Posts Tagged With: Marriott

Lodging Review: Residence Inn – Palm Desert, California

I recently spent four nights at the Residence Inn in Palm Desert, California with a couple of friends. When we travel together we each like our own bed so that can sometimes be a challenge to find properties with this configuration.  It’s one reason we love Residence Inns and Hyatt Places – we know we can have the bedding we want AND free breakfast!

Residence Inn Palm Desert

My two friends had already spent a couple of days in the area at a different property before I could join them late on a Tuesday evening.  So thanks to them for taking most of the room photos you’ll see below. Continue reading

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Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection

Danube Trip: Chicago to Brussels
Danube Trip: Brussels Adventures and Getting to Prague
Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague
Danube Trip: Prague, Czech Republic
Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection
Danube Trip: Prague to Nuremberg
Danube Trip: Viking River Cruise Boats – the Njord and the Bestla
Danube Trip: Nuremberg, Germany
Danube Trip: Weltenburg Abbey and Danube Narrows
Danube Trip: Regensburg, Germany
Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
Danube Trip: Wachau Valley and Göttweig Abbey
Danube Trip: Vienna, Austria
Danube Trip: Budapest, Hungary
Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)
Danube Trip: Budapest to Chicago

Our first two nights in Prague were at the Marriott Courtyard courtesy of the free night we each earned by holding the Chase Marriott credit card.  For our last night we decided to splurge on the Boscolo Prague, which is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection.

I fully admit that we initially selected this hotel because it’s beautiful.  As  it turned out it was more convenient to Old Town and was practically across the street from the train station.

autograph-collection-boscolo-exterior

(Photo courtesy Marriott.com)

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Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague

Danube Trip: Chicago to Brussels
Danube Trip: Brussels Adventures and Getting to Prague
Danube Trip: Marriott Courtyard Prague
Danube Trip: Prague, Czech Republic
Danube Trip: Boscolo, Autograph Collection
Danube Trip: Prague to Nuremberg
Danube Trip: Viking River Cruise Boats – the Njord and the Bestla
Danube Trip: Nuremberg, Germany
Danube Trip: Weltenburg Abbey and Danube Narrows
Danube Trip: Regensburg, Germany
Danube Trip: Passau, Germany
Danube Trip: Wachau Valley and Göttweig Abbey
Danube Trip: Vienna, Austria
Danube Trip: Budapest, Hungary
Danube Trip: Hilton Budapest (Castle District)
Danube Trip: Budapest to Chicago

When deciding where to stay in Prague we naturally turned to our points and free night certificates.  We each have the Marriott credit card from Chase and that card comes with a free night certificate for a category 1-4 hotel.  Since the Courtyard is a category 4, it worked out perfectly for us.  We booked two free nights, each using our certificate.  We decided to splurge on the Boscolo, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, for our final night.

The front desk staff assisted us quickly.  They noted that they were completely full for the night and thus could not give us our preference of a room, which was a high floor away from the elevator.  They did say that we could have that type of room for the following night.  Knowing that we’d be spending very little time in the room, we opted to keep the same room for both nights.

We’d reserved a room with two beds and they appeared to be double beds.

prg-courtyard-beds

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Categories: Czech Republic, Europe, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Marriott-Starwood Merger Complete, Link Accounts Now

Late Thursday evening the merger of Marriott and Starwood cleared its last hurdle with Chinese regulators granting approval.  Other bloggers have already covered this in great detail so I’ll just provide the links here:

One Mile At A Time

Frequent Miler

Immediately after the approval it was announced that Marriott/Ritz-Carlton and Starwood accounts could be be linked.  There are a few execeptions but, in general, if you had a higher status in one program than the other, you’ll now have that higher status in both programs.

My experience linking accounts

I received emails from both Marriott and Starwood, each providing links that began on their site.  The Starwood email looked like this:
2016-09-25-spg-link-accounts

And the Marriott email looked like this:
2016-09-25-marriott-link-accounts

I clicked on the link from the Marriott email and was directed to a webpage where I could select any of the three impacted programs: Ritz-Carlton, Marriott and Starwood.  I chose the Marriott link and was directed to a special login on their site.  Once that was accomplished a pop-up box notified me I’d be transferred to the Starwood site.  From there I entered my credentials on the Starwood site and at that point my accounts were linked.

I received the following email as confirmation:
2016-09-25-accounts-linked

I found it interesting that even though I initiated the process from the Marriott site, the email I received was from Starwood and included my SPG number.  Don’t know if there’s anything to read into that or not or if it’s simply because the SPG site was the final step in the process and therefore was the one to send out the email.

Update: Overnight I received an email from Marriott confirming my accounts were linked.

