Discover America Daily Getaways Announced for the 4th Week April 30th – May 4th

1 Comment

The first two week of deals were out a week ago, and then the third week one was announced as well. The only deal so far to that I consider participating is the Wyndham Rewards points on the 3rd week. You can easily transfer Wyndham points to number of different airlines.

daily-getawas-fourth-week

The fourth week sees the return of the same Hilton deal as on the 3rd week. Last year, I did buy couple of Hilton packages, but I was low on points and knew that I could use them wisely.

Hilton HHonors Points Wednesday May 2nd

Packages available

150000 Hilton HHonors points for $825

250000 Hilton HHonors points for $1375

100000 Hilton HHonors points for $550

I would steer away from buying Hilton HHonors points unless you are a Diamond member and/or know how to use them properly. You can “buy” a very good deal using these points, if you are able to use them at a place like Conrad Koh Samui where rates are in excess of $600 per night.

Choice Privileges Points Thursday May 3rd

Packages available:

40000 Choice Privileges points for $166

36000 Choice Privileges points for $156

32000 Choice Privileges points for $134

Note that you can buy two each of the above mentioned packages for total max of 216000 Choice points for $912 before 10% Amex discount.  You can transfer Choice points for number of airlines, but the transfer ratio is not great, unless there is a transfer promotion.

If you are close to getting a companion pass with Southwest, it might make sense to buy Choice points, and then redeem for Southwest Rapid Rewards points. The maximum number of Rapid Rewards points you can get through this Choice promo, if you manage to get two of the each above mentioned packages, is 64800. You would need 45200 points from other sources.

You can also use Choice Privileges points for Preferred Hotels Group properties. These vary from 30K to 60K per night. Can be a good deal, if you are able to redeem at a very expensive location.

Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Points Friday May 4th

Packages available

5000 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for $280

15000 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for $720

9000 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points for $430

You can buy one of the each three packages above. Hertz points can be handy if you are looking for a one-way or specialty rental.

Hilton HHonors Changing Award Categories of 447 Hotels

1 Comment

Hilton just released a list of properties that will change award categories on April 30th, 2012. Off the 3800 Hilton affiliated properties 330 will move up by a category and 117 will move down by one. InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood already had their category changes earlier this year.

hilton-number-of-properties-moving-up-down

You have until April 30th, 2012 to book these properties that are moving up at old award or points & money levels. If you have an award reservation at a property that is moving down, you need to call after April 30th to have the number of points withdrawn for the award corrected.

Overall, this category change is not dramatic, but the number of properties moving up year after year does make the higher categories crowded.

You can access the PDF that Hilton released about this change here.

Properties moving down – 117

hilton-number-of-properties-moving-down

Properties that will move down by a category are mainly category 3 and 4 Hampton Inns. There is very little movement on other brands/categories.

hilton-number-of-properties-moving-down-per-brand

Properties moving up – 330

hilton-number-of-properties-moving-up

Close to half of the properties moving up are Hampton Inn, but other brands are well represented as well. Category 3, 4, and 5 have the highest number of properties moving up by a category, but even the category 6 has 28 properties moving to category 7.

hilton-number-of-properties-moving-up-per-brand

Here are the Frequently asked questions that Hilton has anticipated about this change:

Discover America Daily Getaways Announced for the 3rd Week April 23-27

2 Comments

On Monday, I wrote about the Discover America Daily Getaways for the first two weeks. There were three deals that caught my eye, but probably not good enough to make me to participate, however.

On the third week I probably have to make some purchases. Last year, I ended up buying both Hilton HHonors and Wyndham Rewards points. Wyndham points have been sitting on my account since that, but I have been using and earning Hilton HHonors points all the time.

discover-america-3rd-week

Wyndham Rewards Points Monday April 23rd

Wyndham has five different packages for sale. You can buy one each. The beauty of Wyndham Rewards points is the transferability to airline miles.  30K Wyndham Rewards points transfers to 12K miles or equivalent in kilometers in number of programs; Amtrak, Czech Airlines, Delta, Hainan, Frontier, US Airways, United, Airberlin, Aeroplan, AeroMexico, China Eastern, American Airlines & Air China.

