Now You Can Start Earning (and Redeeming too) Hyatt Gold Passport Points On Dining and Spa – Even When Not Staying.

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As a Starwood Preferred Guest member, I have been able to earn Starpoints, even when not staying at a hotel, for food and beverage charges already for years. As a matter of fact, just did it last week when I was having couple of beers and a burger at Captains Arms in Le Meridien hotel in Abu Dhabi. Starwood employee just fills a credit card style slip with your SPG account number and the revenue amount, and the points eventually find your account.

hyatt-dining-and-spa-redemption

Hyatt had been whispering about their coming change for the past few months. The program, however, was just officially announced yesterday. You can earn 5 Hyatt Gold Passport points for every eligible charge in/converted to one USD.

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, Saadiyat Island, UAE – Not Quite Ready Yet.

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Was scheduled to stay few days in Abu Dhabi, and decided to check on my way out the new Park Hyatt hotel opened for the Formula 1 race last month. Saadiyat Island is just 15 minutes from the commercial center of Abu Dhabi. There isn’t much on the island yet, but they have rather grandiose plans for the area in the future. Some of those plans were put on hiatus last month but not cancelled.

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Check in:

After getting off from a taxi I was escorted to the front desk for check in. The usual Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum/Diamond sign was at the other end where nobody was working (nothing new here). They had correctly read my name from the airline tags attached to my bags as they greeted me by my name.

American Airlines is Offering Double Elite Qualifying Miles Systemwide Until January 31st, 2012 – Promotion DBLELITE2011

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American Airlines (AA), whose parent AMR is currently in chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, just sent an email blast regarding their latest offer for double elite qualifying miles (DEQM). They have been running a limited DEQM promotion for residents of IL and CA for flights between LAX/SFO and ORD. Now all the AA flights marketed and operated by AA and American Eagle are eligible for DEQM until January 31st, 2012. Unlike previous promos, there is no need to reticket. All the flights are eligible. You just need to register for the promotion.

American Airlines DEQM

This promotion doesn’t double the elite qualifying points or redeemable miles. Only the base flight miles will be doubled for the elite qualifying purposes. Personally, I would be all over this promotion had I not moved out from the United States earlier this year.

New Hyatt Stay Certificate Level – Exclusive

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Hyatt stay certificates have been a great way to save money when the rates are high. Also, location like Park Hyatt Maldives is a bargain, in Maldivian standards, when using stay certificates ($319 per night). Only thing to remember is that the stay is not a qualifying one when it comes to Hyatt Gold Passport promotions, stay credits, or points. You will get points for any incidentals during your stay but not for the value of the cert itself.

hyatt-stay-certificates-prices

Now, Hyatt has come up with a new Exclusive level of stay certificate that is valid at the following locations below. They haven’t, however, made it possible to buy them yet, and thus the price is unclear. My hunch is that the price will be around $450. Currently the highest stay certificate (Inspire) costs $319 per night.

Short on Elite Qualifying Miles on United or Continental? Here’s the solution – Elite Maximizer.

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Last week I wrote about Delta’s offer of selling Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQM’s) for ca$h. United doesn’t sell EQM’s but their Continental part does. It is called Elite Maximizer, but you cannot buy just EQM’s, you need to buy Reward Maximizer miles at the same time.

Here’s how it works. You need to have Continental ticketed itineraries on your My Bookings at Continental.com, if you don’t have any; I have some tips later for that. Then you just choose the View of the itinerary, and you presented the screen below:

Continental Buy Extra Miles

As you can see, the itinerary that you want to “Maximize” doesn’t even need to be on a Continental or United metal, or even a revenue ticket. You can use the “Elite Maximizer” on all Continental issued tickets.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Award Availability Woes.

Yesterday, I wrote about contacting Starwood Platinum Concierge using the online chat function. It is a good way to sort simpler things out. My issue on hand was getting complicated, and decided to make the call to SPG Platinum Concierge in the States, although I am currently here in Abu Dhabi.

The problem on hand was the award availability at the Sheraton Resort in Dubai. I had free resort nights about to expire that could be only used in Dubai at that one specific property. Only one of the six nights I was looking to book was available when checking the availability online.

One of the nights did show standard room availability but was bookable only as a prepaid rate. The Platinum Concierge, with whom I initially dealt with on the phone, was not able to book it as an award. I asked him to escalate the issue, and the call was then transferred to a supervisor.

SPG Standard Room Sheraton Resort Dubai

The room types that are available for “Standard” awards:

Buy AviancaTaca LifeMiles and Get 100% Bonus.

AviancaTaca LifeMiles LogoAviancaTaca is about to join Star Alliance sometime in the next six months. The alliance invited them to join November 10, 2010. The process of formalizing the procedures and joining the alliance, was expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete at the time. Once they have joined, you can earn and redeem LifeMiles on all Star Alliance carriers.

Right now AviancaTaca is running a promotion for buying LifeMiles and getting a 100% bonus. This only applies, however, for LifeMiles accounts that were opened before December 6th, 2011.

