Emirates Offering Double Miles for Business and First Class Flex Bookings + Free Accommodation in Dubai for Bookings Made on Emirates.com Using MasterCard

Emirates has been offering various bonuses for both business and first class purchases lately.  Now they have come up with their latest offer of double miles for business and first class that are ticketed before June 30th and flown by August 16th, 2012.

emirates-business-first-flex-offer

This time the bonus miles offer is available only or FLEX fares i.e. deeply discounted business or first class fares do not qualify. You need to register for this offer before start of travel.

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Also, if you book online and pay using a MasterCard, you are eligible for complimentary UAE Visa, if you need one, and two complimentary nights at the Armani hotel for first class passengers and a free night at the Address Dubai Marina.  This offer is valid for booking and flights from May 15th to September 30th, 2012. There is no FLEX fare requirement for this.

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Triple Airline Miles

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You can earn triple airline miles for your Marriott family of hotels stays from July 1st to October 31st, 2012 with participating airlines. If you are a points collector you need to change your preference to miles, before you can start earning triple miles.

marriott-megamiles

There is no need to register for this promotion as long as you have miles and preferred airline partner selected in your Marriott Rewards profile. The number of miles you earn is dependent of the hotel brand. You can read more about earning miles on Marriott’s website here.

Thing to keep in mind is that you will probably do better if you just continue to earn points, participate to the close to quarterly MegaBonuses, and then later redeem for Marriott Travel Packages.

Here’s the list of participating airline partners:

Aeroflot
Air Berlin
Air Canada (Aeroplan)
Air China
Air France/KLM
Alaska Airlines
Alitalia
ANA
Asiana
Avianca-TACA
Avios
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
China Eastern
China Southern
Delta
Frontier
Gol/Varig
Hawaiian
Japan Airlines
Jet Airways
JetBlue
Kingfisher Airlines
LAN
Lufthansa
Qatar
Singapore Airlines
Southwest
TAP Portugal
United Airlines
US Airways
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic

Here are the Terms and conditions of this promotion:

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Latest Airline Partner Etihad Airways

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

starwood-etihad

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

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

starwood-etihad-not-on-the-list

Earn Up To 20K Priority Club Bonus Points (1K Per Night) + Online Booking Bonus

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This promotion already had an early start for those who liked the Priority Club on their Facebook page. Now, however, the promotion is open for everyone. You can register for promotion at priorityclub.com/register and plugging in an offer code 1340 or by simply clicking this link.

priority-club-summer-1k-per-night

You can earn 1000 bonus Priority Club points per night for up to 20K bonus points during the promotional period from June 1st to September 3rd, 2012. These points are addition to the points you would otherwise earn and can be combined with all the other Priority Club point promotions as long as they are not “conflicting” ones.

According to the promotion this is open for airline miles collectors as well. The maximum number of bonus miles that you can earn is capped at 4000 miles. I would not, however, collect airline miles instead of Priority Club points unless you need some kind of hit for an airline related bonus like the previous and current Air Canada related ones.

Priority Club is also promoting that you will earn bonus 250 Priority Club points per STAY (not night) if you book your stay at any InterContinental Hotels Group family of websites.

Here are the Terms and conditions of this promotion:

Must be a Priority Club® Rewards member and must register member number in advance to participate in this promotion.

1,000 bonus points or 200 bonus miles with participating airlines and partners will be awarded on every qualifying night at InterContinental®, Crowne Plaza®, Hotel Indigo®, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Express by Holiday Inn, Staybridge Suites® and Candlewood Suites® hotels worldwide between June 1, 2012 and September 3, 2012. Maximum bonus award is 20,000 bonus points or 4,000 bonus miles. Most business and leisure rates are qualifying.
You must be a miles collector with a preferred alliance to collect airline miles. See below for participating airlines. Frequency/partner credits may be issued in currencies other than miles. All airline program terms and conditions apply. For details on airline miles earning structure, click here. For details on points earning structure, click here.
Only one room per member per night at participating hotels will be awarded the applicable bonus. No retroactive bonus points or miles will be awarded for nights prior toregistration. Subject to standard Priority Club Rewards Membership Terms and Conditions.

