Tag Archives: hotels

20% off AirBnB Gift Cards on Amazon, with a catch

Amazon is having a promotion now which allows you to get 20% off a US$50 AirBnB gift card. This promotion is limited to 1 per Amazon account but there’s nothing stopping you from getting your friends/relatives to buy on your behalf.

The catch is that AirBnB gift cards by right can only be redeemed by US residents. So you’ll need to  (1) indicate your residence country as USA in your AirBnB profile (easy) (2) link a US-based payment method to your account (not so easy).

With regards to (2), there are two ways of doing this

  • The first is to use the UOB VirtualPay AMEX Card (which comes with a US billing address). Unfortunately, UOB is not issuing this anymore

Image result for uob virtual pay amex

  • The second is to buy a prepaid online credit card that has a US billing address. I found a provider called US Unlocked that seems to provide just this (full disclosure: haven’t tested it personally but it does seem promising)- a US bank issued virtual credit card with a US billing address that you can top up from Singapore. There are also several other virtual credit card options you might be interested in (this probably deserves a full post in itself)

You’ll be pleased to note that you can use multiple gift cards in a single transaction, and can combine gift card balances with whatever referral credit/other coupons you have with AirBnB. If you sign up using my link, you get S$51 off your first stay.

how my Orlando AirBnB reservation is pricing after applying 2 gift cards + referral credit. 

It’s simple to take advantage of this- all you have to do is go to this link and select the US$50 option.

At checkout enter the code Airbnb and click apply. You’ll see the cost reduced to US$40. I’m using my Citibank Rewards card to buy this so that I’ll get 8 mpd.

Once you finish the order you should receive an email from Amazon. Click on the link and you’ll receive your gift card. 

Then follow the instructions on the AirBnB page to redeem your credit and you’re done.

Even if you’re not a first timer AirBnB user, you can still get S$72 off your next booking by registering an AirBnB for Business account. Keep in mind you don’t actually need to stay for business, all you have to do is add a work email ( I assume this means anything other than a gmail/hotmail/yahoo email) to your account, book a stay and click the box that says “business travel” (see below)

I’ve got upcoming AirBnB stays so it’s a no brainer for me to buy a few gift cards to pre-purchase a 20% discount. I do not know how long this deal will be valid for but if you’re able to link a US-based payment method to your account then I’d act sooner rather than later.

Starwood announces Q1 2017 promotion, hopes you have long stays planned

Starwood has announced its Q1 promotion for 2017 and I have mixed feelings about it. Registration is required and can be done here. Here’s the details-

  • Earn double Starpoints® on your first three stays between January 16 and April 15, 2017.
  • Plus, we’re giving you an extra Double Take bonus to earn even more Starpoints.
  • Offer valid at all hotels and resorts in the SPG program — no exceptions.

Let’s start with the good. The best part about this promotion is that 100% of SPG properties worldwide are participating. No exclusions. It just strikes me as petty and small minded whenever properties opt out taking part in these bonuses, and I’ve found that elite member treatment is invariably worse at such places (given that their participation in the program is only half-hearted. Sheraton Singapore, I’m looking at you)

Unlike past promotions, they only reward your first 3 stays with double Starpoints. Subsequently, however, what’s called the Double Take bonus kicks in.

So far there have been two reported variants of the doubl eTake bonus you can get

Variant 1 (I got this one)

  • Starting on your fourth stay, you can earn up to 15,000 bonus Starpoints®:
  • Achieve 20 nights and you’ll earn 10,000 Starpoints.
  • After 20 nights earn 500 Starpoints for each additional night, up to 5,000 Starpoints

Variant 2

  • Starting on your fourth stay, you can earn up to 10,000 bonus Starpoints®:
  • Achieve 10 nights and you’ll earn 5,000 Starpoints.
  • After 10 nights earn 500 Starpoints for each additional night, up to 5,000 Starpoints.

