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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Starwood Quietly Changing Award Categories Midyear

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Back in February Starwood announced the category changes for 2012 and made the list of hotels changing categories public. There were few hotels that were set to drop down in category that eventually did not, or did only for couple of weeks i.e. Le Meridien Chiang Mai.

Then there was the case with Sheraton Montreal that started this year being a category 4 property for award purposes. It went down to category 3, but then couple of weeks later was suddenly category 5. If you ask a question from SPG’s social media representatives, why these sudden changes, the answer is basically because they can do it.

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And for sure all these are covered in the terms and conditions.

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Now Starwood has quietly raised the categories at least handful of hotels, but without doing any announcements. This was reported by posters on FlyerTalk that had seen some of their favorite hotels gone up suddenly in award categories. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find out exactly what properties went up. I doubt that any property would have gone down.

Probably the reason for Starwood to do these changes midyear, is to lower the liability of the Starpoints that they carry on their balance sheet. By raising the categories of the properties they can lower the liability of these points on their books and basically book the difference as a profit.

Shame on Starwood for not giving heads up on these changes. It is one thing to change the categories and give a proper notice than just change them unannounced.

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

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

Accorhotels – Le Club

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

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

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

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

Best Western Rewards

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

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

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

No promotions as of now.

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

Club Carlson Gold Status for Rezidor Shareholders

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

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

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

Hilton HHonors

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

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

You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

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

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

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

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

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

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

Priority Club 2nd Quarter Stay/Night Bonuses

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

Six Priority Club Promotions to Sign Up For (UPDATE)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marriott Rewards

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood just launched their much anticipated SPG Nice Choice promotion that hasn’t gone down too well. You can read about the initial leak, my ability to confirm that the leaked information was real, and the strategy that you should take. Essentially, this is a double or triple Starpoints promotion that is very weak compared to free night promotions that SPG was running during 2010 and 2011.

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SPG Nice Choice Promotion Finally Launched

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

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

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

Some renovated Sheraton hotels are also offering 1000 bonus Starpoints.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Staying at a Newly Renovated Sheraton Hotels

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

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

Wyndham Rewards

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

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

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

SPG Nice Choice Promotion Finally Launched

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During the past two weeks, I have written about this promotion three times. First to post about the leaked choices, second to confirm them after having had a look  at an internal memo, and then yesterday to write about the strategy that you should take. You can register for this promotion here.

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Now, finally the SPG website devoted to this promotion is up and running. There is really nothing surprises beyond the fact that the terms and conditions of this promotion are 2707 words and the frequently asked questions 2992.

spg-nice-choice-choosers-guide

The only worthwhile thing to remember is that the deadline for registering for this promo is June 30th, 2012. You don’t have to choose the earning period earlier even, if you would eventually want it to start on May 1st. My advice would be to take into account the characteristics of this promotion i.e. if you prefer getting 500 SPG points per night at when staying at Sheraton hotels, but not to sign up before the deadline. Then, at the end of June, you can have another look, what would be the best choice for you.

Here’s the simplest exhibit about this promotion. You can read my take about this promotion and what promotion you should sign up for, if any, here.

spg-nice-choice-big-picture

Here are both the Terms and conditions & Frequently asked questions by SPQ:

SPG Nice Choice Terms and Conditions:

SPG Nice Choice Promotion Strategy

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Summary

Unless you know exactly how many nights you are going to stay during the promotional period that you choose, sign up for the double points. If you know FOR SURE that you are going to have at least 15 nights, sign up for the triple points. If your stays are ONLY at Sheraton hotels, sign up for the 500 extra Starpoints per night at Sheraton’s-offer.

There are other worthwhile options, but they only pay after certain number of stays and are capped.

Introduction

Last week, the details of the SPG Nice Choice summer promotion were leaked out on the internet. I think that it was inevitable that the different options of this promotion would come out before the official announcement on May 1st, 2012.

For me personally this promotion is a huge disappointment compared to what Starwood offered in 2010 and 2011. I was able to put the free weekend nights in 2010 and free resort nights in 2011 to good use. I do understand that some were dissatisfied with the number of properties that decided not to participate to these two promos, and these free weekend or resort nights awards were useless for those that weren’t willing or were unable to use them during the redemption period.