Participating Airlines


Americas Airlines

United Airlines

American Airlines

Alaska Airlines

US Airways

Delta Airlines

Aeromexico

Lanchile

Varig Brasil

Continental Airlines

Air Canada

AIR MILES Reward Program


Asia Pacific Airlines

Air China

Asia Miles

China Airlines

China Eastern

China Southern

Eva Air

Air New Zealand

All Nippon Airways

Japan Airlines

Jet Airways

Korean Airways

Malaysia Airlines

Qantas Airways Limited

Singapore Airlines

Thai Airways International

Virgin Blue Velocity

Asiana Airlines


Europe, Middle East and Africa Airlines

Etihad Airways

Emirates

Gulf Air

Jet Airways

Saudi Arabian Airlines

South African Airways

Air Berlin

Air France/KLM

British Airways

Virgin Atlantic

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

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

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

Le Club Accorhotels

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

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

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

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

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

Best Western Rewards

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

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

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

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

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

radisson-big-night-giveaway

Radisson Big Night Giveaway Promotion Is Now Live

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson Status Match

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

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

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

Hilton HHonors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can read about getting a status match with Hilton HHonors:

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

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

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

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

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

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

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

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

Priority Club 2nd Quarter Stay/Night Bonuses

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

Priority Club Summer Promotion 1000 Bonus Points Per Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marriott Rewards

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

marriott-summer-promotion-3-free-nights

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

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

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

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

Changing Targeted Marriott Promotions

Ritz-Carlton Rewards

There are no current promotional offers from Ritz-Carlton.

Starwood Preferred Guest

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

spg-nice-choice-o

SPG Nice Choice Promotion Finally Launched

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

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

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

Some renovated Sheraton hotels are also offering 1000 bonus Starpoints.

1000 Bonus Starpoints for Staying at a Newly Renovated Sheraton Hotels

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

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum Status Match – Platinum Challenge

Wyndham Rewards

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

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

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

Club Carlson 30% off Sale at Selected Country Inns & Suites, Radisson, Park Inn & Park Plaza Hotels

Now you can save 30 % off of Best Available Rates (BAR) at select Country Inns & Suites, Radisson, Park Inn & Park Plaza hotel in the Americas if you book your stay by June 12th, 2012, and stay between June 22nd and September 1, 2012. This offer is not valid on all dates at every hotel, but rather the dates when the offer is available varies a lot. You can use the hotel specific links below, or just use the 30PCTOFF promotional code.

There are number of hotels where this 30% of discount is only available for one night during the period.

When you use these links or input the 30PCTOFF promotional code, you will not see other rates offered by the property. It pays to check the rates without this discount code as well. There are other discount rates such as advance purchase rate and AAA rate that can be close to this 30% off rate.

Club Carlson is running very lucrative promotions for their Radisson / Radisson Blu, Country Inns & Suites, and Park Inn properties. You can get 50000 point for a stay at Radisson, 44000 points for Country Inns & Suites, and 44000 for Park Inn. You can participate to all these three promotion and get more than 150K Club Carlson points including regular points based on the revenue and the online booking bonuses.

You can read more about the various status levels at the Club Carlson program and the status match opportunities they offer.

Country Inns & Suites

club-carlson-country-inn-suites-30-off

The 30% off discount came off nicely from their Panama property.

club-carlson-country-inn-panama-sale

club-carlson-country-inn-panama-sale-normal

Radisson

club-carlson-radisson-30-off

The Mexico City property offered advance purchase rates that were close to the 30% off discount.

club-carlson-radisson-mexico-city-sale

club-carlson-radisson-mexico-city-normal

Park Inn

club-carlson-park-inn-30-off

The discount worked perfectly for the one Park Inn property that Club Carlson has in Mexico. The rate was discounted by 30% as the offer promises.

club-carlson-park-inn-mexico-sale

club-carlson-park-inn-mexico-normal

Park Plaza

club-carlson-park-plaza-30-off

This was really a complete failure. The discount is available only on one day during the promotional period per the terms, but the rate is not available even on that single date. Why bother even participating?

club-carlson-park-plaza-bloomington-sale

Here are participating Country Inns & Suites locations:

United Airlines Terminates Codeshare & Frequent Flyer Partnership with Qatar Airways

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First United terminated the partnership they had with Emirates, then Virgin Atlantic was gone earlier this year, and now the ability to earn and redeem on Qatar Airways will end on 14th of September, 2012.

qatar-airways-plane

I have flown with the Qatar Airways quite a lot recently, and their service in business class is excellent. I am not a huge fan of the Doha airport, but the ground experience should get a lot better early next year, when the new airport opens.

qatar-airways-route-map

It is sad to see more United partners to go. Qatar Airways has offered very good connections to number of destinations in Middle East/Indian Subcontinent that are borderline impossible to get to using other partners.

