Mercure Nadi Hotel, Nadi, Fiji – Review of My Stay


I had spent the three previous nights at the Hilton, Radisson Blu, and Sheraton hotels in the Denarau Island. I wanted to have a look at the city and the bars on the Queens road are, and had arranged a car rental the following morning from the airport. As I had planned to only crash at the hotel for the night, I decided that Mercure should be ok.

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To be honest, I am not very familiar with the Accor’s brands. I know that they have lots of hotels, but most of them are somewhat lower quality ones than Hyatt’s and Starwood’s. I thought that Mercure would be comparable to a lower quality Holiday Inn or maybe to a Holiday Inn Express hotel.


This hotel is conveniently located to the airport in Nadi. It is on the Queens road very close to the night spots in the city. It is within a rather long walk from the Nadi town, but there is nothing really in the city worth seeing.



Not sure what is the official star rating of this hotel, but comparing to international standards it shouldn’t be more than two stars. It had a very motel like feeling. They do offer some sort of airport shuttle in certain times of the day. It probably makes sense to check how early these shuttles leave. In some hotels they were 3 hours before scheduled departure time that is way too early. From Mercure it takes 10 to 15 minutes to the airport. There is no need to check in earlier than 70 minutes before your scheduled international departure time.

Check in

I had just made a reservation for same day arrival. It didn’t take too long for them to pull it and gave me a key. Although I am an Accor Platinum member (due to a recent promotion), don’t think that there are any benefits when staying at Mercure properties. I had a bell boy helping take my bag to the room.

Room 120

This was a ground floor room that had a direct access to the courtyard/pool. The room was ok. Nothing good but nothing bad either. The TV was rather small. There was an empty refrigerator. Not sure why there was two beds – one bigger and one rather small one.


At one point there was a cockroach on the floor. Took the picture before killing it.




The pool area looked rather nice compared to the room I had. They had two small pools and few hammocks in the garden.


This hotel is fine for a quick overnight. I would not, however, spend more than a night at this property.

Priority Club One Day Reward Sale

Priority Club seems to be experimenting with various kinds of rewards sales. They have the points breaks, last-minute awards and now they have a reward sale.


The number of properties participating to this promotion is rather limited – only eight participating properties. The dates when these awards are available does vary by property.

You can access this sale at



Why Selecting Seats On a Multi-carrier Itinerary Cannot Be As Easy As On Air New Zealand?

When I did the multi-carrier redemption couple of weeks ago using Continental miles on Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, ANA, Thai Airways, and Air New Zealand, I had the pleasure of trying to get all the seats selected for the itinerary.

For this purpose, I requested from Continental all the carrier specific PNR’s. The Lufthansa’s website allowed be to request seat from all the carriers on this Continental ticketed itinerary, but those seat selections didn’t stick.

Virgin Atlantic, ANA, and Thai required me to call their reservations number to have the seats selected. I used ExpertFlyer first to find out what seats were available on the flights that I was booked on. Especially calling Virgin took forever because there was some snow around in the Heathrow area that had led to numerous cancellations. ANA and Thai were both easier.

But the best of all and the easiest was the Air New Zealand. You only needed the record locator and could do everything online without needing to call the reservations. It makes you wonder, why all the airlines don’t have this. For sure it would decrease the number of phone calls to the reservations that are purely for selecting a seat.

Here are the seat selection screens that I just did for two Air New Zealand flights later today.

Apia to Auckland:


Auckland to Shanghai:



Trying to Get a Good Deal for a Hotel? Ask for a Local Rate.

For the past two weeks I have been in the Fiji and Samoa. The former is well covered with chain hotels, for the good and the bad, and I am accustomed of getting a fairly good price at them using various methods like discount codes, doing a cash + points redemptions, pure point redemptions etc.

There were some hotels that appeared to be acceptable in Apia like Millenia hotel, that turned out to be a dud. The only problem was that the price wasn’t really inline with the accommodation and amenities they were providing. So, I decided to check out after two nights. I had driven past the Aggie Grey’s couple of times that appeared to be the hotel to stay when in Apia. The only problem was that the price was on the high side.

Luckily, I met a nice Aussie who has been living on the island for a long time and was running couple of business. He said that he will call the hotel to see if they could extend the local rate for me as well. And for sure the hotel did just that. I paid what I think was a fair price for a nice hotel. (The review will come in the next couple of weeks)

So my advice would be to contact your friends/family and ask them to call the hotels to find out the local rates. This probably works best in places where the income inequality is the greatest between the visitors and locals. If you really need to have a local ID, they can come and add themselves to the room as a guest as well.

