2016 Review: Carlson and the Rest

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Carlson was purchase by Chinese group HNA in April and has gone quiet. Few promotions and a steady trickle of properties disappearing. Last month in DC I noticed the Radisson DCA had deflagged.

Then there is the stew of hotel chains peripheral to miles and points collectors.

Club Carlson:

2016 saw the remainder of the benefits from the devaluation of the US Bank Club Carlson credit work off. I had several buy one, get one award stays and the free night certificates for each card given for complaining about the devaluation. No new promotions of note.

I still see value in the Club Carlson credit card though my use of the program is flagging as higher-end properties become prohibitively expensive for award stays and much of their US/Canada portfolio crumbles or de-flags.

I did not go to the effort to put on the $10,000 annual spend needed for a US award night, despite liking the Radisson Blu Mall of America for my visits home when my wife accompanies. They no longer give lounge access to Club Carlson Gold so the primary appeal for us is gone.

We tried recently renovated Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown. Nice. Surprisingly few facilities. Some like MOA, tight on elite benefits.

Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown

Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Omaha Airport works for the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting. See you in May!

Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Metairie (New Orleans) is a low-end hotel in ok position for travel outside the city.

Park Inn by Radisson Toronto-Markham we got on a Priceline booking when our flight was canceled. Disgusting property.

Park Inn by Radisson Toronto-Markham

Radisson Blu Polar Hotel Spitsbergen Longyearbyen in Svalbard closed up shop for renovations during my January visit. I was walked to an inferior hotel with no other compensation.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel, Oslo is convenient and forgettable.

Radisson Blu Hotel, Bamako, Mali, Radisson Blu Okume Palace, Libreville, Gabon, and Radisson Blu M’Bamou Palace Hotel, Brazzaville are excellent hotels in destinations not on many itineraries. If you have an overnight transit when flying business class on Ethiopian you might get the Radisson Blu Hotel Addis Ababa.

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney is top notch. Suite upgrade and lounge access! The suites have maxi-size bath amenities. Express checkout is “Enclosing your room key and wallet…”

Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel Sydney Executive Lounge

I mocked Radisson Red Brussels for calling employees ‘creatives.’ I loved my stay and need to write a review.

Radisson Red Brussels LobbyBest Western:

Best Western matched me to Diamond and in their 70th anniversary game I won a tier upgrade to Diamond Select. When I lose my Hilton Diamond in 2017 I will attempt to use Best Western to match back.

My only stay was at the Best Western Plus Nobila Airport Hotel, Cotonou, Benin.

Best Western Plus Nobila Airport Hotel Cotonou Benin

Choice Hotels:

Choice is under-appreciated. Two great uses are:

  • Family travel – multi-bedroom awards at same price as single bedroom
  • Europe – especially Scandinavia, for decent properties, often with breakfast, and sometimes evening smorgasbord, included

Comfort Suites Paradise Island in Nassau, Bahamas gets you full Atlantis resort privileges at a bargain price.

Nassau Atlantis Resort

Clarion Collection Hotels With in Tromsø, Norway is typical of a good Europe value. I checked-in after midnight and the front desk clerk heated the evening meal for me.

Clarion Collection Hotel With Evening MealAccor:

I had a few Accor stays in Central Africa when there were no better options at moderate price.

Auto-convert to Iberia Avios is still the best.

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Bourbon Miles
Bourbon Miles
5 years ago

Stefan, could you provide an example of booking multi bedrooms on one Choice reward redemption (is this global or country specific)? Meanwhile, the Radisson Blu Plaza Sydney now frequently charges 105,000 points a night despite the cash cost of under $300USD. Sadly, Club Carlson’s growing 100,00+ points per night redemptions on previous 50,000 point hotels is looking very similar to Hilton’s post-devaluation sliding scale of poor value. If it wasn’t for CC’s London hotels I would cancel my card.

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Reply to  Bourbon Miles

For Choice it is up to the room type the hotel has, a lot in Australia have multi-bedroom options while in Caribbean most/all do not. I am not aware of any country exclusions to the rule, just that the rooms need to exist.

Carlson has drifted into irrelevance, they have just brought in a new CEO, a delayed management change from Chinese HNA purchasing them last year, we’ll see if any news is forthcoming.

6 years ago

Wow, pretty sweet you got the suite upgrade and lounge access in Sydney. No such luck for me.

I also have BW Diamond Select. Have there been any confirmed status matches of it to HHonors Diamond?

Stefan @ Rapid Travel Chai
Reply to  John

Only suite upgrade we got this year.

I have heard in the past Hilton has matched it. We’ll find out soon.

6 years ago

Too bad about Carlson … my wife and I stayed again at Chicago Aqua and it’s nice, but for the first time in several years the lounge was denied. Their old school, very traditional properties in N. Europe have been nice (Lithuania, Germany, Denmark, etc), but as the award rates have really risen and the promotions have indeed dried up, there’s not much incentive to accrue points, is there.