Holiday Inn Express Dubai Internet City, Dubai, UAE – Review of Hotel & Room 112.

As I was flying to Dubai and my destination was actually Abu Dhabi, where I needed to be the following day, I decided to spend a one night at this Holiday Inn Express (HIX) hotel. I am quite familiar with the brand as I have stayed at few newly built HIX hotels in the United States over the years. Normally it is value for money and without the glamor.

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Also, I had to get my fourth different InterContinental Hotels Group brand stay to qualify for the brand multiplier promotion that they were running last year. I was thinking at one point whether I really should stay at this hotel or just leave. Of course you don’t need to STAY if you want the stay credit. Checking in is enough.

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Location

This hotel is located close to the Dubai Marina but there really isn’t anything in the immediate area for touristic purposes.  To be fair this hotel is not geared for tourists but for business travelers visiting the nearby companies/educational institutions.

InterContinental Hotel’s Group (IHG) Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More.

IHG Priority Club just announced their latest promo that is valid from January 23rd to April 30th, 2012. You can get double points or miles starting from your second stay. You can start earning from your first stay if you stay at Candlewood or Staybridge Suites.

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Please note that you can combine this with the promotion that I wrote about on December 16th for 5K/10K/15K Priority Club points for 3/7/15 nights.

This promotion doubles the number of base points/miles you can earn from your stay that is dependent of the brand.  During the promotion period you will earn 20 Priority Club points per USD at Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Hotel Indigo’s, and 10 points per USD at Candlewood and Staybridge Suites. For InterContinental hotels, it means another 2000 Priority Club points per stay regardless how many nights you stay or how much you spend is during the stay.

Please note that the number of base miles earned depends of the airline. You can check the various airlines and the number of miles earned per USD spend here: http://www.ichotelsgroup.com/h/d/pc/1/en/c/2/content/dec/pc/0/en/miles/us/airline.html.

You can register for this promotion at https://secure.priorityclub.com/hotels/us/en/global/offers/q112/pts_mls.

The participating airline partners for this promotion are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Decision time!

Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort & Towers, Dubai, UAE – Review of My Stays.

Stayed at this Sheraton resort twice; once in October and another time in December. Both times my stay was for several days using free resort nights awards from Starwood’s summer promotion. Sheraton was the only participating resort when it came to redeeming the free nights in Dubai.

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Overall this is a fine resort but doesn’t quite live up to the official five star rating. It is a solid four star hotel, however. Apparently, they do quite a bit of business through tour companies. There were lots of Russians and quite a few Swedes and Finns. At least TUI has this property sold through various “package” travel agencies in Europe.

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Location

The hotel is located on the far end of the Jumeirah Beach Walk. This rather long street is full of restaurants and has some shops as well. On the other side of the road from the Sheraton is a Starbucks, which doesn’t offer free wireless, and a Thai restaurant.  

Sign up for Landiversity.com Email Newsletter and Get $50 off Coupon for LAN flights.

Lan, airline based in Chile, has launched a dedicated www.landiversity.com website that is targeted to GLBT audience. You can get a $50 off discount coupon when you sign up for the Diversity email newsletter.

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LAN has grown significantly in the past decade and now has subsidiaries in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador. The airline is currently merging with Tam, and the merger is expected to close sometime this year.

So, I decided to sign up for the newsletter. You only need to input your email address and the name. As a matter of fact, you can sign up as many times as you wish. Lan seems to be happy to send out these discount codes. I had been planning to have a greater tour of South America later this year and thought that these might come handy.

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United Airlines (and Continental too) Are Offering Up To 25% Discount on Economy Award to Europe and Africa – MPG012.

The time after New Year’s is typically slow time in transatlantic flying. The weather is cold in most parts of the Europe and tourists stay away. United just did an email blast offering 20% to 25% discount on return economy award trips to Africa and Europe that are entirely on United metal. This same offer MPG012 is valid on Continental as well.

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The ticketing deadline is January 16th for travel between January 27th, 2012 and March 22nd, 2012. There is 21 day advance ticketing requirement. The discount is 25% for off-peak days (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) and 20% for peak days (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday).

Decided to do tests both on Continental.com and United.com to see how well these discounted awards show up.

Continental award search

The travel is valid from Anchorage originating as well. Decided to include an open jaw in Europe and search for Anchorage to Rome, and on return Barcelona to Anchorage.

The inventory was rather sparse in March but there was plenty of availability in February. I did the search logged in to my account and there are some segments that have availability only due to the status. These show as XN.

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This itinerary would require 45K miles and $43.10. The price of buying this outright is only $1003 that would earn close to 16K elite/redeemable miles.   

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay (Combine with Other Promotions).

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Last quarter Delta and Hilton run a promotion for Medallion Qualifying miles. This time they have teamed up to offer 2012 bonus Delta SkyMiles per two night or longer Hilton stay. These points are addition to the variable miles or fixed miles that you can earn if you choose the double dip option.

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This promotion is valid from January 2nd to March 31st, 2012. You need to register for this promotion before check out at www.HHonors.com/delta2012. The terms and conditions indicate that this offer is not combinable with other offers.

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

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

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

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

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

Excellent Emirates (EK) Global Sale Going on In Economy, Business and First Class – Extra 10% off Using Promotional Code AESKW12.

