Bart Lapers

Loyalty Programs: My Account Statuses

PRIORITY CLUB

  • Level: Platinum Ambassador
  • Expiration date: 01/13 (Platinum) 01/12 (Ambassador)
  • Qualifying nights in 2011: 23
  • Number of points: 225,987
  • Points earned in 2011: 234,637

How did I earn these points?  Obviously by resting my head for 23 nights at IHG properties in the first 4 months of 2011, but more importantly, by signing up for every possible Priority Club Promotion (check FrequentFlyerBonuses.com, PriorityClubInsider and FlyerTalk.com)  This earned me 109,637 points.  So how did I end up with 225,987 points?  Well, I bought them. Last week, DiscoverAmerica.com had a promotion where you could buy PriorityClub points at a discount (compared to the official rate on PriorityClub.com)  I bought 5 packages of 25,000 points for a total of 751,50USD (527,95EUR on Amex)  I’ll keep these 125,000 point aside to spend on days when room rates at InterContinental hotels are very high.  Example:  A night at IC Amstel Amsterdam could cost 625 euro (i.e. Queen’s Day) Booking it using points would cost me 40,000 points, thus only 168,94EUR (527,95EUR / 125,000 * 40,000 = 168,94EUR)

How can you take advantage of buying points? Well, you can buy a maximum of 40,000 points per year, the official way, via PriorityClub.com  for 460USD.  Not really interesting, except when you have no points at hand and are confronted with room rates higher than 460USD.  But there’s an other, much more economical, way of buying points.  As soon as you have 5000 points on your Priority Club account, you can start booking reward nights with points+cash.  Example:  A Holiday Inn express charges 15,000 points for a reward night. Choose the option 5000 points + 60USD cash for the remaining 10,000 points.  These rewards nights are cancelable, so what happens when you cancel the reward booking minutes after the confirmation? Your original 5,000 points AND the extra 10,000 points which you bought for 60USD are transferred back to your account.  A loophole to buy points at 60USD per 10,000.  More info at PriorityClubInsider.com Disclaimer: I prefer not to use this method extensively as I want to avoid my PriorityClub account being suspended.  That’s why I preferred to buy points at a similar rate via the DiscoverAmerica promo.

Where did I spent points?  Spent three free nights at IHG properties year-to-date: 2 nights at Crowne Plaza Times Square on NYE and one night at the InterContinental Paris Le Grand (picture report and video of my Royal Suite) Those were not paid by points rather by free night awards from last year’s Sweet Dilemma promotion.  I did spent 20,000 points on an upcoming reward night at IC Johannesburg O.R Tambo Airport for my South African Mileage Run.  The total award fee was 30,000 points.  I chose the “points + cash” option: 20,000 points + 60USD.  The best available rate for my May 21, 2011 stay was 291EUR.

HYATT GOLD PASSPORT

  • Level: Diamond
  • Expiration date: 30 Jun 2011
  • Qualifying nights in 2011: 2
  • Number of points: 31,669
  • Points earned in 2011: 30,316

How did I earn these points?  In April I signed up for Hyatt Gold Passport Status Match Challenge  Before I only had 1353 points on my account of two nights in 2010.  My two night stay at Park Hyatt Seoul earned me 6316 points.  Again, I used a DiscoverAmerica offer to buy 24,000 points for 250USD (175,43EUR on Visa)  This offer had a much better value than the DiscoverAmerica PriorityClub promotion and was sold-out in minutes.  You can buy up to 40,000 points per year at Hyatt.com, but those 24,000 points would have cost me 576.00USD  Have a look at the Hyatt Gold Passport Redemption Rates to see what 24,000 points can buy me.

I expect to earn an other 25,000 points with the Hyatt Possibilities promotion which is running until June 30, 2011.  My next stay is June 3 – 13 at the Hyatt Regency Cancun.

MILES AND MORE

  • Level: Frequent Traveller – Star Alliance Silver
  • Expiration date: 02/13
  • Number of award miles: 136,033
  • Number of status miles earned in 2011: 9,637

How to find cheap flights from your departure city

In the past months, Airline fares have increased significantly due to high fuel costs and higher demand.  Finding good deals has become more challenging.  Being flexible with your travel destination can increase your chances to find a good deal.  Here’s some tools to locate cheap flights from your departure city.

QFLY

Qfly.com focuses on European low-cost airlines.

Read More

Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul


Pic: Bedroom Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Park Suite King 1905 at Park Hyatt Seoul, loved it!  For the first two nights of my Hyatt Diamond status match challenge, I had picked Park Hyatt Seoul.  Not the cheapest option, but an excellent choice to burn my first Hyatt Gold Passport confirmed suite upgrade certificate.  Each Hyatt GP Diamond member receives 4 “Suite Upgrade Awards” per year which can be used to convert any paid booking (eligible rates) to a Suite for a maximum of 7 consecutive nights.

