Chase Sapphire Preferred Eliminates 7% Dividend, Adds Collision Waiver

sapphire_preferred_cardOne of the key benefits of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, aside from the initial sign-up bonus and travel/restaurant category bonus, has been the annual 7% dividend paid out annually on all point earnings. This payout wasn’t significant for folks who were using the card for everyday spend, but for those involved in manufactured spending, this bonus could be big enough to off-set the $95 annual fee.

Chase is doing away with this feature for good. Current applicants will notice the 7% annual dividend is left out of the marketing bullet points altogether. Chase has confirmed that current Sapphire Preferred cardholders will keep their dividend bonus benefit through 2015, with the last dividend payout occurring in February 2016.

With the devaluation of multiple Ultimate Rewards transfer partners and now the upcoming elimination of the 7% dividend on the Sapphire Preferred card, this may leave little incentive to keep the Sapphire Preferred beyond the initial sign-up bonus. The 2 points on dining and travel? I can get that with the Barclay Arrival Plus card or I can more than double my earnings to 5 points per $1 by purchasing merchant gift cards with the Chase Ink Bold card. The problem is, the Sapphire Preferred was one of the first cards for many card churners and so far, there has been some justification for keeping it open. However, now that the benefit is going away and the currency has been devalued, many of us won’t want to cancel the card because it’s one of our oldest accounts. Well played, Chase.

It’s not all bad, since Chase is offering primary rental car collision damage waiver and increasing trip cancellation coverage from $5,000 to $10,000. This is a nice benefit because the next time the guy at the McCarran Airport rental kiosk tries to strong-arm you into getting collision coverage, you just whip out your Sapphire Preferred card and tell him in an equally condescending tone, “it’s covered with the card.”

Overall, these changes aren’t great but not worth creating an angry hashtag over – though that won’t stop some people.

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Winner Announced! $100 Hyatt Gift Card Giveaway

Hyatt $100 egift card giveaway

Thank you to all who participated in this past week’s $100 Hyatt Gift Card Giveaway! By the end of the week, there were 634 entries, which is a great turnout. I’m happy to announce the winner of the giveaway, according to random.org, is Steve K, who indicated he would be using the gift card at the Andaz Maui. Congratulations Steve! I hope this gift card makes your trip to Maui much more enjoyable.

To claim your prize, please reach out and let me know which email you’d like me to send the $100 gift card to. For the rest of you, stay tuned because there will be more giveaways in the near future.

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Mattress Running for Hotel Elite Status: 6 Tips for Doing it Cheaply

Review Park Hyatt Sydney Opera King Room

Mattress running pays off: My upgraded digs at the Park Hyatt Sydney

When you’re just a few stays or nights short of status, you may find yourself contemplating a mattress run. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s when you check in and out of a hotel just for the purpose of earning points and/or elite status. Why would you do this? Having elite status with a hotel entitles you to room upgrades, bonus points, and perks like complimentary breakfast, wifi and lounge access. Having status can help you improve your travel experience while saving you cash on meals and wifi. It’s easier to qualify for status based on stays rather than nights. For example, Hyatt requires 50 nights for top-tier diamond status, or just 25 stays. The same goes for Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum.

Some mattress runners will actually stay at the hotel, others will leave after checking in, and then there’s another group that will do a virtual check-in (i.e. have the front desk check them in and out without having to step foot in the hotel). Whichever way you decide to go, here are a few tips for scoring a cheap mattress run:

1. Mattress running with credit cards. I’ve covered this topic before. Several credit cards offer cardholders some level of status (often mid-tier) just for having the card. Some allow cardholders to earn additional nights towards status via credit card spending. For example, it’s possible to earn top-tier Marriott Platinum status by putting $180,000 of spending on co-branded credit cards. For more examples, check out this detailed guide I wrote for Frugal Travel Guy.

2. Sign up for a status challenge. Many hotels loyalty programs will offer members elite status if they provide proof of status with another program. Some programs will give you status outright, while others will offer a challenge. A great tool is statusmatcher.com, which has a large database of loyalty programs and the level of status one can obtain by providing proof of status with another program.

3. Location. Some of the cheapest hotel markets in the US are in Dallas (TX), Orlando (FL), and Norfolk (VA). You don’t need to live in or travel to these locations to benefit from their low rates. Some hotels will check you in and out without you having to step foot on the premises. I’ve done this successfully at several properties and for the most part, the front desk agents understand why. Simply call after making a reservation (if rates are non-refundable, call first) and provide your reservation number, then ask if they can check you in without you being present. The hotel gets paid, they don’t have to service the room, and you get your points/elite night credit. Everybody wins.

