Category Archives: IHG

AMTRAK’s South West Chief

We were finally on the last leg of our three part train trek around parts of America.  We enjoyed almost all aspects of the trip so far, perhaps with the exception of one of us having to climb into the upper, narrow bunk bed and the train whistles at night when going pass a crossing.  The South West Chief was originally  operated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway until AMTRAK took over passenger rail service in 1971.

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Los Angeles, along with Chicago, has a lounge of first class passengers and we took full advantage of it.  When you enter the front of Union Station, walk straight back and near the rear, turn right and then go up the escalator.  There are chairs, a few tables and chips and soft drinks as well as coffee. There is an attendant sitting at the desk to help us with any questions you might have.

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As lounges go, or at least as compared to airline lounges, this wasn’t too much but it was a nice place to hang out and eat the few snacks that they had.  Because of the way that the station and tracks are laid out, when it was time to go to the track to board our train, we were driven there in multi-row golf carts.  If we had chosen to walk, we would have had a long way to go including going under a tunnel to get to the other side of the tracks.

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We weren’t sure if we would get dinner since we weren’t scheduled to leave Los Angeles till 6:15.  As we boarded we found out that we would get dinner and as the attendant came around, we signed up for one of the first sittings at 7:00.  Same menu that we had on both the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight.  Blogger Hubby was quick to let our table mates know how good he thought the seafood cakes were, which he had again!

We went to bed early because one of the stops in Arizona, early in the morning around 5:45 AM was Winslow, Arizona.  It seemed like I was humming the Eagles song” standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona” all night while I was trying to sleep.  Unfortunately, I woke up about 5 minutes after we passed it.  At breakfast we met a couple who had just gotten on the train.  The did the option of going to the Grand Canyon through the Grand Canyon Railroad.  Although they had a good time, they were exhausted because they had to leave their hotel at 3:  AM to be at the train station at 4:00 AM – unfortunately, the train was late and they had to wait about an hour for the South West Chief to come by.  Although they loved the canyon, they wouldn’t recommend going by train other than the convenience of being very close to the rim.

For us, we enjoyed seeing the change in scenery across America.  Here are a few scenes that we passed on our last day on our train trek.

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IMG_1042As I mentioned, our train, unbeknownst to us, was running late but what we found out on every line is that they build time into the schedule so they very rarely arrive late at the station at the end of the line.

Our final stop was Albuquerque.  Our train trek was over but now our New Mexico part was beginning.  It was 11:00 in the morning, the sun was shining and we were excited.  We gathered our bags, left the train and walked out front to get a taxi to the airport to get our rental car.  Problem was – there were no cabs.  I tried calling one cab company but no answer.  I tried Uber but it was surge pricing very high.  Finally got a cab company who would send a cab out to the train station in 10-15 minutes but no guarantee that we would get it.  After half an hour, one came but there was a little disagreement on how got to ride.  The other couple and us came to an agreement that we would share it since we were both going to a car rental at the airport.IMG_1047

We closely examined the car, loaded our bags and headed north to Santa Fe.

Would we do this again – yes!  We’d like to do the California Zephyr route which is San Francisco to Chicago traveling through scenic Colorado and the Rockies.

This entire train trip took 65,000 of my Ultimate Reward points that I had transferred over to AMTRAK (no longer available to do it) and remember, traveling first class included all of our meals.  I used points to stay at the Holiday Inn and Suites in Chicago the night before our train trip, also for the Weston Bayshore in Vancouver, points for our night at the Hilton Doubletree Checkers hotel in Los Angeles.  We paid for our night at the Seattle Grand Hyatt and used a Diamond upgrade for our Emerald Suite.

Up next, Land of Enchantment – exploring Santa Fe, Taos, Albuquerque and its environs.

REMINDER: I’m getting together a group for a cruise around the southern tip of South America.Come join us on March 5, 2018 (that’s right – 2018) on Holland America’s Zaandam, a vessel with about 1450 passengers as we board in Valparaiso, Chile as we cruise among the fjords, through the Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel, visiting the southernmost town in the world, Montevideo, Paraguay and disembarking in Buenos Aires, he home of fine leather and the tango.  With a group, basically in name only, we received the lowest rates and amenities. .  Leave a comment and I’ll respond privately to you about this cruise or contact my travel agent, Michelle, at michelle@mccabeworld.com and tell her you are in Jane’s group!

Daily Getaways are Back Starting Today!

An event that we look forward to every year is the Daily Giveaways for four weeks sponsored by the US Travel Association. Each workday for two weeks, beginning today April 4th promptly at 1:00 EDT,  you have the opportunity to  (attempt) to purchase one of their daily specials.  Some days are better than others but there is usually something for everyone during this four week period. To purchase, click on this link.

I have purchased points from Club Carlson, IHG as well as a few other vacation goodies to bump up my point totals when I had plans to use them.