Packages available

16000 Wyndham Rewards points for $55 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

28000 Wyndham Rewards points for $76 = price per point 0.0027 = price per mile 0.0068

32000 Wyndham Rewards points for $110 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

50000 Wyndham Rewards points for $143 = price per point 0.0029 = price per mile 0.0072

48000 Wyndham Rewards points for $165 = price per point 0.0034 = price per mile 0.0086

Above calculations do not take into account 10% discount when paying using an American Express branded credit card, and the figures are rounded. The price per mile number is calculated when transferring in the block of 30K Wyndham Rewards points to 12K airline miles.

When airlines sell miles in their respective programs, the prices tend to fluctuate between 1.8 to 2 cents per mile during the sales. You really cannot buy miles cheaper than first buying the Wyndham Rewards points during the Discover America sale, and then transferring them to airline miles. Of course you can use them for hotel stays as well.

Quick look at my Wyndham Rewards account shows that I was able to snag 146K worth of packages during the last year’s sale.

Hilton HHonors Points Wednesday April 25th

This is the only other purchase that I made last year.

Packages available

150000 Hilton HHonors points for $825

250000 Hilton HHonors points for $1375

100000 Hilton HHonors points for $550

I would steer away from buying Hilton HHonors points unless you are a Diamond member and/or know how to use them properly. You can “buy” a very good deal if you are able to use the points at a place like Conrad Koh Samui where rates are in excess of $600 per night.

Strategy for 2nd Quarter Hilton Double Your HHonors Promotion – Virgin Atlantic, BMI, and British Airways

3 Comments

The latest Hilton HHonors promotion for double points or miles is valid until the end of June. If you are interested only about Hilton HHonors points, it makes sense to consider crediting stays to Virgin Atlantic and here’s why. With Virgin Atlantic you get 1000 miles per stay for Hilton, Conrad, DoubleTree, Embassy Suite, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Grand Vacations and The Waldorf Astoria hotels. Crediting Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites or Home2 Suites to Virgin Atlantic doesn’t make any sense due to lower number of fixed miles earner. I would credit these latter three brands to BMI’s Diamond Club.

hilton-hhonors-double-points-2nd-q-2012

Here’s the beauty of Virgin Atlantic’s program. You can transfer Flying Club points to Hilton HHonors points at a ratio of 2 Hilton HHonors points for 1 Flying Club miles. The minimum transaction is 10000 Flying Club points. Alternatively, you can use the miles to book Virgin America flights.

hilton-brands

hilton-vs

So, a night stay at any of the full earning properties would earn you 2000 Virgin Atlantic miles that would turn into 4000 Hilton HHonors points. This is better than double base points, if your folio amount is $300 or so, as you forego some points when you choose double dip option. This only applies to fixed mile option.

hilton-double-bmi-ba

If you are really looking for Avios points out of Hilton, it makes sense to choose BMI as the partner airline. You will earn more than double the number of Diamond Club miles per stay compared to BA’s Avios at minimum. Also, you will earn 1000 BMI miles per DAY up to three days. You earn the same number of BA Avios regardless how many days you stay. British Airways’ parent is in the process of finalizing the deal with Lufthansa to buy BMI. The deal should close later this month. The Diamond Club miles will turn into Avios in not so distant future.

Hilton Award Availability Woes – Premium Room Rewards, Sold Out Situation & Nor1

4 Comments

Yesterday, I was looking to book the Hilton hotel in Colombo (Sri Lanka) where I have been few times in the past. This time, however, the Hilton Colombo and the Hilton Colombo residences were apparently both sold out.

