Forced HKD to USD Currency Conversion by Citibank ATM at HKG Airport


Just arrived to Hong Kong earlier yesterday. I needed to get some cash to buy a local SIM card. It is often a “battle” to find a normal ATM at the airport that doesn’t charge excessive fees for withdrawing money, or try to force you to a currency conversion done by the ATM owner. I wrote about my troubles with the Travelex ATM’s in London Heathrow and the often forced DCC’s (Dynamic Currency Conversion) in China.


So, when I got to the City ATM at the airport, and tried to withdraw money, I was sure that Citi was trying to give me a ride. I was going to withdraw money from a THB nominated account in Hong Kong. The ATM, however, showed a currency conversion from HKG to USD instead.


At this point, I was sure that Citi was trying to screw me on the foreign exchange, but it wasn’t actually the case. I run the exchange on and it was within 4 cents that the Citi’s ATM quoted. To be frank, I was really surprised by this. I still believe that they do make money by doing the HKG to USD exchange.


Hilton The Great Getaway Sale 2012

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Hilton is offering again prepaid rates that are non-cancelable/refundable for Hilton family of hotels worldwide. The offered discount off the BAR varies by region from America’s 20% to Europe’s 40%.  These rates are bookable from May 10th to July 23rd for stays up to September 30th, 2012 with the exception of Europe where the discount is valid on weekends until the end of the year.


As you can see from the charts below, these offers really vary from regions to region when it comes to the dates offered and the booking window i.e. 3 or 7 day advance purchase requirement.

The offered discount in the America’s isn’t that great considering that you need to give up a lot in flexibility. I would probably stick to AAA or MVP rates that should offer similar, if not lower, prices with more flexibility i.e. cancelable until 4PM on the day of arrival.

Other offer to keep in mind is the PR13CB “Corporate Benefits Employee Offer”. This can often yield similar discounts as the Great Getaway Sale. The PR13CB is often, if not always, excluded from promotions like the current double points or miles. It does qualify for the regular points/stay credit, however.


Here is a rate display for Conrad Bangkok. The sale rate is almost the same as the “Corporate benefits Employee Offer”.


Here’s one example from the United States. Hilton Miami downtown doesn’t have this sale rate loaded at all. They do, however, have advance purchase rate and the MVP one available. As the Americas sale is up to 20% off, the MVP rate would be equal to it and doesn’t require 7 day advance purchase.

Middle East and Africa regions: Participating hotels are offering a 25% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate.


Europe: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 40% discount. Participating Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts properties are offering a 40% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate. Participating Hampton by Hilton™ properties are offering a 15% discount on Best Available Rate. 7-day advance purchase requirement is reduced to 3 days from July 27 through August 30. Discount applies only to weekends (Friday through Sunday) unless otherwise specified. Some hotels may extend this offer to stays that include a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and/or Thursday night regardless the day of arrival. The discount applies seven days a week from July 30 through September 9, 2012.
Booking period extends through September 30, 2012; stay period extends through December 30, 2012.
***Discount does not apply from July 14 through August 12, 2012 the following hotels: Hilton London Park Lane, Hilton London Metropole, Hilton London Paddington, Hilton London Euston, Hilton London Olympia, Hilton London Kensington, Hilton London Green Park, Hilton London Hyde Park, Hilton London Islington, Hilton London Tower Bridge, Hilton London Canary Wharf, Hilton London Docklands Riverside, Waldorf Hilton, The Trafalgar, Wembley Plaza, DT West Minister, DT Tower of London.
***Discount does not apply at the following hotels on the dates listed next to them:
Hilton Manchester Deansgate, DT Piccadilly Manchester, Hilton Manchester Airport – 26, 28, 29, 31 of July and 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7 of August.
Hilton Newcastle – 25, 26, 28 of July through 4 of August inclusive
Hilton Cardiff – 25, 26, 27, 28, 31 of July and 1, 3, 4 and 10 of August
Hilton Glasgow – 14 of July through 3 of August inclusive
Hilton Coventry – 24, 25, 26 and 27 of July


Asia Pacific region: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 33% discount. Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts properties in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand are offering a 33% discount on the Best Available Rate and Bed & Breakfast Rate. Otherwise, participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts are offering a 25% discount on Best Available Rate. Participating Hampton by Hilton™ properties are offering a 15% discount on Best Available Rate. At some participating hotels, 7 day advance purchase requirement is reduced to 3 days.


