Time to Decide the SPG Nice Choice Promo Option

You have through June 30th, 2012 to decide the option of the SPG nice Choice Summer promotion that fits you the best. Sad to say, but this is the worst SPG promotion for the past four years for me.  It can work for some, however.

spg-nice-choice-june

I have written few pieces about this promotion before it was launched. I got hold off on an internal Starwood memo about this promotion. They were expecting this promotion to drive few million extra room nights during the promotional period. Hope that it is the case. In my case it has merely made me to book away from Starwood.

Later, I had a post about a strategy you should take. You should read the original post I wrote about these offers.

Here are the “real” choices again:

1. Choose double points if you have no idea about the number of nights you will have.

2. Choose triple points if you are sure that you will have more than 15 nights.

You may entertain the following options as well:

1. Free weekend night cat 1 to 5 certificate (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) after 10 nights. Max 2. Downsides are the category, day of use requirement and the expiry before the end of the year. This can “theoretically” be worth 16K SPG if you use it during the high season.

2. 3K SPG after every 6 nights – max 18 nights and 9K SPG.

3. 500 extra Starpoints per night at Sheraton hotels.

Remember that you need to register for this promotion through June 30th, 2012.

Starwood Food & Beverage Credit Voucher

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You can earn Starpoints for wining and dining at Starwood hotels even when you are not a guest. Starwood recently launched a promotion for their SPG Restaurants & Bars program to drive more non-guest traffic to these food and beverage outlets. You can get up to 30% discount off your bill for just being a Starwood Preferred Guest program member and earn some Starpoints in the process.

Last week I had a “dinner” of two Grey Goose on the rocks and couple of frozen margaritas at the bar of the W Koh Samui. I don’t normally bother getting Starpoints for items like this, but I decided to check out the process how they handle these.

The bill was about 2K THB that is $60. Four Starpoints per dollar should make it to around 240 points credited to my SPG account. I have an image of my card with the SPG number stored on my phone. So, I just informed the waitress that I would like her to make sure that I would get Starpoints for the purchase and handed the phone to her.

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She filled out a slip that looked like an old fashioned credit card one with my SPG info and attached a copy of the receipt to it. Then she gave me a carbon copy. A week later nothing has posted to my account yet. We’ll see…..

New Starwood SPG Benefit – Stay & Night Credits For Up To 3 Rooms At a Time

Starwood has done some terms and conditions changes lately that have gone largely unpublished. One was the “Global Personalization at Starwood” where Starwood can now “spy” you on your social networks like Facebook and LinkEdIn. But there are other changes made as well.

Apparently, you have been able to earn points, stay and night credits for up to 3 rooms at a time since March 1st this year. If you are an SPG member and book three rooms under your SPG account number for one night, you will receive both three night and stay credits. This is quite a change. Previously you were able to earn Starpoints for up to three rooms, but you wouldn’t get stay or night credits for more than one room at a time.

Is Starwood Spying Its Guests on Facebook and LinkedIn – Global Personalization at Starwood?

I was trying to find out this info from the updated terms and conditions dated March 15th, 2012. This information, however, is not explicitly listed there at all:

spg-3-terms

There are no mentions that one would also earn stay and night credits, but this was confirmed by the Starwood’s social media representatives recently on FlyerTalk:

spg-3-terms-ft

So, if you play your cards right, you only need eight stays of 3 rooms + one stay to make a Platinum status with the Starwood. This really helps, if you are in need of mattress runs. You can do three stays in a one night when the rates are low i.e. during weekends and around the holidays.

Starwood Coming Up With a New Logo?

Starwood (Preferred Guest, Inc.) has filed a trademark registration back in February for the following trademark:

spg-new-logo

It somehow reminded me of a BP logo that has a similar star device:

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Even if Starwood has filed for this trademark, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will use it in the future. When Starwood introduced the new benefits levels back in January, they had filed for trademarks for them previously.