AviancaTaca Buy LifeMiles

Great Way to Contact Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Platinum Concierge – Use Chat!

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SPG Online ChatAs I am on the road close to 100% of the time, it makes contacting various entities in the United States bit difficult. Starwood has contact centers that deal with SPG issues in Ireland and Singapore as well, but I have found that the folks sitting in the United States are the most competent of them all.

Some countries block Skype and other VOIP access and calling using a landline or cellphone can be very expensive. You could probably send an email request but, if issue needs back and forth communication, it can take quite some time to resolve. My preferred channel of contacting SPG in a situation like this is the Platinum chat.

You can find the link to the chat on the upper right corner under the Customer Service-link. I then opens the actual chat-application window where you should have your name, email address, and the SPG Platinum account number. You can then enter your question to the space below. I always try to be as comprehensive and complete with my question/request, so that the Platinum concierge, dealing with the chat, can start working immediately with my issue without having to clarify several times.

Aloft Sukhumvit 11 Bangkok, Thailand-Review

Just stayed at the newly opened Aloft hotel at Sukhumvit 11 in Bangkok, Thailand. The opening of the hotel was delayed several times due to constructions issues, and later due to the flooding situation in Bangkok. The hotel finally opened its doors on December 1st, 2011. I have previously stayed at handful of Aloft properties, but all of them have been int he United States. Often, even limited service hotel concepts like Aloft, have more full service offering in the Asia due to competition and lower labor costs.

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Executive Summary

The hotel is done very nicely. One could use words modern chic, to describe it. I especially liked the way the ground floor and the second floor set up was done.

– As a SPG Platinum member it is very difficult for me to choose this property over other SPG options in Bangkok that all offer a breakfast and a happy hour for SPG Platinum members among other benefits.

– Without any Starwood status? Maybe as long as the price is in line with the competitors.

Get 20% Discount For Buying SPG Starpoints – Capped at 20K Starpoints per Calendar Year.

Normally Starwood sells Starpoints at 3.5 cents each, and the maximum number of points one is allowed to buy each calendar year is 20K. Now until December 31st Starwood is offering 20% discount for buying points. Instead of the usual 3.5 cents you can buy them at 2.8 cents. Sounds a bit high, doesn’t it?

SPG Starpoints 20 Discount

The reason why I quite like Starpoints is due to the fact that they are very flexible. You can use them for straight hotel awards, you can use cash + points awards, you can book flights using them, and most importantly you can convert 20K Starpoints to 25K miles with number of carriers.

Hilton Offering 30% Back In Points When You Book One of Their New Hotel Rewards.

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Hilton has been offering Premium Room Rewards and Points + Cash option since the second half of this year. These are not available at all the properties but are slowly being introduced.

Hilton HHonors Get Points Back Promotion

When I was looking at the Hilton Abu Dhabi back in October, I came to conclusion that the premium room awards at the property in question were valuing Hilton HHonors point at around $0.004. Another value that I have come across is $0.007 per HHonors point.

Whenever I have seen these premium room rewards at a reasonable level, the normal rates have been so low that it wouldn’t have made any sense to use points for the stay in the first place. There have been, however, few glitches here and there.

25% Off Code For Virgin America Flights.

TOMS Shoes, Virgin America, and Urban Daddy have teamed up and giving away 25% off code for Virgin America flights. You must ticket between December 15th and December 31st for flights from January 3rd   to February 15th, 2012.

Virgin America 25 Off

This appears to be a genuine offer in a sense that even the lowest economy fares qualify. The main cabin select and the business class fares are not part of this offer. When signing up, I would suggest that you unmark the box that authorizes all the companies in question start sending you emails, unless you don’t mind of course.  

Another 100% Bonus Transfer Offer from Delta Air Lines for Transferring Miles Between SkyMiles Accounts.

Three weeks ago I wrote about a similar transfer offer that appeared to be targeted. Now Delta has an offer that is available for everyone. Essentially you can “buy” miles for 1.1 cents per mile when you transfer them in the chunks of 30K at a time. The maximum number of miles one can transfer in a calendar year is 150K, and the number of miles that can received from any number of SkyMiles accounts is 300K. This offer is valid until December 16th, 2011.

Delta Air Lines Transfer Miles Promotion December 2011

Had United or American Airlines made an offer like this, I would say that anybody should buy/transfer the maximum number of miles allowed. In a case of Delta, however, it is not as clear cut. This can be a very good deal if used correctly.

Time to Buy Some BMI Miles? 50% Bonus for Purchases Made This Week Only.

Although BMI is disappearing or at least is going to have a new parent sometime next year, it can make sense to buy some Diamond Club miles if you have planned use for them in the next six months or so.

BMI Diamond Club - Buy Miles

If you have not bought any miles this year, you can buy up to 16K miles that after 50% bonus will become the maximum 24K that can be bought during a calendar year. Of course you can have other family members to buy miles as well…. The price of 24K miles is 207 GBP.

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