North and South America regions: Participating hotels are offering a 15% – 20% discount on Best Available Rate seven days a week EXCEPT that from September 1 – 30, 2012 discount applies only to weekends (Thursday through Sunday). Some hotels may extend this offer to stays that include a Monday, Tuesday and/or Wednesday night regardless the day of arrival.Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts properties are offering a 20% discount. Participating Hampton by Hilton, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton™, Home2 Suites by Hilton™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™ properties are offering a 15% discount. NOTE: Participating Conrad Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Hampton, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites by Hilton™, and Home2 Suites by Hilton™ hotels require a three (3) night minimal length of stay for Tuesday arrivals and a two (2) night minimal length of stay for Wednesday or Thursday arrivals. At participating Hilton Grand Vacations, a three (3) night minimal length of stay for Thursday arrivals and a two (2) night minimal length of stay for Friday or Saturday arrivals is required.


Here are the Terms and conditions of this rate promotion:

General Terms:

Offer is subject to availability at participating hotels within the Hilton Worldwide portfolio, offer details stated herein, and the selected hotel’s booking terms and conditions. Applies to stays on select days of the week/weekend, which vary by location as detailed below. Book between May 10, 2012 and July 23, 2012 and stay between May 17, 2012 and September 30, 2012 (except in Europe, as described below). Offer not available at Embassy Suites by Hilton™. Full non-refundable prepayment required at time of booking. Your credit card will be charged immediately for the total amount quoted for the entire stay as reserved and refunds or credits will not be issued unless otherwise indicated by local law. Charges cannot be applied to other stays, services or merchandise. Booking cannot be changed. Must book at least seven (7) days in advance of arrival, except as noted below.

Each hotel has a policy addressing cancellations and/or blackout dates that may apply. Offer not valid with group bookings and cannot be combined with other offers. Unless otherwise stated, quoted rates are per room per night, based on double occupancy and do not include taxes, gratuities, resort fees or incidental charges. The Hilton Minibreaks offer, which includes a second room for children at half-price, cannot be combined with this offer.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson Status Match


Club Carlson is offering direct status matches up to the Gold-level in their program. I have previously covered Starwood Preferred Guest, Hilton HHonors, Marriott, and Hyatt Gold Passport status match procedures. If you are Rezidor shareholder, you qualify for Gold status as a shareholder benefit.


Club Carlson matches to their Silver or Gold level only. The highest status with the Club Carlson is Concierge, but this is, at least officially, off-limits when it comes to matches status. Club Carlson matches Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental Hotels Group/Priority Club, Marriott and Starwood status.

Here’s what you need to do

1. Open a Club Carlson account if you don’t already have one.

2. Take a screenshot from your Hilton, Hyatt, Priority Club, Marriott, or Starwood online account statement that shows your status.

3. Send an email to and include a copy of the screen shot, your Club Carlson account number, and a few words that you would like to get matched to Gold status with their program.

You should hear back from Club Carlson normally within one business day. I emailed my request during the weekend and heard back from them on Monday.

As you can see from the email I sent, I mistakenly requested a Platinum match. Club Carlson doesn’t have a Platinum status, but only Silver, Gold, or Concierge.

Changing Targeted Marriott Promotions


Marriott tend to run their bigger promotions three times a year. Their winter Megabonus just ended, and the next one is starting at the beginning of June.

Marriott has one bonus offer that is available for their “base” members that sometimes is better than what is offered to their elites.

During the Marriott’s summer promotion the best offer is probably the free night certificate after every two stays for up to three certificates. These are capped at category 4 properties that are sometimes hard to find in the popular US destinations. I tend to use them in Asia and in the Middle East, where you can find very good properties even at category 4 or lower.

What to do if you like to switch the promotion?