What I like about the first week of daily getaways is that they are family friendly. You can be one of the few to buy points from IHG (Holiday Inn, etc), Comfort Inn, Sleep Inn and a few more.  Want to go to Busch Gardens with discounted tickets or planning a trip to Vegas.  You might try getting a great deal through the Daily Getaways.  Here is what is planned for next week:

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There will be more goodies the following week and that is the end till next year.

Looking at what is offered for this coming week I might consider the Busch Garden tickets since our daughter lives fairly close to one of the Busch Gardens – or I might just get them and give to her. They like to go when it is Howl-o-ween at Busch Gardens.  They took their 2 year old this fall and he loved it!  I might consider some of the IHG points since I have just used up a couple of hundred booking our trip in New Mexico/France and Belgium.

Remember, it begins at 1:00 Eastern time and they are very limited so if there is something you want, get the correct time and jump on it as soon as you can.  Some daily giveaways have more opportunities to purchase than others.   Post here if you are able to purchase anything so we can all congratulate you!

Good Luck

New Rules for Chase Credit Cards

I receive no compensation of any type from JP Chase – in fact, they probably don’t know anything about me.  The views below are mine entirely.

Chase is tightening up their rules for obtaining one of their credit cards.  This past summer/fall, they began implementing the 5/24 rule.  If you opened 5 credit cards from any bank within twenty four months, you would most likely be declined for any of Chase’s own credit cards.  This was exclusive to their own credit cards such as Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Freedom card and any of their cards that are not co-branded with another company such as Marriott.

 

If you are new to credit card churning, then I would suggest before you get to the 5 card you apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card, one of my favorites of all time.  I do not have an affiliate link as I do not have a business relationship with them but if you are thinking of getting their card, I would receive 5,000 Ultimate Reward points if I refer you.  If interested, just drop me an email and I’ll begin a dialogue with you.  If not, I still HIGHLY recommend this credit card because of its flexible Ultimate Reward points.

Now Chase is changing the rules AGAIN!  Their co-branded cards will follow the same 5/24 rule sometime in April.  If you are on the fence or thinking about applying for one of their co-branded cards, my advise is to do it within the next month to six weeks.  In fact, I would do it sooner than later. Some of their co-branded cards include British Airways, Hyatt, Marriott, IHG, Ritz Carlton,  Disney, Southwest Airlines and United Explorer.

I have been thinking about getting both the Hyatt card and the Marriott card but my problem is that you can only have five personal credit cards from Chase.  Which card to close is my dilemma.  I already have the United Mileage Plus Select card (a co-branded card) which is my oldest credit card dating back to the early 1990’s.  It is a card that is no longer available and for those of us that have it, it makes it worthwhile to keep it.  I certainly do not want to close that card out since I have had it as long as I do – always keep your oldest card!

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I also have the IHG card ( a co-branded card) which gives me Aspire elite status with IHG (Holiday Inn, Intercontinental, etc) and I do participate a few times a year with their promotions and there ALWAYS is a step that has you paying with your IHG credit card.  Also, this card gives me one free night a year and the annual fee is only $49.  I have only had the card about ten months now and do not mind paying the $49 for the one free night, which we will use in Brussels.

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I currently have the Freedom (one of Chase’s cards, not co-branded) which I do love for the revolving quarterly bonus categories.  It has been particularly useful to me before the holidays as Amazon has been one of the bonus stores.  That might be the one that I will consider closing and perhaps my husband could get it instead.

Freedom

In December I applied for and one month later  approved for the United Explorer credit card which gives me free checked bags when I fly on United.  Since I tend to fly United the most, that will be particularly useful to me.  Since I have had that card only about a month, obviously I do not want to close it.

Finally, I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred.  Thinking that I might never be approved for it again, I’m keeping it.  I love the Ultimate Reward points and since am boosting my United points with my new Explorer card, I can use those UR points for other airlines, like Singapore Airlines.

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Chase Sapphire Preferred

So if I want the Marriott or Hyatt card, I’ll have to close one of my Chase cards and it will probably be the Freedom, much to my chagrin.

Have you thought about applying for any of the Chase co-branded cards before the 5/24 rule takes effect?  Are you having the problem that I am as to which card to close?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IHG Hotels and the Accelerate Promotion

Whether I have any intention of staying at a specific hotel brand or not, I always sign up for their promotion.  As much as I think that I know my travel plans, or lack of them sometimes, there have been instances where last minute travel opportunities arise and I wished that I had signed up for a certain promotion.

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I am working on the Accelerate promotion that IHG is sponsoring until the end of the year.  To participate you must first be an IHG Rewards Club member.  You can sign up here.  Once you sign up you can then go to the Rewards Club tab and find your offers.  You do have to specifically sign up for these promotions – it is not automatically done for you.

Some of you may not know what IHG Club or brand is.  IHG is the loyalty club for Intercontinental Hotels, Holiday Inn and all their various sub-brands (Express, Suites, Resorts), Crowne Plaza, EVEN, Staybridge, Candlewood, Hotel Indigo.