Starwood Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam Rate Promotion

Starwood has launched a new rate promotion for Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. There are several options from a third night free to 25% discount of stays of five days or longer that vary from hotel to hotel.

spg-thailand-vietnam-cambodia

Sometime these rates are good and sometimes they are not. These discounts are based on the Best Flexible Rate that can be rather high at times. It always pays to check ALL the rates before making the reservation. Apparently these rates are prepaid, non-cancellable and non-changeable. So, only book if your plans are FIRM.

spg-thailand-vietnam-cambodia-bangkok-options

Here’s a rate example from Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel in Bangkok. I chose the third night free option, and for the dates that I was looking at it was indeed the lowest rate.spg-thailand-vietnam-cambodia-ros-rates

Here are terms and conditions of this rate promotion:

  • Offer is valid for stays booked and completed by December 31, 2012.
  • Offer is subject to availability.
  • Minimum and Maximum length of stay varies by Hotel/Resort. Credit Card is required at time of reservation.
  • Consecutive night stay for paid nights and a free night is required.
  • Offer is valid for new bookings only. Consecutive reservations for this offer will not be honored.
  • These offers are based on Starwood’s best available unrestricted retail rates.
  • Basic room rates do not include additional per room per night charges that may be imposed or state/local taxes.
  • Rates are per room, per night, based on single/double occupancy and availability.
  • A limited number of rooms may be available at these rates and additional restrictions and blackout dates may apply.
  • Blackout dates are applicable and vary differently from city to resort properties.
  • Offer not applicable to groups or with other special offers.
  • Not responsible for omissions or typographical errors.
  • Void where prohibited by law. Not to be combined with other offers or promotions.
  • Starpoints, SPG, Starwood Preferred Guest, Sheraton, Four Points, W, Aloft, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, Element, Westin, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.

Starwood Discontinues New York Best Rate Guarantee for Free Nights After 8 Days

Starwood launched their free night offer for number of New York hotels On June 4th. This promotion was supposed to last for THREE months. If you were able to find a lower rate from a non-Starwood website, they would give you a night free.

It is not typically that difficult to find lower rates on non-Starwood websites that would have qualified under this promotion. But it takes some time to find and research them, and by the time the claims are processed the prices might have changed anyway.

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Starwood did, however, put up the above announcement to their website few hours ago.

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I would like to know what are these “unforeseen circumstances” that made Starwood to withdraw this offer so soon? If I would have to guess, they probably underestimated the number of valid claims that they would end up getting. Properties in question probably weren’t too happy to give out free nights, and then…. Oh well. They decided to withdraw the offer.

Free Nights in New York at Starwood Hotels if You Find a Lower Rate on a Competing Website

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Some hotel chains like InterContinental Hotels Group have very powerful low rates guarantees. They will give you the night free if you can find a lower rate for the same type of accommodation and terms i.e. refundable vs non-refundable.

spg-nyc-offer

Now Starwood has made a similar promise from June 4th to September 4th for the following properties in the New York:

Aloft Harlem
Four Points by Sheraton Long Island City/Queensboro Bridge
Sheraton JFK Airport Hotel
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel
Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel
Sheraton New York Hotel
The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City
The New York Helmsley Hotel
The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel
The St. Regis New York
The Westin Jersey City Newport
W Hoboken
W New York
W New York – Downtown
W New York – Times Square
W New York – Union Square
The Westin New York at Times Square

This is a very good offer as cheaper publicly available rates are not THAT difficult to find on sites like www.kayak.com, www.expedia.com, www.booking.com, www.hotelscombined.com, www.orbitz.com, www.trivago.com, www.priceline.com etc. There are so many web sites that are selling discounted rooms that is not possible to list them all.

Things to remember:

1. You can (household) only do ONE valid claim in every 30 days. If you are traveling with someone and you don’t live at the same address, you can do claims for consecutive nights.

2. The stay must happen from June 4 to September 4.

3.  When you do the Best Rate Guarantee claim you must elect to take 2000 SPG points as a compensation and must note that YOU WANT A FREE NIGHT on the comments section.