Pic: Lounge Area of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Living room of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Living room of Park Suite King – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Hyatt Diamond Welcome Amenity – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Luxury is Personal – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathroom of Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathroom of Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Bathtub – Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Pic: Nighttime view from Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Check the timelapse I made from the incredible nighttime view from my Park Suite King.

Pic: Dolsot Bibimbab at The Lounge – Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)
Video: Park Suite King at Park Hyatt Seoul (Apr 2011)

Brussels – Johannesburg with Lufthansa A380 for 399EUR

An exceptional offer I couldn’t refuse.  Round trip Brussels – Johannesburg with the new Lufthansa Airbus 380 for 399EUR


Not an exceptional miles per euro ratio, but as Miles and More Frequent Traveller, it will still earn me 8.412 status miles.

Feel free to join me for this mileage run.  Book until April 19, 2011.

Hyatt Gold Passport: Status Match Challenge

Hyatt Gold Passport currently offers trial Diamond membership for top tiers of competitor loyalty programs.  Listed elite levels can request Hyatt Gold Passport Customer Service to participate in the Status Match Challenge.
Competitors Hyatt Gold Passport will match:

  • Hilton Gold VIP or Hilton Diamond VIP
  • Marriott Gold or Marriott Platinum
  • Starwood Platinum Preferred Guest
  • Priority Club Platinum

You will receive trial Diamond membership for 60 days. However, you must complete 12 nights in 60 days to maintain Diamond tier through February of 2013. Diamond level normally requires you to stay 25 times or spend 50 nights at Hyatt hotels in one calendar year.  Note: this is a one in a lifetime offer, you can only status match once.  Diamond membership provides you some valuable benefits:

  • 30% point bonus
  • Best room available including Regency Club or Grand Club rooms
  • Access to the Regency Club or Grand Club lounge featuring complimentary continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres.
  • Four guaranteed suite upgrades annually
  • Special welcome point bonus or food and beverage amenity during each stay.
  • Complimentary in-room Internet access.

When you enroll for trial Diamond membership you’ll receive all of the above benefits during your challenge period.  As the Hyatt Hotels Corporation has some incredible luxury properties in it’s portfolio, this offers some great opportunities.  Have a look at the Park Hyatt, Grand Hyatt and Andaz hotels worldwide.

My Strategy

At the beginning of 2011, I set myself the goal of achieving Platinum level at PriorityClub, the highest (free) elite level at the InterContinental Hotels Group.  As 60K points were easily earned (signing up for all bonus points offers helps!), it took me less than three months to achieve this goal.

Today, the Hyatt Gold Passport Status Match Challenge offers me the opportunity to not only enjoy the benefits of my Platinum level at InterContinental brands (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, …)  but also have the perks of a Diamond at the Hyatt brands.

As I’ll be staying in Seoul next week, I have my first opportunity to collect eligible nights for the Status Match Challenge.  Generally Hyatt hotels aren’t cheap, in fact Park Hyatt and Grand Hyatt hotels can be very expensive.  My two night stay at Park Hyatt Seoul will set me back 500 euro.  That’s a lot of money for two nights luxury.  In exchange I’ll get a Park Suite King and all the Diamond benefits. Note: I upgraded my Park DLX King booking using a ‘Suite Upgrade Award certificate’.  As a Diamond you receive 4 of those certificates each year.  You can use them to upgrade a stay of up to 7 nights to a guaranteed Suite.

For the remaining ten nights of my challenge I did some research for Hyatt properties with low room rates but at nice locations.  I decided to go for the recently renovated Hyatt Regency Cancun with a room rate of 80EUR/day (10 night stay, 1168USD)  Using two Suite Upgrade Award certificates, I exchanged my standard King Room for a Regency Suite (Value 10 night stay, 2878USD)

Conclusion

After my 12 night challenge, I’ll have spend 1300 euro at Hyatt properties and used 3 out of 4 Suite Upgrade certificates for 2011.  This will provide me with Diamond status until Feb 2013 (best rooms, free internet, club access, free food & drinks, etc.. on future stays) and 4 new Suite Upgrade certificates in Feb 2012.  Is it worth it?  Well, I didn’t cover the loyalty points yet.  I’ll earn quite some points during those 12 nights.  Hyatt currently has the ‘Possibilities‘ promotion until end of June 2011:  10,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after you stay five nights and 5,000 bonus points for every two nights after that.  Additionally, the Status Match Challenge will provide me with 1000 bonus points per night for the first 6 nights.  Diamond status also includes 30% bonus on my base points.  You see where I’m going with this?  At the end of the 12 nights challenge, I’ll have enough points for at least two nights at the most luxurious hotels of the Hyatt portfolio! (Value: easily +1000EUR)

Expect detailed reports and pictures of my upcoming Hyatt stays. 😉