Starwood Offering 1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings


Starwood started their Sheraton club initiative about a year ago that required all the Sheraton’s to have a club lounge that is open 7 days a week. They (Starwood) have had a mixed success getting hotels to sign up/comply with the brand requirements, however.


Now, Starwood is offering extra 1000 Starpoints per stay booked using American Express for Sheraton Club accommodations for stays until May 31st, 2012. You need to make the booking using the following link or book either using DAILYFS or SICLUB rate codes.

Expect to pay the full Club rate in order to get the 1000 extra Starwood Starpoints. If you are a Platinum member, there is really no need to pay and book a Club rate in order to have the “club” access. Domestic clubs in the United States are rarely if ever worth the price premium they command. Internationally club access can make sense depending of the price and how much of the club you are planning to take advantage off. For the most part, I call rate promotions like this “screw your employer” one.

Here’s one example from Sheraton Garden Grove. Their lowest public rate is $111.


The AAA club rate is $143.


And the Club rate that is eligible for this promotion $152.


Here are the Terms and conditions of this offer that you can also find at here:

Hyatt February Edition of the 48 Hour Sale – C12FEB or C48FEB

Hyatt is having their monthly 48 hour sale where you can save 15% to 30% off of best available rates (BAR). Sometimes you can save quite a bit of money and sometimes you cannot. These rates are valid at US, Canada, and Caribbean hotels.


Sometimes it is actually better to book an AAA rate that might include some extras like a complimentary breakfast. AAA rates are also normally not prepaid and cancelable. Here’s the link for the Hyatt’s web page for this promotions:

Fiji Beach Resort & Spa Managed by Hilton, Denarau Island, Nadi, Fiji – Review of My Stay


This was going to be my first accommodation in Fiji. The day before arrival I was looking at various rates for this hotel and found a points + money rate that was good deal. I had originally planned to use a free night certificate from a promotion.

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This is some sort of timeshare or partially owner owned property. They have owners lounge, although not a Hilton club lounge. The unit that I had was quite residential as it had a washer & dryer, refrigerator, dish washer, hot plates, and a grill on the outside patio.


The hotel is on the Denarau Island where most of the other international hotels are located. I also stayed at the Radisson Blu and Sheraton hotels during my stay. Hilton was most definitely best of these three options. There is also a Sofitel that many consider to be the best of all, however.

There is a Denarau harbor where many of the restaurants, some shops, and a Hard Rock Café is located. You can also catch a ferry or boat and do an island excursion. There is a shuttle bus for a daily flat fee that takes you from any of the resorts to the harbor.

Getting to the hotel from the airport

There are quite a few airport taxis at the arrivals area. Local taxis would be probably cheaper but getting one would be a challenge. I tried but gave up after ten minutes. The airport taxis are not that expensive. It took around 20 minutes in pouring rain to get to the Hilton. The fare was 20 FJD.

Check in


The check in area is immediately to the left when you arrive to the hotel. They had all the paperwork ready. Some of the units are quite a faraway from the check in desk. I had a buggy taking me to the 2801 with my bags.


I was assigned a ground floor “suite”. It was basically just a large open space that had been divided by couple of doors.


The bathroom was very well stocked. You could do your own laundry using the washing machine and the dryer. The bath tub looked nice, although I didn’t use it.


They had the new Peter Thomas Roth line of amenities, but for some reason had the old La Source pump bottles in the shower.


The resort doesn’t have wireless access and the Ethernet cable that they had was very short. I requested them to bring me a wireless router so that I could use both my PC and MacBook Air laptops. For some reason the wireless router they brought didn’t work, but the longer Ethernet cable was enough for my need.

Pool, Beach & Fitness center

There are two pools that are divided by a restaurant. These are fairly large sized and had sun chairs all around them. The weather was terrible for the day I was in the resort. It was mainly raining non-stop, but when there was a bit of sun there were immediately few people on the pool area.


The beach itself is unremarkable, but this is the case with all the hotels in the Denarau area. You cannot really spend any time in the beach itself, but that’s why there are pools.

The fitness center was in the opposite corner of the resort from my suite. It was quite small but had the equipment that I needed for a quick workout.



My tip would be to eat inside. I took a table outside and when I went to pick up something there was immediately number of birds picking up on my plate. I quickly decided to re-seat myself inside. The breakfast selection was quite nice and what you would expect from a resort. The service was slow but that is not unexpected in Fiji.



This was a fine resort, but I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my brief stay. It could have been due to being in Denarau that is an isolated tourist area where there is nothing else around. You can always take a taxi to the Queens road where there are bars and restaurants which the locals go.