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

From June 4, 2012 through September 3, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”), if a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest® program (an “SPG Member”) submits a valid Best Rate Guarantee claim using the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee Claim Form for a stay at one of the Participating NYC Hotels, the SPG Member may elect, once every 30 days during the Promotion Period, to receive a free night at such Participating NYC Hotel instead of one of the standard best rate guarantee rewards, if the claim also satisfies the following terms and conditions:

  • The stay that is the subject of the valid claim under the Best Rate Guarantee is at one of the following hotels (each, a “Participating NYC Hotel”):

Aloft Harlem
Four Points by Sheraton Long Island City/Queensboro Bridge
Sheraton JFK Airport Hotel
Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel
Sheraton Lincoln Harbor Hotel
Sheraton New York Hotel
The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City
The New York Helmsley Hotel
The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel
The St. Regis New York
The Westin Jersey City Newport
W Hoboken
W New York
W New York – Downtown
W New York – Times Square
W New York – Union Square
The Westin New York at Times Square

  • The first night of the stay that is the subject of the valid claim is between June 4, 2012 and September 4, 2012.
  • The SPG Member submitting the valid claim must elect the 2000 Starpoints best rate guarantee reward and then request the free night credit in the comments section of the Starwood Best Rate Guarantee Claim Form. No requests for a free night reward made after the claim form is submitted will be granted.
  • The SPG Member submitting the claim and others in his/her household have not submitted a valid claim during the previous 30 days for which they received a free night as their best rate guarantee reward.  If it is determined by Starwood in its sole discretion that an SPG Member has submitted a valid claim but does not meet this requirement, the SPG Member will be provided with the opportunity to select a different Best Rate Guarantee reward.
  • The free night must be used during the stay that is the subject of the valid claim, must be used by the SPG Member that submits the claim, and is nontransferable.
  • The free night will not constitute an Eligible Charge for purposes of earning Starpoints, but will count towards the SPG Member reaching the Eligible Night and Eligible Stay milestones needed to earn elite membership status in accordance with the SPG Terms (www.spg.com).
  • All other nights during the stay that is the subject of the valid claim will be at the Competing Rate.
  • The SPG Member will be responsible for all taxes, gratuities, and any additional resort or guest charges or fees for the free night and the remainder of the stay that is the subject of the valid claim.
  • If the reservation for the stay that is the subject of the valid claim is cancelled the free night is forfeited, may not be reinstated, and will continue to count for purposes of determining eligibility for an additional free night award for a valid claim by the SPG Member.
  • Associates of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., its affiliates, and Starwood Hotels, as well as the immediate family (spouse and children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible for this promotion.
  • Starwood is not responsible for omissions or typographical errors.
  • This promotion is void where prohibited by law.
  • Starwood reserves the right to discontinue this promotion at any time.
  • SPG, Starwood Preferred Guest, Sheraton, Four Points, W, Aloft, Le Méridien, The Luxury Collection, Element, Westin, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Latest Airline Partner Etihad Airways

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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) latest airline partner. It is always great to have more airlines partnering with Starwood as it is very convenient to transfer Starpoints to airline miles to top up accounts for awards.

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Etihad sent an email couple of days ago about this partnership and SPG already has earnyourdreams.com/etihad website up for double, triple or 3000 extra miles depending of the upgraded accommodations your book in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

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According to the email, you could already transfer Starpoints to Etihad Guest miles, but this is not the case. The airline doesn’t yet appear on the partner list.

starwood-etihad-not-on-the-list

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

There are currently promotions going on with number of chains. My personal choice for the June are the three Club Carlson promotions, Marriott’s promotion of a free night for every two stays capped at three free nights, and the InterContinental Hotels Group due to number of stackable promotions. The very confusing SPG promotions is going on depending what is the earning period that you will choose (no need to choose until the end of this month). Hyatt’s airline related bonuses are very good as well.

Sign up for our free daily blog updates by email, so that you don’t miss any valuable information about airlines and hotels.