If you like to switch the targeted promotions, there are few ways to do it. You might get shown down on your first try, so it doesn’t hurt to try again.

1. Call Marriott Rewards customer service number and tell them the offer that you would prefer to be signed up for.

There is no need to lie, but I prefer to say that a colleague of mine got offered a promotion that I wasn’t, and if they could switch mine to it.

2. Send an email to Marriott Concierge

You can use the following email address to send your request: Remember to include your account info and the promotions that you would like to sign up for.

3. Send a private message to the Marriott Concierge through FlyerTalk

Companies hate when they get negative publicity on FlyerTalk. You can also reach the Marriott Concierge by signing up for a FlyerTalk account and then sending them a request through a private message.

How changing the promotion works?

These customer service people cannot change the promotion that you were originally targeted for, but they can notate your account that you were switched to another promotion. Then, once the promotion is over, they need to manually post the certificates or points to your account, and possibly remove what you have earned from the promotion that you were originally targeted for.

My advice would be to do it electronically so that you have a form of proof that this actually took place. If you decide to do it over the phone, make sure that you write down the name of the person and the date and time of the call.

Fairmont’s Latest Airline Partner Jet Airways

Now members of Fairmont’s Presidents Club can choose to earn Jet Airways miles for their stays as well. Normally you would earn 500 miles per stay regardless of the length, but from May 7th to August 6th you will earn 500 miles per night for up to 2000 JetPrivilege miles per stay. This is to kick start the partnership between these two companies.


Fairmont has number of airline partners that you can credit your stays, but you will earn only 500 miles per stay regardless of the length. You cannot earn Fairmont points on their program, so you kinda have to choose one airline partner, where you would like to credit them.

Fairmont has partnerships with Air Canada, Alaska, American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, United, and Jet Airways.



Here’s a copy of the official announcement from Fairmont regarding this partnership:

TORONTO, May 7, 2012 – Fairmont Hotels & Resorts today announced a new marketing alliance with Jet Airways, India’s premier international airline. As part of the new partnership, guests and members of the luxury hotel brand’s guest recognition program, Fairmont President’s Club, will have the option of earning airline miles in Jet Airways’ frequent flyer program, JetPrivilege.

“India is a dynamic, international market, and with our burgeoning growth in Asia and entry into Southeast Asia with the upcoming opening of Fairmont Jaipur, we see this as both a timely and strategic addition to our roster of airline partners”, said Serge Simard, Regional Vice President, Africa and India. “We’re very excited to be teaming with a respected and influential international carrier like Jet Airways and giving our frequent guests another mileage option to choose from.”

Commenting on the partnership, Mr Sudheer Raghavan, Chief Commercial Officer, Jet Airways, said, “Guest delight is at the core of Jet Airways’ strategy to offer better value creation for its JetPrivilege members. This partnership positions us among the leading airline frequent flyer programs in India with the high value it offers members and the wide range of product choices. This is an effort to create an exceptional experience and this new marketing alliance with Fairmont Hotels & Resorts will allow JetPrivilege members to enjoy several unique benefits in select cities across the globe.”

Based in Mumbai, Jet Airways operates flights to 24 international and 52 domestic destinations and the carrier’s commitment to delivering exceptional service has garnered the airline many awards and accolades, making it a natural partner for Fairmont. The airline also services a number of international markets which Fairmont calls home including London, where The Savoy has reopened following one of the most ambitious restorations in British history, and New York City, which lays claim to one of the world’s most legendary hotels, The Plaza.

To kick of the new partnership, Fairmont is extending a launch offer to its guests. From May 7 – August 6 2012, guests on qualifying stays will have the opportunity to earn triple miles based on 500 miles per night to a maximum of 2,000 miles per stay. Following the welcome offer, frequent guests of Fairmont will have the ability to earn 500 frequent flyer miles per qualifying stay.

With an eye on international growth, Fairmont is working on a number of exciting developments, including many in Asia and Southeast Asia, such as the soon-to-open Fairmont Jaipur, a 199-room city center hotel, located in Rajasthan in the northwest of India. Other hotel openings in Asia include Fairmont Makati, Manila, Philippines (2012), Fairmont Nanjing, China (2013), Fairmont Taiyuan, China (2014) and Fairmont Chengdu, China (2014).