There are no notes on the United.com regarding this change, but it should get updated sometime in the next week.

Effective June 15, 2012, United will terminate its codeshare agreement with Qatar Airways. Reservations booked through United for Qatar Airways-operated flights scheduled to depart on or before September 14, 2012, will be honored as ticketed. Customers booked through United on Qatar Airways-operated flights scheduled to depart on or after September 15, 2012, will be accommodated on their scheduled flights with new flight numbers. Customers will be able to accrue mileage on Qatar Airways codeshare and interline flights until September 14, 2012. Award travel ticketed on or before September 14, 2012, will be honored as ticketed and valid for one year.

Complimentary 6 Months Clear Membership for SPG Gold & Platinum Members

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

spg-clear-membership

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

spg-clear-membership-cities

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

Here are the full terms and conditions of this offer:

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

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

US Airways Dividend Miles Purchase Offer – Get 100% Bonus

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US Airways is always very active at selling Dividend Miles. Their previous offer was also a 100% and those that participated to it just had the remaining 25% bonus deposited to their accounts couple of days ago.

us-airways-divindend-miles-june-2012

This time, however, the bonus is instantaneous. US Airways will instantly double time number of miles purchases up to 50K Dividend Miles. The maximum number of miles you can buy through this offer is 100K at $1881.25. The Price of a miles is bit more than 1.8 cents. This offer is valid for purchases made from June 1st to June 30th, 2012. There is no need to register for this offer. The double miles will automatically show, when you go to do the purchase. The only requirement is that your Dividend Miles account has been open for 12 days before making the purchase.

us-airways-divindend-miles-june-2012-form

This is a very good offer, if you have firm plans in mind how you would use the miles. Redeeming for international first and business class tickets on Star Alliance is the best option.

us-airways-divindend-miles-june-2012-price

Here are the terms and conditions of this offer:

Offer available for purchases made between June 1 and 30, 2012, 11:59 MT. All purchases are non-refundable. Bonus miles will be awarded upon completion of the transaction. The maximum number of Buy Bonus miles that can be received by one member for this offer is 50,000 bonus miles. All miles purchased beyond this limit will not be eligible for a bonus. Offer is subject to change. Offer cannot be combined with any other offer. Share transactions are not eligible for bonus. Only purchases made online are eligible for the bonus. 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

My Experience of Booking Governor’s Residence Hotel in Myanmar Through Luxury Link

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Later in summer, I will find my way to Myanmar few times due to very good air fare specials. I had been planning to visit the country already for couple of year as my long term goal is to visit every country on earth. My current total is somewhere around 70.

luxury-link-front-page

Now that the Myanmar is opening up, the hotel rates have gone through the roof, relatively speaking, in Yangon. The rates have about doubled in the past two years and most of the hotels aren’t yet to the international standards.

There are no hotels in Yangon that would be part of any of the chains that I tend to stay at. There is a Traders hotel that is part of Shangri-La Golden Circle and one could redeem these Golden Circle points there. Unfortunately, I am not member of this program and there isn’t an apparent way to transfer points to Shangri-La’s program.

A FlyerTalk member pogonation pointed out that there is a very good deal for Governor’s Residence Hotel in Yangon by using refer a friend $100 credit and a 10% off code (LUX10) through company called Luxury Link. This hotel is bit out of the city center, but it is rated number one on TripAdvisor for Yangon.

Luxury Link is an interesting company. I have come across them few times in the past, but hadn’t used their services before. They have teamed up with number of luxury hotel chains like Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons, Preferred Hotel Group, Oberoi Hotels & Resort and Orient-Express. The Governor’s Residence is part of the Orient-Express family of hotels.

Booking a Hotel Through Luxury Link

Luxury Link is running two parallel models. You can either bid for a hotel or you can reserve them at a highly discounted price. Auctions have a minimum price and you can bid in increments of about $10.

luxury-link-grosvenors-residence-garden

The downside of bidding is that there is no guarantee that the dates that you need are actually available. If you decide to buy, they will, however, first confirm the dates with the hotel before charging you.

luxury-link-grosvenors-residence-garden-buy

First you need to sign up for the service. To get the $100 refer a friend credit, you need to use a specific link that you can then use for signing up. If you need a referral, you can click here and use mine that will give us both $100 credit. .