Le Club Accorhotels

There are no current promotion for Accor. Sign up for our email alerts to be notified when they launch a new global promo.

There was a promo for triple points for stays until June 10th that include a weekend night. You had to book these by May 10th, however.

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

The offer for complimentary Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status is still up:

Accor A|Club / Le Club Accorhotels Platinum Status for New Accounts

Best Western Rewards

Best Western Rewards is offering a free night certificate after three stays. This promotion starts on June 17th and ends on August 19th. You can only earn ONE free night certificate.

Best Western Rewards Summer Bonus Offer SUM12 – Free Night Voucher After Three Stays

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Carlson has come up with the most exciting summer promotion this year. You can register for three different promotions and earn enough points for a free night from each one of the. You only need to register and try out their different brands.

You can get 50000 bonus Club Carlson points by registering for their Big Night Giveaway and have a stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu property worldwide

radisson-big-night-giveaway

Radisson Big Night Giveaway Promotion Is Now Live

Then there is the Country Inns & Suites version of this promotion. You can get 44000 bonus Club Carlson points by registering for their Stay 1 Get 1-promotion and staying a night at any of their Country Inns & Suites.

club-carlson-country-inn-suites

Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Stay 1 Get 1 Promotion – 44000 Club Carlson Bonus Points

And Club Carlson’s third promotion is for the Park Inn-brand. You will get 44000 bonus points after registering for their Stay One Get One-promotion and staying at any of the Park Inn locations by July 22nd.

club-carlson-park-inn-stay-1-get-1-sign-up

Club Carlson Park Inn by Radisson Promotion Get 44K Bonus Points for a Stay

If you are new to the Club Carlson, you can read about the various status levels with the program and the status match opportunities:

Club Carlson Red, Silver, Gold, & Concierge Status Levels Explained

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson Status Match

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice is offering 8000 Choice Privileges points for every two stays that you can redeem for $50 gift cards with number of retailers. Note that the definition of a stay is TWO nights at select Choice properties.

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Choice Hotels Summer Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn $50 Gift Card

Hilton HHonors

Hilton’s second quarter promotion of Double Points or Miles is coming to an end on June 30th.

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

You can also get 2000 bonus Hilton HHonors points for your first Home2 Suites stay.

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

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 read about getting a status match with Hilton HHonors:

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

Hyatt has teamed up with number of airlines; Air China, Air France-KLM, ANA, American Airlines, British Airways, China Eastern, Delta Air Lines, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Southwest, and United to offer up to five times the miles or points.

hyatt-summer-promo

Hyatt Gold Passport Summer 2012 Promotion for up to Five Times the Miles

Hyatt also offers status matches/trials. You can read more about them here:

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

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

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

Priority Club 2nd Quarter Stay/Night Bonuses

You can get 1000 bonus Priority Club points per night (capped at 20K) for stays until September 3rd.

Priority Club Summer Promotion 1000 Bonus Points Per Night

You can get a $75 Vacation Pay MasterCard after a rebate for every weekend stay of 2 nights or longer.

Priority Club Vacation Pay Offer – Stay Two Weekend Nights Get $75 Pre-Paid MasterCard

Then there is a $50 rebate for two nights or longer weeknight stays.

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club Offering $50 Travel MasterCard for Two Night Weekday Stays

There is an offer for a free digital camera for 6 stays in the Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express hotels in the UK.

Priority Club Olympics Offer – Stay 6 Nights at Holiday Inn or Holiday Inn Express Hotels in the UK Get a Panasonics Limited Edition Digital Camera + Enter to Win Olympics Tickets + 1000 Priority Club Bonus Points Per Stay

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

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

Marriott Rewards

Marriott summer promotion started on June 1st and is valid until August 31st. You need to register by June 30th. There are number of variations of the offer.

marriott-summer-promotion-3-free-nights

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

Marriott also offers status matches or taste of Platinum/Gold. You can read more about the procedures of getting one here:

Marriott Rewards Gold & Platinum Status Match – Taste of Platinum & Gold Challenge

If you haven’t been targeted to any of the promotions or you would like to change to another one, you can follow the instructions to get the promotion fixed for you.

