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One complaint you won’t hear from award travel enthusiasts is that there aren’t enough places we want to go. Today, TPG Senior Points & Miles Correspondent Nick Ewen stretches that list even further as he shares his favorite Club Carlson properties for award redemptions.
To borrow from a well-known phrase, value is in the eye of the beholder. This is especially true when it comes to redeeming your points and miles for flights and hotel stays. The awards you covet may be of little interest to someone else, and vice versa. Still, some properties tend to offer strong redemption options, so I wanted to follow up on my earlier posts about top Hyatt, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, IHG and Wyndham redemptions, and today take you through my list of Club Carlson properties that are worth every point.
In compiling this list, I considered a number of factors to determine which Club Carlson properties offer the “best ” value:
- Typical revenue rates
- Uniqueness (amenities, location, etc.)
You can extend the value of your award stays even further simply by holding the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature Card or the Club Carlson Business Rewards Visa, both of which offer automatic Gold status. This gives you bonus points, a welcome amenity and possible room upgrades, among other benefits. Unfortunately, these cards are losing the bonus award night benefit as of June 1, which is a HUGE devaluation. TPG has used this benefit in Reykjavik and Madrid to get some incredible value on two-night stays, so we are all disappointed to see this benefit disappear.
Remember, too, that June 1 brings another devaluation, as 200-plus Club Carlson properties will move up by one or more categories. While you still have a few days to take advantage of the lower rates, the point requirements and values below reflect the new category changes.
Of course, everyone has their own way of defining what makes a redemption valuable, so feel free to include your favorite Club Carlson properties in the comments below! These are my picks:
This property is one of the jewels of the Club Carlson program, a five-star hotel located in the upscale London neighborhood of Mayfair. First opened in 1927 by King George V, the property offers 404 guest rooms and suites that start at over 300 square feet (gargantuan by London standards). The contemporary decor of the rooms has an international flair, with Catalan-inspired furniture and Sicilian marble bathrooms, and the hotel offers upgraded amenities such as complimentary WiFi, printing service and TVs with 400-plus channels. The May Fair also includes a spa, a fine-dining restaurant and a high-end casino. Hyde Park and the Tube are just blocks away.
This is a Category 7 property, requiring 70,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at £240 ($373.13), giving you a value of 0.53 cents per point.
At the complete opposite end of the category spectrum (though still a great value for your Club Carlson points) is the Park Inn Resort & Conference Center in Kissimmee, FL. Situated less than two miles from Walt Disney World, the resort offers complimentary shuttle service to the theme parks. The 434 stylish rooms provide contemporary furnishings and amenities including mini-refrigerators and garden tubs, while “Magical View Rooms” offer views of Disney’s Animal Kingdom and the park’s nightly fireworks display. Other on-site amenities include an outdoor heated pool, fitness center, all-day restaurant and an Avis rental-car facility.
This is currently a Category 2 property but will fall to Category 1 on June 1, requiring just 9,000 points for a free night (plus a $15 resort fee). Paid rates in June start at $91.22, giving you a value of 1.01 cents per point.
Iceland can be a very expensive place to visit (especially during the summer), but redeeming points at the Radisson Blu 1919 can keep some krona in your wallet. The hotel is centrally located in Reykjavik and has just 88 studio-style rooms, making it one of the smallest Club Carlson properties around. Each one includes hardwood floors and dark fabrics to go along with more contemporary amenities, including free high-speed internet and coffee and tea-making facilities. The aptly named 1919 Restaurant and 1919 Lounge serve seasonal dishes and cocktails (respectively), while the fitness center and on-site concierge will ensure your trip to Iceland is a busy one.
This is currently a Category 5 property but will increase to Category 7 on June 1st, requiring 70,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at €376 ($418.23), giving you a value of 0.6 cents per point.
The striking exterior isn’t the only reason why the Radisson Blu Shanghai New World appears on this list. Standing 208 meters high, the property is located in the People’s Park District just steps from Nanjing Road shopping and directly above a subway station, giving you easy access to the airport and all the city has to offer. The 520 contemporary rooms and suites include free high-speed internet, satellite TV and city or park views, while Business Class rooms provide access to the 35th-floor lounge and its evening happy hour. Three restaurants and two lounges give you a variety of dining options, but don’t miss Epicure on 45 (the revolving restaurant) or the Sky Dome Bar (on the 47th floor). You can also check out the fitness center, indoor pool and Vita Spa to relax after a long day of meetings or sightseeing.
This is a Category 5 property, requiring 44,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at ¥1,265 ($204.04), giving you a value of 0.46 cents per point.
Another terrific Club Carlson property in Great Britain is the G&V Hotel in Edinburgh, Scotland. Set right on the famed Royal Mile, the stylish and colorful hotel provides many contemporary comforts in the heart of the ancient city. The 136 guest rooms and suites come with luxurious amenities such as Nespresso machines, iPhone docks, LCD TVs and free high-speed internet to go along with the dramatic decor that varies from room to room. You can dine in the property’s Italian restaurant, grab an early-morning or late-night drink at Bar G&V or visit the spa, tucked away from the din of the city.
This is a Category 7 property, requiring 70,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at £249 ($387.32), giving you a value of 0.55 cents per point.
You’ll get incredible value from an award stay at the Radisson Summit Hotel & Golf in Panama. Even though you are surrounded by 160 acres of lush rainforest, you’re still just 30 minutes from Panama City and even closer to the Panama Canal (accessible via the hotel’s shuttle service). The property has 103 spacious rooms, all of which include free WiFi, LCD TVs and a complimentary buffet breakfast every morning. Other amenities include two restaurants, a bar, two outdoor pools and a professional golf course overlooking the Panama Canal and Camino de Cruces National Park.
This is a Category 3 property but will fall to Category 2 as of June 1st, requiring 15,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at $102.76, giving you a value of 0.69 cents per point.
The final property on this list isn’t the most convenient, but you may want to stay forever once you arrive. The Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Malta Golden Sands is situated on the northwest coast of Malta on a hillside overlooking Golden Bay with direct access to a wide swath of beach. Many of the 329 rooms and suites offer sweeping views of the water, and all provide free internet and marble-and-granite bathrooms. You’ll have multiple dining options on the property as well as access to the Myoka Golden Sands Spa, while four swimming pools and an array of water activities will keep you busy throughout your trip.
This is a Category 5 property, requiring 44,000 Club Carlson points for a free night. Paid rates in June start at €200 ($222.67) for country view rooms or €280 ($311.74) for sea view rooms, giving you a value of 0.5 – 0.71 cents per point.
Let’s be honest; this list is a LOT harder to populate given the two upcoming devaluations. In fact, as of June 1, every single property from TPG’s list of top 10 bonus award night properties will have gone up at least one category in less than two years, a stunning devaluation from a program that was starting to make inroads on its more established rivals. While there is still some value to be gained out of the properties I list above, shame on Club Carlson for so quickly removing a ton of value from its program.
What are your favorite Club Carlson hotels for award redemptions?