So, there was one bid for this property. About an hour before the auction was about to end, I submitted a bid of $445. You need to submit your payment information at the time of placing the bid. The confirmation screen showed the booking fee of $40, 10% promotional discount for using a coupon code LUX10, and the $100 refer a friend credit. I received a confirmation email that my bid had been accepted and that they would inform me by email, if I was outbid.

luxury-link-evreward

Before bidding, I checked the www.evreward.com website that tracks the cash back amounts that various shopping malls are offering for Luxury Link. I decided to go through Mr. Rebates that had a rebate of 3%. I could have as well used Ebates that had the same amount. Discover Card was offering a 5% rebate through their shopping portal. Using Mr. Rebates will generate further $10 discount of the purchase price.

luxury-link-winning-bid-confirmation

Couple of hours later, I received an email that I had won the three night package that I had bid for and that they would charge my credit card on file. Also at this point, I was requested to put in the dates when I would like to use the three nights that I had just won.
I requested the dates and I am now waiting for Luxury Link to confirm that the package that I bought can be used for the specific dates in question.

luxury-link-winning-bid-confirmation-package

Conclusion

Booking through a Luxury Link seems to offer significant discount at times. The same package that I got for $340.50 not including the $10 rebate, is going for close to $1000 on hotels own website. This is really a terrific deal for Yangon. All the other options, that I had been contemplating, were in the $200 range per night including taxes.

luxury-link-hotels-website
Now, if they would only confirm the dates that I wanted……

My Hotel Award Dilemma for Doha Qatar

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

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

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

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

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

Hilton HHonors

doha-hilton-price

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

Hyatt Gold Passport

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

doha-hyatt-paid

doha-hyatt-points

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

InterContinental Hotels Group Priority Club

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

doha-ic-old

doha-ic-city

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

Marriott Rewards

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

doha-marriott-1

doha-marriott-2

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

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

Starwood Preferred Guest

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

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

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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.

doha-spg-st-regis

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

Wyndham Rewards

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

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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.

Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Collection Hotel – Review of My Stay

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This is probably one of the most aspirational properties for Hilton HHonors members to spend their points. The hotel used to be under the Hilton brand before switching to Waldorf Astoria collection.

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Under the Waldorf Astoria flag the property requires whopping 60K Hilton HHonors points per night during the high season and 50K points per night on shoulder months. I did, however, use two free night certificates from a promo that Hilton had last year. I had some trouble making the reservation as the inventory was constantly changing and wrote a piece about it.

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Although the hotel is very expensive points wise, the paid rates aren’t always that bad. For some dates this coming summer, the rates can be as low as 187 euros per night, that is really competitive and not worth spending the points. Of course, the prices can vary a lot based on the season and promotions that the Hilton is running. The Points & Money rewards are sometimes available as well.

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Location

The location on a rather steep hill overlooking the Vatican was perfect for my stay as I had been to Rome before and seen the usual sights. If you want an easy location to act as your base when you do sightseeing, the hotel may not work as well for you.

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The hotel does provide a scheduled bus schedule from/to hotel to the Piazza Barberini. I didn’t take advantage of this bus, but saw some in the lobby who did.

The location on the hill does provide its advantages as well. You are somewhat secluded from the hustle and bustle of the city self and can spend some relaxing time by the pool.

Transportation to/from Airport

As I was arriving on a relatively late flight from Shanghai, I decided to take an airport bus from the airport to a place close to the Vatican. The price was 8 euros. If you have more than one person, you probably won’t save a lot over just taking a regular metered taxi. Their rates to the Cavalieri are around 50 euros. From the stop close to the Vatican, I then took a taxi to the hotel. There might be other public transportation options as well, but I was quite tired at that point and wasn’t willing to spend any more time getting to the hotel.

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When I was leaving from the hotel, the lady at the Imperial lounge printed me a time schedule of the bus service to the airport from the same spot I was originally dropped off. The taxi during the day time was bit more than 10 euros + the bus fare of 8 euros.

Check In

This was probably the least good part of my stay. I was getting tired and bit cranky. There was some confusion about the credit card guarantee and identification requirement. As Italy is (still) part of the European Union, I can use my identity card that is issued by a European Union country for identification purposes instead of a passport.

As a matter of fact, I later called the front desk and spoke with a supervisor and apologized for being bit cranky that night.

Room 435

The room overall was very nice, although bit on the traditional side. You can get the best idea to have a look at the video above.