Before the linking I had Silver status with Marriott and Gold status with Starwood.  Once the linking was complete I noticed my Marriott status had changed to Gold as well.  I’m hoping that means we can get free breakfast at a Marriott stay I have coming up next month!

The linking procedure couldn’t be easier…as long as you can remember your passwords.  There’s no reason not to do it now and, believe me, the IT departments would much prefer you make the links yourself than depend on their software!

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Need A Credit Card?

I earn far more miles from credit cards than I do from flying or from hotel stays. Credit card sign-up bonuses can give a big boost to anyone’s account! While I’m not one of the big bloggers who gets a cash comission from the credit card issuers, the credit card companies will allow regular members to receive a referral fee (of points/miles) if they refer someone to the card.

Delta Gold CardI’m a little late putting this one out there, but from now through this Tuesday, November 17, 2015, if you’ll allow me to refer to to the Gold Delta Amex card, I’ll earn bonus miles if you’re approved. You’ll get 50,000 bonus miles after using the card to make $2000 in purchases within the first three months after the approval date (not the date you receive the card). If you make a Delta purchase with the first three months you’ll also get a $50 statement credit. To refer you, just send me your first name and your email address to 2btraveling@gmail.com.

NOTE: You may be able to get an offer for 60K miles + $50 statement credit. You can find instructions here. Also, it is not open to those who currently have this card or have had it in the past. I believe the $95 annual fee is waived for the first year but cannot guarantee that.

Marriott Credit Card
If you don’t need Delta SkyMiles, what about hotel points? I’m also allowed to refer folks for the Chase Marriott Visa. I value this card if only for the reason that it offers a free night stay each year that you renew the card. The free night is good at any category 1-5 Marriott, so that pays for the annual fee right there. This card does not have foreign transaction fees, making it a good one for international travel.

In addition, this card earns 2x points for purchases from airlines, car rental companies and restaurants and 5x points for Marriott purchases. Plus for every $3000 in purchases, you get one credit toward elite status – that’s in addition to the 15-night credit you get each year at your account anniversary!

You’ll get 50,000 bonus points if you spend $2000 in the first three months after account approval. The annual fee is waived the first year and is only $85 after that.

If you think you’d be interested in this card, just send me an email at the address above and I’ll send you the phone number and the codes you need to get this offer.

Note that there is an alternate version offering 80K after $3K spend, but the $85 annual fee is not waived. Application Link. I won’t get bonus miles for this but it is a better offer so I wanted to be sure it was out there. Neither of these offers is available to those who currently have the card or have received the new cardmember bonus in the last 24 months.

Categories: American Express, Chase, Delta, Delta Amex, Marriott, Marriott Rewards Card | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Review: SpringHill Suites Arcadia, California

A friend and I were visiting another friend who lived in Pasadena, California and we had a free night certificate for a category 1-5 Marriott hotel so we selected the closest one, the SpringHill Suites in Arcadia, about 10 minutes away. The certificate is an annual benefit for those who hold the Chase Marriott Visa card and is good for exactly six months after the cardholder’s anniversary.

As a Silver member we were given a quiet room at the end of the hallway on the third floor. There were two centrally-located elevators for this four-floor property. While both elevators were working the day we checked in, only one seemed to be working the next day which meant more of wait than one might expect.

As all the rooms are suites we walked into the “living area” which contained a pull-out sofa and two small tables that could be used as a coffee table or moved to the sides of the sofa as end tables. Across from the sofa was an area with a desk and chair on one side and a kitchenette on the other. The kitchenette had a built-in microwave and a mini-fridge along with a sink as well as a coffee maker and condiments.

SpringHill Suites Arcadia Sofa

SpringHill Suites Arcadia Sofa

SpringHill Suites Arcadia TV Stand and Desk

SpringHill Suites Arcadia TV Stand and Desk

SpringHill Suites Arcadia Kitchenette

SpringHill Suites Arcadia Kitchenette

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Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Hawaiian Air and Marriott Special Deal

2015-03-04 Hawaiian Air MarriottBetween now and March 17, 2015, use the Hawaiian Air website (or book by phone) and you can save up to 50% and earn 500 HawaiianMiles per night when you book both your flight and Marriott hotel stay together.

Marriott has several really nice properties in Hawaii on several different islands. On the Big Island there’s the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, on Maui there’s the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa as well as th Ritz Carlton Kapalua, on Kauai there’s the Kauai Marriott Resort and on Oahu there’s the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.

Check HERE for the Hawaiian Air website page with all the details. Note that the valid dates vary by property and not all properties qualify for the 50% discount or the 500 miles per night.