Fairmont President’s Club provides frequent guests with special benefits and privileges designed to reflect individual travel preferences and offer an enhanced level of service. Personalized travel profiles afford members customized stay experiences while in-hotel benefits include complimentary high-speed and wireless Internet, Fairmont Fit athletic gear, a members-only reservations line, expedited check-in and check-out, and access to exclusive vacation offerings. Enrollment is free and guests can join at any Fairmont location worldwide, online at or by contacting Fairmont’s global reservation center at 1-800-441-1414.

Jet Airways becomes the latest addition to Fairmont’s collection of airline partners, a group that includes other top carriers such as United Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa, Etihad Airways, Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Air China, Qatar Airways and Alaska Airlines.

Radisson Big Night Giveaway Just Got Better

Yesterday, I wrote about the upcoming sequel to the last years Radisson Big Night Giveaway. This time, however, they are running a similar promotion with all of their three different brands, and according to their social media representative, you can sign up for all of them. (Hope that Dana is right!)


So, if you manage to swing by and stay a night at each of these three different brands during the promotional period, you should earn 138000 Club Carlson bonus points. Highest category award nights require 50000 Club Carlson points per night, although redemptions start at 9000 points.

There is the Radisson & Radisson Blu version for 50000 Club Carlson points for a stay


Another version is for Country Inns & Suites for 44000 Club Carlson points for a stay


And yet another one for Park Inn properties for 44000 Club Carlson points for a stay.

The link for this specific website doesn’t seem to be up yet.

The Big Night Giveaway Promotion (“Promotion”) is available only to Club Carlson members. To be eligible for the Promotion, members must register online for the Promotion at (“Promotion Registration”), provide their Club Carlson member number at the time of reservation or check-in of the Qualifying Stay, and then complete one Qualifying Stay at any Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel worldwide (“Participating Hotels”). Guest must check in for the Qualifying Stay on or after May 15, 2012 and check out must be completed no later than July 15, 2012 (“Promotion Period”). A “Qualifying Stay” is defined as a stay of one or more consecutive nights in the same room at a Participating Hotel regardless of the number of check-ins or check-outs on a rate for which Gold Points are awarded in accordance with the Club Carlson Program Terms and Conditions.

Guest must be present at the Participating Hotel at both the time of check-in and check-out, enrolled in Club Carlson at or before the time of check-in, and registered in the Promotion no later than the time of check-out (to enroll in Club Carlson, visit The first 100,000 guests who complete the Promotion Registration will receive 50,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of their Qualifying Stay. After the first 100,000 Promotion Registrations, every guest who completes the Promotion Registration will receive 15,000 Bonus Gold Points after the completion of his/her Qualifying Stay. These Bonus Gold Points are in addition to the standard Gold Points awarded for a stay. Only one Club Carlson account per Qualifying Stay will be credited with the Bonus Gold Points.

Maximum of one Bonus Gold Point award will be credited to a member with a Qualifying Stay under the Promotion regardless of the number of Qualifying Stays completed by the member during the Promotion Period. Allow 6-8 weeks for the Bonus Gold Points to post to the member’s account. The Promotion and Gold Points are subject to all Club Carlson Program Terms and Conditions. Rates for each night of a Qualifying Stay may vary.

Priority Club Las Vegas Award Flash Sale – 50% Discount at Venetian & Palazzo

InterContinental just tweeted about their Las Vegas award flash sale. You can get both Venetian and Palazzo at 50% discount of the usual number of Priority Club points required. The number of points required during this sale is 25K PC per night.


The link that was on the twee didn’t originally work, but after sometime the special page for this promotion was up as well.


The discounted point rates do show up on the search as well.


Personally, I wouldn’t use 25K Priority Club points for a hotel costing $150 considering all the points that I would earn from that rate as well. (See here how many points I have earned on average on my paid PC stays this year. ) This offer might work better, if you choose more expensive weekend nights.