There have been a lot of problems with the Hilton’s website lately. More often than not there are 404 pages, connection issues, and timing outs. Sometimes when the Hilton.com is not working you can use Hilton.co.uk to make a revenue booking. You cannot use the latter website to make an award reservation, however.

hilton-colombo-residence-1-no-availability

First, when I am logged in at Hilton.com and search for availability for April 3rd for one night, there is none.

hilton-colombo-residence-2-diamond-guarantee

Then when I check the box for Hilton HHonors availability, it gives an option for Diamond Guarantee room at the Hilton Colombo Residence.

hilton-colombo-residence-3-room-types

As a matter of fact, it gives an option to choose from three different room types.

hilton-colombo-residence-4-room-types-cash

But, when I uncheck the Use HHonors points, it shows the room types that are bookable using cash as well, although these were not supposedly first available.

hilton-colombo-residence-5-nor1

hilton-colombo-residence-6-nor1-more

I made the booking and was then presented number of Nor1 upgrade options for cash. I always disregard these. These might be worthwhile if you don’t have Gold or Diamond status with Hilton HHonors. (You can get the Gold status easily by following instructions here or here)

hilton-colombo-residence-7-confirmed-upgrade

When I checked the reservation today for tomorrow arrival, the hotel had already processed the upgrade to a 3 bedroom business suite.

hilton-colombo-residence-8-business-suite-10500-points

Then a week later, they have this same suite for 10500 points as a HHonors Special. Makes you wonder?

Conclusion

There is something wrong with the website that doesn’t first show paid availability when you are checking out hotels. As a Diamond member, I have “guaranteed”room availability, if I book at least 48 hours in advance. To get these rates to show up you need first check the box that you are using points and then uncheck it. Also, Hilton has really made using points for hotels like a roller coaster. At this Hilton Colombo Residence the number of required points seems to fluctuate from 10500 to more than 100000 per night.

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

1 Comment

Here’s the monthly hotel promotions wrap up.

Best Western Rewards

Best Western’s promotion for a $50 travel card won’t start before April 15th. 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

best-western-spring-promo

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

No promotions as of now.

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

choise-hotels-march-promo

Hilton HHonors

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?

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

hilton-hhonors-double-points-2nd-q-2012

The following promotion expires at the end of this month. You can get a free night certificate after five night resort stay or two after ten. You can also do two give night resort stays.

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt’s promo that expires at the end of April is for up to 44000 extra Hyatt Gold Passport points after 16 nights.

Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

Double points or miles end on April 30th.

Double Points or Miles – 2X More

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

Priority Club 2nd Quarter Stay/Night Bonuses

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.

Three Priority Club Points Promotions That You Should Sign Up For

One is for 1000 bonus points per stay for 90 days after registering (this is the most lucrative if you have number of paid stays), another one is for 3000 bonus points after a stay, and the third one is for 1500 welcome back bonus.

There is a forth one that I have yet written about. It is 1500 Priority Club points after a stay. The promotional code for that one is 5109. I tested it last week when I was staying at an IHG property. It posted without a problem.

Marriott Rewards

Marriott has two promotions running until the end of April. MegaMiles and MegaBonus.

Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer.

marriott-rewards-spring-2012-megabonus

MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

You can get two free night certs after four stays. This promotion expires on April 15th.

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

ritz-carlton-rewards

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood promotion Better by the night is expiring on April 8th. We don’t have information about their next move.

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

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

spg-1000-bonus-points-sheraton-club

Some renovated Sheraton hotels are also offering 1000 bonus Starpoints.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Staying at a Newly Renovated Sheraton Hotels

spg-sheraton-1000-bonus

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-stay-2-get-2

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

wyndham-reward-spring-2012-non-north-america

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

4 Comments

Hilton just unveiled their second quarter 2012 promotion of Double Hilton HHonors Points or miles. This promotion starts on April 1st and ends on June 30th, 2012. This promotion is rather straightforward. You will receive either double points or double miles. You need to register to this promotion before your stay.

hilton-hhonors-double-points-2nd-q-2012

If you want to earn miles, you need to choose between fixed or variable miles. Fixed miles are number of miles per stay (or nights in case of BMI) where variable miles are dependent how much you spend. In my case the fixed miles is always a better option. For longer stays the variable miles options is probably better.

Note that once you have chosen either double points or miles you cannot change the selection. Double points is better if you have longer and more expensive stays.

The list of non-participating properties is getting longer. Double check that the hotels you are intending to stay during the second quarter have not opted out from this. There are only six non-participating properties outside of the United States.