My tip would be to get a room/suite that is closer located to the central area of the resort. If you are “housed” in the very west or very east in the resort, it will be quite a hike to anywhere. I did saw quite a few people using the buggies to get around. You can probably get one by calling the operator.

Not sure if this resort offers any kind of Diamond amenity. At least there was nothing in my suite that would have indicated that I had received one. I always find it helpful when hotels have a welcome letter that is customized to your status. Not sure exactly what are the Diamond benefits at this resort beyond the upgrade and the complimentary breakfast.

Hilton February Flash Sale for Europe, Middle East, and Africa

Please note that there was a problem with the earlier link. The correct one is Please copy paste this to your browser.

Hilton is having a new flash sale across Europe, Middle East, and Africa. You need to book these rates by February 22nd and the rates are valid only for weekend stays. The flash sale requires a prepayment, is non-cancellable and non-refundable. You should only book these rates if your travel plans are FIRM.


Most of the Hilton family of hotels are business ones and thus can discount their weekend rates. The discount is 33% off of a BAR (best available rate) at Waldorf-Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, DoubleTree and Hilton Garden Inns. The discount is 20% off at Hampton Inn hotels.

Terms & Conditions
Save 33% on Best Available Rate and Best Available Bed and Breakfast rate at participating Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, and 20% off Best Available Rate at Hampton by Hilton properties when you book between February 20 and February 22, 2012 to stay during weekends in 2012. Offer is subject to availability at participating hotels. Prices shown are per room per night based on two adults sharing. Rates are non-refundable and full prepayment required at time of booking. Booking cannot be changed. Blackout dates may apply. Unless otherwise stated, rates include VAT but exclude local taxes, gratuities and incidental charges. Before booking please click here to see full offer terms and conditions.

Note that you can combine this rate promotion with numerous other Hilton promotions that fall under your stay dates. You can choose one airline and as many others that your stay date qualifies:

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

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

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

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

Maybe all of the above and one of the following airline specific ones:

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

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

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

Hilton HHonors With British Airways Offering 1500 Bonus Avios Per Stay Until March 31st, 2012

InterContinental Hotels Priority Club Award Category 2012 Excel List


Last month InterContinental Hotel’s Group changed the award categories of many of its hotels. They refused, however, to produce a list of properties that went up, down, or stayed the same. I went through the entire list of InterContinental hotels and posted my findings back then.

Some people contacted me and expressed their interest to have the entire list. I previously posted only the hotels that had changed their categories. I decided that I could do it.

Please find the entire list of InterContinental hotels as an excel sheet. Please note that the information was correct as of January 19th, 2012. If there are any corrections, please don’t hesitate to email me at

The (I) is for the nightly rate for the hotel in USD for May 15th and the (J) us the “value” of Priority Club points (price/number of points required).

This Excel sheet is released for personal non-commercial use only. Any publication or commercial use must be cleared beforehand.

InterContinental Hotels Categories 2012 – Copy

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


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


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


– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 1.2 million

– Number of Marriot nights 600

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


– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 1.6 million

– Number of Marriot nights 800

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


– Member of the program minimum of 12 years

– Number of Marriott Rewards points earned 2 million

– Number of Marriot nights 1000

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

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

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

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

Now You Can Use Hilton HHonors Points for Gift Cards & Some Other Crap

Just received an email from Hilton earlier today advertising the ability to use Hilton HHonors points for some SeaWorld tickets.


It seems that Hilton has partnered with Rewards Network, and offering gift cards at a very bad value. They also have some crappy items in exchange for Hilton HHonors points.

All the gift cards are for 50K Hilton HHonors points for a $100 gift cards. You can often buy restaurants gift cards at 20% discount of the face value. So if you are converting your Hilton HHonors points for gift cards, the value is one fifth of a cent – $0.002. I am sure that the value is even lower if you decided to “buy” any of the crappy items they have on their site.


So my advice would be NOT to bother with this offer at all.

Radisson Blu Hotel Denarau, Nadi, Fiji – Review of my Stay


This was my first stay at a Radisson Blu branded property. I had visited one of the Radisson Blu hotels in Helsinki few years back when it was branded as Radisson SAS. Club Carlson have been running quite a few attractive promotions lately, and I decided to check few of their properties in the coming months to see how they match to what competitors are offering.

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The price of the hotel is way too high considering what it has to offer. If you have a friend or relative working at a Carlson affiliated property, you probably should looking to use their friends and family rate that brings the price of the hotel to reasonable. That’s what I did.


It is on the western side of the Denarau island/peninsula next to the Sheraton and Westin complex. On the other side is a Wyndham timeshare property. It is about 20 minute ride from the airport that should cost around 25 FJD using one of the official taxis.