This new promotion is all about the choices, but the problem is that there are so many of them that it is borderline impossible to figure out the best one unless you already have hotels booked and can calculate the payout under various choices.

To get the most out of this forthcoming promotion you must decide:

1. Which of the earning periods would fit you best? You can only choose one of the options.

2. Then what you would like to earn; Starpoints, awards, merchandise discounts, or elite night credits. Each of these options contains multiple choices and you can only choose one.

Choose your own earning period (You can only choose one)

May- July
June- August
July- September

Choose one during which you have the highest number of nights with the Starwood. You won’t earn any bonuses outside of one of these three month periods during the five months they have this promotion running.

Choose whatever you want to earn during (You can only choose one)

Starpoints
Awards (Free Nights & Redemption discounts)
Merchandise discounts
Elite Credit

You need to choose what you would like to earn.

Starpoints Offers

Double Points beginning with 2nd stay. No limits.

This is probably the easiest choice. If you have more than one stay during the promotional period, you are guaranteed to get something out of this promotion. Note that the double points start from your SECOND stay. Probably the best idea to have a one night stay first to qualify for the double points for rest of your stays.

Every 6 nights, get 3k Starpoints (max of 9k)

You will get 500 extra Starpoints per night if you hit exactly 6, 12, or 18 nights during the promotional period. This is good option if your average nightly rates are LOW.

If your nightly rates are higher than $125 and you know that you will stay at least 15 nights, the triple Starpoints offer is better (extra 4 Starpoints per dollar spend).

The double points (extra 2 Starpoints per dollar spend) from your second stay is better too, if your nightly rates are higher than $250.

Earn 500 bonus Starpoints per night at Sheratons worldwide (no limits). Online-bookings ONLY

You will only earn bonus when staying at Sheraton hotels and booking online. Not sure if bookings made through corporate travel portals count as online ones. Probably not.

The triple points offer is better if you hit the 15 nights during the promotional period, your average rate (including all incidentals) is higher than $125, and the triple points offer is valid at ALL SPG hotels.

Stay 15 nights, get Triple Starpoints on all stays retroactively. No limits.

In my opinion this is the best offer, but it won’t pay out unless you have at least 15 nights during the promotion period. The 6/12/18 nights for 3K/3K/3K bonus Starpoints and the 500 bonus Starpoints for each Sheraton nights can be better, if your folio is less than $125 and you hit exactly the number of night requirement of the 6/12/18 night promotion .

Awards Offers

10 nights, get 1 Free Weekend Night (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards. Weekends are Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.

In 2010 SPG run a promotion where you could get a Free Weekend Night award for every 3 stays and the number of awards earned was unlimited. In 2011 the promotion was for free resort nights at any day of the week. You could earn them at any SPG property. Three stays for one free weekend night. There were some properties that opted out from this promo and these awards were capped.

You will get a payout only if you hit exactly 10 nights and then again at 20 nights. There are no payouts in between.

The category 5 free night is “worth” 12000 Starpoints. By capping the use for only weekend nights when the hotel rates tend to be lower, the “dollar” payout is lower. Not sure about the expiry date of these free weekend night awards, but they probably expire within 4 to 6 months after earning.

This award option is inflexible. You can use Starpoints to redeem cash + points, transfer to airline miles, use to buy airline tickets etc.

Stay 20 nights, get 1 25% percent off redemption Award (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards

You already get a fifth night free when redeeming for category 3 and higher. I would assume that you can stack this discount with that as well. Five night redemption at category 5 hotel would normally cost 48000 Starpoints. The required number of Starpoints after the discount would be 36000 Starpoints.

Merchandise Awards

Stay 4 nights; get US$50 SPG Award Cert (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights; get $50 or EUR50 Westin @ home discount code (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights, get $50 or EUR50 Sheraton @ home discount code (max of 3)

Each of these three award options only pays at 4, 8, or 12 nights. The SPG $50 award certificate is not a bad option, but it will be mailed to you and you need to hand it in when checking out. It counts as a cash payment towards your folio.

If you value Starpoints at 2 cents, this option would give you 625 extra Starpoints per night in SPG hotel credit.

Elite status

Stay 5 nights, earn 1 bonus night toward elite status (max of 3 elite qualifying nights).
Stay 10 nights, earn 3 bonus nights toward elite status (max of 6 nights).

