Hotels

Hilton Introduces Their 14th Hotel Brand — Tapestry Collection

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Hilton has just announced their 14th hotel brand, called Tapestry Collection by Hilton. The brand is described as “a gathering of original upscale hotels catering to guests seeking reliability and value in their independent hotel choices.” Interestingly Tapestry Collection is Hilton’s second independent brand — Curio Collection is Hilton’s other independent brand.

Tapestry Collection is supposed to be upscale, but slightly lower end than Curio Collection, which Hilton launched in 2014. It’s similar to how Starwood has Luxury Collection, which is a collection of independent hotels, and then introduced Tribute Portfolio, which is supposed to be slightly lower end.

Per the press release, the first Tapestry Collection property will open in the third quarter of 2017, and seven hotels have signed letters of intent:

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Review: St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

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I had a quick one night layover in Kuala Lumpur. My flight from Amman was arriving at around 4:30PM, while I was departing the next day at around 12PM. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in Kuala Lumpur over the years, including the Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and InterContinental.

In this case there wasn’t even a question about which hotel I wanted to stay at. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur opened recently, and since I’m a huge fan of the St. Regis brand, I wanted to check it out. Best of all, the St. Regis is near the KLIA Express station, which is the best way to get between the airport and the city (it only takes 30 minutes).

The hotel contacted me before my stay to send me the shuttle schedule between the station and the hotel. This confused me a bit, since it looked like the St. Regis was just a short walk from the station, and I always prefer walking rather than taking a shuttle. However, it quickly became apparent what the problem was. While the St. Regis is close to the station, the roads are quite tough to cross. So with carry-ons you probably could walk there if you’re willing to jaywalk across five lane streets, but I can certainly see the merit to taking the shuttle.

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Review: Grand Hyatt Amman

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I arrived in Amman at around 1:30PM, and my flight out of Amman was the following night/morning at 1:30AM, meaning I had about 36 hours on the ground.

Amman has a few options for Hyatt and Starwood loyalists. There’s the Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and Sheraton. While not yet open, there’s also supposed to be a W Amman opening on October 1, 2017, and a St. Regis Amman opening on December 1, 2017.

All the Hyatt and Starwood options were roughly comparably priced, so I ended up booking the Grand Hyatt, given that Tiffany was staying there, as my visit to Amman was overlapping with the tail end of her trip to Jordan.

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The 7 Best Hotel Perks Offered By Credit Cards

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There are many reasons to pick up a credit card — some are worth picking up for the sign-up bonus, some are worth picking up for the return they offer on everyday spend, and some are worth picking up for the long-term perks they offer.

While there are all kinds of perks offered on cards, in this post I figured I’d look at the best hotel perks you can get with credit cards. Here are my favorites, roughly in order:

The Citi Prestige® Card has my single favorite perk offered by any credit card. While a lot of credit cards offer some type of “free night” hotel benefit, there are usually major strings attached. Citi Prestige’s fourth night free benefit is the most straightforward out there. To sum up the basics:

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Which Hotel Programs Let You Earn Points & Elite Nights For Multiple Rooms?

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Different hotel loyalty programs have different policies as to how many points, elite qualifying stays, and elite qualifying nights you can earn if booking multiple rooms. In other words, if you often travel with family and book two rooms, can you receive elite credits and points for each of the rooms?

The rules vary by program, so in this post I figured I’d look at the policies of the major hotel loyalty programs, as they impact earning points and elite qualifying credit for multiple rooms (in the title of each section I’ve added a link to the terms & conditions):

Club Carlson lets you earn points for up to three rooms booked on the same reservation. However, you don’t earn elite qualifying nights for multiple rooms.

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Review: Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport

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By the time I got through immigration in Toronto it was around 1AM, and my flight the next day was scheduled to depart at around 1PM. So I decided to book the only hotel connected directly to the airport, which is the Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport.

The price for the one night stay was 230CAD (~175USD), which isn’t cheap, but seemed worth it for the convenience. As a point of reference this is a Category 4 SPG property, meaning that a free night costs 10,000 Starpoints. Since I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, paying cash was the better option.

I was arriving on Air Canada and departing on EgyptAir, and they both operate out of Terminal 1. Meanwhile the Sheraton is connected to Terminal 3, which is the terminal used by most non-Star Alliance airlines.

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The Armani Hotel Dubai Is Now Serving Up Gold Cappuccinos

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I’ve spent a lot of time in Dubai over the years, and have written a guide about what I think first-timers should do when visiting Dubai. While Dubai is all about glitz and glam on the surface, there’s certainly more to the city than that.

As much as I’m usually the furthest thing from a “blingy” person, in an amusing way there’s something I still love about that side of Dubai.

For example, at the St. Regis Dubai last week I had the “gold mary,” which is the hotel’s signature bloody mary. As the name suggests, it has gold flakes in it.