Hotels abroad often have lower rates than US hotels during low season, though whether you can pull off a virtual check-in abroad likely varies by hotel. I personally would’t do it because it’s much more difficult to communicate with hotel staff abroad, and they may not be as familiar with the concept of mattress running as their American counterparts.

4. Pick the right day. Airport hotels get plenty of business during the week, so rates tend to be lower on weekends. The same goes for hotels in big cities and those catering to business travelers (i.e. in the financial district or hotels near corporate centers). Sundays stays are usually the cheapest day of the week across the board.

5. Pick low-category hotels. This isn’t always the case, but usually the lowest category hotels are also the cheapest to book on cash. Location and average rates factor into a hotel’s category designation, so you can bypass some of your research from #3 and 4 by going straight to the hotel’s award chart and checking for the lowest category hotels. Doing this will also be useful for the next tip…

6. Book on points. Loyalty Traveler did a great post about hotels that count award stays towards elite status. If you’re mattress running with a program that counts award nights towards status, it may make sense to book award stays at low category hotels. Starwood Category 1 redemptions, for example, start at 2,000 points per night and the sign-up bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card (a total of 30,000 points after $5,000 spent within 6 months) can get you to Gold status or halfway to Platinum stats.

A good alternative if you don’t want to unload your points on a mattress run is to book with cash + points. This may or may not be a good idea with Starwood, depending on cash rates.

At Hyatt, for example, you can book a Category 1 hotel for 2,500 points + $50 as opposed to 5,000 points per night. You can charge the $50 to the Arrival Plus World MasterCard, then redeem 4,500 Arrival Miles for a statement credit to cover the cost. A great trick with Hyatt is to book your stay at a hotel that has a lounge (Hyatt Regency, Grand Hyatt) on a weekend. If the lounge is closed on weekends, Diamond members get 2,500 bonus points as compensation. Pair this with the 1,000 point welcome amenity for Diamond members and you’ve largely covered the cost of your stay. This method, of course, only works if you’re on a Diamond trial or you have status and are looking to obtain it.

As a Hyatt Platinum and Diamond member (or as someone participating in the Diamond status challenge), you can also get 20% off standard rates with the My Elite rate, which can translate to substantial saving if you want to bypass cash + points.

These are just a few tips to help you save on your next mattress run and secure your hotel elite status. I’d love to get your feedback about how you maintain your hotel elite status each year.

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Deal Alert: Four Seasons Resort Lanai from $173 Per Night!

Four Seasons Lanai Travelzoo $173 per night

I ran a post on this last week on Frugal Travel Guy, thinking it would end soon but it’s still around: Travelzoo is running a pretty amazing promotion on the Four Seasons Resort The Lodge at Koele, with rates of just $173 per night, including daily breakfast for two and wifi. This is pretty incredibly, considering the hotel usually goes for around $500 per night. The rates are valid on travel between October 20 – December 17, 2014, with the only blackout dates listed as November 24-29.  You can extend your stay by purchasing additional packages:

  • $519 for 3 nights in a Garden Deluxe Room; $1035 for 6 nights
  • $879 for 3 nights in a more spacious Koele Deluxe Room; $1755 for 6 nights

Rates at the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay are a bit higher, but that is to be expected from a hotel that has rates of around $800 per night. For just $200 extra, you can tack on two additional nights, plus breakfast and wifi:

  • $1079 for three nights in a Classic Garden Terrace Room; $2155 for six nights
  • $1579 for three nights in a Classic Ocean Terrace Room; $3155 for six nights

Blackout dates for this resort are a bit more restrictive, including October 15-19 and November 24-29. Getting a package like this at a luxury resort for a third of the price is pretty incredible and worth taking advantage of if you’ve been thinking of heading to Hawaii. If these purchases get coded in the travel category, you could charge it to your Barclay Arrival Plus card and redeem 15,570 Arrival miles per stay. However,  I don’t know if that’s the case. Either way, you’ll be hard pressed to find a Four Seasons rate of $173 per night anywhere else, let alone Hawaii.

To take advantage of this deal, simply purchase a voucher from Travelzoo, then call the hotel directly to book your stay.