The thing to note here is that you are earning NIGHTS and not stays. You can qualify for SPG Platinum status by having 25 stays or 50 nights.

The payout in the first options is 1/2/3 cumulative elite qualifying nights after 5/10/15 nights. On the second one 3/6 cumulative nights after 10/20 nights.

SPG Nice Choice Promotion (CONFIRMED)

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Starwood Preferred Guest is about to launch their first multiple choice summer promotion SPG Nice Choice. The registration will officially open on May 1st, 2012.I can now confirm that the details that were first leaked on FlyerTalk, and what I posted here three days ago, are in fact correct. I have a copy of internal Starwood announcement about this promotion.

Normally promotions are funded by the properties, and that is the reason why there is sometimes a rather long list of non-participating properties. If business is good, why pay additional four to five percent of your revenue? Properties simply opt out.

I will have an in-depth analysis of various options of this promotion tomorrow.

Choose your own earning period (You can only choose one)

May- July
June- August
July- September

Choose whatever you want to earn during (You can only choose one)

Starpoints
Awards (Free Nights & Redemption discounts)
Merchandise discounts
Elite Credit

*There is no switching of registration codes or earning periods after registration. No exceptions.
* Registration from May 1- June 30, 2012

Here is a summary of the offers:

Starpoints Offers

Double Points beginning with 2nd stay. No limits.
Every 6 nights, get 3k Starpoints (max of 9k)
Earn 500 bonus Starpoints per night at Sheratons worldwide (no limits). Online-bookings ONLY
Stay 15 nights, get Triple Starpoints on all stays retroactively. No limits.

Awards Offers

10 nights, get 1 Free Weekend Night (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards. Weekends are Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.
Stay 20 nights, get 1 25% percent off redemption Award (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards

Merchandise Awards

Stay 4 nights; get US$50 SPG Award Cert (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights; get $50 or EUR50 Westin @ home discount code (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights, get $50 or EUR50 Sheraton @ home discount code (max of 3)

Elite status

Stay 5 nights, earn 1 bonus night toward elite status (max of 3 elite qualifying nights).
Stay 10 nights, earn 3 bonus nights toward elite status (max of 6 nights).

SPG Nice Choice Summer Promotion

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There was a post on earlier today on FlyerTalk by a member LovetoTravel83, who claimed to have received more detailed information about this forthcoming Starwood Summer promotion from his Starwood Ambassador.

There is no way to authenticate this info, but it does sound plausible. Starwood has run two stellar summer promotions on the past two years and this would personally be a letdown for me. It all boils down if you were able to take advantage of the promotional free night offers. In 2010 the free nights were valid only during the weekends Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. During the summer promotion in 2011 they were valid 7 days a week, but only at resort properties.

Choose your own earning period (You can only choose one)

May- July
June- August
July- September

Choose whatever you want to earn during (You can only choose one)

Starpoints
Awards (Free Nights & Redemption discounts)
Merchandise discounts
Elite Credit

*There is no switching of registration codes or earning periods after registration. No exceptions.
* Registration from May 1- June 30, 2012

Here is a summary of the offers:

Starpoints Offers

Double Points beginning with 2nd stay. No limits.
Every 6 nights, get 3k Starpoints (max of 9k)
Earn 500 bonus Starpoints per night at Sheratons worldwide (no limits). Online-bookings ONLY
Stay 15 nights, get Triple Starpoints on all stays retroactively. No limits.

Awards Offers

10 nights, get 1 Free Weekend Night (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards. Weekends are Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun.
Stay 20 nights, get 1 25% percent off redemption Award (cat 1-5). Max of 2 Awards

Merchandise Awards

Stay 4 nights; get US$50 SPG Award Cert (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights; get $50 or EUR50 Westin @ home discount code (max of 3)
Stay 4 nights, get $50 or EUR50 Sheraton @ home discount code (max of 3)

Elite status

Stay 5 nights, earn 1 bonus night toward elite status (max of 3 elite qualifying nights).
Stay 10 nights, earn 3 bonus nights toward elite status (max of 6 nights).

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

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

ba-avios-25-conversion-bonus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Note that this promotion has been extended until March 31, 2014.

