My FTU Hotels Talk: Everything But Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood

I had two conversations during Frequent Traveler University about my upcoming hotels talk.

First was with Travel With Grant: “Don’t do elite status. I feel like it’s been done.” Indeed, it was being done in the next room.

Second was just before my talk, one attendee, deciding between my talk and “Shortcuts to Elite Status,” asked, “What does it mean, ‘Everything but Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood? Are there other chains?” My pre-planned response, “You don’t need to always sleep in shackles.” He attended the other session.

In a hobby and event so dominated by the dreary trudge of manufactured spend I felt it was time to have some fun and explore both little-promoted areas of chain hotels and their far opposites where you can have great experiences, often on the cheap.

Don’t despair: there is a bit of Hilton, Hyatt and Starwood.

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  1. […] An incredible slideshow/primer on hotels and status via Rapid Travel Chai. If you are new to the hobby, definitely check it out. If you are not new to The Hobby, definitely check it out. Succinct and to the point. Did you know there is such a  thing as “Love” hotels in Japan? I bet that will make you click on the link! […]

  • Shannon

    Hotwire is the worst and comes with many fees

  • Loved “sleeping in chains!”

    Thanks again for another great slide show. I’m with you–so many great small hotels overseas for less than $50 a night. Why stay in a chain?!

  • john

    Nice! aside from business travel, I dont get the whole hotel chain craze. The airline miles thing definitely, because there are only a finite number of airlines and you are stuck with them. But there are infinity hotels (or just about) so you can always find something in your price range and possibly get extremely lucky.
    So, I find hotel cards and points pretty useless. Its funny because I have been trying to use up carlson and marriott points but they dont friggin have any hotels in my recent destinations!

    The other thing I commiserate with is hotel breakfast. I prefer hotels that dont offer it. When its “free” you feel obliged to at least go an take a look. This usually means waking up earlier or later than I would want and being disappointed. Its so much easier to pick up a pastry somewhere.

    I cant resist: ooooooo you finally made it to Cuba? I had a lot of fun there!

  • I was there, great talk. I’m all for free nights, but you can limit yourself too much. You were so right when you said that sometimes the local mom and pop places can make your trip. keep up the good work!

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @john – undated RTC bureau file photo.

  • John

    Awesome post/talk love the idea of getting out of the chain thinking. Especially true when you want to stay in Historic Center of a city of small town. I usually use $75 as my number (instead of $50) but maybe I need to adjust my thinking ;). I love my Lonely Planet guides. I have just strarted reading Rough Guides as well.
    Do you have any experience with using Rough Guides? I believe I read somewhere you said you use Lonely Planet.

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  • John

    Great presentation! You certainly know your stuff.

    How much of the content came naturally to you from past trip planning and how much you had to do a little research into (specifically for the presentation)?

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @John – the main area I had to research or dust off old resources to verify were around ways to save when paying cash at chain hotels, such as the SPG Pay Your Age rate. I rarely pay cash for chains, I either am there on paid business stays or using points for leisure with my wife. I also had to dig in programs such as Leading Hotels that others find great value though I have not explored. My main hotel search for leisure stays is consult guidebooks especially for offbeat destinations, check booking.com and hotels.com, and double-check chain hotels for awards.

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