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Although this was not a suite, it was very spacious room for Europe. I had a view of the Vatican instead of the TV tower that would have been my view, if I had had the room on the other side of the building.

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It had a nice sitting area and a work desk. The first room had two beds, but I switched to a king one the following day.

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Pool

The April days that I was at the hotel were somewhat chilly and there were occasionally only a handful of people by the pool. I did have my breakfast by the pool on both mornings.

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Probably not the wisest idea to position yourself close to the restaurant, if you want to just relax by the pool, and not to have too many eyes watching at you.

Fitness Center

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I was actually really surprised that the fitness center had the latest equipment that is available. The fitness center was on a lower level by the SPA and you could use the sauna and the steam room as well.

Imperial Club

This hotel has two lounges for hotel guests. Hilton Gold and Diamond members used to have access to the Imperial Club by the default, but now the hotel has a second lounge that is used for Hilton HHonors members, and it is called Colosseo Lounge. I have never been to this Colosseo lounge, but it is described not to be nothing close to what the Imperial Club has to offer.

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I was given the Imperial Club access for the two days that I spent at the Cavalieri, because the other lounge was closed. The Colosseo lounge is closed during the lower occupancy or when fewer number of Hilton Gold/Diamond members are at the property.

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This Imperial Club is one of the best, if not the best, lounge on the Hilton system. They had continuous food presentations throughout the day as well as wine/prosecco. The view of the Rome and the Vatican is fantastic from the balcony.

The staff at the lounge was fantastic. I spent quite a bit of time just working with my laptop and they were continuously asking if I need something else when cleaning the nearby tables. I don’t think that I have even seen a Hilton hotel lounge that has had as many people working at any given time from morning to the night.

If you can choose between a breakfast at the lounge or at the L’Uliveto Restaurant, I would most certainly choose the latter, however.

Breakfast at L’Uliveto Restaurant

The breakfast spread was at the two restaurant rooms. It is buffet style, but I did find the hot items to be fresh. Sometimes these buffets turn very stale, if the food items are not replaced often enough. The variety of pastries, breads, and some cakes was very good.

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Overall, the quality and the variety of the breakfast items were very good, but not as great as you can often find at similar hotel restaurants in Asia.

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My suggestion would be to have the breakfast outside by the pool, if the weather allows.

Hilton HHonors Benefits

Back in January Hilton first quietly changed some terms and conditions of the program when it came to the Diamond benefits at various Hilton family of hotels. Then in February Hilton sent out emails regarding the enhanced Diamond benefits.

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Rome Cavalieri has a handy chart up on their website what benefits you can expect based on your Hilton HHonors status at their property:

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These are the minimum benefits that you should expect and to be positively surprised if you receive something extra like the Imperial Club access and the Rome view that I had.

Conclusion

Rome Cavalieri is a wonderful hotel. The location may or may not work for you, however, as I have pointed above. Also, I don’t like the fact that they opened a “special” Colosseo lounge just to be able to deny Imperial Club access from Hilton HHonors Gold and Diamond members,

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The best time to visit would be the slower months when the paid rates are rather reasonable. This hotel is also a very good place to burn any promotion free night certificates that you might have from Hilton promotions. Instead of burning 120K Hilton HHonors points, I just used two free night certificates.

Priority Club Member Exclusive Offer of up to 40% Discount

InterContinental Hotels Group is having an exclusive sale where Priority Club members can get up to 40% discount at number of hotels in Australasia, India/Middle East/Africa, South East Asia, and Japan/South Korea.

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This pre-sale is open for Priority Club members from May 28th to June 3rd, 2012 for stays between June 1st and September 30th. The discount for non-members after this pre-sale period is 30%.

Note that the terms and conditions of this offer such as minimum stay period, full prepayment or not, and other conditions may vary from region to region. The terms and conditions are not universal.

I have found out that it is always best to see if these sale prices are real. Here’s an example from InterContinental Asiana hotel in Ho Chi Minh City.

The sale rate is $153

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The Luxury Weekends rate is $165

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The Best flexible rate is $189

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The sale rate is lower but not by a lot. If your plans are firm, these might be worth checking out. Also, as I noted above, the actual discount and the minimum stay requirements do differ.

Here are the terms and conditions of this sale by regions:

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Australasia

Rates are per room, per night and are subject to availability. Exclusive 10% discount has already been applied to rates. Full prepayment is required at time of booking, can not be amended and is non-refundable. Blackout dates may apply. Rates for the participating hotels are available from 28 May 2012 to 3 June 2012 for stays from 1 June 2012 to 30 September 2012 with a minimum of 2 nights stay, excepting InterContinental Fiji and Holiday Inn Resort Vanuatu which requires a minimum of 5 nights stay.