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Giveaway: Win a $100 Hyatt Gift Card

Hyatt $100 egift card giveaway

Anyone who knows me know what a huge Hyatt fan I am. They don’t have the largest hotel portfolio or the most generous award program (that honor goes to Club Carlson), but they do make up for their small portfolio with quality. Not only do they have some amazing properties worldwide, like the Park Hyatt Sydney, but their elite perks are pretty great. Just over the past six months alone, I’ve been able to save several hundred dollars thanks to the Hyatt My Elite rate available to Platinum and Diamond members. The ability to upgrade four stays annually with suite upgrade certificates is another perk I love as a Diamond member.

Anyway, this isn’t an advertisement for Hyatt, it’s about rewarding my readers. I thought it was high time for a giveaway and what better prize to offer up than a $100 Hyatt e-gift card? Maybe an all-expense paid vacation, but unfortunately this isn’t Oprah’s farewell episode so we’ll have to settle on a gift card instead.

To enter for a chance to win, simply leave a comment in this post, telling me where you’d like to put the $100 Hyatt gift card to use. There is no cap on the number of entries per person and the giveaway will run through Friday, July 18 at 8:00 PM (PT)/11:00 PM (ET). A winner will be chosen via random.org and announced on Saturday morning at 9 AM (PT)/6 PM (ET).

Please note, Hyatt as a company is not sponsoring nor are they in any way affiliated with this contest.

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Gilt Deal: Up to 57% off First Class Tickets on Delta Air Lines

Gilt Delta Airlines First Class

Today at 7 AM (PT)/10 AM (ET) Gilt is offering discounts of up to 57% on First Class tickets on Delta Air Lines. The discounted tickets are available for the following routes:

  • One-Way First Class
    • LA (LAX) to Austin (AUS) or Austin (AUS) to LA (LAX): $200 on Gilt City
    • NYC (JFK) to Austin (AUS) or Austin (AUS) to NYC (JFK): $300 on Gilt City
  • Round-Trip First Class
    • LA (LAX) to Austin (AUS) or Austin (AUS) to LA (LAX) roundtrip: $400
    • NYC (JFK) to Austin (AUS) or Austin (AUS) to NYC (JFK) round trip: $600

These discounted fares are inclusive of taxes and fees and members earn an additional 500 Skymiles for their purchases. Up to 8 one-way/4 round-trip tickets can be purchased per customer and the following blackout dates apply: August 28 – September 2, 2014, November 20–30, 2014, December 18, 2014 – January 4, 2015.

If you’ve got “mileage run” on the brain, you should know these discounted Delta fares do not earn Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) or Medallion Qualification Dollars (MQD’s). Considering economy fares between these city pairs often run around $300 round-trip, you are essentially paying $100-$300 round-trip for an upgrade to first class. Is it worth it? I would absolutely pay $50 each way to upgrade from economy to first class, not just for the comfortable travel experience but for the savings on baggage fees as well.

I don’t know if Gilt gets coded as a travel merchant, but if it does and you book one of these flights on your Arrival Plus card, the $400 ticket would require 36,000 miles (after the 10% travel redemption discount) while the $600 ticket would require 54,000 miles. That’s pretty reasonable for a round-trip first class flight, considering the 3-tier award chart and the difficulty of booking saver space with Skymiles. Again, I don’t know if Gilt gets coded as a travel merchant, so the above estimates may be irrelevant.

If you don’t have a Gilt account, you can earn 1,000 Skymiles after registering through Delta and making your first purchase of $50 or more. Skymiles members also get the following benefits with Gilt:

  • Access to Gilt.com for free on any Gogo Inflight Internet-equipped Delta flight.
  • 1 mile per $1 spent on Gilt or Gilt City, while Medallion members earn 2 miles per $1 spent.
  • Exclusive members-only access to Gilt City’s local deals at your city’s best restaurants, spas, concerts and more.

So if you are planning a trip to any of the routes that are eligible for this promotion, it might be worthwhile to book this deal instead of a regular old economy seat. You’ll travel more comfortably, have a smoother airport experience, and you may save on baggage fees.

What do you think of Gilt’s Delta promotion?

