive using Avios, and you have to bear in mind that BA collects “fake” fuel surcharges on most of its awards. Expect to pay in excess of $1K in YQ’s for C/F redemptions between Europe and the United States or vice versa. B

A’s program does have some bright spots as well. Short haul redemptions in economy are quite good value especially between expensive markets.

Here’s how transferring Starpoints from SPG’s program would work:

Hilton HHonors Sending Emails for a Free Shutterfly Photo Book + 1500 Bonus Points

Couple of days ago, I received an email from Hilton HHonors for a free 20 page photo book from Shutterfly and 1500 Hilton HHonors bonus points. This offer is NOT completely free as you need to pay for shipping and handling that should be around $8.


I signed up using the link and there was no place for inputting my Hilton HHonors number. They must link it from the code that they had on the offer. The Shutterfly’s user interface was very confusing, and I don’t think that I will personally take advantage of this offer. So, if you have received this email offer from Hilton, it might make sense to order the book to get the 1500 Hilton HHonors points.


Offer valid for one free 20-page 8×8 photo book with hard photo cover. Offer not valid for licensed premium photo books, leather hard cover, padded photo cover, cloth hard cover, faux lizard hard cover or soft photo cover photo books. Offer valid on one order and for one-time redemption per billing address. Any additional pages will incur a per-page fee. Storytelling™ styles and elements will incur additional fees. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Offer ends May 4, 2012 (11:59 p.m. PST). In order to qualify for the 1,500 Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points, you must order the free photo book using the promo code provided by May 4, 2012 (11:59 p.m. PST). Please allow up to two weeks from promotion end date for Hilton HHonors™ Bonus Points to be applied to member’s accounts. Bonus Points do not count toward elite tier qualification.

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