The problem with the Double Take bonus is how restrictive it is, because they only start counting the 20 nights from when you complete your third stay (confirmed by the SPG representative on Flyertalk)

So imagine a scenario like this

Stay 1: 6 nights
Stay 2: 11 nights
Stay 3: 5 nights

I’ve already exceeded 20 nights here, but for me to get my 10,000 bonus Starpoints I need to stay a further 20 nights from the end of my third stay. Therefore, another way of reading this promotion is

  • 2X Starpoints on first 3 stays
  • 500 bonus starpoints per night from fourth stay for 20 nights (but only if I hit 20 additional nights, otherwise 0)
  • 500 bonus starpoints per night from the 21st night after the fourth stay for a maximum of 10 nights

Wow, they really want you to rack up the stays. For you to maximise the 15,000 point kicker, you need to stay 30 nights after your first 3 stays.

I need to do the math on this, but it appears that for some people, it may make more sense to do 3 short stays upfront so you can trigger the count for the 30 nights. It all depends- I think in general 500 bonus points a night is better than 2X Starpoints for your entire stay, but you’ll have to work the math for yourself and see what happens.

 

I’m going to be in Sao Paulo in January for the first two to three weeks and my old friend the Sheraton Sao Paulo beckons.

publicity photo
IRL
IMG_20160313_220939
IRL part two

Although the promotion starts on 16 Jan, as per the T&C all I need to do is get one night of my stay within the promotion period in order to have the whole stay qualifying. So if, for example, I stay 2 Jan- 17 Jan, the entire stay qualifies for double starpoints.

I was really hoping to reach Platinum 100 this year but because of a last minute change in travel plans that will not be possible. I do retain high hopes for 2017 though, with about 49 Starwood nights already locked in. Also, 2017 will be the last year of the SPG program in its current form as we know it. After 2017 it is likely that Marriott will either do away with it completely or merge the Marriott Rewards program (boo) with the SPG one.

Therefore my immediate goal is to lock in Lifetime Gold and pray that Marriott doesn’t terminate the Lifetime program (Lifetime, in the realm of loyalty programs, refers to the lifetime of the program, not your lifetime sadly). I’ve already got 275 nights so all I need to do for Lifetime Gold is requalify for elite status for 1 more year.

For those of you who earn points with Marriott (why?) you might be interested to note that Marriott Rewards and SPG seem to be aligning their promotions. Marriott’s Q1 promotion sounds, on the surface, to be similar to SPG’s but I haven’t gone to read the details.

What do I think of the promotion overall? It’s definitely weaker than past ones, but since hotels are enjoying good occupancy rates now there’s really no need to incentivize people to stay. I’m hopelessly loyal to SPG so they’ll still be my choice of hotel provider for 2017, but depending on what Marriott does 2018 may be a different stoy for me…

Oh who am I kidding.

 

Hotel Review: Conrad Bangkok (Deluxe Suite)

Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.


So I recently stayed at Conrad Bangkok, booked during one of the Hilton 40% flash sales earlier in the year. The rate worked out to be about S$150 per night, which though pricier than many other places in the city, works out to be a pretty good deal for what you get.

The jury’s still out on which of the Hilton properties in Bangkok is the best to stay in, but the general consensus on the Conrad is that it offers a solid service soft product and a central location, though it’s a bit of a walk (about 10min) from the nearest BTS station, and is starting to show signs of age. I agree with this assessment, but still rather enjoyed my previous stay and was hoping I would be rewarded for my loyalty in this repeat visit. Boy, was I ever!

The hotel lobby was all decked out for the festive season, with a gigantic Christmas tree and a Christmas market-themed booth selling holiday snacks.

1-lobby 1-lobby-market

Perhaps the decor had made an impact on the generosity of the hotel staff as well – I had originally been upgraded to a Executive King room (from my basic King room) and decided to try my luck by asking if any better room was available. The agent clicked around on her terminal for a bit and proceeded to inform me that they would usually only upgrade a Diamond member up to an Executive Suite, but since those were already full they’d decided to give me a taste of the Deluxe Suite instead.

I didn’t realise it at the time, but this was akin to hitting the hotel upgrade jackpot. To give an idea of how large the room is, I’ve highlighted (and labelled) it in the floor plan below:

1-room-layout

The Room

It started becoming clear to me that this wasn’t quite an ordinary room when, upon entering, I was greeted by a decorative piece immediately to the right of the corridor. To the left was a toilet. One without any shower or bath facilities…

So apparently the room came with its very own guest toilet.

2-entrance 2-guest-toilet

The living area was as large as many hotel rooms, sporting a sofa set, a dining table and a work desk.