Here’s a list of participating airlines and their fixed mile options for Hilton stays. My favorite still is BMI that earns 1000 BMI miles per night regardless of the Hilton brand, and for up to 3 nights. Three night stay would thus earn 6000 BMI miles. Word of warning. Lufthansa is in a process of selling BMI to IAH, the parent of British Airways and Iberia.

hilton-fixed-1

hilton-fixed-2

hilton-fixed-3

hilton-fixed-4

hilton-fixed-5

hilton-fixed-6

Here are the Frequently asked questions by Hilton:

Waldorf-Astoria Shanghai on the Bund, China – Review of My Fantastic Stay

1 Comment

Everything that went wrong with my Park Hyatt stay worked perfectly at this Waldorf-Astoria from check in to check out. No wonder why this is ranked as number 2 of all the hotels in Shanghai according to TripAdvisor.  I made a reservation for same day arrival using free night certificate, and my reservation was almost instantaneously upgraded to a junior suite.

[nggallery id=41]

Unfortunately I don’t have the usual number of photos of this property due to leaving my digital camera to a cab.

Location

The hotel is situated right on the bund. You can take the Maglev train from the airport, and then a metered taxi to hotel. Taxi to the airport should cost around 180 RMB. That’s what I paid when I took a cab from the nearby Fairmont Peace hotel to the airport two weeks prior.  The fare from/to the Maglev station is around 40 RMB. Just be careful with the drives that they use the meter. I had a problem with the taxi driver that I took from the Maglev. The cab driver was trying to scam me.

Check In

The taxis dropped me off at the front of the hotel on the Bund side. There is a separate hotel entrance on the side street that I was not aware of. Anyway, there were two doormen that quickly radioed my name from the luggage tags to the front desk. This is really how it should work in five star hotels. By the time we got to the front desk, everything was ready and I was just escorted to the suite where the check in formalities i.e. scanning of the passport was done.

Junior Suite 2012

The suite was absolutely stunning. Even though it was called just a junior suite, it could have been as easily classified as an executive suite as well. In addition to the spacious bedroom there was a separate half sized room with a work desk as well.

The fruit display with cherries was the most impressive I have ever received at a Hilton property. In addition there was some hard candy on the other room and selection of desserts on the bedroom next to the television.

I was surprised to find Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul bathroom amenities.

Fitness Center / Pool

waldorf-astoria-shanghai-fitness-center

Fitness center had modern equipment, but was quite small considering the size of the hotel. Same for the pool. The workout facility was not busy when I was there.

Breakfast

waldorf-astoria-shanghai-breakfast-eggs-benedict

The breakfast was very good that is complimentary for Diamond, and most likely for Gold members as well. You had a selection of items that you could order from the ala carte menu and rather extensive buffet.

Conclusion

This was really a very good Hilton family hotel.  The service is typically not so great even at “better” hotels in China. My stay at the Waldorf-Astoria Shanghai on the Bund was as perfect as it could have been, however. Wouldn’t hesitate to return and most certainly will.

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

29 Comments

UPDATE: If you signed up for the challenge after May 31st and successfully complete it, your Hyatt Gold Passport status will be valid until the end of February 2014.

Hyatt has a nice little program, and I have been a Diamond member since 2004. The program has grown significantly since 2004 mainly by Hyatt acquiring both Amerisuites, which were later converted to Hyatt Places, and Summerfield Suites, that became Hyatt Houses. Both of these acquisitions were a way for Hyatt to enter the limited service market i.e. Hilton’s Hampton Inn.

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

How to get matched to Hyatt Diamond status?

Hyatt ended doing direct status matched back in 2010. Since then Hyatt has started to do challenges called Hyatt Diamond Trial. You can probably still get a direct match, but you need to do it through a hotels sales department, and it is probably quite a hassle.

 Do you have any of the following statuses?

– Hilton Gold (you can get one easily using this or this) & Hilton Diamond

– SPG Platinum

– Marriott Gold & Platinum

– Priority Club Platinum

Hyatt may match others as well, but it could be worth printing your stay history that shows significant stay activity.

You will be awarded a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond Trial, which is in fact a full-fledged Diamond status for 60 days. You will get all the Diamond level benefits during this 60 day period including the four Diamond Suite Awards that are valid up to 7 days each. You can use these to upgrade any paid stay (eligible rate) to a suite at a property that is not on the exclusion list, and has confirmable suite inventory available at the time of request. You need to do the request over the phone as the website is incapable of processing these.