Check in

The check in desk is immediately right when you get in to the hotel. There is a separate check out desk. They had first some trouble finding my reservation as I had done it only couple of hours earlier when I was at the Hilton’s property. Further complicating the check in was my request for 2PM check out. Apparently the regular check in time is 11AM that would not have worked on my case. This request required the lady to make a phone call to the front desk/rooms controller, but the late check out request was granted.


This was the weakest link. Overall the room was rather unremarkable. The phone didn’t work well and there was something wrong with the radio/clock as well. The hotel didn’t have wireless and the internet cord was way too short. I really have to start bringing with me a wireless router and/or a long Ethernet cable. I used to carry these, but after not needing them for few months stopped the practice. The hotel was able to solve the wireless issue by bringing a wireless router that is normally used at their ballroom/conference area.

Beach & Pool


There is really no beach in the Denarau area where you would like to spend any time. The pools at this hotel were absolutely fantastic, however. I believe that these pools are the strongest selling point of this property. There are two/three pools that are connected via waterways. There is the usual pool bar where you can drink your day away while still being in the water.


Fitness Center

It was rather small but had the usual equipment. The thread mill was broken and they didn’t have any sweat towels available. I let the front desk know. They need to update the equipment in not so distant future.



After you have spent some time in Fiji you accept a service that is slow, but mostly done with a smile, although not always. This property is fine, but doesn’t live up to its being the first on Tripadvisor (as of February 2012) for Denarau. You should come here if you really like spend most of your time by the pool and the actual room/suite is not that important.

US Airways Dividend Miles Buy/Gift Offer For US Airways Credit Card Holders

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US Airways has been very actively selling miles for the past couple of years. They seem to have some sort of offer going on every couple of months. I have been contemplating whether to take advantage of the following promo or not. It is valid only for US Airways credit card holders, but you don’t have to pay using an US Airways branded credit card.


You can buy miles at 50% discount. The maximum number of miles that can be bought or gifted is 50000. This offer is valid until February 29th. The cost of the miles after the discount is 1.88 cents each. This is not great, but not bad either. Depending how you would use the miles it can make sense. 50K miles are not enough for anything too interesting, but when you buy couple of times during different promos you can quickly get reasonable amount.


When I opened the credit card they, US Airways opened a new account for me. I haven’t taken the time yet to request them to merge these accounts. My old account is not eligible for the promotion, but the account where miles from credit card use have been deposited is. This offer is valid for gifting miles for the card holder or for buying. Not sure if you can do both.

Offer available for US Airways branded credit card holders only. The 50% discount offer is non transferable and applies only to purchases made between February 1 – 29, 2012, 23:59:59 PT. All purchases are non-refundable. Offer is subject to change. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer. Only purchases made online are eligible.

Miles are sold for $0.035 per mile plus a tax recovery charge of 7.5%. GST/HST will be charged to Canadian residents. Miles purchased through Buy, Share or Gift Miles do not count towards Dividend Miles Preferred status. All other Dividend Miles Terms and Conditions apply. Miles may be used based on award availability at the time of booking. Please note that Dividend Miles accounts less than 12 days old are not permitted to Buy, Share or Gift Miles. All purchases are non-refundable.

Emirates Offering Double Miles for Business & First Class Travel in May

Emirates has been very competitive on the promotional side lately. In early January they run a fantastic fare sale that almost broke my bank. Booked couple of first class tickets for March travel. Also, the airline is offering very large mileage accelerator bonuses for certain new routes. You may want to consider crediting Emirates flights to their latest partner Alaska. I wrote about a possible strategy of crediting some Emirates flights to Alaska’s program. They are also offering double miles on all Emirates flights from March 1st to May 31st.


The following offer came in an February email update from Emirates. Now, they are running a new promotion for double miles in May for business and first class travel if ticketed between February 16th and February 29th. You need to register for this RCSFJ14FEB12 promotion here. Also, it is worth checking the small print that is rather long to make sure that you satisfy all the requirements.

It is easy to see exactly how many miles you would earn for you travel. Just log into your Skyward account and sign up for this promo. Then search for the flights. If you choose to see the mileage breakdown, it will show all the bonuses that you are eligible for.

Here is an example of flying from Milan to Bangkok on Emirates business class in May


Note that you can choose between a business class saver and flex fare. The flex fare earns higher number of base and tier miles, but also costs close to 400 euros more.


If you haven’t tried Emirates yet, you probably should during one of their fare sales and/or promotions. Their business class is often very competitively priced as the example above illustrates. Try to pick up flights with the A380 so that you can experience the business class bar.

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