One of the best hotel perks around, especially for couples, is the Club Carlson Visa Bonus Award Night feature. I’ve written about it in detail in a previous post: Two Hotel Rewards Program Elements Great for Honeymooners.
The program gives holders of the Club Carlson Visa cards the last night of any Club Carlson award stay completely free. With a simple approach of booking two-night award stays, it essentially doubles the value of Club Carlson points. For couples who have two cards (one each) these two-night award stays can be booked back-to-back such that even longer stays are still obtained at half the normal points cost.
Patty and I used this approach in Cape Town, South Africa. We booked four award nights at the Radisson Blu Cape Town Waterfront for the last stop of our honeymoon. Because of this great feature of the program, we only used two nights worth of points for the four nights of our stay.
Now the bad news: Club Carlson sent out an email yesterday to members with notification that this program will be terminated June 1st.
Starting June 1st, Club Carlson will instead offer a free award night, only at US properties, to customers who spend more than $10,000 within a year on their card. Because the best Club Carlson hotels are outside the US, this benefit isn’t extremely valuable, though it’s not meaningless either.
Other benefits of the cards, such as the bonus points awarded upon card renewal – 40,000 points for the Premier Rewards personal and business cards and 25,000 for the non-premier Rewards card – will remain in effect. Club Carlson is also running another promotion: Card members will receive 30,000 Gold Points on their next eligible (paid) stay at a Carlson Rezidor hotel, valid until August 31, 2015.
If you have Club Carlson points and a Club Carlson credit card, you probably want to consider making any bookings before June 1st to maximize value. As long as you make the reservation before June 1st, even if the stay will actually be after June 1st, you will receive the Bonus Award Night.
A Few Redemption Suggestions
The Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa, which Patty and I stayed at on our honeymoon, remains one of the better hotels in the Club Carlson portfolio. I went through a mock booking for this hotel to verify that the Bonus Award Night benefit is still indeed showing for stays after June 1st. Since December is a month for which honeymooners may want to get out of the northern hemisphere I chose December 9th-11th for the mock booking. The Bonus Award Night benefit is showing, as expected. The hotel is offering rooms those nights for $388 in cash. So for two nights it would cost you $776 cash or 50,000 points total, which means you’d be getting 1.6 cents per Club Carlson point, an excellent value.
Another non-US Club Carlson hotel worthy of consideration for a honeymoon is the Radisson Aruba Resort, Casino & Spa. Aruba is outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt, so this is a particularly good option if you’re interested in a honeymoon in that region but your time frame is lining up with the hurricane season. With this benefit you can get two nights for the points price of one, meaning two nights would cost you 50,000 points, saving you $418 in cash outlay. That’s a value of 0.8 cents per Club Carlson point, a modest, but not terrible, yield for Club Carlson points.
Most of the aspirational Club Carlson properties are outside the US, but there are a couple of nice hotels in their domestic portfolio. One of these is the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel in Chicago. Not many honeymoons are planned for Chicago but this could be worth consideration if you’re looking to do a bachelor or bachelorette party in the windy city. Like the hotels mentioned previously, a two night award stay here will cost you 50,000 points with the Bonus Award Night benefit. That equates to a value of 1.7 cents per Club Carlson point, an outstanding return for this hotel currency.
The elimination of the Bonus Award Night benefit is a major disappointment but the 30,000 bonus point promo and the Free (US) Night offset it a bit. The main takeaway here is that if you have Club Carlson points and a Club Carlson credit card you’ll want to take some time before June 1st to plan out future trips, if possible, and book them before this change goes into effect. Patty and I will be looking to use the remainder of our Club Carlson points by booking reservations before the June 1st termination of the Bonus Award Night program.