Air Canada Aeroplan Miles for Best Western Travel Card Purchases

Best Western is offering 1500 bonus Air Canada Aeroplan miles for every $100 CAD Travel Card purchases through June 30th, 2012. If you are planning to stay at the Best Western hotels, it is really no cost way to acquire some Aeroplan miles in the process.


These travel cards work like cash and they can be redeemed at all Best Western locations. This promotion is available for United States and Canada. According to the terms you would need to change your Best Western earning preferences, at least temporarily, to Aeroplan miles to get the bonuses.

The Best Western Travel Card makes the perfect gift – get a little bit extra for your gift giving.

  1. Choose any amount between $100 and $1,000 CAD.
  2. Send a personalized message with the Travel Card when you select a plastic card.
  3. Select the “virtual” Travel Card option for fast, easy delivery.
  4. ®Aeroplan is a registered trademark of Aeroplan Canada Inc.

Terms and conditions of this offer:

Bonus Aeroplan Miles offer valid for Best Western Rewards® members (“Members”) who (a) reside in the United States or Canada; (b) have enrolled in the Best Western Rewards program; (c) have chosen Aeroplan Miles as their earning preference in their Best Western Rewards profile; and (d) have purchased a $100 USD/CAD Best Western Travel Card® (“Travel Card”) between April 1, 2012 and June 30, 2012 (“Promotion Period”). Qualified Members will earn 1,500 bonus Aeroplan Miles per $100 Travel Card purchased during the Promotion Period. No limit on the number of Travel Cards that may be purchased or the amount of bonus miles awarded during the Promotion Period (daily restrictions may apply). Promotion available only online at

Travel Card is independent of the Best Western Rewards program and the login information may not be the same. A Travel Card login is required to purchase a Travel Card as part of this promotion. To obtain a Travel Card login, visit:

Other restrictions may apply. Offer not valid with any other promotion or discount. Promotion subject to cancellation or to change without notice. All Best Western Rewards program and Travel Card terms and conditions apply. See for Best Western Rewards program rules and links to Aeroplan PMiles program rules. See for complete Travel Card terms and conditions. Best Western® and the Best Western marks are service marks or registered service marks of Best Western International, Inc. Each Best Western branded hotel is independently owned and operated. ©2012 Best Western International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Radisson Big Night Giveaway Returns

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Last year Club Carlson run a similar promotion for 50000 Club Carlson bonus points for a stay at Radisson or Radisson Blu property by December 30th, 2012.


This time the terms and conditions are not officially out there yet, but the details of the promotions should be as following:

1. Register for this promotion starting on 15th of May

2. Stay once at Radisson or Radisson Blu hotel by July 15th, 2012

3. Receive 50000 bonus Club Carlson points

If you don’t have an account with a Club Carlson yet, you should open it using an offer from e-Rewards to get 4500 bonus points.

You can also get a status match if you have a status with a competing chain. You can just email the request to with a copy of an online account statement from the competing chain. When I did this back in February, I received a response from Carlson within one business day.

Club Carlson Sign up Bonus 4500 Points


Club Carlson is again offering bonus points for signing up for their program. This offer was emailed to e-Rewards members, but you should be able to take advantage of it as long as the registration form includes the ERWD2012 promo code. I already posted about this offer back in March, but thought that it would be good time to remind about it now.


There is a new Club Carlson promotion starting on 15th of May, and you probably should open up an account using this promotion to get additional 4500 points.

Terms & Conditions:

e-Rewards members must enroll in Club Carlson using the link provided via email by e-Rewards by May 31, 2012 (“Promotional Period”). This offer is limited to a maximum of 4,500 bonus Gold Points per person. Offer only valid for new Club Carlson members without an existing account.  Promotional bonus Gold Points will be posted to the member’s Club Carlson account within 6-8 weeks of enrollment date. The name on the e-Rewards program account and Club Carlson account must be the same.  Offer is valid only to the enrolled recipient, is non-transferable, may not be sold, and is subject to change or termination without notice.  By enrolling in Club Carlson and participating in this offer, you agree to the Club Carlson program terms and conditions.