Changing Targeted Marriott Promotions

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

There are no current promotional offers from Ritz-Carlton.

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood launched their much anticipated SPG Nice Choice promotion on May 1st that hasn’t gone down too well. You can read about the initial leakmy ability to confirm that the leaked information was real, and the strategy that you should take. Essentially, this is a double or triple Starpoints promotion that is very weak compared to free night promotions that SPG was running during 2010 and 2011. Note that you need to choose what you would like to earn and when by June 30th, 2012.

spg-nice-choice-o

SPG Nice Choice Promotion Finally Launched

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

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

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

Some renovated Sheraton hotels are also offering 1000 bonus Starpoints.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Staying at a Newly Renovated Sheraton Hotels

You can get 1000 Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for booking a special (expensive) rate plan.

1000 Bonus Delta SkyMiles or US Airways Dividend Miles for Sheraton Club Bookings

Starwood doesn’t offer straight status matches, but they can offer you a challenge:

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Status Match – Platinum Challenge

Wyndham Rewards

Wyndham has two promotions. One is for North America (US, Canada, and Mexico) and the other one is for rest of the world. In my opinion the rest of the world is better.

Wyndham Rewards Spring 2012 Promotion – Stay 2 Get 2 – Double Points or Miles + Up To 4 Movie Tickets

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

Complimentary 6 Months Clear Membership for SPG Gold & Platinum Members

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Starwood Preferred Guest Gold and Platinum members can get a complimentary 6 month trial of Clear membership. You need to sign up with a valid credit card and you will be automatically charged after the trial period, if you don’t cancel in advance.

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Clear membership can help with the long lines at the selected three airports where it currently operates. Instead of having the TSA to validate your travel documents, the automated Clear line will do it. You still have to go through the usual TSA search.

spg-clear-membership-cities

If you haven’t received the offer code from SPG that is required for sign up, you can contact SPG by email using any of the following addresses: smassistance@starwoodhotels.com or spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com.

Here are the full terms and conditions of this offer:

Valid for new CLEAR members only. SPG elite members who are already CLEAR members can email memberservices@clearme.com to request a 1 year free upgrade to CLEAR’s Family Plan, which adds your spouse or partner to your CLEAR account. And your children under 18 get through the lane free when you accompany them — no enrollment necessary. Must be at least 18 years of age and be a U.S. citizen or legal, permanent resident of the U.S. Following your initial CLEAR trial period, your card will automatically be charged at an applicable membership annual rate for a 12-month paid membership. You will be notified 30 days before your card is charged. Refunds of your Annual Unlimited CLEAR membership commenced after your six-month membership will be pro-rated by CLEAR based on the time remaining in your membership. In-person verification is required at one of the Enrollment Centers prior to using the CLEARlanes; valid passport and driver’s license are required, or for other acceptable identification, visit clearme.com/how-to-join. See full list of enrollment locations at clearme.com/enrollment-centers.

See full Terms & Conditions at clearme.com/sites/default/files/pdf/clear_membership_terms.pdf.

My Hotel Award Dilemma for Doha Qatar

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

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

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

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

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

Hilton HHonors

doha-hilton-price

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

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

doha-hyatt-paid

doha-hyatt-points

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

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club

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

doha-ic-old

doha-ic-city

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

Marriott Rewards

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

doha-marriott-1

doha-marriott-2

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest

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

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

doha-spg-w

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

doha-spg-st-regis

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

Wyndham Rewards

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

doha-wyndham-ramada-price-2

doha-wyndham-ramada-price-1

doha-wyndham-ramada

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

doha-wyndham-wyndham-price

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

Is Starwood Spying Its Guests on Facebook and LinkedIn – Global Personalization at Starwood?