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Meeting $82,000 in Spending Requirements within 3 Months

Visa-and-Mastercard-Gift-Cards-e1403388809892

First, I don’t recommend you do this if you’re new to manufactured spending: $88,000 is a hefty amount of spend in any time frame, let alone 3 months. Last month, I picked up an SPG American Express Business card for my brother, completely slacking on the spending requirement ($10,000 within 6 months). Recently, I decided to pick up another 100,000 mile Citi AA Executive card for my dad and brother. The Barclaycard Arrival Plus Cards has served us pretty well in the past, so it was time for my dad to get one too. And since you can never have too many Alaska miles, I thought it was high time my dad and brother churned that card once again. There was an offer out there for 50,000 miles after a total of $10,000 spent within 6 months. This offer has been around for a while and it has a landing page, so I used it and figured if nothing else, we get 25,000 bonus miles per card after first use and 10,000 miles each for the $10,000 spent on each card. Sign-up bonus or not, those miles will come in handy.

With this churn turning into a bigger spending challenge than originally intended, I tallied up the numbers and concluded I needed to meet $82,000 in spending requirements. Some of that had to be completed within 3 months while the rest was due in 6 months. Here is a breakdown of these cards:

  • SPG American Express Business Card – $9,000 within 6 months (1 month down, 5 more to go)
  • Barclay Arrival Plus Card – $3,000 within 3 months
  • (2) Citi AA Executive Card – $20,000 within 3 months
  • (2) Alaska Airlines Visa Signature Card – $20,000 within 6 months
  • Barclay Arrival Plus Card – $30,000 (My brother needs 60,000 Arrival miles by September)

If you’re wondering what the $30,000 Arrival spend is for, my brother incurred some recent travel expenses that I’d like to off-set by ramping up his mileage balance. Arrival Plus cardholders have up to 120 days to redeem miles for travel, and if we get this done by August/September, it will give us plenty of time to redeem them.

My goal is to get all of these spending requirements done by the end of September. Some of the spending requirements aren’t due until next year, but I’d rather get it all out of the way at once. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? Not at all. Here’s my plan for getting it done:

Tools

Prepaid cards are essential in liquidating any gift cards I may purchase as part of my strategy. In addition to my own cards, I have access to three family members’ cards as well, bringing the total to four:

With $80,000 in monthly manufactured spending power (more if we factor in the ability to cash out Visa gift cards via money orders), I could technically take care of nearly all of the spend in a month – except, that would be irresponsible and probably trigger account closures. I’m going to keep my spending with different ms merchants (American Express, Simon Mall, Target) at or under $5,000 per card to be safe.

Continue reading

5 Freebies for Visa Signature and American Express Cardholders

Visa Signature Card Perks

Credit cards are great, until the annual fee sets in and you have to decide whether to keep or cancel the card. Some cards are better at earning their keep than others. If you have an American Express card, chances are occasionally you’ll come across a few great statement credit offers that help off-set the annual fee. Visa Signature also offers great discounts and freebies every once in a while.

If you’re wondering whether your credit card is a Visa Signature card, simply check the back of your credit card. Credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, Ink Bold/Plus (newly issued), Hilton HHonors Reserve, the Alaska Airlines credit card issued by Bank of America are just a few examples of common Visa Signature cards you may carry in your wallet. If you don’t have a Visa Signature card and are looking to pick one up, the list posted on the Visa website is pretty thorough though by no means complete.

Here are a few current freebies from both programs that can help you save some cash:

1. CLEAR Membership. I’ve covered the benefits of CLEAR membership before. For those unfamiliar with CLEAR, it’s a program frequent travelers can enroll in to get through security faster. Visa Signature cardholders get a 6-month CLEAR membership free of charge and a discounted membership fee of just $60 when they auto-renew. This offer has been around for quite a while and there is no registration deadline listed, but if you have an upcoming trip (especially if it’s in economy) and you want to make your airport experience a bit smoother, this is a great offer to take advantage off. Normal CLEAR membership is $75.

2. Free Movie Tickets. Another long-running Visa Signature promotion, the +1 Movie Fridays deal offers one free ticket with the purchase of two or more via Fandango. Tickets must be purchased and used on the same Friday, which is a bit restrictive but really, is there a more perfect day to go to the movies than on Friday? This offer is good through August 8, though I’m sure it will be extended like it has in the past. You can take advantage of this deal every 30 days. The deal covers tickets and convenience fees of up to $19.50, which is a great way to off-set the annual fee on your Visa Signature card.

3. Free Hotel Nights + Elite Perks. Visa Signature is running free night promotions at several chain hotels. Through August 31, cardholders booking three nights or more at the Park Hyatt Toronto will get their third night free. In addition, bookings are eligible for room upgrades (when available), free internet, complimentary continental breakfast, late checkout, and a $25 food or beverage voucher. At the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa, guests staying through October 31 get their fourth night free and the same benefits outlined above.