Air Canada Aeroplan Star Challenge


Aeroplan launched interesting Star Challenge last week where you can earn up to 16500 bonus miles by completing number of transaction using their partners. Different partners/transactions earn different number of stars. This promotion started on May 1st and ends on May 28th, 2012. The valid promotional period is really short.


There is no need to register for this offer. It is valid for only Aeroplan members that have their account address in Canada. If you happen to reside somewhere else, but have a friend in Canada, it probably would be best to find out if you can use their address.

There are quite a few ways to earn Stars rather cheaply. I am sure that you can figure the ways by having a look at the partner list.

35 Stars will earn you 1500 bonus miles


70 Stars will earn you 16500 bonus miles


The number of stars earned is buried on the Terms and conditions of this offer.






InterContinental Royal Ambassador Status


InterContinental Royal Ambassador status is the highest “publicly” available status that one can have with the InterContinental hotels. Thing to note is that this only applies to InterContinental hotels and not to other hotels of the InterContinental Hotels Group like Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza.


Royal Ambassadors do get the Priority Club Platinum status and benefits that go with it apply to other hotels of the IHG.

How to get Royal Ambassador Status?

There are two ways. You need to join the Priority Club first and then buy the Ambassador membership that costs $200 or 32K Priority Club points. I wrote a piece last yet, if it is worth buying it.

Then you need to stay from 50 to 70 nights during your Ambassador year (this is NOT a calendar year) and to stay at least three different InterContinental hotels, to be upgraded to a Royal Ambassador status. InterContinental doesn’t publish the exact requirements of this status, but normally 50 nights is the minimum required. It is unclear, however, how many of those 50 to 70 nights are required to be at the InterContinental hotels, but my hunch is that more than half.

Other way to become a Royal Ambassador is to get a referral certificate from a Royal Ambassador member. When you qualify for the status, you will receive a package that contains a referral certificate. These can be often found on eBay for around $500.

Remember that you need to become an Ambassador first before your account can be upgraded to a Royal Ambassador.

Benefits of the Royal Ambassador Status


Once you have got the number of required nights in or have bought the certificate from eBay, the fun part is about to start. You can then enjoy the perks that come with the RA. I have listed the main benefits that I have taken advantage off. There are others as well.

1. 8AM check in & 4PM check out

Both of these are guaranteed and not up to “availability”, although some properties might say so on their welcome letters

2. Complimentary minibar beverages

Note that the SNACKS are not included by default. Some properties do give out the entire contents of the minibar, but officially the guaranteed benefits are the drinks only including beer/wine/alcohol.


3. Executive room or suite upgrade

There seems to be lot of confusion, when it comes to the room upgrade benefits for Royal Ambassadors. Regular Ambassadors are guaranteed one category upgrade from the booked category. Royal Ambassadors are entitled to an executive room or a suite. If you book a suite, the property is NOT required to upgrade you further.

Many of the properties have implemented a policy to upgrade RA’s two categories from the room/suite category they book. You do need, however, to confirm this with the property in question beforehand.

4. Free internet access

Royal Ambassadors get a complimentary internet access at all InterContinental properties. This doesn’t apply for regular Ambassador Members.

5. Ambassador Accelerator & Royal Ambassador Bonus

You will receive 20K Priority Club bonus points for every 20 nights spent at InterContinental hotels. You will receive an additional 1000 Priority Club bonus points for every InterContinental hotel stay.


6. Free Weekend Night Voucher & 5000 Priority Club Bonus Points

These are the same that come with the Ambassador package as well. You will get a free weekend night voucher that you can use in conjunction with a paid stay. You basically need to pay the best flexible rate for the first night and the second night is free. Sometimes it is cheaper to book two nights using discounted rates, however.

The letter includes a code that you can use to deposit 5000 Priority Club points to your account.

Royal Ambassador Package

I took couple of photos of the package that I received. It comes with the membership card, luggage tag, booklet, referral certificate, free weekend night voucher and a letter.


IHG had supposedly sent this package already at the end of last year, but it never arrived. I had to make couple of phone calls and the replacement one came in couple of weeks.