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Every person who registers for this promotion has different objectives to meet in order to complete all the offers that have been given to them.  I have six offers presented to me and in order to receive the 50,000 IHG points, I must complete five of the six. Remember, that your offers and mine will probably be difficult – yours could be easier or more difficult.  You do not have to complete all your objectives to receive points.  It is like stair steps in the sense that each step you take will give you extra points.  One of my offers was to have a one night stay and I would earn and extra 5000 points on top of the points that I earned just from staying at a Holiday Inn.

When I did this promotion a couple of years ago there were more points to earn and I wanted to earn them for an upcoming trip we had planned.  I would look for the least expensive hotel rates near Holiday Inns where I lived and book them.  In one weekend I had booked a Friday night and a Saturday night stay near Washington Dulles Airport where I lived since their rates went down over the weekend when business travelers were not staying there.  I went to the hotels, checked in and never stayed there.  You might be thinking that is a waste of money to pay for a hotel and not stay there but for all those points I earned, we were able to parlay that into a 3 night stay at the Intercontinental Hotel in Prague this year.  Since I also have the IHG credit card, I was automatically given top status and when we checked in, I was upgraded to an Executive Suite. Basically, the $54 dollars that I spent in the hotel that I did not stay in gave me this luxury hotel in Prague at no charge at all!  I have taught Blogger Hubby that spending a little money will reap its rewards later.  He’s become a believer.

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This is where I am though I do have three more nights that have not posted.  I have just fulfilled a weekend stay (while attending my Chicago Seminars) and I charged it on  my IHG credit card which means those two offers have been fulfilled.  To date I have earned an extra 10,500 points on top of those that I earned from staying at the hotel.

I hope you consider participating in a hotel promotion particularly if you travel or want to travel.  With these points my plan is to stay at the Intercontinental in Paris next year – I hear that it is nice there.

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Our Arrival in Prague and What We Did – Part 1

We arrived in Prague by bus from Nuremberg around 7 PM and was driven to our hotel, the Intercontinental right on the waterfront, by the driver that I had arranged prior to our visit through the hotel.

The hotel has the appearance of a Soviet era building, very unattractive and sterile on the outside but was very modern on the inside.  As we were being checked in we were told that we had been upgraded to a Junior Executive Suite since I was Platinum Elite.  No, I don’t stay in hotels very often but having the IHG credit card gives me automatic platinum status.  Our room was very nice and large, especially by European standards.

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We dropped off our luggage and headed out to follow our driver’s recommendation of where we should have our dinner.  We went to VKolkovne which seemed to be a gathering place for after work drinks and dinner for residents of Prague.  Our hotel was unable to make reservations for us but we decided to walk over and see if we could get seated which we did with no wait!  Food was delicious and the beer was even better.  I became a beer drinker on this trip when I quickly realized that beer was less expensive than wine and even water!

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After dinner we went exploring.  We walked over to Old Town Square. The historic center of Prague is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, one of many that I was sure that we would visit during this trip.  Many people  where many people were waiting in the dark for the Prague Astronomical Clock to strike on the hour.  This clock was installed on a wall on the Old Town City Hall in 1410.  When the clock strikes on the hour there is a Walk of the Apostles showing the figures of the Apostles and other figures including Death.  Once all the figures came out, the crowd around it seemed to disburse though the square remained lively.

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Food vendors were around the square with an array of food included a version of fried dough slathered with garlic butter and topped with a generous amount of shredded cheese.  My other favorite street food was chimney stacks which is like having dough wrapped in strips around a metal cylinder and then cooked over coals.  It is topped with cinnamon sugar and you can peel off the strips one layer at a time.

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For our first full morning we headed over to Old Town Hall Square to take a Free Walking Tour.  They seem to all advertise themselves by holding up an umbrella – different colors for different tour companies.  There are several companies that do this and you need to find the one that you are comfortable with.  My recommendation is to talk to the person who is actually going to be doing your tour.  Blogger Hubby found that some guides had a heavier accent than others did and he wanted a guide that he could have an easier time hearing and understanding.  We found a tour guide holding a Green Umbrella and he was from Seattle, Washington.  We determined that he was the “perfect” guide for us.  We were very happy with our decision, the amount of information he passed on to us and our entire tour.  It was shorter than some of the other umbrella companies but that is only because we took a shorter break than others did. If you look at his umbrella it shows the countries where English is the primary language.

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We needed to get back to our hotel by 1:30 since we had booked a Czech cooking lesson for the afternoon and evening in our hostess’ home.  My next blog will tell you all about our experience.

Fun Fact:  Many South Korean bridal catalogs shoot their photographs for the catalogs in Prague.  We saw many “fake” weddings in the square and in front of the astronomical clock.  Who knew!

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A few more pictures from Prague featuring some of their more beautiful buildings:

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IHG and Club Carlson Hotel Promotions – are you in?

