Review: St. Regis Maldives Overwater Villa

St-Regis-Maldives-Overwater-Villa - 7

At many resorts in the Maldives, only a small percentage of rooms are overwater villas, and often require a big upcharge. In the case of the St. Regis Maldives, the resort has a total of 77 rooms, and about two thirds of them are overwater.

All overwater villas are located on the same jetty.

We were assigned room 518, which was a sunset overwater villa, located towards the end of the jetty.

Continue Reading »

An Easy Way To Thank Starwood Employees Who Go Above And Beyond

W-Hotel-Punta-De-Mita - 44

There are many ways to recognize hotel employees who go above and beyond — you can email their manager, mention them by name in an online review or post-stay survey, or just thank them in person (which is often the most rewarding).

However, there’s another way for SPG elite members to thank Starwood employees, and I’d guess it’s a way most of us aren’t familiar with. Starwood elite members can log-in on this website, and should see the option to print elite thank you certificates that can be given to Starwood employees.

After following the link you’ll be prompted to log-in to your SPG account, which will reveal these certificates. As a Platinum member I was given eight certificates, each valid through December 31, 2017.

Continue Reading »

How Many Devices Should Be Included With “Free” Hotel Wifi?


Over the past several years we’ve seen hotels globally make great strides when it comes to free wifi. I remember when most hotel loyalty programs didn’t even offer free wifi to elite members, let alone to other guests.

Meanwhile nowadays the major hotel chains offer free wifi to virtually all guests who book directly with them. What I find interesting, however, is that most hotel programs don’t clarify in their terms how many devices are included with that “free wifi,” which seems like something they’d standardize.

In other words, is a hotel staying true to the terms & conditions if they offer free wifi on just one device? Technically yes, I suppose, though perhaps not in spirit.

Continue Reading »

Review: Grand Hyatt Amman Grand Suite


For our last two nights in Jordan, we chose to stay at the Grand Hyatt in Amman. Technically it was the last 1.5 nights, as our flight to Istanbul left at 3AM, but it seemed worthwhile to have the hotel for the full evening so we could at least get a few hours of sleep.

Our stay overlapped with Ben’s (which was super fun), so I won’t review the full hotel. I did, however, apply a Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade to the reservation, and I figure other people might be interested in knowing what the suites are like. We had breakfast in the Grand Club instead of the restaurant, so I’ll cover that as well.

We made several stops on the drive north from Petra, so it was about 4PM when we arrived at the Grand Hyatt. As Ben mentioned, security was tight, so the valet took the car at an outbuilding where we cleared security, before walking to the main hotel. It was a decently efficient system, and whenever we left the hotel the car was brought to the main entrance and the parking berms were lowered for us, which was nice.

Continue Reading »

Last Chance: Book Marriott & Starwood Award Nights Before Prices Change


In early February, Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest announced their 2017 hotel category changes.

It’s normal for the major hotel chains to adjust which hotels belong in which categories each year. Typically only a small percentage of properties overall are changing categories. Furthermore, they’re not adjusting the number of points required for a redemption in a specific category of hotel, but rather they’re adjusting which hotels belong in which categories.

Well, the category changes are kicking in for bookings as of tomorrow (March 7, 2017). So if you want to lock in any stays at the old costs, you’ll want to do so today. As a reminder, here are the lists of hotels changing categories:

Continue Reading »

I Was Offered A Suite Upgrade On My First Hyatt Globalist Stay (But Turned It Down)


The new World of Hyatt program kicked in as of March 1. Former Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond members are being converted into World of Hyatt Globalist members. In terms of the on-property experience, the single biggest difference is that Globalist members receive unlimited complimentary suite upgrades, subject to availability (Diamond members, on the other hand, received the best available non-suite rooms, unless using a suite upgrade award).

It’s one thing to have a policy, but the big question is how hotels handle these upgrades in practice. Do they offer the upgrades proactively? If not, do they offer them when asked? Or do they come up with any excuse to deny an upgrade?

Like most hotel chains, I suspect it will come down to the individual hotel. Some hotels are great about going above and beyond for elite members, while others seem to do everything they can to deny benefits.

Continue Reading »

Review: Petra Marriott Hotel


After a full day in Wadi Rum we headed north to the town of Wadi Musa, where Petra is located.

It was an easy drive along highways we’d traversed the day prior (how was it only a day?!), so even with a brief maintenance stop it only took ~90 minutes from leaving Wadi Rum to arriving at the Marriott.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d booked the Marriott Hotel Petra during the Black Friday sale. We paid $95 + tax for each of our two nights. This is a Category 4 hotel though, so you could also use:

• Anniversary certificates from the credit card
• 20,000 Marriott Rewards points (15,000 on PointSavers)
• 6,667 Starwood Preferred Guest points

Continue Reading »

Review: Glamping In Wadi Rum


Now you’d think, given that we were just up the hill in Little Petra, that Petra itself would be our next stop. Instead, we stopped for lunch in Wadi Musa (and worked for a few hours, I couldn’t help it!), before continuing south to Wadi Rum.

We arrived in Wadi Rum as the sun was starting to set, which made for a beautiful drive in.