Timing of the Diamond Trial

If you request your Diamond trial now and complete the required number of nights (12), your Hyatt Diamond status will be valid until February 2013. You need to complete the required 25 stays or 50 nights before end of this year to qualify for Diamond status all the way until 2014.

It might be better idea to start the Diamond challenge/trial in the second half of 2012. If nothing has changed, your status should then be valid until February 2014 after doing the required 12 nights in 60 days. Unfortunately I am not aware of the exact cut-off date for this.

Process of requesting the Diamond Challenge/Trial

Do you have a Hyatt Gold Passport account set up? If not it is probably best to set it up online first. Then you need to call (this would be my choice) or send an email request to the service center using the online web form.

You should then receive a following reply within 24 hours:

Thank you for contacting Hyatt Gold Passport Customer Service. I
appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

Regarding your inquiry, currently a Diamond Trial Offer is available.
You will receive trial Diamond membership for 60 days with proof of top
tier status with one of our competitors program.  However, you must
complete 12 nights in 60 days to maintain Diamond tier through February
of 2013.  You will also receive 1000 bonus points on your first six
eligible nights within 60 days, up to a maximum of 6000 bonus points.

Please note this offer can only be made one time and can not be extended
beyond the 60 day period.

Please note the list of competitors that Hyatt Gold Passport will match:

Hilton Gold VIP or Hilton Diamond VIP
Marriott Gold or Marriott Platinum
Starwood Platinum Preferred Guest
Priority Club Platinum

Please email or mail a statement of your account activity with a
competitor to us for processing at:

PO Box 27089
Omaha, NE 68127-0089

To find more details on our exclusive Diamond status please visit us
online at:
http://goldpassport.hyatt.com/gp/benefits/membership_diamond.jsp

I appreciate your support of Hyatt and the Gold Passport program. Please
let me know if I may assist you further.

Sincerely,

XX XX
Hyatt Gold Passport Customer Service

You can mail the requested documents to the above mentioned address or email them to goldpassport@hyatt.com.

They should process the documents within 24 hours and you can then immediately see the updated status by logging in to your Hyatt Gold Passport account.

Note that theoretically this is only once in a lifetime (or program account). You should probably do it if you plan on staying with Hyatt to experience the Hyatt Diamond treatment. As a bonus you will also receive 1000 bonus Gold Passport points for first six of your eligible night during this period.

US Airways Dividend Miles Hotel Points 50% Conversion Bonus Offer – Ends March 31st, 2012

1 Comment

US Airways has been very predictable of running continuous promotions for buying, gifting, transferring, or converting, money or points to Dividend miles. Their latest offer is 50% bonus for points conversions from number of hotel programs. US Airways run identical offer last year.

Please note that according to the Terms and conditions you can only earn the conversion bonus ONCE.

us-airways-conversion-offer

The beauty of Dividend miles program are the rather generous routing rules, competitive award chart, ability to earn and burn on all Star Alliance carriers and then some, and these continuous offers from Dividend miles.

Essentially, US Airways is selling miles at a reasonable rate that enables the travelers like you and me to experience international business and first class at a fraction of the cost.

But, as always when you are dealing with award space, you need to be flexible and often book either well in advance or at a very last minute. I tend to typically do the latter. When airlines realize that they have unsold business and first class inventory, they often dump it to the award inventory few days before.

There are some drawbacks with US Airways Dividend miles as well. You will end up paying some fees unless you are top tier on their program. There is a booking fee (up to $50) as these cannot be booked on the web, and a quick ticketing fee ($75) if you book less than 21 days in advance. There are no fuel surcharges, however. The US Airways may not be the most stable of the airlines, and there has been some chatter lately of some changes to come. I would do a transfer or buy miles without hesitation, if I know how I would spend them in the next 6 to 12 months.