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For the past couple of days, I have been researching some Emirates flight combinations both in business and first. The sale started just before the New Year and will end on January 9th. Skywards members can get extra 10% discount by using promotional code AESKW12.

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What caught my eye are some business and first class trips at very reasonable prices. These can be further discounted by 10% using the promotion code above.  Didn’t see anything too interesting originating from the United States or Canada.

There are quite a few good fares out from Athens and some countries in Africa. This is really a great offer to pay for business or first and have few segments on the A380.

Here’s one example. One can fly ATH-DXB-SYD-CHC and back for 1541 euros in BUSINESS class.

 

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

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

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

Hilton HHonors

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

Hilton 'Escape to a Resort' Promotion

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

(Again) Free Accor A-Club Hotel Platinum Status for New Accounts – Promotion HSBCPREMPLA11.

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Please note that this offer has now expired. There is another offer of instant Platinum status with Accor available, however. 

In late November, Accor hotels run a similar promotion where one could sign up for an account and get an instant Platinum status. The promotion lasted for few days. Again, this is going to be a time sensitive offer. There is an ongoing offer for Gold status as well.

You can sign up for the Platinum status using the following link: http://bit.ly/aclubplt

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You will get an instant confirmation of your new Platinum status:

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If you have an old A-Club account, you then need to make a decision whether opening a new account is worthwhile for you. Please note that you cannot use an existing email address that is on file with A-Club for signing up a new account.

Here is the quick look at the Accor A Club Platinum benefits:

A|Club Platinum status

With 60 nights or 25,000 A|Club points.

– 100% A|Club points bonus for every stay
Exclusive benefits at Sofitel*, Pullman and MGallery hotels.
– Welcome drink and gift
– Room upgrade**
– Late check-out up to 4:00 pm**
– A room always available if you reserve at least 3 days before your arrival.
– A Thalassa sea & spa Institute beauty and treatment product when you stay at Sofitel Thalassa sea & spa
– A welcome gift for any stay of 10 nights or more at Adagio, plus late check-out**
– Dedicated customer service

* Except Thalassa sea & spa
** upon request, and subject to availability

Renaissance Bangkok Ratchaprasong Hotel, Thailand-review.

This is a super nice Marriott family hotel in Bangkok that has a very good location for shopping and entertainment. I have stayed at this property now three times this past five months. As a Marriott Platinum Member, I have always received an upgrade to a Club Studio Suite.

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When you first enter the hotel it is very un-Marriott like. The décor of the lobby is more like that in the new Le Meridien hotels or bit W’ish. The colors are on the dark side and the lamp ensembles are very interesting. There is a disconnect, however, between the chic public spaces and the rooms/suites. The rooms are nice but not done on the same style as the rest of the hotel.

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The location of the hotel is very central and I like it. It is on the opposite side of the InterContinental and Holiday Inn hotels. You can just take the skywalk and go to the Gaysorn, very luxurious shopping venue next to the InterContinental, or walk bit further and find yourself at the Central World shopping complex that is full of stores and restaurants. Bit further down are the Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, and MBK shopping paradises.

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Hilton HHonors Discontinues Point Stretcher Rewards.

Hilton HHonors has had their Point Stretcher rewards since the 1990’s. During the low periods of the year the some of the hotels have discontinued their point award rates by 40%. I have used these discounted awards couple of times. Last time at the end of November when Conrad Koh Samui was on the list for 30K HH per night.

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Last year Hilton introduced Premium Room rewards and Points + Money rewards. Premium Room rewards are tied to the going best available rate for the nights in question and values Hilton HHonors points between $0.003 to $0.007 / point. Hilton currently has a promo for getting 30% of the points back when using Premium Room rewards.

The Hilton gave the following reason for discontinuing this reward option:

With the recent launch of Points & Money Rewards the Point Stretcher rewards have been discontinued. Our new Points & Money Rewards option lets you get away faster than ever using fewer HHonors points. While the availability and points required varies by participating hotels and stay dates at time of booking, Points & Money Rewards allow more flexibility throughout the year as opposed to limiting the availability to a list of predetermined dates.

It is sad to see these go because they have provided quite good value at times. Premium Room rewards won’t because the number of points required fluctuates with the room rates.

InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) Priority Club to Adjust Redemption Rates.

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It is the time of the year again when hotel groups tend to tinker with their redemption charts. In 2010, when Hilton devalued their program, IHG even saw it as a marketing opportunity and launched a Luckiest Loser campaign. This time, however, it is IHG’s time to devalue theirs. We’ll see if Hilton will run a campaign to “give” back to IHG.

Here are the numbers; 25% (1125) of the hotels are going up, 20% (900) of the properties are going down, and 55% (2475) are staying the same. There are more than 4500 hotels under the IHG umbrella.

The new redemption rates are effective on January 18th but the old point rates are bookable by phone until March 18th. Would it be nice to know what hotels are going up and which ones are going down? It certainly would but IHG won’t disclose it. Apparently, this is for their competitive advantage according to a spokesperson. Starwood and Hyatt both publish a list of hotels that are changing categories and members then have time to book using the old rates.

Here are the new redemption levels for various IHG brands. I have highlighted the new levels.

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For comparison here’s the old one.

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