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India, Middle east and Africa

Rates are per room, per night and are subject to availability. Exclusive 10% discount has already been applied to rates.Tax and service charges apply. One night non-refundable, non transferable deposit is required at the time of booking. Cancellation or failing to arrive results in forfeiture of this one night’s deposit.  Rates for the participating hotels are available from 28 May 2012 to 3 June 2012 for stays from 1 June to 30 September 2012. A minimum length of stay is required to qualify for the offer, which varies by country.

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South East Asia

Rates are per room, per night and are subject to availability. Exclusive 10% discount has already been applied to rates. Tax and service charges apply. Full prepayment is required at time of booking and is non-refundable upon cancellation. Rates for the participating hotels are available from 28 May 2012 to 3 June 2012 for stays from 1June to 30 September 2012 with a minimum of 2 nights stay. Advance booking is required and the stay period and lead time available with this discounted rate vary by hote

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Japan and South Korea

Rates are per room, per night and are subject to availability. Exclusive 10% discount has already been applied to rates.Tax and service charges apply. Full prepayment is required at time of booking. No refunds if cancelled or changed. Blackout dates may apply. Rates for the participating InterContinental hotels are available from 28 May 2012 to 3 June 2012 for stays from 4 June 2012 to 30 September 2012. Rates for the participating Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels are available from 28 May 2012 to 3 June 2012 for stays from 1 June 2012 to 30 September 2012. Advance booking is required and the stay period and lead time available with this discounted rate vary by hotel.

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

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Best Western’s summer promotion is just around the corner.  When you have 3 separate stays between June 17th and August 19th, you will earn a free night certificate that is valid until January 31st, 2013. This promotion is valid Best Western Rewards members residing in United States, Canada, Bahamas, and the USVI.  You need to register for this promotion prior to your stays.

You will receive a total of 1000 bonus points, if you use a Best Western MasterCard to pay for these three stays.

Here’s the link for registering for this promotion. Please note that you need to sign in to your account before you can see the sign up screen.

Terms and conditions of this promotion:

Stay 3 separate times between 6/17/12 and 8/19/12 and earn a free night voucher – (Jun 17, 2012 – Aug 20, 2012) – Promo Code: SUM12

Best Western Rewards® members (Member(s)) residing in the U.S., Canada, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands who REGISTER for the promotion and complete three (3) separate qualified stays* between June 17, 2012 and August 19, 2012 (Promotion Period) at any Best Western branded hotel worldwide may earn a free night voucher (Promotion). Promotion Registration and Best Western Rewards enrollment/membership required prior to the first qualified stay. Limit one (1) free night voucher per member during the Promotion Period. Free night voucher may be redeemed at any Best Western branded hotel worldwide. Free night voucher expires January 31, 2013. No voucher extensions, substitutions or replacements available.

*A qualified stay for the purpose of this promotion is defined as one or more consecutive nights at the same Best Western hotel at a rate eligible for earning points or airline/partner rewards through Best Western Rewards. Only one (1) check-in/check-out permitted per qualified stay.

Bonus Offer: Use your Best Western Rewards MasterCard® to pay for each of your three (3) qualified stays and receive 1,000 Best Western Rewards bonus points. Maximum one (1) Bonus reward per Member during the Promotion Period.

Other restrictions may apply. Offer not valid with any other promotion or discount. Promotion is subject to cancellation or change without notice.

Free night voucher redemption subject to hotel availability. Free night voucher redemption reservation must be completed by calling 1-800-567-4009. If a valid email address has been provided in the Member’s account profile, the free night voucher may be sent electronically to the valid email address 2-3 weeks from the third completed qualified stay. Otherwise, a paper voucher will be mailed to the address on the Member’s account profile 4-6 weeks from the third completed qualified stay. Best Western is not responsible for any loss of communication via technology or any other technology issues with Member’s computer.

Allow 4-6 weeks for posting of Best Western Rewards MasterCard® bonus points from third completed qualified stay.

All Best Western Rewards program rules apply. See www.bestwesternrewards.com for additional program terms. Each Best Western® branded hotel is independently owned and operated. Best Western and the Best Western marks are service marks or registered service marks of Best Western International, Inc. ©2012 Best Western International, Inc. All rights reserved.

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