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Would you feel comfortable if a hotel, where you will have a stay, has a look at your Facebook wall, LinkedIn profile, or does a Google search on you? Don’t be surprised that the hotels are already doing this. Now Starwood, however, is about to take this to entirely new level on their “Global Personalization at Starwood” also known as GPS.

Back in January a FT member Moriens noticed a change on Starwood’s privacy policy. Starwood had deleted the following sentence from its privacy policy:

We endeavor to collect information only with your knowledge and with your permission if necessary.

starwood-privacy

Also, if your Facebook or LinkedIn or other social media accounts are public (make them private) they, Starwood, can access them without your consent to “personalize” your stay as an FT member 1Kwoman recently found out. Westin hotel had accessed her LinkedIn profile. She then complained about the practice General Manager of the hotel. The response from the General Manager was eye opening. According to the GM this was:

2.) to provide a “personalized” experience as decreed by Starwood in their “Global Personalization” program. ie, to provide you with a mention of your alma mater, your pets, or what not.

starwood-privacy-1kwoman

I made couple of Google searches using the GPS and Global Personalization at Starwood. There was an interesting piece about this subject on Starwood’s own blog:

GPS will allow us to connect with guests on their own terms, in and outside of their stay. It enables our Associates to anticipate guest needs and deliver tailored experiences at their fingertips.

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According to the publicly available material on the internet, Starwood believes that this this GPS (Global Personalization at Starwood) will be the next game changer in hospitality industry.

Also this doesn’t only apply to social networking sites but for sites like FlyerTalk as well. If you interact with Starwood “Lurkers” or representatives on any public message boards, they will link your handle with your Starwood account. Don’t be surprised, if they contact you after you have commented about a hotel or a stay that was less than stellar.

Conclusion

I take my privacy seriously. All the hotel companies, Starwood included, already have enough information about me based on my stay history to personalize the stay. I do not want Starwood or any other hotel company for that matter to start doing searches on my social networks about my personal preferences outside of my hotel stays.

My personal Facebook profile/wall is private. My LinkedIn profile is private from Google searches, but visible if you are logged in LinkedIn user. Quite frankly, I could care less if they know what my Alma matter is, or with which companies I have been associated with in the past.

Of course Starwood is not the only hotel company that does this. I just had a look at my LinkedIn profile, which I haven’t updated for years and there was recently a search done by a member of Conrad hotel where I stayed at.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind if the hotels are doing this after I have given them an explicit permission to do so. Hiding it in the yearly Privacy Policy change is not enough. It is probably true that you do not need a permission to do searches like this for the customers based in the United States where privacy laws are weak, but possibly doing something like this for residents in the European Union could prove to be playing fool with the privacy laws.

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the list of eligible transfer partners:

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

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

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

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

Like SPG On Facebook and Get 100 Starpoints + Chance to Win 100K Points

SPG would like to get more likes on Facebook and is giving out 100 points for liking and filling out a short form. You need to be a Facebook member and like SPG to be eligible for this offer by midnight EDT on 23rd of May, 2012.  They will also randomly select ten members that will each get 100K Starpoints.

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 By liking SPG, you will start seeing messages from SPG on your Facebook stream. You can always dislike SPG once the points have posted and the raffle for 100K SPG is over.

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Here are the terms of this promotion:

Official Rules. No Purchase Required to Enter or Win.

1. ELIGIBILITY: All members with a valid SPG® member number are eligible to receive 100 bonus Starpoints® as part of the You Like US, We Like You Back Promotion (“Promotion”). The Sweepstakes component is open only to legal residents of the United States (including the District of Columbia but excluding Florida), Canada (excluding Quebec), Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Belgium, China, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom who are 18 years of age or older, have reached the age of majority in their respective jurisdictions at the time of entry, and are members of the Starwood Preferred Guest® program. Employees of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., as well as the immediate family (spouse, parents, siblings, and children) and household members of each such employee are not eligible. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state, provincial and local laws and regulations. Void where prohibited.

2. SPONSOR: The Promotion is sponsored by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (“Starwood”), One StarPoint, Stamford, CT 06902 (“Sponsor”).