Look at the conversion partners

The conversion partners this time are Best Western, Choice Privileges, Club Carlson, Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, Priority Club, Starwood Preferred Guest, Wyndham Rewards, and La Quinta.

us-airways-conversion-offer-partners

I am only concentrating on Club Carlson, Hyatt Gold Passport, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest conversion possibilities. I don’t believe that the other options provide too much value unless you just need to top off your Dividend Miles account for small number of miles.

Club Carlson

club-carlson-us-airways

This is very straightforward offer. 100K Club Carlson points would transfer with the 50% conversion bonus to 27K Dividend Miles.

Hyatt Gold Passport

I don’t think that this is a good use of Hyatt Gold Passport points, but this is the last opportunity to transfer them to US Airways and earn the conversion bonus. You cannot earn Dividend Miles or transfer Gold Passport points to Dividend Miles after March 15th, 2012. Hyatt announced their discontinuance of this and some other airline partnerships on February 23rd.

hyatt-gold-passport-us-conversion

50K Hyatt Gold Passport points would become 37.5K Dividend Miles after Hyatt’s and US Airways’ conversion bonuses. It is actually not that shabby at all.

Marriott Rewards

I transferred close to a million Marriott Rewards points when AA was running somewhat similar conversion bonus before their partnership with Marriott Rewards ended. It was the major push to take me over 2 million lifetime miles in AA’s program and granting me a lifetime AA Platinum status.

us-airways-marriott-packages

The key here is to use Marriott Rewards points for travel packages that have a miles component as well. You can get a seven night award category 1 to 5 Marriott Rewards property and 120K (180K with conversion bonus) US Airways Dividend Miles for 270K Marriott Rewards points.  This is what I did few years ago with AA. The hotel part of this is valid for a year. I was, however, able to extend them by an additional year, but it is no longer possible. There aren’t that many interesting cat 1 to 5 in North America, but there are quite a few in Asia.

Starwood Preferred Guest

This is my favorite hotel program when it comes to transferring points to partners. Starwood has a nice list of partner airlines where you can dump points when needed.

us-airways-starwood-conversion

For every 20K Starpoints you transfer, you will receive a 5K miles bonus from Starwood. With the US conversion bonus 20K Starpoints becomes 37.5K Dividend Miles. Note that you can transfer only 60K Starpoints per day to US Airways if you want to maximize the bonuses. This would be 112.5K Dividend Miles.

Here are the Terms and Conditions of this offer that can also be found here.

Eligibility: Offer void where prohibited by law. No registration required. Only miles converted with an activity (‘eligible activity date’) date between March 11, 2012 and March 31, 2012 will earn a bonus. Earning bonus miles: Bonus miles are in addition to Dividend Miles awarded by hotel partners for points conversions. Only hotel points that are converted into Dividend Miles from March 11, 2012 – March 31, 2012 are eligible. Hotel bonus miles do not count towards Preferred status. Bonus miles will post 6-8 weeks from date of the eligible activity date. Dividend Miles members will earn only one bonus when they transfer hotel points into Dividend Miles during the promotion. Dividend Miles members will earn a 50% bonus. Eligible activity date: Eligible activity date is based on the date the qualifying partner records the mileage transaction, and not necessarily the date on which the transaction occurred. US Airways assumes no responsibility for how qualifying partners record activity dates. Check with the applicable partner to confirm policies and procedures for recording activity dates. The last date that activity from a qualifying partner can be received by US Airways for bonus miles consideration is April 10, 2012, regardless of the eligible activity date for such activity. General terms: All US Airways Dividend Miles terms and conditions apply. You may opt out of US Airways emails at any time. US Airways is not responsible for the quality or delivery of goods and/or services provided by Dividend Miles partners. All Dividend Miles partner terms and conditions apply. Partner offers are subject to change without notice. Hotel transfers (points to miles conversions) are subject to terms and conditions as stipulated in your agreement with your hotel program.

Comparing Lifetime Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood Status Options

Hyatt, Marriott and now also Starwood has realized that giving out a lifetime status after meeting some pretty tough revenue, number of nights, and number of years in the program could be an important part to make members stick with the chain long term.

I have already independently written about Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood requirements. Currently neither InterContinental Hotels Group (Priority Club/Ambassador) nor Hilton offer a lifetime incentive for their members.

