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

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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

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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

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

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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

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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.

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

Marriott Properties that Are Moving Up & Down in Award Categories in March 15th, 2012

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Marriott just released a list of hotels that are moving up and down in award categories in 2012. According to the release 100 hotels are moving down (I counted 97) and 526 are moving up (I counted 516). In percentage terms 3% are moving down and 14% are moving up. The rest are staying at the current category level. Marriott also has four Ritz-Carlton moving from Ritz-Carlton Category 4 to 3, two moving from category 2 to 3, and another two from 3 to 4.

marriott-rewards-category-changes

Starwood released their category changes on February 16th. They had 13% moving down and 17% moving up. InterContinental Hotels Group announced on January 3rd that 25% of their hotels are moving up and 20% are moving down. They didn’t, however, provide a list of actual hotels moving in categories due to “competitive” reasons.

marriott-properties-moving-down-per-category

The vast majority of Marriott Rewards hotels are still in categories 1 – 4. I would argue, however, that the hotels that me and you would actually like to stay at are in categories 5 and higher.

marriott-properties-moving-up-per-category

You have until March 15th to book the hotels that are moving up in categories at the old point levels. You can download the PDF file that Marriott made public about the changes here.

Lifetime Marriott Rewards Silver, Gold, and Platinum Elite Status Requirements

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Marriott has had their lifetime elite status program for quite some time. Hyatt introduced it couple of years ago and Starwood at the beginning of this month. The lifetime status can come handy, when your high level of travel drops i.e. change in jobs or retirement. I haven’t made any of the lifetime hotel statuses yet, but I am a lifetime Star Alliance Gold through United and Platinum with American Airlines.

marriott-rewards

Here are the requirements for Silver, Gold, and Platinum lifetime elite status with Marriott:

Silver

– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 1.2 million

– Number of Marriot nights 600

– Must have qualified as a Silver member at least once during the program membership

Gold

– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 1.6 million

– Number of Marriot nights 800

– Must have qualified as a Gold member at least once during the program membership

Platinum

– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 2 million

– Number of Marriot nights 1000

– Must have qualified as a Platinum member at least once during the program membership

Marriott actually lowered the requirements for the lifetime status few years back. The requirements for the Silver used to be 600 nights and 1.5 million points, 800 nights and 2 million points for the Gold, and 1000 nights and 3 million points for the Platinum.

The requirements for the lifetime Gold and Platinum statuses are quite difficult to achieve. You need to have spent lots of nights in Marriott family of hotels to have achieved both the number of points and nights required. What helps here, however, is that Marriott counts the points earned from ALL sources towards the lifetime requirement. You can earn Marriott points from various hotel promotions, credit cards spend, through their online mall etc. The Marriott branded credit card also gives you a 15 night credit every year.

You need to call the Marriott Rewards customer service to find out the number of points you have earned during your program membership. You can find the number of nights by logging into your Marriott Rewards account and have a look at Nights Earned. It will show the current and lifetime totals.

Marriott Elite Buy Back Promotion – Buy Back Your 2011 Elite Status

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Marriott has run this promotion yearly, where you can buy back the elite status you had the previous year, but lost due to not enough stays. As always the promotion runs from February 1st to April 2nd.

marriott-elite-buy-back-promotion

40000 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Platinum status

25000 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Gold status

7500 Marriott Rewards points to buy back Silver status

You can only buy back the elite status that you had the previous year. If you were Gold in 2011, you cannot buy back Platinum in 2012. You can buy Marriott Rewards points up to 50K per year in increments of 1000 points at $12.50 per 1000 points.

Does it make sense to buy back the status?

1. I would only buy back Platinum, if I had high number of planned stays at international properties where Platinum treatment is superior to that in the United States. Although suites are not officially part of the Platinum upgrades, you can get them regularly at international properties. Also the welcome amenity of bottle of wine and a cheese plate is quite common.

2. Buying back Gold status is easier choice. I would most likely do it because then you would be eligible for concierge floor upgrades and lounge access/breakfast.

3. Buying back Silver? Nah. Just get the Marriott Rewards credit card and you will get the Silver status automatically.

Another suggestion for keeping the 2011 status.

Marriott Rewards is known for not downgrading their elite members automatically even when you haven’t had enough stays. If you did get downgraded, it doesn’t hurt to give them a call or send an email and plead your case. You might be positively surprised.

February Hotel Promotions Update: Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott/Ritz-Carlton, and Starwood

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

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

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

club-carlson-triple-points

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

Hilton HHonors

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

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

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

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

hilton-hhonors-ana-triple-miles

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

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

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

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

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

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

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

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

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

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

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

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

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

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

ritz-carlton-rewards

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

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

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

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest Asia Pacific Promotion

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

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

How to Write a Hotel Feedback (Complaint) Letter?

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

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

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

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

The structure of the complaint

– Your name and address

– The confirmation number

– Your account number with the hotels loyalty program

– The date(s) of your stay

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

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

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

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

Fourth paragraph: Just closing the letter and thanking them.

Where to send the complaint?

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

How to send it?

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

How long to wait for a reply?