As I have mentioned before, we tend to stay at more moderately priced hotels and it doesn’t bother us.  Most times we are out enjoying the area we are visiting in.  Sometimes these more moderately priced hotels have fantastic hotels in great locations.

Since this is the way that we travel (for the most part) I have enrolled in two hotel promotions for the Fall.  The first is the IHG “Into the Night” promotion.  IHG is the parent company of many well known hotels – Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Holiday Inn and Suites, Crown Plaza, Intercontinental and many more.  Like their promotion last year, the bonus will vary by individual.  You need to log into your account, register for the promotion and find out what your bonus is.  Last year I completed the entire promotion and received about 70,000 points.

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The other fall hotel promotion that I am working on for Club Carlson members.  It is the  Take Off with More Miles offer.  Once you register by October 15th  and complete two Eligible Stays at participating Radisson® hotels by December 15, 2014, will earn 7,500 American Airlines AAdvantage® bonus miles in addition to your Club Carlson miles and the night/stay toward elite status.  If you are interested in this promotion, you can register here.  This must be competed by December 15th.

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Are you working on any promotions?

Epic Road Trip – driving to Charleston, SC, part 1

Thelma and Louise (names changed to protect the guilty) headed out recently on their Epic Road Trip from the DC area to Charleston and Savannah in a VW Jetta  Wagon.  No convertible, no souped up car, no music blaring forth but still, lots of fun.  Lots of logistics were involved…how long would we stay in each city, which city first, which hotels, whose car, etc.  With all those decided we thought we were ready to go until I noticed I had booked hotels in the same city for different nights and one of those bookings was non-refundable.  Oops.  I quickly went to the hotel booking site and cancelled and then quickly found a hotel for the correct dates in the correct city.

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Before we got on the interstate, we had to go by our local bakery for some freshly made doughnuts – every girl needs a snack for the road.  About two hours from home, we hit a traffic backup.  Seemed we went very slowly for about 6 miles and then…..nothing.  As we were passing through Fort Mill, South Carolina we saw a sign for Blue Rose Pottery.  Since we hadn’t stopped in about 30 minutes, we felt like we needed to stop and stretch our legs, or so we told ourselves that we did.  It looked like nothing on the outside but inside….it was Polish Pottery.  I felt like I hit a gold mine.  We probably spent about 45 minutes looking at the many different patterns.  I ended up purchasing two bowls and the knowledge of where to stop off I-77 when I need to “stretch my legs”.

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Our plan was to go to Charleston first for three nights.  We knew that we wanted to stay in the historic district and that it would be pricier than staying outside and then driving in.  We also thought it would give us more flexibility in case we wanted to come back to our room at the hotel.  In looking at the charges, we saw that staying Saturday night would cost us over $300 and then it would drop for Sunday and Monday nights.  We REALLY didn’t need to stay in Charleston for that price.  We knew that on Sunday we wanted to visit a plantation north of the city.  We quickly changed our reservation, again, to reflect only two nights.  In its place, we made a reservation at a Holiday Inn Express in Summerville, South Carolina, about 20 miles north of Charleston.

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I hate to be picky but there were a lot of little things wrong with our room and I did all that I could to remedy it while I was there.  We checked in around 5 PM and took the elevator to our floor.  As soon as we got out of the elevator there was constant barking and it was about 4 doors down from our room.  I personally like dogs but I do not like barking dogs in a hotel room.  We walked into our room and about 4 steps in from the door was a large RollAway bed.  We couldn’t get around it very well because of where it was and how large it was.  I put my luggage down and went to the desk to see if we could have another room.  The person working the desk tried calling the room where the barking dog was and there was no answer which is against Holiday Inn’s rules.  Apparently you cannot leave a dog unattended, which really isn’t realistic since you most times go out to eat dinner.  I was worried about the dog’s barking and how long it would bark.  I asked if we could have another room and they said that they were fully booked up.  I knew that they were full but was I REALLY the last person to check in…I don’t think so.  About half and hour later someone came to get the RollAway bed out of our room.  We went to dinner.  Came home and found our room hot and stuffy.  No matter how low I turned the thermostat or high high I turned the fan, it remained the same speed and temperature.  When we went to use the bathroom, we discovered that the wastepaper basket hadn’t been emptied from the previous guest and it was quite full…YUCK!  The next morning I again went to the desk to complain about the night (barking dog was not a problem) and they offered me $25 off my $139 room.  Hmm, that was not sufficient for a poor night’s sleep.  She asked what I wanted and I asked points.  She told me to “name my price” and I suggested 25,000 knowing that it would be too much but it would give us a place to begin talking about compensation.  This young woman wrote “Guest DEMANDS 25,000”.  I objected to that word since I had been very nice (even my friend will say I was nice and polite).  Nevertheless we left with no firm offer.  In fact, they never called until I received a survey online and I reiterated everything that I had told them at the hotel in person.  I ended up with the guarantee that next time I check in we’ll have it personally inspected by the manager and that the night will be on them.  She indicated that I “might” find some points in my account to help offset the problems that we had in our room.