My preference in easiness of achieving the top tier lifetime status in these three programs is as following:

1. Starwood Lifetime Platinum

Requires only 500 nights (now all nights count including cash & points/award) + 10 years of Platinum membership

This is in my opinion the easiest. The night requirement is not onerous. The only “real” requirement is the fact that you need to have Platinum status for 10 years. These years do not need to be continuous, but other years do not count for lifetime Platinum.

2. Marriott Lifetime Platinum

Requires 2 million points, 1000 nights & 12 years as a Marriott Rewards member.

The biggest hurdle is the number of night’s requirement, although all the nights count including the ones from credit card + possible meeting ones.

The 2 million point’s requirement might sound high, but in reality it is not considering how many points you will earn from the stays including all the status based bonuses, Megabonus promotions, and points from the credit card spend.

You need to have been at least ones a Platinum member during your membership of the program.

3. Hyatt Lifetime Diamond

This can be the easiest or hardest depending how much you spend. The requirement is one million base points. These are NOT the lifetime points that you can see in your account, but only points that are from eligible revenue before any additional bonuses. It translates to $200K in Hyatt spend that is credited towards Hyatt points. If you have credited some of the stays to airline miles, none of those count for this lifetime status.

The only other requirement is the requirement of having been a Gold Passport member for 10 years. There is no need to ever have a status with Hyatt.

Hilton HHonors Premium Room Reward & Why I Used It At Hilton Shanghai

3 Comments

Hilton launched their Premium Room and Points And Money rewards last year. The other week, I wrote about my Points And Money reward at Hilton Fiji. I have also written about the Premium Room Rewards at Hilton Abu Dhabi where I was thinking of staying at late last year.

When I have looked at these Premium Room Rewards, the Hilton has always valued the Hilton HHonors point from anywhere between $0.003 and $0.007. The price using points is directly linked to the price of the room/suite. It sometimes creates a situation where this Premium Room Reward actually costs less than the basic level room reward for the hotel in question. Also, there is/was a Get Points Back Promotion where Hilton would credit back 30% of the points used back for Points And Money & Premium Room Rewards.

After having had a great stay at the Hilton’s Waldorf-Astoria in Shanghai, I wanted to stay at the Hilton Shanghai as well. The rates there were rather high and couldn’t get the price to come down using any of the discount codes that I am eligible for.

hilton-shanghai-basic-room

The regular redemption rates at this hotel are 35000 Hilton HHonors points per night, but there was also Premium Room Rewards available starting at less than 31000 points per night. I decided to book the Premium Room Reward because I had a hunch that I might get the 30% of the used points back, although the reservation was done after the official cut off time.

hilton-shanghai-premium-room-reward

Lo and behold. The stay posted to my account and there was again the line for Get Points Back Promo essentially making this award cost 21647 Hilton HHonors points. The “value” of a Hilton HHonors point, considering the paid rates and after getting 30% of the points back, was around $0.01/Hilton HHonors point.

hilton-shanghai

This Get Points Back-promotion proves why it always makes sense to sign up for the promotions even if you are not initially planning to use them. I had absolutely no plans to use these new awards, but I have already done it twice and saved nice number of Hilton HHonors points in the process.

March Hotel Promotions Update: Choise, Carlson, Hyatt, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton & Starwood

It is time for a March hotel promotions update. This is the first time I will include the Choice Privileges in this update as well. In the future you will most likely see Accor and Best Western promotions as well. There are so many different promotions going on that there is, for sure, something for everyone.

I am working on the Two Days of Happy Starwood promotion that is about to end. Will probably have quite a few InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton stays next. Both have very good promotions going on.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. This promotion is valid until March 16th, 2012. 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

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice has a promotion starting on March 8th for 8000 points for every two stays. On some brands you need two nights for a stay.

choise-hotels-march-promo

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

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. Please note that all these airline related bonuses are scheduled to end on March 31st.

hilton-hhonors-emirates-promo

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

The British Airways promotion shows 1500 bonus Avios, but what has been posting to members is 1000. If you don’t get the correct amount,  I would suggest that you write to Hilton and reference their own promotional page for this offer.

hilton-hhonors-avios-campaign

Hilton HHonors With British Airways Offering 1500 Bonus Avios Per Stay Until March 31st, 2012

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

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

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. The Two Days of Happy end of March 15th.