At the Conrad Miami and Tokyo, members get their fourth night free in addition to the elite perks listed above. The promotion for the Conrad Miami runs through October 31, while the Conrad Tokyo offer is good through August 31.

All bookings must be made through the Visa Signature website to receive the free night and benefits. I searched a few random dates for all of these properties and the rates on the Visa Signature site are the same as the ones listed on the hotel website. The Hyatt My Elite rate was cheaper, but not everyone qualifies for those rates. Programs like Visa Signature are really great for mimicking elite status without expensive mattress runs.

4. $50 Statement Credit from American Express Travel. This is an offer that was displayed for my SPG Amex personal card offers, but not for my Business or Platinum cards: Through 8/31, Get a $50 statement credit for using your card to make $250 or more in prepaid hotel bookings through Amextravel.com. This isn’t entirely “free” per se, but it’s pretty valuable if you have to book paid travel and your plans are firmly in place.

5. $25 Statement Credits at Costco. When you’re done sampling little cups of mac and cheese, crackers, and washing it down with the latest flavor of Welch’s, there is an even better freebie awaiting you at check-out: A $25 statement credit on your purchase of $25 or more. This credit is only valid in store and can’t be applied towards gas purchases. Costco memberships are eligible for the statement credit, which is almost a 50% discount on their lowest level Gold Star membership ($55 per year).

6. $10 Cash Back on American Express Gift Cards. Another technically “not free” freebie – unless you’re buying American Express gift cards at a profit via a cash back credit card. The reason I’m not factoring in shopping portals is because you can’t use promo codes that aren’t supported by the shopping portal you’re using. However, if you use a cash back card to buy your gift cards and you recently took advantage of the free premium shipping plan, then getting $10 off your purchase of $200 or more is a nice bonus. On a $5,000 gift card purchase (the maximum allowed per two week period), you’re paying $7.90 in gift card fees. With the $10 statement credit, you pocket $2.10 and at least 5,000 bonus points. Not enough to make you take up manufactured spending as a full time job, but free points are always good.

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$10 Uber Credit for Existing Accounts

Uber

If you’re sick of seeing those posts about the $30 Uber credit for new accounts, here’s something you can finally get excited about: Use promotion code 10r62014 and get a $10 credit towards a free ride good through July 10, 2014 (6 AM UTC). To take advantage of this offer, simply log into your Uber account, head over to the “Payment” section and enter the code in the “Promotions” field. The deadline of July 10 doesn’t leave you a whole lot of time to redeem, but if you’re in the middle of a trip or one of the lucky few heading off to the airport for a trip this week, getting $10 of your ride is nothing to scoff at.

Now for the shameless plug: If you don’t yet have an Uber account, consider using my link to sign up. You’ll get $30 off your first ride and I’ll get a $30 credit as well. Once you sign up, enter the $10 off promo code for a combined $40 credit.

I use Uber often when I’m in LA for work and have written a review about the service. Some love it, others hate it, but the fact is it’s a convenient way to get around – much more preferable to cabs or public transportation, that’s for sure. You can earn 2 points per $1 by using your Sapphire Card, which is a plus, though certainly not earth-shattering.

I would invite you all to include your own links in the comment section, but according to Mommy Points, that could get you into trouble. Proceed at your own risk.

HT: Millionmilesecrets

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Best Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Redemptions: Category 1

Starwood’s Preferred Guest program is popular for a reason: In addition to having over 1,100 hotels worldwide in excellent locations, the program has a reasonable award chart. The program’s Category 1 hotel list certainly proves that, offering incredible value at amazing hotels for just 2,000-3,000 points per night. Starwood definitely offers better value in terms of location and redemption levels, compared to other major hotel chains. It’s not always easy to earn Starpoints, with limited rewards credit card options, but it’s certainly worthwhile. Below are the best redemption options within Starwood’s Category 1 portfolio:

NORTH AMERICA

US

Aloft Hotel Winchester (Winchester, VA)

Aloft Winchester Source: Hotel website

Aloft Winchester
Source: Hotel website

Distinctions: Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

Accommodations: This is a typical Aloft hotel, with modernly furnished rooms, ergonomic workspace, and free internet.