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Changes to Marriott Rewards Points Expiration

2015-03-01 Marriott Rewards Changes

Marriott Hotels have announced a change to the retention policy of their Marriott Rewards points. Until now as long as you kept your Rewards account open, your points did not expire. But that’s changing. Starting February 1, 2016 if you have had no qualifying activity in your Rewards account within the prior 24 months (i.e. since January 31, 2014) ALL accumulated points will be forfeited – not just the points that are over 24 months old.

Ouch. That’s pretty harsh. On the other hand, having one qualifying activity in your account every 24 months is not that difficult.

What is “qualifying activity”? Any of these activities:

2015-03-01 Marriott What's Staying

Note that these activities do NOT count toward maintaining your account:
1. Gifting or transferring points
2. Receiving points as a gift or transfer
3. Earning points through social media programs such as #MRPoints

I assume that transferring Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott does not count under item #2 above, which is a shame as that’s a very easy way to keep some accounts active.

The official notification page also states that if you have Lifetime Status with Marriott Rewards you are not affected by this change – but that Marriott reserves the right to change Lifetime membership benefits at any time.

Marriott Credit CardOne easy way to keep your account open is to get the Marriott Rewards Credit Card. For an annual fee of $85 (waived the first year) you get 2x points for airline, car rental and restaurant purchases and 5x points at Marriott properties. If you apply using this link you’ll get 70,000 points and a free night once you spend $2000 in the first three months after applying. Plus, each year you renew the card you get one free night at a category 1-5 hotel, which more than covers the $85 fee. Note that the free night certificate must be used within exactly 6 months after it is awarded, so use care as to when you apply. For example, if you typically travel during the summer and that’s when you’d want to use the free night, it makes sense to apply for the card early in the year so the certificate will be good throughout the summer.

Conclusion: expiring points is not a good thing but Marriott is offering a generous time frame and is making it fairly easy to keep your account open.

 

(Note: I have no affiliation with Chase or Marriott and do not profit from any credit cards approved using the link above.  However a very deserving blogger does, so help him out!)

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Marriott Courtyard Istanbul Airport

Turkey Trip Overview
Booking Flights To Turkey
British Airways First Class Lounge IAH
British Airways 777 First Class IAH-LHR
Transiting Heathrow and British Airways A320 Business Class LHR-IST
Marriott Courtyard Istanbul Airport
Pegasus Airlines Istanbul to Izmir and Back
Ephesus, Mary’s House and Basilica of St. John
Swissotel Efes
Pamukkale Bus and Preiene
Ritz-Carlton Istanbul
Major Sites to see in Istanbul
Radisson Blu Bosphorus
Turkish Airlines Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines 777 Business Class IST-IAH

After being picked up by the free airport shuttle, we were on our way to the hotel. It’s only about a 15-20 minute drive though since we’d been traveling for roughly 24 hours, it seemed further away. Our first realization we weren’t in Kansas anymore was that as the hotel-owned van pulled up to the entrance, we noticed it was a secured entrance. The guard came out with a long mirror on a stick and proceeded to check for explosives on the underside of our van. That was a bit of a wake-up call!

We were let out right in front of the lobby. There were a couple of others checking in at the time so we had about a five minute wait until those guests were helped. Check-in was pretty quick and efficient and all the front desk staff spoke English very well.

Since we were only there one night and we knew we’d be exhausted we’d only ordered a regular room with a roll-away. I did ask about it at the front desk and even though our room was ready for us, the roll-away was not in place. But I will give the staff credit for how quickly they got it to our room and set up. Yes, it was quite crowded with three people, three large suitcases and three beds but at that point we really didn’t care.

I did not take photos as it was so late at night when we arrived and we were so tired. The room was a bit smaller than a standard US hotel room, but that was to be expected. The bathroom was a nice size and had the standard amenities including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, hair dryer and soap.

We all crashed soon after arriving. My friends seemed to sleep well though, as usual, I got hot during the night. We had tried to adjust the thermostat before we went to bed but either we didn’t do something right or it reset itself but I did wake up several times due to the temperature.

We’d booked a fairly cheap rate but it did not include breakfast. I really need a good breakfast each day so I went ahead and paid for the full buffet. Not sure I got all my money’s worth but I didn’t want to do anything to make us miss the shuttle back to the airport. One friend decided it was not worth the price at all and another bought a package that allowed for cereal and juice only.

When checking in we’d made sure to verify which shuttle we’d need to catch back to the airport. We arrived a bit early to find quite a few others there and several had large pieces of sporting equipment. We were a bit concerned we wouldn’t all be able to fit in the van but we got packed in like sardines and were all able to fit.

The driver first went to the international terminal where everyone else got out of the van. Then he took my friends and me to the domestic terminal.

Next up: the domestic terminals in Istanbul and Izmir and our flights on Pegasus Airlines

Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, Turkey | Tags: | Leave a comment

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