3. AGREEMENT TO OFFICIAL RULES: Participation in the Promotion constitutes entrant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding. Winning a prize is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth herein.

4. PROMOTION PERIOD: The Promotion begins on May 17, 2012, and ends at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on May 23, 2012, (“Promotion Period”). Entries submitted prior to or after the Promotion Period will be disqualified.

5. TO PARTICIPATE: You must be a member of the Starwood Preferred Guest program at the time of entry and at all subsequent times throughout the Promotion Period. Membership in the Starwood Preferred Guest program is free. Visit www.spg.com/join or call 888-625-4988 to enroll. The Sponsor will validate member accounts before the 100 bonus Starpoints will be awarded.

6. TO ENTER: Visit spg.com/fb100k (the Starwood Preferred Guest Facebook page) and complete the form to receive 100 bonus Starpoints. All information submitted must be valid. The Sponsor will secure all information entered as part of the Promotion and will only use the information provided to validate members and award the bonus Starpoints. Your submission is also valid for one (1) entry into the Sweepstakes. Limit one (1) entry per person. Sponsor is not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, incorrect or misdirected entries; interrupted or unavailable network servers; or other connection miscommunications, failed phone or computer or telephone transmissions, or technical failure, jumbled, scrambled or misdirected transmissions or other error of any kind whether human, mechanical or electronic that may affect the Sweepstakes. All entries become the exclusive property of the Sponsor, and none will be acknowledged or returned. Any attempt by any entrant to obtain more than the stated number of entries by using multiple email or wireless phone numbers or accounts, identities, registrations and logins, or any other methods will void the entrant’s entries and that entrant may be disqualified. Use of any automated system or agency relationship to participate is prohibited and will result in disqualification. In the event of a dispute in regards to any entry or registration, the authorized account holder of the SPG account used to enter register will be deemed to be the entrant.

7. DRAWING: The 10 Sweepstakes winners will be selected in a computerized random drawing on or about May 25, 2012. The drawing will be conducted on Sponsor’s behalf in St. Paul, MN, by Interactive Games, an independent judging organization whose decisions as to the administration of the Sweepstakes and the selection of the potential winners are final. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. The Sponsor will attempt to notify the potential winners via mail, email or telephone.

8. REQUIREMENTS OF THE POTENTIAL WINNERS: Except where prohibited, the potential winners will be required to complete and return an affidavit of eligibility and liability/publicity release (the “Affidavit/Release”) and IRS Form W-9 (or IRS Form W-8 if outside the U.S.) within seven (7) days of being notified. If the potential winner fails to sign and return the Affidavit/Release within the required time period or a potential winner declines, an alternate entrant will be selected in his/her place in a random drawing of all eligible entries received. For residents of Canada only, potential winners will be required to correctly and without any assistance answer a time-limited mathematical skill testing question administered by telephone in order to receive a prize.

9. PRIZES:All members who submit the form accurately and completely on SPG’s Facebook page are eligible for the 100 bonus Starpoints. Member accounts will be validated before the 100 bonus Starpoints are awarded. The ten (10) Grand Prize Sweepstakes Winners will each be awarded one hundred thousand (100,000) bonus Starpoints. Approximate Retail Value US$2,500.00. Starpoints will be deposited in winner’s account within 4–6 weeks. All SPG program rules apply and are available at www.spg.com. No cash or other substitution may be made, except by the Sponsor, who reserves the right to substitute the Prize and event date with another prize of equal or greater value if the Prize(s) are not available for any reason as determined by the Sponsor in its sole discretion. The Prize(s) are not refundable or transferable and must be accepted as awarded.