I’ve already detailed the adventures of getting walked from our previously-booked Airbnb in Wadi Rum, so won’t go into that here, but you’ll want to read it if you haven’t yet voiced your opinion on the scam/no scam question. Instead, I’ll review the camp we actually stayed at — the Teva Milky Way camp.

Continue Reading »

5 Predictions For World Of Hyatt


This week is the launch of the new World of Hyatt program. I’ve been talking about some of the changes to the program over the past week. If you’ve followed along, you know that I’m not a fan. Be it the high qualification requirements given their small footprint, the swap of tiered-award nights for amenity points, or the diluted breakfast benefits, I just don’t think it makes a lot of sense. But it is what it is.

For better or worse, a lot of my travel so far this year has taken me to Scandinavia, a land completely devoid of Hyatts, so I’ve only recently been sharpening my pencil to determine if requalifying as a Globalist makes sense. Or will even be possible. That’s why I’ve been breaking down the program piece by piece this week, even though we’re partway through the qualification year.

Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to post my predictions for the World of Hyatt program. As you read this, keep in mind that these are just my opinions. I don’t know anyone at Hyatt. I haven’t been on any blogger conference calls. And I’m not speaking for Team OMAAT.

Continue Reading »

I “Got” My First World Of Hyatt Complimentary Suite Upgrade As A Globalist!


I’ve been writing a lot about World of Hyatt lately, in anticipation of the big launch that occurred yesterday. As a longtime Diamond member, I’m concerned about the value proposition of the new program in light of the various devaluations.

Obviously the newly raised qualification levels are problematic for many of us given Hyatt’s small footprint, but I’m also concerned about the diluted breakfast benefits and the swap of welcome amenity points for tier-based free night awards with a short expiry.

But on the flip side, I’m super excited about the prospect of unlimited complimentary suite upgrades.

Continue Reading »

Choice Hotels Spring Promotion: 8,000 Bonus Points After 2 Stays


My family recently got back from our trip to Norway where we stayed at a couple of awesome Clarion Collection hotels including Hotel Bastion and Hotel Folketeateret in Oslo. These hotels, which are part of the Choice Hotels, are easily some of the best in the country. They include breakfast, dinner, and an afternoon snack, which can be a real game changer for families given how expensive Norway is.

The best part is that they can be booked on points.

Back here in the U.S., Choice Hotels don’t get a lot of attention. In fact, they are often scoffed at and I must admit that their brands like Comfort Inn, Quality Inn, Rodeway Inn, and just about every other Inn (except those with a red roof) aren’t all that exciting. On the other hand, they are sort of everywhere, so if you’re taking a road trip and want to earn some points, a Choice hotel might be the only option.

Continue Reading »

Act Fast! $30 Off A Hotel Through Travelocity


If you follow along much here at OMAAT, you know that there is basically a running debate as to which cellular provider offers the best international data plan. On one side is T-Mobile which offers unlimited, albeit possibly slow, data at 120 countries around the world. Ben recently switched to T-Mobile and he seems to love it. On the other is Google’s Project Fi, which has $10 per gigabyte data both home and abroad. Tiffany is a big fan and I recently switched myself.

Well, it seems that T-Mobile might just win the day. It turns out that there is a little discussed feature called T-Mobile Tuesdays. This is an interesting program where their subscribers get some pretty awesome discounts on random stuff like e-books, movie tickets, and even pizza. Obviously, I don’t know too much about it as I’m not a subscriber.

But it turns out that today’s T-Mobile Tuesday deal is available to everyone and it’s pretty good. For a limited time, you can save $30 off a Travelocity hotel or flight + hotel booking, with no minimum.

Continue Reading »

Club Carlson’s 2017 Hotel Category Changes


It’s pretty normal for the major global hotel chains to adjust hotel categories annually. We’re not talking about them actually adjusting the number of points required for a stay at a particular category of hotel, but rather adjusting which hotels are in which categories.

So far this year we’ve seen Marriott, Starwood, and IHG announce category changes. Now it’s Club Carlson’s turn.

Club Carlson has announced some category changes which kick in for bookings as of March 1, 2017. First of all, it’s extremely disappointing how little notice Club Carlson is giving of these changes. The changes kick in as of tomorrow, which I wouldn’t consider to be sufficient notice.

Continue Reading »

Why You Might Want To Claim Missing Hyatt Welcome Amenity Points Soon


Under the soon-to-be defunct Gold Passport program, Hyatt Diamond members receive a welcome amenity at the start of their stay. For properties within the United States, this consists of either a food and beverage amenity or bonus points. I’m not much of a drinker, so I pretty much always take the points, either 500 at Hyatt House or Hyatt Place or 1,000 at the full service hotels. Sadly, the welcome amenity will not be a part of World of Hyatt which starts on March 1.

At any rate, these welcome amenity points are supposed to post automatically to your Gold Passport account along with the rest the points from your stay. That said, I find that this doesn’t always happen, especially at the limited service properties. Apparently this is a common problem, as Hyatt even has a policy where you get 50% more bonus points if you have to call.

As much as I like points, calling just for 750 points might not be worth the effort. So my strategy has been to go over my account about once a year, identify all of my stays where the points failed to post, and then call them in at once. It’s the modern day version of balancing your checkbook. I just did so yesterday and I’d recommend you do so as well.

Continue Reading »