3-living-rm-a

3-living-rm-b

Welcome amenities comprised some fruits (dragonfruit and oranges), chocolates and some rice crackers.

7-welcome

Interestingly enough, it also came with a PS3 which I fiddled with for a few minutes before figuring that I hadn’t come all the way to Bangkok to play console games.

(Well, not old pixelated console games, anyway – it was hooked up to the TV via old-school RGB cables.)

7-ps3

The bedroom, yet another standard-hotel-sized room, offers a spacious non-claustrophobia-inducing area with a king bed, even more seating options, and yet another TV set. If you so desired, it’s probably possible to stick to this area for the bulk of your stay without really making use of the living area.

4-bedroom-a

4-bedroom-b

As is common in many Conrad properties worldwide, Conrad Bangkok provides guests with a complimentary stuffed animal – an elephant, in this case. There are a number of colour variants, so you can have fun collecting them all if you like (or you can also try requesting for them).

6-elephant-toy(Gryphon not included)

I found it rather interesting to see that other than the standard (for Western hotels) copy of the Bible, the bedside drawer was also stocked with a copy of Conrad Hilton’s Be My Guest. Didn’t really think to take a look, but Amazon reviews are actually pretty good!

7-books

Moving on, you would pass a walk-in closet…

5-closet

…with remarkably thin-soled bedroom slippers. A little disappointing, those.

7-slippers

Next up, the washing area, decked with dual sinks…

5-sinks

…and finally, the bathroom.

6-bathroom

The bathtub is designed such that you can enjoy your bath with full access to a view of the outside world, should you so desire. That’s great on the top floor of a tall building, but I’m not sure how practical that is on lower levels – but hey, whatever floats your boat, yah?

6-bathtub

Yet another Conrad toy – a rubber bath elephant (kinda like a rubber duckie, only elephantine). Again, there’re a few colour variants – gotta catch them all, am I right?

6-elephant-bath

Being on the top (32nd) floor, the view is pretty impressive – although not being particularly familiar with Bangkok, it kinda became a blur of miscellaneous buildings after awhile…

7-room-view

Looking down, you can see a balcony on the floor below. I’m guessing it belongs to one of the terrace suites?

7-room-view-terrace

Breakfast

I opted to have breakfast at Café@2, the restaurant on the second level, rather than the executive lounge. I’d tried breakfast at the lounge the last time round, and (as is typical) the lounge offerings are more limited as compared to the restaurant, though you do get to eat in greater privacy.

9-breakfast-a

The spread’s pretty good, and the fare’s rather tasty, too. I was particularly impressed that they had a carving station (albeit for roast ham, which I’m not really a big fan of).

9-breakfast-b 9-breakfast-c

Suffice to say, there’s enough food to be had so you won’t get sick of it all that quickly.

9-breakfast-d 9-breakfast-e

Executive lounge

The Executive lounge on the 29th floor offered a large pleasant environment to relax and grab some free food.

8-lounge-a

There’s evening cocktail with canapés…

8-lounge-b

…where you can help yourself to hot food, snacks, cheese…

8-snacks-a 8-snacks-b 8-cheese

…which make for a pretty good pre-dinner snack.

8-snacks-c

There’s also afternoon tea…

8-lounge-tea-b

…with more snacks and desserts on offer.

8-lounge-tea-a 8-lounge-tea-c

I actually preferred the view from the lounge over what I saw from my room – I guess it just faces a more interesting direction?

8-lounge-view

I really enjoy the complimentary food offerings at Conrad Bangkok, but I’ve found that a common problem with nice hotel food is that it usually means there’s even nicer food outside the hotel – Bangkok fits this pattern pretty well. It’s possible to subsist on just breakfast, tea and evening canapés, but… why would you want to, really?

Afterthoughts

The Conrad website states the Deluxe Suite as occupying 1127 sq. ft., which is already larger than many residences back in Singapore, so for two nights it kinda felt like I was in a new home. It’s also the second-priciest room available (after the 2561 sq. ft. Presidential Suite), so I definitely lucked out with my 6-level upgrade.

This almost makes me want to go back to try my luck once more with the room upgrade lottery, though even if I don’t manage to score a suite, I’ll still be pretty satisfied with the food, lounge and level of service available at this property.