10. PUBLICITY: Except where prohibited, by participating in the Sweepstakes and regardless of whether you are a winner, you grant the Sponsor and its subsidiaries, affiliates and licensees an exclusive, irrevocable license to use, alter, adapt, publish, distribute, copy, exhibit, display, market, promote, advertise, publicize and otherwise exploit your name, signature, likeness and photograph(s), as well as additional photographs, video footage or other images that the Sponsor may take of you or your designated guest, if you are a winner (in their sole discretion), in whole or in part, in any manner and for whatever purpose Sponsor shall elect, in any and all languages, and in any and all media now known or hereinafter developed, including but not limited to website, television, radio and/or printed materials, worldwide in perpetuity, without further compensation, notification or permission. You or your designated guest shall not claim or be entitled to receive any compensation or credit for such use.

11. PRIVACY AND PERSONAL INFORMATION: By participating in the Sweepstakes, and by providing any information in connection with this Sweepstakes to Sponsor, each entrant authorizes Sponsor to collect, process and use such information for lawful, Sponsor business-related purposes; to store such information at and transmit it to various locations throughout the world, either directly or through third-party vendors, whether within your country of residence, the United States or elsewhere, in accordance with our Privacy Statement available at starwoodhotels.com.

12. GENERAL CONDITIONS: In the event that the operation, security or administration of the Sweepstakes is impaired in any way for any reason, including but not limited to typographical errors, fraud, virus or other technical problem, or any condition caused by events beyond the reasonable control of the Sponsor that may cause the Sweepstakes to be disrupted or corrupted, the Sponsor may, in its sole discretion, either: (a) suspend the Sweepstakes to address the impairment and then resume the Sweepstakes in a manner that best conforms to the spirit of these Official Rules; or (b) award the prize at random from among the eligible entries received up to the time of the impairment. The Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual it finds to be tampering with the entry process or the operation of the Sweepstakes, creating multiple accounts to increase his/her chances, or acting in violation of these Official Rules, or in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner. Any attempt by any person to undermine the legitimate operation of the Sweepstakes may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and, should such an attempt be made, the Sponsor reserves the right to seek damages from any such person to the fullest extent permitted by law. The Sponsor’s failure to enforce any term of these Official Rules shall not constitute a waiver of that provision.

13. RELEASE AND LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY: By participating in the Sweepstakes, entrants and their designated guests agree to release and hold harmless the Sponsor, its officers, directors, employees and agents (the “Released Parties”) from and against any claim or cause of action arising out of participation in the Sweepstakes, or receipt or use of any prize, including but not limited to: (a) unauthorized human intervention in the Sweepstakes; (b) technical errors related to computers, servers, providers, or telephone or network lines; (c) printing errors; (d) lost, late, postage-due, misdirected, or undeliverable mail; (e) errors in the administration of the Sweepstakes or the processing of entries; or (f) injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, from entrant’s participation in the Sweepstakes or acceptance, receipt use or misuse of any prize. Entrant further agrees that in any cause of action, the Released Parties’ liability will be limited to the cost of entering and participating in the Sweepstakes, and in no event shall the Released Parties be liable for attorney’s fees. Entrant waives the right to claim any damages whatsoever, including, but not limited to, punitive, incidental, consequential, direct or indirect damages. Sponsor is not responsible if any prize cannot be awarded due to travel cancellations, delays or interruptions due to acts of God, acts of war, natural disasters, weather, or acts of terrorism.

14. DISPUTES: Except where prohibited, entrant agrees that any and all disputes, claims and causes of action arising out of, or connected with, the Sweepstakes or any prize awarded shall be resolved individually, without resort to any form of class action, and exclusively by the appropriate court located in the State of New York. All issues and questions concerning the construction, validity, interpretation and enforceability of these Official Rules, entrant’s rights and obligations, or the rights and obligations of the Released Parties in connection with the Sweepstakes, shall be governed by, and construed in accordance with, the laws of the State of New York, without giving effect to any choice of law or conflict of law rules (whether of the State of New York or any other jurisdiction), which would cause the application of the laws of any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

15. SWEEPSTAKES RESULTS: To find out the name of the Sweepstakes winners after May 30, 2012, send request to SPGfacebook@starwoodhotels.com.

16. This Promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook.

17. Participant is providing information to Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. and not to Facebook.

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