Club Carlson

UPDATED: Best Club Carlson Hotels: Category 1

At 9,000 points per night, the redemption rate at a Category 1 Club Carlson hotel may seem high, but it takes just $450 worth of paid hotel stays to earn those points. No, that number is not missing a zero! Here are the best Category 1 Club Carlson hotels you can book with 9,000 points per night:

This past April, Club Carlson made adjustments to its award chart – rendering most of my best redemption picks irrelevant. The program has generally been good to us: Club Carlson has a huge portfolio of hotels around the world, they make it easy to earn free nights, their credit card is the most generous hotel card out there, and they’ve only made one change to their award chart since the big summer promotions. Basically, a few properties were moved up while others were moved down one category. I’m not counting the change in airline point conversion because, frankly, converting Gold points to miles is a devaluation in and of itself.

That being said, I’ve decided to update my Club Carlson Redemption Series based on these recent changes. It’s about six months late, but better late than never.

Category 1 saw several hotels being bumped up, while properties like the Radisson Blu Cottbus moved down. This had a major impact on the best picks in this category. Still, at just 9,000 points per night all of the hotels on this list present a great redemption value.


Park Inn By Radisson Dallas Love Field (Dallas, TX)

Park Inn By Radisson Dallas Love Field

With the Country Inn & Suites – Bentonville South getting bumped up to a Category 2 hotel, there isn’t much worth redeeming in Category 1. That being said, the Park Inn Dallas Love Field is the only hotel with a location that isn’t entirely obscure, thus it takes the number one spot.

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: Standard rooms are fairly ordinary and come with a sleep number bed. Guests get complimentary wifi and coffee maker. Interestingly enough, the entire hotel is non-smoking, and a $50 fee will be charged if guests smoke in the room or patio.

Location: The hotel is just two miles from Dallas Love Field (DAL), which is serviced largely by Southwest, United, and Delta. Various attractions, including American Airlines Center, Victory Park, Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas Market center, and the Dallas Zoo are located within an 8 mil radius.

Honorable mention: N/A


Radisson Hotel Hacienda, Cancun (Cancun, Mexico)

Radisson Hotel Hacienda, Cancun

Previously, the Radisson Hotel & Suites Guatemala City was at the top spot in this category, though it has since been bumped to a Category 2 hotel. This brings the Radisson Hacienda into the picture.

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: Standard rooms at this hotel are just that. Guests can choose between a Twin or King room. An in-room coffeemaker is about as luxurious as it gets at this property.

Location: The property is located in a residential area, though the hotel does offer a complimentary shuttle to the beach, which is about eight minutes away. There is a waterpark and Aquarium nearby, long with a shopping mall. All of these attractions can be accessed by bus, with a bus stop located within walking distance. Cancun International Airport is 25 miles away.

Honorable mention: N/A


Northern Europe

Park Inn Kaunas (Kaunas, Lithuania)

Park Inn Kaunas

Park Inn Kaunas maintained its position on the list, though with the addition of another property, it has now been moved to the best redemption in the Northern Europe subcategory.

Distinctions: Another Traveler’s Choice 2013 winner for Best Service and Top 20 hotels in Lithuania.

Accommodations: Rooms are modern, but smaller at this property, ranging between 155-367 sqft. All rooms feature heated floors in the bathroom and free wifi. Business Rooms can be booked for an additional 4,500 points per night and include free breakfast buffet. There is also a Casino located inside the building, which isn’t operated by the hotel.

Location: Centrally located near Laisves Aleja (Liberty Avenue), the hotel is close to many local attractions including: M.K. Ciurlionis National Art Museum, Military Museum of Vytautas the Great,  Kaunas State Drama Theatre, Kaunas Castle, Kaunas Botanical Garden, the colorful Devil’s Museum, and more. The hotel is just 10  miles from Kaunas International Airport.

Honorable mention: Park Inn Danube, Bratislava

Western Europe

Radisson Blu Hotel, Cottbus (Cottbus, Germany)

Source: Tripadvisor

The Radisson Blu Cottbus was previously the best redemption pick for Category 2. Now that it has been downgraded to a Category 1 property, it makes a great redemption option at just 9,000 points per night.

Distinctions: Ranked #1 among hotels in Cottbus on Tripadvisor.

Accommodations: While most Radisson hotels go for a more modern, edgy look, this property is decorated in classic tones and surprisingly elegant. Standard awards get you a 150-180 sqft room with free wifi. Cash & Points is available for 5,000 points + $64

Premium Awards can be booked for 22,500 points and gets you into a 160-200 sqft Business Class room with balcony, free breakfast buffet, wifi, in-room coffee machine, discounted parking fees, a selection of cosmetics, and more.

All guests get complimentary access to the wellness area/spa.

Location: The hotel is just minutes from local attractions, like the Fürst Pückler Pyramids at Branitz Park. Various tram and bus lines connecting the hotel to local attractions can be accessed across the street from the hotel. Guests get free access to public transportation, making this a great option for both business and leisure travelers.

The hotel is about 60 miles from Desden-Klotzsche and Berlin-Brandenburg Airport.

Honorable mention: 

Middle East

Radisson Blu El Quseir (El Quseir, Egypt)

Radisson Blu Resort El Quseir

Distinctions: Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2013

Accommodations: Rooms start at 340 sqft and come equipped with free wifi. Every room on this property has its own balcony, which will make the stunning views of the Red Sea that much enjoyable. A standard award, however, gets you a garden view, while another 4,500 points gets you upgraded to a Sea View room. “Super” breakfast buffet is included in award bookings, along with complimentary airport transfer when requested via email.

The hotel also has its own Diving Centre. Golf, camel and horseback riding, and beach volleyball are also  available to guests.

For families, a kids club, playground, and separate children’s pool are offered along with babysitting service.

Location: The resort is located right on the Red Sea coast. Less than two miles from Old City and El Quseir Fort; 43 miles from the airport.

Honorable mention: N/A


Country Inn & Suites Katra at Vaishno Devi (Katra, India)

Country Inn & Suites Katra at Vaishno Devi

Distinctions: Traveler’s Choice 2012 #3 for families in India

Accommodations: Standard awards feature a Shrine or Valley view and either 1 queen bed or 1 twin bed. All guests receive complimentary breakfast, wifi, and in-room movies. While premium awards are not available, you may be able to get a cash upgrade by contacting the hotel ahead of time. Up to two children age 5 and under may stay free in the same room as a parent.

Location:  The hotel itself is situated among beautiful lush gardens, within 10 miles of popular attractions, including Katra Town and the Mata Version Devi Shrine (a holy pilgrimage site). A bit further out, you can visit the caves of Shiv Khori and Patnitop, a host of various attractions of religious significance. The property is 27 miles from the airport.

Honorable mention:

Some of these properties are in some pretty obscure locations, but they are among the nicest within this category and at 9,000 points per night there are some decent options to choose from.

Have you stayed at any of these properties? Please share your feedback in the comment section.

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