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Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)

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In 2016 my goal was to review as many new airlines as possible, and that’s something I want to continue into 2017. So I figured I might as well get my year off to a good start, and plan a heck of a trip for the first week of the year.

The primary motivation of this trip was to review as many new airlines as quickly as possible, though I was also excited about having stopovers that allowed me to briefly visit two countries — Jordan and Brunei — for the first time.

I only planned this trip in late December, about a week before I was due to takeoff. Let’s briefly look at the planning process.

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Last Chance: Book IHG Award Nights Before Prices Increase Tomorrow

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As I first wrote about a couple of weeks ago, IHG Rewards Club is making some significant hotel award category changes as of January 15, 2017. That means if you want to lock in hotel stays at the old rates, you’ll want to book today.

Since IHG doesn’t have traditional categories that all hotels fall into (but rather pricing varies by brand and then specific property within each brand), there’s not one place where you can easily see the cost of all properties. However, here’s a chart of all the hotels that are changing categories as of tomorrow, January 15.

We’re seeing the cost of free nights at over 650 hotels change, and at roughly 500 of those hotels, the price of an award night is increasing. A majority of the changes are for properties in the United States, though there are many non-U.S. properties changing price as well. We’re seeing the cost of free nights change anywhere between 5,000 and 15,000 points per night, which is pretty substantial.

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The World’s Self Proclaimed 7-Star Hotel Isn’t As Expensive As It Used To Be

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I’ve written in the past about the Burj Al Arab, which is the world’s self proclaimed seven star hotel, located in Dubai.

The hotel probably isn’t everyone’s style. I’ll take it a step further — it’s not my style. But Dubai is all about 90s glam, and this hotel is the epitome of that.

You can’t even visit the hotel unless you’re staying there or have a reservation at one of their restaurants. I’ve had afternoon tea at the Skyview Bar several times, which is an insane experience. It’s the most over the top afternoon tea you’ll ever have, and is priced accordingly. The seven course afternoon tea with champagne retails for ~$150 per person. Half of the reason to do it is to be able to actually visit the iconic hotel.

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Hyatt’s Bizarre New Category 7 Hotel Is Where?!?

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In early 2014, Hyatt Gold Passport added a new hotel category for redemptions. Specifically, they added Category 7 hotels, which go for 30,000 points per night. Fortunately Hyatt hasn’t moved too many hotels up to this category, but rather has kept it for what are truly their most expensive hotels, like the Park Hyatt Sydney.

That’s why it’s interesting that Hyatt seems to have quietly added a new hotel to their portfolio, and I’m shocked to see what category it’s in.

Hotel Levent Istanbul is now a “Hyatt affiliate hotel.” This seems to be the former EDITION Istanbul, which is a Marriott brand. I’m not sure why the hotel chose to leave Marriott, but perhaps it has to do with their takeover of Starwood, and the number of properties that Marriott now has in the city.

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Checking Out The New St. Regis Dubai

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Earlier I wrote about my stay at the new W Dubai, which is part of the new Al Habtoor City development in Dubai. Attached to the W is a St. Regis and also a Westin. After one night at the W I figured I’d switch to the St. Regis so I could check it out — after all, it’s just a short walk between the two hotels.

I wrote about the St. Regis back when it first opened and the rates were crazy. Fortunately the rates have dropped significantly since then, as I expected (I didn’t doubt the hotel was nice, but Dubai as a market just can’t sustain $800+ per night rates).

Well, the good news is that the new St. Regis Dubai is gorgeous. It’s absolutely stunning, and easily one of my favorite city St. Regis properties in the world, as it manages to feel incredibly private and secluded. While the nearby hotels are 30+ stories, the St. Regis has just six floors, and feels more like a palace than anything else.

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The Psychedelic New W Hotel Dubai

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Dubai is the city in the world with the second most Starwood hotels (after New York), and their portfolio keeps growing. Starwood is heavily developing the Al Habtoor City area of Dubai, which at the moment is a massive construction pit with three Starwood hotels. This is where the W, Westin, and St. Regis are located, all of which opened in 2016.

I stayed at the W last night, and of course I’ll have a full review soon, but I can’t help but share some pictures right away. This might be the most “authentically” styled, psychedelic W property I’ve ever stayed at.

Here are some pictures of the public facilities:

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Review: Four Points By Sheraton Havana

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Cuba is not a place you visit because you’re looking for a great luxury hotel. Instead you make the best of the hotel situation that you can.

Since this blog is ultimately about miles & points, I decide to book the first & (so far) only U.S. hotel in Cuba that you can redeem points at. That would be the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which was formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida.

We were staying for two nights before New Year’s, so the price was high. We paid $335 per night including taxes and fees, and the rate was pre-paid. That’s because American credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, so Starwood is able to charge you for the stay in advance, and then you just have to pay for incidentals when you depart.

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