Just received an email from Delta about an offer from Starwood for 1000 extra miles for booking Sheraton Club accommodations in select Sheraton hotels in the United States and Canada. This offer is valid for US Airways Dividend Miles as well. In order to get the bonus miles, your Starwood Preferred Guest account must be set for airline direct deposit and you need to book the rate code SHMILES. This offer is valid from April 16th to December 31st, 2012. You can earn the bonus miles only once per stay. There is a separate offer of 1000 bonus Starpoints per stay until the end of May for Sheraton Club bookings.

delta-sheraton-email

I was borderline laughing when I was reading about the description of Sheraton Club from Delta’s email. According to Delta & Starwood the club offers:

Unlimited access to our private Club Lounge

Complimentary deluxe continental breakfast in the Club Lounge daily

Complimentary evening hors d’oeuvres in the Club Lounge daily

High speed internet access in your guestroom and in the Club Lounge

Complimentary, unlimited local phone calls

Enjoy bottled water, upgraded bath amenities, newspapers and plush bathrobes in our Club guestrooms

sheraton-club-1000-us-airways

Domestic Sheraton lounges in the United States and Canada are rarely worth my time. International ones outside of the North America are entirely different animal, however. Some of them are actually nice and offer food & beverage amenities to look for, but not the one at the Sheraton Heathrow.

sheraton-club-offering

Here’s an example from Sheraton Garden Grove last year. This was their evening hors d’oeuvres. The deluxe continental breakfast was about same quality. Would you actually pay more if they are offering crap like this?

Of course, I paid the lowest rate for the night, which was probably around $100, and got an upgrade as a SPG PLT member.

Out of curiosity I run the different rate codes for the Sheraton Garden Grove for the night of April 27.

The Advance Purchase rate is $101

sheraton-advance-purchase-rate

The AAA rate is $111

sheraton-aaa

The Prepaid rate is $119

sheraton-prepaid

The AAA Breakfast rate is $121

sheraton-aaa-breakfast

The Prepaid Club rate is $135 + 1000 bonus Starpoints

sheraton-club-prepaid

The Best Available rate is $139

sheraton-bar

The AAA Club rate is $143

sheraton-aaa-club

The Sheraton Club Airline offer rate is $179

sheraton-airline-offer

The Sheraton Club rate is $179 + 1000 bonus Starpoints

sheraton-club-room-lounge-rate

Conclusion

As is often the case with special rate plans that offer some extra points or miles, the rate is widely inflated. The only reason why hotels keep offering these rates are business travelers that can book inflated rates, and earn some extra points along the way.

More Information About SPG: Nice Choice Promotion Coming on May 1st

Earlier in the week I wrote about the teasers that Starwood was releasing about their forthcoming SPG: Nice Choice Promotion.

At the time the only hints that the SPG gave were:

ALL ABOUT YOU

CHOOSE WHEN, WHAT AND HOW YOU WANT TO EARN

Now we have learned that:

1. There are three different promotional periods that you can choose from May/June/July or June/July/August or July/August/September.

2. You can choose from free weekend nights, elite bonus nights towards SPG status, extra Starpoints, Starpoints redemptions awards, merchandise discounts etc.

It is still unclear at this point i.e. how many nights/stays you need for a free weekend night award. In the past two summers it has been three stays for a free night.

This promotional period would also indicate that the next global promotion won’t start before October this year. Considering that the previous promo has already ended and you need to choose three months over five month period, there is going to be three month period up to October when there aren’t any promotions.

New Starwood Preferred Guest Promotion “SPG: Nice Choice” Coming on May 1st

Starwood is teasing on their Twitter and Facebook feeds about the new promotion that will be open for registration on May 1st.

spg-promotion-nice-choice

The only hints that the Starwood has given out so far are that the promotions is:

ALL ABOUT YOU

CHOOSE WHEN, WHAT AND HOW YOU WANT TO EARN

So, the basic assumption is that this is a choice based promotion. Starwood has run something similar in the past where you can choose your preferred reward out of few choices. I cannot remember Starwood ever having a promotion where I could decide when I would earn.

I am probably not the only one who is eagerly waiting to learn more about this promotion. We should know in the next week or so.

In the past two summers Starwood has been running a promotion for a free hotel night after certain number of stays (3). The number of complimentary nights that one could earn has been unlimited.

In 2010 those nights were valid for weekend stays (Friday/Saturday/Sunday) at most Starwood hotels. In 2011 the promotion was for free nights at properties classified as resorts. These nights were valid 7 days a week.

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