Summerville has a charming historic downtown area.  Apparently it is the P1000237birthplace of Sweet Tea, the elixir of southern women.  There is a Sweet Tea Trolley Trail – and if we had more time, we would have gladly taken the tour.  I realize that I would like to stop in this city again particularly when the prices for a hotel in Charleston were so high.

 

Next up – Middleton Plantation

 

IHG Rewards: POINTBREAKS for Jan. 27 – Mar. 31, 2014

As you might have gathered from previous posts, I am a big fan of IHG – the loyalty reward program for Holiday Inn, Candlewood, Staybridge, Crowne Plaza, etc.  During their promotion of last quarter I earned over 150,000 points by meeting their promotion requirements – I could earn as little or as much as I wanted  within their parameters of their promotion.  Currently another “The Big Win” promotion is happening now and you too could earn many points.

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Getting back to why I love IHG is simply because they run these Pointbreak specials throughout the year where you can stay at some of their hotels for just 5,000 points per night.  What a savings that is.  They have hotels that are participating throughout the world.

Here is the list of participating hotels for this quarter:

ALABAMA

CANDLEWOOD SUITES BIRMINGHAM/HOMEWOOD

ARKANSAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EL DORADO


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HOPE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES WEST LITTLE ROCK


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PINE BLUFF

ARIZONA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FLORENCE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GREEN VALLEY

CALIFORNIA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SANTA NELLA


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WEST SACRAMENTO – CAPITOL AREA

COLORADO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LAMAR

CONNECTICUT

CROWNE PLAZA SOUTHBURY

GEORGIA

HOTEL INDIGO ATHENS DOWNTOWN – UNIV AREA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DOUGLAS

IOWA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LE MARS


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SHELDON

IDAHO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BOISE WEST – MERIDIAN

ILLINOIS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CRESTWOOD


HOLIDAY INN EFFINGHAM


CANDLEWOOD SUITES PEORIA AT GRAND PRAIRIE

INDIANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AUBURN-TOURING DR


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LOUISVILLE NORTH


CANDLEWOOD SUITES INDIANAPOLIS


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOGANSPORT

KANSAS

CANDLEWOOD SUITES EMPORIA


CANDLEWOOD SUITES KANSAS CITY-OVERLAND PARK

KENTUCKY

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CAMPBELLSVILLE

LOUISIANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES AMITE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LAKE CHARLES-SULPHUR

MARYLAND

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ABERDEEN-CHESAPEAKE HOUSE

MICHIGAN

CANDLEWOOD SUITES KALAMAZOO


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LAPEER


STAYBRIDGE SUITES DETROIT-UTICA

MISSISSIPPI

STAYBRIDGE SUITES JACKSON

MONTANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BELGRADE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BROWNING

NORTH CAROLINA

HOLIDAY INN GREENSBORO AIRPORT


CROWNE PLAZA HICKORY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HILLSBOROUGH (DURHAM AREA)


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PLYMOUTH

NEBRASKA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LINCOLN SOUTH

NEW JERSEY

HOLIDAY INN BUDD LAKE – ROCKAWAY AREA


CROWNE PLAZA MONROE SOUTH BRUNSWICK

NEW MEXICO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ALBURQUERQUE SOUTH – BELEN

NEW YORK

HOLIDAY INN MIDDLETOWN-GOSHEN

OHIO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DAYTON
-HUBER HEIGHTS


HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES MANSFIELD
-CONFERENCE CTR


CROWNE PLAZA CLEVELAND AIRPORT

OKLAHOMA

CANDLEWOOD SUITES BARTLESVILLE EAST


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EL RENO


CANDLEWOOD SUITES TULSA


CROWNE PLAZA TULSA – SOUTHERN HILLS

PENNSYLVANIA

CROWNE PLAZA PHILADELPHIA-BUCKS COUNTY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SELINSGROVE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WEST CHESTER

SOUTH CAROLINA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SPARTANBURG-NORTH

TENNESSEE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ALCOA
(KNOXVILLE AIRPORT)


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MILLINGTON
-MEMPHIS AREA

TEXAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ALVARADO


CANDLEWOOD SUITES AMARILLO-WESTERN CROSSING

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CENTER


CANDLEWOOD SUITES CORPUS CHRISTI-SPID


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ELGIN


HOLIDAY INN HOU ENERGY CORRIDOR ELDRIDGE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LA PORTE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES AUSTIN NW – LAKEWAY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES RIO GRANDE CITY

VIRGINIA

HOLIDAY INN PETERSBURG NORTH- FORT LEE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WILLIAMSBURG NORTH

WISCONSIN

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BELOIT


CANDLEWOOD SUITES MILWAUKEE BROWN DEE

R
CROWNE PLAZA MADISON


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ST. CROIX VALLEY

WEST VIRGINIA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOGAN

EUROPE

CZECH REPUBLIC

HOLIDAY INN PRAGUE AIRPORT

FRANCE

HOLIDAY INN MULHOUSE


HOLIDAY INN TOULOUSE AIRPORT

SLOVAKIA

HOLIDAY INN TRNAVA

SPAIN

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR – BARRIOS

TURKEY

CROWNE PLAZA ANKARA

UNITED KINGDOM

HOLIDAY INN BARNSLEY M1, JCT.37


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BRAINTREE
HOLIDAY INN COVENTRY – SOUTH


