Registration for Starwood’s Double Take Promotion is Live

Just a quick reminder to head over to Starwood’s page for their Double Take summer promotion. I wrote about it here earlier this month.

A quick recap of the promotion is as follows:

  • Earn double Starpoints on all eligible stays from May 1 through July 31, 2013
  • Get 500 bonus Starpoints for each eligible booking made through our spg.com mobile site, the SPG® App for iPhone® or the SPG App for Android™

spg-double-take-2013

Again, it’s nothing ground breaking at all, but if you have Starwood hotel stays in the works, you might as well earn some extra points for them.

Mistake to Madrid: Westin Palace Madrid

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Westin Palace Madrid

After chowing down on croissants and beautiful pieces of jamòn and downing 1 Euro beers, we walked the rest of the way to the hotel. It’s a real looker when you come upon it.

Westin Palace Madrid

Westin Palace Madrid

Planning

When planning this trip, there were plenty of hotels to choose from in Madrid, but this one seemed to be the grandest. I decided to burn some of our Starpoints.

At 4,800 points and $90 per night, this hotel offered great value. The rooms were consistently going for over 200 Euro (almost $300) so each Starpoint ended up to be worth about 3.8 cents. That beats the pants off 1-2% cashback!

About two weeks prior to our stay, I had emailed the GM to ask about upgrade options. He promptly replied with two options:

  1. A free upgrade to a “premium view room”
  2. A Junior Suite for 7,500 Starpoints per night

I did some research, particularly on Oyster, to see if the room would be worth it to us. Ultimately, I told the GM that we would take the upgrade for 7,500 Starpoints per night. Why not, at the time we had about 160k burning a hole in our pocket anyway. We were confirmed for a Junior Suite for a total of 22,500 Starpoints (3 nights).

Check-In

Upon arrival, the agent at the front desk brought out the Manager who explained that we had been upgraded to the Executive Suite for free! Now THAT’S the way to start a trip. Not bad for an SPG Gold.

The front desk agent also thanked me for being a Gold member and asked which welcome gift I’d like – 250 Starpoints, complimentary Internet, or a complimentary beverage. Normally, the Internet is the best value, but since we were traveling with an international MiFi device, I chose the Starpoints.

Our keys were made and the Manager had a bell hop take our bags to our room. She was going to show us around the hotel. She brought us through the grand lobby, the hotel restaurant, and the other facilities.

Finally, she brought us to our Executive Suite. She walked us through each part of the room and then left us, but not before giving us a few maps and brochures and one thing that I thought was very thoughtful – a new 2012 edition of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide. Funny because Joann borrowed that same book (older edition) from a coworker.

The Executive Suite

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Hyatt Makes Searching for Award Nights Easier

The Hyatt website has received a few enhancements recently. Most importantly, the Free Night search has been revamped in a great way.

Searching by City

A simple change that many hotel websites already have but Hyatt never did was a smart search. Begin to type in the name of the city and the new site will display a number of choices, most helpful being the list of properties in that city.

Displaying results for "new yo"

Displaying results for “new yo”

Award Searches

Previously, searching for an award night on Hyatt.com was pretty painful, as far as hotel sites go. First, you had to have enough points in your account to cover the amount of points you would be redeeming. That means if you wanted to redeem at a top tier Category 6 hotel for 5 nights, you would need 110k (22k per night) Gold Passport points in your account. Or you would need 22k points in you account and search night by night… FUN!

Now, that is a distant memory! The new way to search for Hyatt Free Nights is great.

Any time you enter a reservation search, the results displayed will display multiple rates, now including the ever-important Hyatt Gold Passport Points rate!

You don’t need a certain number of points in your account. You can search over several days. I’ve been playing around with it for a few hours and it’s great.

Hyatt Free Night Search

Hyatt Free Night Search

What I did notice was that it only displays the basic award room. If you want to redeem for a suite, you’ll still have to call Hyatt Reservations (1-800-228-3360) to search for space for you.

Also, if, for any reason the award rates aren’t showing, make sure the Show Hyatt Gold Passport Points box right above the rate tabs is checked.

Leave it to Hyatt to add a wonderful and much needed enhancement to their website. It’s a bright spot in a year of hotel devaluations.

As if our stay at the Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires last week wasn’t enough to catapult Hyatt to the top of my hotel chain list, this certainly put it over the top.

The ease of searching for free nights definitely gives me a little extra push to earn more Chase Ultimate Rewards points for transferring to Hyatt and United, my two favorite partners of the program.

Hat tip to Mommy Points.

SPG Double Take: Starwood’s Summer 2013 Promotion

Starwood’s summer promotion has just been announced. Here is the landing page for the SPG Double Take.

  • Earn double Starpoints on all eligible stays from May 1 through July 31, 2013
  • Get 500 bonus Starpoints for each eligible booking made through our spg.com mobile site, the SPG® App for iPhone® or the SPG App for Android™

spg-double-take-2013

Registration isn’t live yet, but you can get a text reminder from them by texting DBLT to 44264 in the US.

Overall, it’s a big SNOOZE. Double points and a long list of hotels that aren’t participating is pretty boring as far as hotel promotions go.

I guess it’s OK if you already have stays planned. If not, definitely don’t go out of your way to take advantage of this promo.

Burning 300K Hilton disHHonors Points

Planning

After the terrible news last week from Hilton about heavily devaluing their award program, Joann and I decided that we needed to burn our stash of Hilton HHonors points before these new changes take effect on March 28, 2013.

Thanks to Loyalty Lobby who found out a great loophole that allows one to book award nights further than the standard 1 year out.

Using this great tip, I was able to use 300K Hilton points for 8 nights at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort in 2015!

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

If this booking stays (and I think it should), Joann and I should be spending our anniversary in the Maldives!

I know it’s really far off, but I’d rather try this for 8 nights at 37,500 a night (the ‘GLON’ award rate for Hilton elites) than be stuck trying to redeem this property at 95,000 points per night after the devaluation.

Speaking of Hotel Loyalty

I’m happy I get to use these Hilton points; I’m slightly sad because I doubt I’ll ever turn my attention to a Hilton property again unless it simply has the best rate available. No way in hell I’ll go out of my way to earn points at a Hilton ever again.

In fact, will I ever go out of my way to earn points at any of my preferred hotel chains? Seth at The Wandering Aramean brought up some great points regarding the casual traveler (like myself) and the actual benefits of hotel loyalty.

In almost every case, finding the cheapest rate at any hotel and booking through Hotels.com will yield the most return. No, you won’t accrue “points”, but you will get 10% ‘cashback’ in the form of a nightly credit. It’s a pretty great loyalty program that I’ve written about before.

For a casual traveler like me, it’s the best way to earn and burn at a good pace and not get caught up in points hoarding.

Anyway, just food for thought. Anyone else have a successful booking experience using this trick? Where is everyone burning their HH points? Does anyone actually LIKE these changes?