Timing of Renewal

If you are planning to requalify for the status, it is important to get your hotel nights count. InterContinental starts looking at your previous 12 months activity 3 months before your Royal Ambassador status is about to expire. Not sure if they do this monthly until the expiry. Sometimes it makes sense to give them a call and ask them to review your account for RA renewal. They might tell you that you need more nights or they can just extend it. You never know.

Benefits consistency

Overall, I have been very satisfied with the benefits received as a Royal Ambassador. Most of the hotels do go above and beyond what is required by the program.

You have to bear in mind that neither breakfast nor club access is a benefit of the Royal Ambassador status. Quite a few hotels, however, let you choose between a suite upgrade and a club room.

Special Conditions for Award Nights

All the other hotel chains, that I am a member of and have redeemed free nights, don’t distinguish between a paid night or an award when it comes to benefits. The situation with the InterContinental is different, however.


Quite a few InterContinental hotels do honor all or some of the excluded RA benefits on award stays. You need to clear this with the hotel. I have found out that often if you contact the property beforehand the answer might be different when you actually check in.

Point Earnings

Royal Ambassadors earn a fixed number of Priority Club points per stay (2000), Platinum bonus (1000) and the RA bonus (1000). IHG recently changed the number of points earned to based on the dollar spend on the America.

You need to sign up for all the other bonuses that IHG continuously offers and you will then earn much more. I compile a list of all active Priority Club promotions every month and publish it here.

I recently wrote a piece how many points I have been earning on average when all the promotions are factored if. You can read more about it here.


The InterContinental Royal Ambassador status is great, if the number of properties and where they are located fits your travel plans. This is also the only top tier status that you can buy, although not officially. In general I have been very satisfied with the treatment I have been received from InterContinental hotels as a Royal Ambassador.

The basic point earnings doesn’t look too great, but you need to factor in all the various promotions that IHG/Priority Club is constantly running. Also, there are Point Breaks hotels every few months, when you can redeem 5K PC points for a night at number of hotels.

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


Please note that the Accor has now retired this offer. Sign up for our blog updates by email-alerts to be notified when this offer is available again.

Accorhotels has run numerous promotions for a complimentary Platinum status in their Le Club-program. These offers are targeted, but if you sign up using the right offer, you will get the complimentary Platinum status as well.

Please note that this offer will probably be retired in the next few days. If you think that you might need the status in the next 12 months, it would be probably better to sign up now.

You can read about my Platinum experiences at Mercure Nadi in Fiji, Novotel Suva Lami Bay in Fiji, and Hotel Muse in Bangkok. Don’t forget to play their Facebook game for free 500 points + triple points for weekend stays or 1000 Delta or Air Canada miles for one night stay.

You can sign up for the Platinum status using the following link:


If you get an error message that your session has expired, you just need to refresh/reload the webpage.

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. You may be able to merge your accounts, however.

Here is a quick look at the Le Club Accorhotels Platinum benefits:

Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status

With 60 nights or 25,000 Le Club points.

– 100% Le 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

Starwood Quietly Changing Award Categories Midyear

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Back in February Starwood announced the category changes for 2012 and made the list of hotels changing categories public. There were few hotels that were set to drop down in category that eventually did not, or did only for couple of weeks i.e. Le Meridien Chiang Mai.

Then there was the case with Sheraton Montreal that started this year being a category 4 property for award purposes. It went down to category 3, but then couple of weeks later was suddenly category 5. If you ask a question from SPG’s social media representatives, why these sudden changes, the answer is basically because they can do it.


And for sure all these are covered in the terms and conditions.


Now Starwood has quietly raised the categories at least handful of hotels, but without doing any announcements. This was reported by posters on FlyerTalk that had seen some of their favorite hotels gone up suddenly in award categories. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find out exactly what properties went up. I doubt that any property would have gone down.

Probably the reason for Starwood to do these changes midyear, is to lower the liability of the Starpoints that they carry on their balance sheet. By raising the categories of the properties they can lower the liability of these points on their books and basically book the difference as a profit.

Shame on Starwood for not giving heads up on these changes. It is one thing to change the categories and give a proper notice than just change them unannounced.

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