HOLIDAY INN NORTHAMPTON WEST M1, JCT 16


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SHREWSBURY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SWINDON CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN WALSALL M6, JCT.10


HOLIDAY INN DARLINGTON – A1 SCOTCH CORNER


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LEICESTER – WALKERS STADIUM

ASIA

INDIA

HOLIDAY INN JAIPUR


CROWNE PLAZA NEW DELHI ROHINI

INDONESIA

CROWNE PLAZA SEMARANG

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ANA HOTEL WAKKANAI


HOLIDAY INN ANA SENDAI

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HOLIDAY INN NANTONG OASIS INTERNATIONAL


HOLIDAY INN TAICANG CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SHANGHAI JINSHA


HOLIDAY INN DATONG CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS TIANJIN CITY CENTRE

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

EGYPT


CROWNE PLAZA RESORT SAHARA OASIS PORT GHALIB RESOR

SOUTH AFRICA

HOLIDAY INN SANDTON – RIVONIA ROAD


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PRETORIA – SUNNYPARK

ZIMBABWE

HOLIDAY INN BULAWAYO

CROWNE PLAZA HARARE-MONOMOTAPA

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

ARGENTINA

INTERCONTINENTAL MENDOZA

BRAZIL

HOLIDAY INN SAO LUIS

CHILE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PUERTO MONTT

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CROWNE PLAZA SUITES TEQUENDAMA BOGOTA

GUATEMALA

CROWNE PLAZA GUATEMALA

HONDURAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SAN PEDRO SULA

PARAGUAY

CROWNE PLAZA ASUNCION

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HOLIDAY INN MEXICO BUENAVISTA


CROWNE PLAZA VILLAHERMOSA, TAB.


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NUEVO LAREDO


HOLIDAY INN ORIZABA


HOLIDAY INN TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

CANADA

ALBERTA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FORT SASKATCHEWAN


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SLAVE LAKE

BRITISH COLUMBIA

HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES OSOYOOS

ONTARIO

STAYBRIDGE SUITES GUELP

I DID IT — I FINISHED “THE BIG WIN”

IHG announced their big promotion in September.  There was a list of stays that you needed to do to win it all or just complete the sections you wanted and take those points.  Since I was going to be traveling anyway, I made sure that I would stay in one of their hotels.

IHG-The-Big-Win-Promo

 

The night before we left for Hawaii, we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express at the airport the night before our flight.  The Chicago Seminar that I attended in October was held at a Holiday Inn and that took care of 2 brands (needed to stay at 4 brands).  Driving home from Northern Michigan, we stayed at a Crowne Plaza, another brand.  Finally, when I went to Northern Virginia to visit friends, I made a reservation at a Candlewood for the least expensive rate possible to round out my fourth brand.  Although I never actually stayed there, it was well worth making the reservation (and checking in) to get all those points.  Altogether I earned about 145,000 points and that will give me about 6 nights of accommodations – well worth it in my mind to spend a little to reap a lot.

So often we use credit cards to get the sign-up bonuses to use for future travel but if you see promotions, sign up for them.  You never know when you might need a hotel room and the points I received from this promotion is a lot more than what I would get from a credit card sign-up.  If you are taking a trip or expect to be in a hotel room, look at the promotions and see how you can maximize it.

Here’s what I did and you can do it too.  The promotion runs through the end of December.  Click this link to register and start staying and getting your points

Stay at any IHG® hotel and receive
1,000 POINTS
Stay at 4 different IHG brands and receive
24,000 POINTS
Stay a total of 6 nights and receive
7,000 POINTS
Book 2 separate stays through an IHG® hotel website or mobile device to get our best price guarantee and receive
2,400 POINTS
Stay 2 Saturday nights and receive
4,800 POINTS
Complete a simple survey and receive
100 POINTS
Complete all of your offers and receive
39,000 POINTS

Still working on The Big Win from IHG

In September I signed up for the IHG promotion called The Big Win.  There were different steps that I could do to earn points during this promotion.  I first began by signing up for all the promotion codes that IHG provided.  I found the codes here in message number 3.  I added them to this page .  Of course, I was already a member of their loyalty program.

imagesihg rewards club

The details of the big win are:

A selection of different single promotions, which might vary according to some reports in the internet in relation to your stay pattern. There is a bonus if all promotions are completed until December 31, 2013. The following example is what some people got:

  • Try one and done: Stay at any IHG hotel and receive 1,000 Points
  • Stay more and earn: Stay a total of 4 nights and receive 4,000 Points
  • Explore more brands: Stay at 3 different IHG brands and receive 10,000 Points
  • Book with us: Book 2 separate stays through an IHG hotel website or mobile device to get our best price guarantee and receive 2,000 Points
  • Win in a weekend: Stay 2 Saturday nights and receive 8,000 Points
  • Get an additional 25000 Points if all promotions are completed until December 31, 2013.