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

Conclusion

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

Marriott, Hilton, and Continental Email Customer Service Turnaround Times

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Two days ago I wrote about my experience with Etihad and US Airways when it came to retrocrediting some flights that I had taken.  In the past month I have had a need to contact Marriott, Hilton, and Continental by email to fix few things.

If I don’t have an urgent thing to solve, I prefer sending an email. This way I have proof and the company can also better manage their workflows. Also, if the reply is by email and you have competent people replying to them, it doesn’t really matter where the function is located.

With Continental I had canceled one award flight, but the miles or the taxes/fees hadn’t been credited back to my account. I wrote an email/replied on their web form on December 20th to find what was going on.  The reply from Continental was received on January 26th. That is 37 days later after the inquiry was initiated. I happen to be a Platinum member with Continental. I was wondering how long it would take for a general member to get a reply out of this airline?

Please accept our apology for the delay in responding to your email; the busy travel season has led to an increase in the number of incoming e-mails and our response time is longer than average.

There had been few issues with Marriott.  Couple of properties that I had had problems with, and some points that hadn’t posted correctly. I try not to do a laundry list, but these issues were from the past seven months, and I hadn’t had time to fix them earlier. Sent an email with some attachment to Marriott Concierge on 21st and received a reply on 24th that they were looking what they could do. My email to them was sent on Saturday, and apparently the whole Marriott Rewards center is closed on Sunday so getting back on Tuesday was understandable.

But, I am still amazed how fast Hilton manages to reply to their Diamond members. I had a question regarding a promotion that they run with Emirates. I sent an email to Diamond desk at 11:57PM on 20th and the reply came on 21st at 3:25AM. The turnaround time was less than three and a half hours.

Continental should really look into how they manage the replies to email/web form inquiries. 37 days is nowhere near being acceptable. United has always been rather good at replying to complaints/comments sent to them as 1K. The reply is almost always received within a day or two. The Hilton example above is not an anomaly. Hilton has always been very good at replying to email inquiries and doing that fast. I am not as satisfied, however, with the quality of their Diamond phone line. It doesn’t really matter if the issues can be solved lightning fast by email. Marriott as a global hotel chain really should adopt better opening hours of their corporate customer care.

Didn’t Qualify for the Same Marriott Rewards Status as Previous Year – Now What?

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It is the time of the year when loyalty programs are starting to demote their members based on the previous years activity. Some programs are offering soft landings when at some others you can just become a base member. In the next couple of weeks I am going to write about how different programs handle these situations.

marriott-rewards-buy-back-your-status

I have a confession to make.  For the past couple of years I have not even come close to qualifying for Marriott Platinum status, but Marriott has been extending it to me or offered me a challenge. Last year it was 18 night challenge during a 90 day period. It coincided with a Marriott/Delta promotion for extra 5000 Delta SkyMiles per stay so it was no brainer to move some of my stays to Marriott during that period.

This year, I am not so sure. Although Marriott is a huge chain and people tend to like the Marriott Rewards program, I personally prefer Hyatt, Starwood, and InterContinental programs over Marriott’s. I do like to have the top tier status with multiple chains because none of them have omnipresence everywhere I travel to. So in 2011, I ended up less than 40 nights credited to Marriott of which 15 were from the credit card.

Here’s what you can do if you are in the same situation as I:

1. Do nothing yet. Marriott might renew you at the Platinum level regardless, or they might downgrade you to Gold. Marriott is known not to look only at the most recent year. They (computer algorithm more likely) look at the past few years to see how many nights you have credited to the program.

2. You can take advantage of Elite Buy Back Promotion that should run from February 1st to March 4th this year. You can buy back the elite level that you had in 2011 using points regardless how many nights you credited to the program. The number of points required for Platinum is 40000, Gold 25000, and 7000 for Silver.

3. Spend most of the early 2012 in Marriott hotels. For Platinum you need 75 nights and 50 for Gold

4. You can call Marriott Rewards customer service to see if they can offer you a challenge. That would typically require 18 nights in any 90 day period for a Platinum status.

5. Just accept that maybe the Platinum or Gold status is not for you, and move on.

Decision time!

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

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Virgin America is Marriott’s latest airline partner. When the MegaMiles promotion was announced early December, Virgin America wasn’t in the list of participating airlines.

If you would like to participate to this promotion, you need to choose miles instead of points as your earnings preference and make Virgin Elevate as the partner. You also need to register for the MegaMiles promotion. You can do this at the Promotion Central when signed in on your Marriott Rewards account.

virgin-america-megamiles-email-offer

During the MegaMiles promotion, which runs from January 1st to April 30th, you can earn 2000 bonus Elevate points starting from your second stay. The maximum number of bonus points that one can earn is 50000. The promo thus is capped to 26 Marriott family of hotels stays.

Does it make sense to credit stays to Virgin’s Elevate program? It depends of the way you are planning to use the airline miles/points. Elevate program is very straightforward. The number of Elevate bonus required for a free flight directly correlates with the price. The Elevate point is worth exactly $0.0215.

Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group, Marriott, and Starwood Preferred Guest Promotions for January, 2012.

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

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

Hilton HHonors

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

Hilton 'Escape to a Resort' Promotion

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

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