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

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

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

spg-1000-bonus-points-sheraton-club

Starwood Offering 1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

Fiji Beach Resort & Spa Managed by Hilton, Denarau Island, Nadi, Fiji – Review of My Stay

3 Comments

This was going to be my first accommodation in Fiji. The day before arrival I was looking at various rates for this hotel and found a points + money rate that was good deal. I had originally planned to use a free night certificate from a promotion.

[nggallery id=32]

This is some sort of timeshare or partially owner owned property. They have owners lounge, although not a Hilton club lounge. The unit that I had was quite residential as it had a washer & dryer, refrigerator, dish washer, hot plates, and a grill on the outside patio.

Location

The hotel is on the Denarau Island where most of the other international hotels are located. I also stayed at the Radisson Blu and Sheraton hotels during my stay. Hilton was most definitely best of these three options. There is also a Sofitel that many consider to be the best of all, however.

There is a Denarau harbor where many of the restaurants, some shops, and a Hard Rock Café is located. You can also catch a ferry or boat and do an island excursion. There is a shuttle bus for a daily flat fee that takes you from any of the resorts to the harbor.

Getting to the hotel from the airport

There are quite a few airport taxis at the arrivals area. Local taxis would be probably cheaper but getting one would be a challenge. I tried but gave up after ten minutes. The airport taxis are not that expensive. It took around 20 minutes in pouring rain to get to the Hilton. The fare was 20 FJD.

Check in

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-lobby-area

The check in area is immediately to the left when you arrive to the hotel. They had all the paperwork ready. Some of the units are quite a faraway from the check in desk. I had a buggy taking me to the 2801 with my bags.

Accommodations

I was assigned a ground floor “suite”. It was basically just a large open space that had been divided by couple of doors.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-suite-2801-vew-of-the-suite

The bathroom was very well stocked. You could do your own laundry using the washing machine and the dryer. The bath tub looked nice, although I didn’t use it.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-suite-2801-bathroom-general-view

They had the new Peter Thomas Roth line of amenities, but for some reason had the old La Source pump bottles in the shower.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-suite-2801-view-of-the-bedroom-from-living-room

The resort doesn’t have wireless access and the Ethernet cable that they had was very short. I requested them to bring me a wireless router so that I could use both my PC and MacBook Air laptops. For some reason the wireless router they brought didn’t work, but the longer Ethernet cable was enough for my need.

Pool, Beach & Fitness center

There are two pools that are divided by a restaurant. These are fairly large sized and had sun chairs all around them. The weather was terrible for the day I was in the resort. It was mainly raining non-stop, but when there was a bit of sun there were immediately few people on the pool area.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-pool-area-2

The beach itself is unremarkable, but this is the case with all the hotels in the Denarau area. You cannot really spend any time in the beach itself, but that’s why there are pools.

The fitness center was in the opposite corner of the resort from my suite. It was quite small but had the equipment that I needed for a quick workout.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-villas-fitness-center-5

Breakfast

My tip would be to eat inside. I took a table outside and when I went to pick up something there was immediately number of birds picking up on my plate. I quickly decided to re-seat myself inside. The breakfast selection was quite nice and what you would expect from a resort. The service was slow but that is not unexpected in Fiji.

hilton-fiji-beach-resort-spa-villas-breakfast-6

Conclusion

This was a fine resort, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my brief stay. It could have been due to being in Denarau that is an isolated tourist area where there is nothing else around. You can always take a taxi to the Queens road where there are bars and restaurants which the locals go.

My tip would be to get a room/suite that is closer located to the central area of the resort. If you are “housed” in the very west or very east in the resort, it will be quite a hike to anywhere. I did saw quite a few people using the buggies to get around. You can probably get one by calling the operator.

Not sure if this resort offers any kind of Diamond amenity. At least there was nothing in my suite that would have indicated that I had received one. I always find it helpful when hotels have a welcome letter that is customized to your status. Not sure exactly what are the Diamond benefits at this resort beyond the upgrade and the complimentary breakfast.

Trending Posts