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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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Priority Club Last Minute Rewards Nights Are back for January.

priority-club-last-minute-reward-nights-300Every first full weekend of each month IHG has selection of their hotels for 50% fewer points per night. The catch is that you need to book the hotels on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday for the coming weekend. There really isn’t time to plan anything around these sales, but if you happen to be close by, it can make a nice weekend getaway.

This time there are 80 participating properties of which half are in the United States. The number of InterContinental’s in the selection is fifteen from 20K to 15K Priority Club points per night. One of flagship properties in Moorea is included. If you have reward nights reserved there this coming weekend, now it is time to rebook and save half the points used.

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If you have reward nights needs this coming weekend and you have some Priority Club points, it makes sense to check the following link: http://www.priorityclub.com/rewards/us/en/redeem/catalog/hotel/last-minute-reward-nights. For some reason it seems to time out on some browsers. If you get time out, try a different browser or session.

Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa – Review December 2011.

Back in December, I was on my way from the newly opened Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island, of which I have also written a review, back to Dubai. I decided to stop on my way for a night at the Westin Abu Dhabi Gold Resort & Spa, which had just opened in November. It also helped that I had one free resort night award left that was about to expire. I had planned to use it at the St Regis Saadiyat Island, but the opening of that hotel had been delayed until the end of December. The Westin is about half way between the city and the airport.

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There was still some construction going on at the Westin, although you could hardly tell that. They didn’t have any suites ready yet so the Platinum upgrade was to a ground floor room with a direct access to the golf course and sitting area outside. The room was very high and quite nice. The fitness center was not ready but hotel guests were offered a ride using a buggy to another nearby one. The main deeper pool was still being constructed when I was there. All these have probably been completed by now, or will be shortly.

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My Three Airline Ticket Mistakes in 2011

Although I have traveled more than 3 million miles, I do make occasional mistakes when it comes to airline tickets, and hotels, and car rentals, and…. Last year I had three airlines related ones of which two resulted me foregoing the airfare paid and just ticketing something else. One was a booking for economy on China Southern that was the most uncomfortable flight that I have ever taken.

1. Booked a TAM (JJ) flight for a wrong day.

I had Air Canada ticket booked from Seoul to Sao Paulo but wanted to spend some time in Rio de Janeiro as well. Booking a through ticket from Air Canada didn’t make any sense as the fare upped a lot. When booking tickets for intra-Brazil travel, it makes sense to try to get them ticketed on Brazilian local websites.

Fares that Gol and Tam publishes for ticketing outside of the Brazil are often double or triple the fares found on websites intended for Brazil . Apparently lot of the cheaper fares have SITI (Sold Inside – Ticketed Inside) sales restrictions.  As a side note, fares for travel without advance purchase requirements are often cheaper to ticket outside of Brazil than inside. So, it always pays to check.

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InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) 5000 Bonus Points Offer for Finland and Denmark – IKP50.

Yesterday, I was browsing the PriorityClub website when a banner of 5000 bonus points for stays in Finland and Denmark came up. The terms and conditions also didn’t indicate that one would need to pay for any “inflated” price to get the points, as is often the case. I decided to look into this, because I was going to be in Helsinki next week.

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IHG has been revamping their websites recently and often the links are broken. When you try to click any of the hotel specific links, you only get 404 error:

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Le Meridien Koh Samui Resort and Spa, Koh Samui, Thailand -review

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le-meridien-koh-samui-airport-to-resortOn my last trip to Koh Samui in late November, I checked out the brand new Conrad Koh Samui Resort, and decided to spend a night at the newly reflagged Le Meridien as well. This property was first introduced as Langham Place and then reflagged by the owner to Gurich. After a year, they decided to brand it under the Le Meridien.  So, don’t get confused, if some still refer this hotel as Langham or Gurich, as it has changed names three times in just two years!

 

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The location of the hotel is in Lamai beach. It is about 20 to 30 minutes from the airport by a car depending on the traffic. Most of the flights in and out of the island are on Bangkok Airways as they own the airport. There are two daily flights from Bangkok on Thai Airways. There is a direct flight from Singapore on SilkAir. Bangkok Airways also operates some international routes from Koh Samui (USM). You can get a resort to pick you up from the airport or arrange a taxi on the spot. Taxis on Koh Samui should theoretically use meters but they don’t. You need to negotiate a fare with the driver beforehand. Oneway from the airport to the resort should cost 500 to 1000 THB depending on your negotiation skills.

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Friend of mine, who works on the island, picked me up from the Conrad and dropped me off at the Le Meridien.  If you are driving yourself, you just need to pay some attention or the entrance to the hotel is easy to miss from the road. You need to leave your car outside, and then you will be taken to the entrance by a cart or you can just walk.

Last Chance to Use The Continental Elite Maximizer to Get the Last United Airlines and Continental EQM’s in For the Year.

Two weeks ago I wrote about buying Elite Qualifying Miles (EQM’s) on Continental’s website using the Elite Maximizer. Today is the last day to use this program to ensure that the EQM’s are posted before the end of the year.

You can link your United MileagePlus and Continental OnePass accounts, and the EQM’s are then eventually merged to determine your status in 2012.

This is the way to go if you need some EQM’s at the very last moment. It is not cheap and you need to determine if the cash outlay is going to be worth the higher airline status.

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