Location: The area doesn’t have much going for it, other than several corporate offices nearby, making it ideal for business travelers. If you do find yourself passing through, you can check out the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley just three miles away. Within the same distance, there’s a golf course and a shopping mall.

Honorable mention: Aloft Jacksonville Airport

Central America

Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village (Dominican Republic)

Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village Source: Hotel website

Four Points by Sheraton Puntacana Village
Source: Hotel website

Distinctions: Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

Accommodations: Amusingly enough, the hotel website lists the 250 thread count sheets as a highlight of the rooms. Other highlights include a Sheraton Four Comfort Bed, iPod docking station, 40 inch LCD TV, free wifi and city views.

Location: Ever watch that episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey where they all went to Punta Cana? This isn’t going to be a beachside resort with stunning ocean views where Teresa Guidice models tacky bikinis for her cringing friends. The Four Points Puntacana Village (not a typo) is located by the airport, though the hotel provides a shuttle that transports guests to the Punta Cana Ecological Reserve, a private beach, or golf course.

Hotels like these are perfect if you’re arriving late and want to save a few bucks or points on hotel accommodations. After all, what good does it do to pay $200+ per night for a beachside resort if all you’re gonna do when you arrive in the middle of the night is sleep anyway. Using 2,000-3,000 points per night at this hotel instead is a good alternative.

Honorable mention: N/A

EUROPE

Aloft Bursa Hotel (Bursa, Turkey)

Aloft Bursa  Source: Hotel website

Aloft Bursa
Source: Hotel website

Distinctions: Tripadvisor #2 Hotel in Bursa

Accommodations: Standard are colorfully decorated – very much reminiscent of a new age dorm room (the kind that isn’t overrun by rodents), with an ergonomic work station and 40 inch LCD tv. The bathrooms are spacious, with accessible showers and a phone in case you’re one of those workaholics who can’t bear to be unproductive while on the loo.

Location: Though it caters mainly to business travelers, the Aloft Bursa has a great location for leisure travelers as well – especially considering it’s just 2,000-3,000 points per night. The Bursa City Museum, Archeology, and Ataturk Museum are all less than four miles from the hotel. Guests can also find the Great Mosque, and the Green Mosque nearby.

For those more interested in  shopping than history, there is a shopping mall just a quarter mile away from the hotel, with two others within a four mile radius. For a nice family activity, head to the Bursa Zoo and Botanical Gardens, located just 3.7 miles away.

Honorable mention:

AFRICA

Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa (Cairo, Egypt)

Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa  Source: Hotel website

Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa
Source: Hotel website

Distinctions: Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2014

Accommodations: Standard rooms offer city views and are decorated in neutral tones. Guests booking an award night can choose between a Classic room with two Single or one King bed. Wireless internet is absurdly overpriced at 26.80 Euro/$35 per day, which is half the cost of staying at the hotel during low season.

Location: You can’t go to Egypt without seeing the pyramids. If you stay at the Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa, you won’t even need to leave the hotel pool to do so. The hotel is just a mile from the Sphinx and Pyramids of Giza and 9 miles from the Egyptian Museum. Other nearby notable attractions include the Sakkara Pyramids (12 miles) and Gezirah Tower (6 miles), which is the tallest building in Egypt.

Honorable mention:

  • Sheraton Luxor Resort
  • Le Meridien Dahab Resort

ASIA

Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa (Yogyakarta, Indonesia)

Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa Source: Agoda

Sheraton Mustika Yogyakarta Resort & Spa
Source: Agoda

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: Standard rooms offer 452 sqft of space and feature a balcony offering garden views. The decor is a bit outdated, but this isn’t the type of place where you’ll be staying in your room all day long. The resort has gorgeous indoor and outdoor pools. The health club, to which guests have complimentary access, offers stunning views of a nearby waterfall. All guests get complimentary access to wireless internet in their rooms and throughout the hotel.

Location: There is no shortage of activities in the resort’s immediate area. Within walking distance, guests can check out the Sapto Hoedojo Art Gallery, or venture out 1 mile further to a nearby golf course. There are various museums under 5 miles from the resort, along with a local zoo and shopping mall to keep the whole family entertained.

For those looking for a bit of local culture and history, the Prambanan Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Sultan Palace are within 6 miles of the resort. There’s plenty to do in the area and guests looking to venture out further can walk to a nearby bus station or take a 3 mile cab drive to the closest train station.

Honorable mention:

What are your thoughts on my list of best Starwood hotel redemptions for Category 1? Are there any hotels you think should be on the list that aren’t?

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