My Guide to Club Carlson Down to the Wire

My father wrote yesterday: “Today I made 23 Radisson 2:1 using points reservations for the rest of this year and for New Years. I stopped when I was down to 600 points. This weekend we are doing a Radisson 2:1. Thanks for bringing this great offer to our attention.”

I usually don’t bring family too much into miles and points. Club Carlson’s stretch of several years of generous promos and the added value of the credit card award stay last night free were enough to be worthwhile to my parents.

Radisson Blu Mall of America

At the stroke of midnight Central time tonight many Club Carlson properties go up in price and more importantly, the credit card loses that outsize benefit. I will still see value in the program and the credit card after today, there are generous summer promos of triple points through June 28 and additional 5,000 points per stay for June/July stays booked by May 31 (make some prospective paid bookings if such travel is in your future).

You shouldn’t feel obligated to use all your points unless you are using them well. It is worth prospectively booking stays now that you may come to value and use when the time comes. All award bookings are flexible, though some hotels around peak times have advance cancellation of as much as a month, so track things carefully.

Radisson Blu Sochi Adler

Readers are booking stays around the world, see here. My Club Carlson experience is extensive and some thoughts:

  • The booking calendar is open 3 years. 2016 is easy. 2017-2018 are slim; reader Ketan has noted Park Inns are most prevalent for 2017-2018.
  • The Radisson Blus in the US are in Minnesota (2), Chicago and Philadelphia. All are worthwhile.
  • Some Country Inns have been refreshed with the new look.
  • Park Inn often offers free breakfast in cities where other brands do not. I have noticed, to my surprise for Europe, that many Scandinavia Radisson Blu hotels include breakfast in award bookings.
  • art’otels are in Netherlands, Germany and Hungary. The one in Budapest is right on the river.
  • The only Quorvos is in Edinburgh, I have not been.
  • You’ll get the best in-hotel treatment in Central America, Middle East, and to some extent, Asia. Skip the strawberries in Panama.
  • You’ll get typical treatment but often best cash value in Western/Central/Northern Europe.
  • London is one of the current great values. I can only point out that there is a reason cash rates for the Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt are often significantly cheaper than the others. Setting aside the quirky small rooms, on my 2nd stay, and despite repeated requests to even the duty manager, I was not able to succeed in having the prior person’s room service tray removed from outside my door by the time I checked out after two nights, meaning housekeeping even walked by it when making up my room.
  • There are a ton of hotels in India, many in cities without other points hotel options, though often many great independent hotels at low prices.
  • Russia has good coverage, too.
  • The Caribbean options are Aruba, Barbados and Grenada. Heard good things about Aruba. Grenada, like the itself, is nothing special, with lots of British tourists.
  • Sydney, Melbourne and Fiji have hotels.
  • If Angola is in your plans, the hotel in Luanda might be the biggest cost savings around given the expense of the country. If you know an easy way to get a visa, let me know.

Radisson Blu Edwardian Vanderbilt

So here is what I have booked to fit prospective upcoming travel. This is strictly putting the destination first, in many cases I did not even glance at if the hotel is any good or just booked the cheapest or most convenient in the city. I will assess later if the trips materialize.

Radisson Blu Grenada

Readers, your thoughts, tips and reports?

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Pingbacks

  • Hoping to go to Angola next summer (though we’ll see about that visa…). I can’t find the hotel you mentioned though…

  • Nice post. It’s been a couple years since I was there but the Radisson Branson isn’t (or at least wasn’t) too great. Think average Holiday Inn level with outdated fixtures. Maybe it’s better now. It is well located for Branson.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @dabinmci – was there last weekend and still dated. Had an early meeting in Bentonville on Tue so made a weekend of it. Wife liked the area enough we may go again next summer on an Avios ticket. Hilton by the waterfront looks much better.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Point Princess – I should have dug deeper, they list the hotel in Luanda but then says “opening in early 2014” and no update since and rooms not bookable.

  • Nic

    Why is Grenada nothing special? Because the island has British tourists/why do we care where people are visiting from?

  • Pointster

    The Radisson Branson is still definitely a bit dated, but for a Branson hotel with sub-$100 rates, it might as well be the Four Seasons. (An awful lot of the properties in the area are pretty questionable…) We’ve always stayed there in the past because we earned boatloads of Carlson points for it and because it always looked like a better deal than either of the Hilton properties. With the second-night-free going away, that might change the calculus….

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Nic – I found Grenada in comparison to other islands in the neighborhood to be ok in many respects, without standout features. Here’s my report, I did like the drive to the eastern side of the island with the old airport and shoreline. The island has a mix of tourists, this particular hotel is heavily British because of British Airways Vacations and other operators. When picking a holiday resort or cruise is is common to mention the predominant nationalities of the other guests, such as people choosing Costa for a more Continental European flavor to their cruise. Brits might be attracted to being around their countrymen, while other nationalities may or may not.

  • Shannon

    looks like points and miles are in your family blood, even RTC’s farther! 23 reaervations..just amazing When will you be in Iceland? I book four nights of 1919 of four nights of Saga. You are welcome to come by. What is the best miles options to Iceland from US? Which airline will you fly?

  • Pingback: My Week in Points: Club Carlson and the Other Stuff()

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @Shannon – going in mid-Sep just before the Delta seasonal JFK nonstop ends. I don’t know of any current great miles option from the US, since flights are few and all treat it same as Europe even though a shorter flight. If you want to do extra travel you can route there via Europe. Leaving I will be bound for the Faroe Islands on a local airline.