Daily Getaways Valuation

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.37.51 PMThe US Travel Association is once again running its Daily Getaways promotion.  Beginning March 23 there will be a different offer for a limited time each day.  An interesting change this: there is NO added discount for using an Amex card.  You can find discounts on rental cars, hotels, and theme parks.  Only the first three weeks’ offers have been posted as of this post.

Likely the most popular offers will be for the hotel stays that, for the most part, come in the form of loyalty points.  Below I have created a grid that shows the cost per point for each of the hotel point offers.

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Hyatt Diamond Challenge 2015

 

Hyatt Diamond Challenge 2015

Note: As of June 1, 2015, the Hyatt Diamond Challenge 2015 has been updated.  Diamond status is now good through February 2017.  Reports are also in that you can directly contact Hyatt Gold Passport at 1-800-228-3360 to enroll in the Elite Tier Offer.  Read more here.

I first signed up for Hyatt Gold Passport last summer after I learned about their relationship with Mlife.  Since I was a Gold Mlife member I received Platinum status with Hyatt’s loyalty program.  I had signed up for hotel loyalty programs before, but with the purpose of earning miles on Alaska Airlines for my stays.  In 9 months I have accrued 20,000 points with HGP through my stays at Mlife hotels in Vegas and Hyatt hotels.

The benefits of Platinum HGP status are minimal; it was devalued even more last month when all guests were given free wifi.  Reports over at Flyer Talk have some people being offered a Hyatt Diamond Challenge (also known as the Hyatt Gold Passport Elite Tier offer) with 12 nights in 60 days.  Some said the offer was targeted only to those with a high number of stays in 2014 while others said they were able to enroll in the challenge by contacting the property of their upcoming stay.

I have four booked reservations between now and June so I emailed the two properties that had an email posted on their website.

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Hyatt Regency Santa Clara – Hotel Review

I stayed at the Hyatt Regency Santa Clara for a weekend in October, 2014.  The hotel is older, my guess it was built in the mid 1980’s, and has a large footprint of 501 rooms.  The closest airport is San Jose (6 miles), a small airport that makes getting in and out easy.

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I assumed it would be quiet on a weekend when business travelers were at home, but was I wrong! This is definitely a conference hotel (it is attached to the Santa Clara Convention Center in the heart of Silicon Valley).  There were two conferences at the hotel (ironically neither were tech conventions); one was quilters the other was high schoolers. As you can imagine, I was disheartened to say the least. Luckily, the check in agent could tell I was not looking forward to a weekend with youngins, so he put me on the 13th floor away from the students. I thought he said he “upgraded” me as I am a Platinum HGP member, but it turned out that the only upgrade was that it was on a higher floor.

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Aria Las Vegas – Hotel Review

aria las vegasThis past weekend I spent three nights at Aria Las Vegas, one of the Vegas mega properties located in MGM’s CityCenter.  Other hotels that share the CityCenter location are Vdara and Mandarin Oriental… as well as what is left of the Harmon (it is getting smaller each day as they demolish it).  Aria, with 4,004 rooms, opened in December 2009 and is considered MGM’s top property alongside Bellagio.

I have stayed at the Aria five or six times, it is my go-to hotel in Vegas.  Good location, luxury, and a great spa.  I received a deal through Mlife that got me a rate of ~$200* for Saturday night and ~$130* for Sunday and Monday nights (*I include the mandatory $32 resort fee in this price).  The deal also came with an included $200 resort credit that I could use at onsite restaurants, spa, or show.

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The dishonest resort fee

I believe the most deceptive practice in the travel industry is the resort fee.  It is the complete antithesis to hospitality.  It is a made up revenue stream that serves NO purpose except to increase profits.  There is ZERO benefit to the hotel guest.  At least with an airline baggage fee you have the choice and get a benefit of not having to schlep around your bag.  Or with the prepaid fuel charge you don’t have to worry about filling up your tank before returning your rental car.  But resort fees serve no benefit to the customer.

Note: Resort fee does NOT cover slippers. Sorry.
Note: Resort fee does NOT cover slippers. Sorry.

This weekend I stayed at the Aria in Las Vegas.  Overall it is a great property and one that I’ve stayed at at least five times.  The daily resort fee is $32.48; which is a significant amount.  For my visit this ended up being an extra $100, or the price of one night.  I basically stayed three nights for the price of four.  On the Aria website it lists the amenities included with the resort fee:

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Hyatt Regency Washington DC – Hotel Review

A friend of mine won a raffle put on by the Washington State Lottery that included airfare, tickets to an NFL Playoff Game, and two nights at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Bright atrium
Bright atrium

We stayed at the hotel Saturday-Monday in January.  The hotel overall was fairly quiet. Great location near the Capitol; but otherwise you will need to plan on a bit of a walk to anything.

On the weekend, prepare to travel a good distance for meals as there are no restaurants besides in the hotel and the hotel across the street. The food in the Hyatt is decent and moderate price, so not a big deal to eat there; but just realize you are eating in the hotel lobby. They have a nice shop that sells all sorts of snacks, water, drinks and even has a small cafe for coffee and pastries. The staff was great, always helpful and cheerful. We enjoyed talking with the doorman especially.

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