My point totals were a little higher than this.  By entering the codes as well as trying to meet the different steps to the Big Win, I am getting lots of points.  In fact, I have stayed at three of their brands and a fourth one will give me even more points.  I have made a reservation at one of the brands that I have not stayed with yet just for the points.  I looked around for the least expensive hotel I could find so I could made the reservation at the lowest price point.  I am actually not planning on staying there.  When I compare what I am spending to what I am receiving, I am definitely coming out ahead.

ihg

IHG offers Point Breaks several times a year.  What this is are hotels in their brand around the world that are just 5,000 points per night.  A new list will be coming out on November 1st but some of the hotels have been “leaked” and they are Intercontinental Hotels in Tahiti, Johannesburg, Shanghai Rujin, The Crowne Plaza in Muscat, Prague, Acapulco and Panama.  Additionally there will be 143 properties in the United States that will have Pointbreaks!  Check back on their website for the full list of hotels on November 1st.  If you don’t have enough points in your IHG account, remember if you have Ultimate Reward points, you can transfer them in at a 1:1 ratio.

See how valuable their points become?

Staying at an Airport Hotel and Flying to Oahu

Since we had a 6:00 AM flight from Detroit Metro Airport  we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport.  We chose the Holiday Inn Express as IHG has The Big Win promotion going on right now and I wanted to take advantage of it. We were also able to leave our car at the lot behind the hotel for free for 8 days (through the hotel) and then pay $11 per day after that or $8 per day if you have a AAA card or AARP card. We parked our car at the hotel the night we checked in and then moved it that morning to the lot behind the Holiday Inn Express.  The shuttle bus was right there to take us to the airport.

ihg big win

Check in was a breeze as was security this time of the morning.  I took photos of our luggage in case they got lost and I could describe them and show them (yes, mine had the penguin duct tape on it) as well as looking at the luggage tag to make sure they were going to HNL.  The people that work the desk are only human and they can make mistakes – I just don’t want it to happen to me.

I found out that we could not use the UAL Club because we were flying domestically.  It would have been nice but it wasn’t that important.  We flew a CRJ (Canadian Regional Jet) from Detroit to Houston.  We had two of the 6 First Class seats and to be honest, I would never pay extra for these seats.  There was very little recline, no food offered whatsoever though juice/soda was offered.  Additionally this jet was freezing cold.  I know, at times, I’m always cold but when I see men putting on their jackets and trying to stay warm, I know that it is not just me.  The flight attendants did say repeatedly that the pilot was trying to warm up the plane.  I happened to get the ONLY blanket on the plane.  I asked for a napkin and the FA thought I was asking for a blanket.  I took the blanket and still asked for a napkin.  Blogger Hubby and I were huddled together under the blanket.  Hope this gives you an idea of how cold it was on this very uncomfortable flight.

Two and a half hours later we were so glad to get off this plane and get warm at the airport in Houston (IAH).  A two hour layover found us having some breakfast near our gate.  As the time drew closer for our take off we were all notified by the gate agent that the in flight entertainment system was not working and that we should download movies onto our IPAD’s (hmm, do’t have one) or go to a bookstore and buy a book.  She did say they were working hard to fix the problem.  We had plenty of books but still, it was over an 8 hour flight – a movie or two would break up the time if we needed it.  Just before we boarded I ran back to the food court and bought a lunch for myself.  I have not been too pleased with the food on United and had been warned that this flight had terrible food – actually inedible food.  Ran to Panda Express for a chicken dish and lo mein.

We were able to have pre-boarding due to flying Business Class.  Actually there were two business class sections on this plane.  The plane had a 2-3-2 configuration so we chose the two together on the side of the plane.  This appeared to be one of the older planes as the in flight entertainment is on a tiny foldaway screen in your arm rest that you pull out.  Also in the arm rest is the in-flight phone that many airlines had in years (or is it decades) gone by.

After we were seated our cheery flight attendant (FA) came by and asked us what we wanted to drink.  Since this was my first trip to Hawaii, I asked for something “tropical” and sooner than I could blink an eye, Blogger Hubby and I had mai tai’s in our hand.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shortly we were in the air and our FA came by to serve the luncheon.  As I had been told, there was only one choice and it was the chicken that I had been warned about.  Hubby took the chicken and said it wasn’t bad.  I was happy that I had Panda Express.  Since we were up at 3:30 AM (EDT)and wouldn’t get to our accommodations till around 11 pm (EDT)  wanted to make sure that I had food in my stomach.

