2015 in Points: Carlson, Choice and the Rest of Sleeping in Chains

I already covered the raining diamonds twins Hilton and Hyatt, new bedfellows Marriott and Starwood, and climbed the IHG Spire. Now here’s the rest:

Club Carlson:

Club Carlson decided its too-rich US credit card was too rich and eliminated the last night free on award stays. The more you complained, the more they gave. Many got 7,500 points and then a free night (here’s how to book them).

I booked many stays unfolding over the next 3 years. Yes, 3 years, because depending on hotel, their booking calendar is open up to 3 years so you can prospectively book stays for important days way out. Most hotels only have rates loaded a year or to the end of the following year. I will be using the Country Inn for the 2016 Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.

Another I booked is the Radisson Blu Maputo, Mozambique which is next to several superb beachside restaurants outside town.

Radisson Blu Maputo Exterior Radisson Blu Maputo Interior

Concurrently a number of hotels changed award price. US Radisson Blu hotels and major UK and West European city hotels mainly went up the most, while mid-range hotels and other parts of the world had some up, some down. I still find good value in Club Carlson. For my business travel it supplements IHG as having hotels in many places at prices within my budget. I have now stayed at all their Shanghai hotels as well as the Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi outside Shanghai which is a great traditional garden setting with a poor location and difficult transport without a car.

Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi Exterior Radisson Blu Resort Wetland Park Wuxi Interior

They continue to offer many promotions, double points is becoming commonplace worldwide, and in Europe, Middle East & Africa there are often sweeter offers. Watch your inbox and blogs because these change constantly.

Choice Hotels:

The program has not eliminated the forced point expiration rule at the end of the year after you earn the points. Facing expiring 37,000 I booked January stays in Bahamas and Norway for 25,000 and 16,000.

Choice Partners with luxury Preferred Hotels and we have good news that each price band has decreased by 5,000 points.

Choice is an interesting award play in Europe and turns up in odd places elsewhere: next is Guyana. They have even opened trendy spots in New York.

Cambria Suites Chelsea ExteriorCambria Suites Chelsea Rooftop Bar

Wyndham:

A radical change to flat 15,000 points/night at all properties opened up values such as at all-inclusives. Travel is Free’s recommendations start the brainstorming. Wyndham has a big footprint. For example, they just opened their 35th hotel in Argentina.

A new elite program is coming in 2016.

Best Western:

FNBO took over credit card duties launching 4 lame cards, Doctor of Credit picked apart the Premium card. Transfers from Amex Membership Rewards ended with 2015. As of January 1 they have gone revenue-based for award nights, the new terms say they will charge whatever they feel like:

The number of Points required for one (1) free night stay at a Licensed Hotel is based on the expected average daily rate on the date requested for the stay, varies throughout the year, and is subject to change at BWI’s discretion. To find the number of Points required for a free night stay, visit www.bestwestern.com, your Local Site, or a Best Western mobile application, or contact a Best Western call center. A FREE NIGHT STAY IN A STANDARD ROOM AT ANY LICENSED HOTEL INCLUDES THE COST OF THE ROOM AND ROOM TAXES, BUT DOES NOT INCLUDE INCIDENTAL CHARGES, RESORT FEES, OR OTHER FEES THAT THE LICENSED HOTEL MAY CHARGE, SUCH AS PARKING FEES.

Best Western is not just for national parks. Overseas they can be a bit different that your mental image of a US Best Western. Here’s the lobby of the 5-star Best Western in Hue, Vietnam:

Best Western Hue Lobby Best Western Hue Award

Accor & Fairmont:

Darn, darn, darn. We just got back from Fairmont stays in Lake Louise, Jasper, Victoria and Vancouver. Not a moment too soon.

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  • dale m

    I recommend looking at the Polana in Maputo (not Polana Serena Casino) for the neighborhood, view, lovely pool area. Radisson spot is OK, but kinda sterile and not really walking distance to anything of interest. It’s nice to use points, but when that far afield (Moz) it’s worth taking every advantage.

  • Rapid Travel Chai

    @dale m – I second that. I did not realize that the city is on the bluffs high overhead without reasonable pedestrian access, and that the Radisson is isolated way along the waterfront. I did the walk into town and a tuk tuk back.

  • Leana @ Milesforfamily

    You booked stays over the next 3 years??? Wow. And here I thought I was an OCD-type planner.