Travel Tip Thursday: The Year’s Best Hotel Promo

The Carlson hotel group (primarily Radissons, but also Country Inns & Suites and Park Inns) are offering a three-pronged promotion over the next two months where, if you stay one night at any of their hotels, you earn 44,000-50,000 points, enough for one or more nights at any of their hotels worldwide.

The sheer greatness of this “Big Night Giveaway” promo cannot be understated.  “Why’s it so great?” you ask.  Well, for starters, you can stay at ANY bumpkin, $30/night Radisson, and then turn around with your earned bonus points and use them on a hotel that would normally go for $250+ a night.  Shaaa-weet! (People still say that, right?)

Here’s how I’m taking advantage of this promotion:

On our way to Tokyo later this year, we have a Saturday night layover in Chicago. Obviously, finding a hotel in downtown Chicago on a Saturday night at a reasonable rate (I like spending no more than $100 on a hotel room if I can help it) is nearly Kim Possible, meaning that we’d have to stay out at a hotel near O’Hare, a 45+ minute train ride into the city.  Not only would we lose the opportunity to enjoy Chicago, but we would still have to spend $120+ a night at a non-janky airport hotel.

When this Radisson promotion opened up, I started crafting a plan.  With a one-night stay anywhere, you earn 50,000 Club Carlson points, which you can use for one night at their highest-end hotels.  Now I just needed to find a hotel that was super-cheap in my area, earn the points, and then I could redeem them for a stay at the brand’s year-old Radisson Blu Aqua hotel right downtown on Michigan Avenue (for October 20th, the rate is $249).

I didn’t want to actually stay overnight in a Radisson to secure these points, however; nothing against their hotels, but I has got a new puppy and I can’t just expect Lance to handle Ripley all by himself.  So, I needed to find a Radisson close by that I could easily check into one day and check-out the next without too much hassle.

And voila! The Radisson Warwick in Center City Philadelphia.  With a quick price match via Radisson’s Best Rate Guarantee (which includes an additional 25% off!), I was able to secure a room on a Wednesday night later this month for $76.  I’ll check into the hotel on my lunch break, and then check out the next day before work, and it’ll net me 50,000 Club Carlson points!  I’ll then redeem those 50,000 points for the Radisson Blu Aqua in Chicago, meaning that I’ve not only gotten a downtown $249 room for essentially $76, but I’m also saving $55 on what we were going to spend staying out near the airport!

[Edit: I also forgot that I used the TopCashBack portal, which will send you 10% back on what you book on Radisson.com. That brings our total to less than $70!]

Wowzers!

Now, you can only earn the 50,000 points once, but three of the hotel brands in the Carlson group are running their own separate promotions, and you can earn points through all three separately, but the points will all accumulate in your own Club Carlson loyalty account.  Here’s how it works:

Register for Radisson’s Big Night Giveaway promo (link) and stay at least one night at a Radisson-branded hotel before July 15, 2012 to earn 50,000 points.

Separately, you can register for Country Inn & Suites’ So Go Country promo (link) and stay one night at a Country Inn & Suites-branded hotel, and you can earn an additional 44,000 points.

Lastly, you can register for Park Inn’s One Plus One promo (link; this promo doesn’t go live until next week), and stay one night at a Park Inn-branded hotel to earn an additional 44,000 points.

If you follow through on all three, that’s 138,000 points, or almost enough for 3+ nights at any Radisson anywhere (including London, Paris, etc.); it’s an even better deal if you want to stay at, say. the Radisson Resort Orlando Celebration, 1.5 miles from Walt Disney World, which is only 9,000 points a night.  With the points you earn from a one night stay, you could redeem for a 5-night stay at that hotel!

This deal is best utilized if you’re planning on staying somewhere super expensive (like NYC, or Chicago, or London or Paris), because you can effectively get rooms in those cities for a fraction of their actual going rate, with some (admittedly annoying, but worthwhile) legwork.  If you and your significant other BOTH do it, you can also share points between accounts; that’s what Lance and I are probably going to do: earn a combined 274,000 points to use on hotels in Europe whenever we make it over there.

Alright, that’s it.  Hit me back, yo, if youse got any questions.  Happy travels!

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