After lunch, we were served sundaes with all the toppings that you wanted.  Sundaes are always a nice treat on a United flight.  I slept off and on, read a complete book and saw a movie.

ice cream sundaes

We landed in Honolulu and found that we had to walk quite a distance outside to baggage claim.  I was glad for the walk since we sat for so long but I’m not sure if some people knew how far it was.  As we were waiting for our luggage, Blogger Hubby surprised me with a sweet scented plumeria lei.  The aroma was heavenly.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

As the bags came off the carousel, ours was easy to find since I used the decorative duct tape that I refer to in this post.  We walked outside and waited for the shuttle to take us to National Car rental to pick up our car that we reserved through Priceline.com  I had remembered to go through the Ultimate Rewards mall and received extra points for booking it that way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We picked up our white Jetta, after carefully inspecting it and making note of the scratches and marks on the car, and we were on our way to Hickam Air Force base to buy our supplies for the week at the condo in West Oahu.  Since Blogger Hubby is retired military, we are able to shop at the commissary.  Blogger Daughter, who spent her babymoon here as well went to WalMart where she purchased food for their week here.

We finished shopping and were soon on H1 heading west.  This traffic is worse than DC traffic in rush hour on a Friday afternoon!  For any of you who travel the Beltway or I-95, you know what I am referring to.

traffic H1

Next, our stay at the Hawaiian Princess in Makara.

Hotel Promotions for the Fall – Starwood, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Club Carlson

One of the fastest ways to get hotel points and status is to take advantage of their seasonal promotions.  That’s how we received over 200,000 Club Carlson points last spring.  Here is a rundown of some the active promotions – remember you need to become a loyalty member and you also need to register for them.

Starwood “Take Two” promotion – Starwood (SPG = Starwood Preferred Guest) spgis the  loyalty brand for Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridien, Four Points by Sheraton, Aloft, The St. Regis, Walt Disney World Dolphin and WDW Swan.   This promotion offers double Starpoints on eligible stays and 2,500 bonus Starpoints for every five eligible nights and  up to 10,000 bonus Starpoints for twenty nights.  Award nights are not eligible for this promotion.  You need to register online between September 1st and October 31st.  This is for stays between September 1 and Dec. 15th.  Be warned that some properties are not participating in this promotion – click here for the list for those properties NOT participating.

Hyatt – Beginning September 9, you can earn 5,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus hyatt logopoints after your first five nights (remember the difference between a night and a stay – you may have to check in and out again unless your hotel works with you), and thousands more for every additional five nights. After 20 nights, that’s 50,000 bonus points.

Stay
Earn
Total Bonus Points Earned 
5 Nights +  5,000 Bonus Points = 5,000
10 Nights   + 10,000 Bonus Points = 15,000
15 Nights + 15,000 Bonus Points = 30,000
20 Nights + 20,000 Bonus Points = 50,000

Obviously this is geared toward the business traveler but that is not to say that you couldn’t do this mattress run toward elite status.  If I was to do it, I would try to book stays at Hyatt Houses on Friday or Saturday nights when they are the least expensive. I know the one out by IAD is $65 per night.  On September 9th, go to the Hyatt site to register.  The promotion ends on November 30th.

IHG (formerly known as Priority Club) is the hotel loyalty program for Holiday ihgInn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Indigo Hotels, Holiday Inn Resort Hotels, Holiday Inn Club Vacations, Staybridge Suites Hotels and Candlewood Suites Hotels.  The “Big Win” promotion runs from September 1st to December 31st and you will need to become a member.  Sign up, register and see all the offers that you will get.  This is what they wrote me “At IHG Rewards Club, seeing you win means everything. The world’s largest hotel loyalty program is bringing you our biggest promotion this year, creating offers tailored just for you. Each completed offer rewards you with a “win.” Complete them all, and you’ll earn big: 78,300 points. An unparalleled opportunity to earn and win is here. Win big and win often from September 1 to December 31.

The great thing about IHG is that  a few times a year have what they call Pointbreaks, where you can book certain rooms for only 5,000 points each night.  For the list of participating hotels, go to this site and look at the second message that lists them all through the world.  Pointbreak rooms must be booked by October 31st.  These are great deals.

Hilton HHonors – Triple Your Trip Promotion.  Sign up and stay Friday, Saturday hilton family or Sunday nights to earn Triple HHonors Points from July 9 through September 30, 2013. And earn Double HHonors Points on Monday through Thursday at participating hotels and resorts. If you’re not a member, join today. Because whether you’re earning Double Points on business or Triple Points on a weekend away, you can always count on HHonors to get you to your next getaway faster.  Register here for the promotion

Marriott – this promotion with United Airlines was previously discussed in this post

Club Carlson – loyalty brand for Radisson,Radisson Bleu, Park Inn and Country Inn and Suites.  If you rent a car from AVIS you can earn up to 9,000 Club Carlson points.  Reserve your rental with Code MUHA021.  This promotion is eligible for those who are renting 3 or more days, for advance rentals only and you must give them your Club Carlson number when you make your reservation.  Go here for more details.