Marriott Rewards FlashPerks preview August 21 indicates this week is an NFL theme. Courtyard and the NFL have teamed up to create some amazing, one-of-a-kind experiences for your favorite team—and there’s only one package per team!

Marriott Rewards FlashPerks go live at Thursday, August 21 at 12 noon Central time. Items are available for purchase for 24 hours or until sold out.

Marriott Rewards FlashPerks preview:

  • One exclusive Courtyard NFL Sunday Game Experience per team that includes game tickets for two adults, a $100 Southwest Airlines gift card and a $25 Courtyard gift card to use at The Bistro
  • A Courtyard & NFL Network VIP Studio Tour, where you can go behind the scenes of the NFL Network studios to see a live taping and get a VIP viewing of the games
  • A Weber Q1000 Gas Grill with Rolling Cart for all of your game day grilling needs (32,500 Marriott Rewards points; usually 62,500 points. 20 items available). This item retails for $170 at Target.
  • A $50 Omaha Steaks gift certificate for nearly half off the regular Marriott Rewards points cost (10,000 points; regularly 17,500 points)
  • 18-piece BBQ Set 7,500 points (30 available)

There will be likely be additional items available during the 24-hour Marriott Rewards FlashPerks sale.

Check MarriottRewardsFlashPerks.com August 21 for prices on these NFL packages.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

SkyAuction SLS Las Vegas Deal and Westin Las Vegas No Deal looks at two SkyAuction items closing today and their value compared to room rates directly through the hotels.

SkyAuction.com has a line on the top of its webpage “Over 1,136,484 auction winners since 1999.”

I imagine my wins between 1999 and 2003 account for about 20 of those. I think my best SkyAuction deal was $195 for a timeshare condo 7-nights at Samoset Resort, Rockport, Maine on the coast in the snow for Christmas.

Today I perused through SkyAuction offers checking for hotel deals. I don’t think I have looked at SkyAuction.com in a couple of years. Hotel loyalty programs work fine for me to get upscale hotel rooms at bargain rates. One of the real values for SkyAuction in my opinion is the ability to find a large timeshare property in a beach location at a good price for a one week vacation with family and friends.

Read More…

There are a relatively small number of hotels at 117 listings for this week’s SPG Hot Escapes list for 20% or greater discounts. These are prepaid and nonrefundable room discount rates for select dates over the next six weeks. Bookings through SPG Hot Escapes are available through Saturday, August 23.

This week I look at choosing SPG Hot Escapes by hotel recommendation score. A high Starwood Hotel recommendation score does not assure you will have a fantastic experience on your stay, but it is a good indicator when most guests rate a hotel highly favorably.

Starwood Hotels Thailand

SPG Thailand

Many tourists love Thailand with its extensive beaches and urban chaos of Bangkok. The low cost of luxury hotels in Bangkok is an attraction.

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a Luxury Collection Hotel is a relaxing oasis and the hotel has an astounding 4.7 of 5 rating with 95% recommendation. The hotel rates are $140 to $156 for every date in September. The $137 rate is only available August 30.

I have been to the hotel and loved its opulence for an oasis from the outside reality of Bangkok, yet the street hawkers nearby outside  selling hard core porn DVDs, and pimps pushing young prostitutes in my face totally turned me off. To each his own.

Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers has a 4.4 rating and 90% recommendation. I preferred the river location of the hotel and the large outdoor pools to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. Royal Orchid is $107 to $112 per night for every date the next six weeks.

Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui is $368 for every date in September for the SPG category 6 Gulf of Thailand island beach resort. This is supposedly 47% off regular rates. The hotel receives a 4.7 rating with 93% recommendation.

Le Meridien Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia is $92 per night through September and the hotel receives a 4.5 with 94% recommendation.

Europe

The Gritti Palace, Venice is one of the premier Starwood Hotels of the world and this category 7 hotel is listed on this week’s SPG Hot Escapes at $707 per night. That rate is available for exactly two dates, September 28-29. The next best deal is $859 for Sep 9-10 and $889 September 1-4. Gritti Palace was recently renovated and the hotel rates 4.8 with 97% recommendation.

St. Regis Rome is under $400 per night for the first few days of September with rates at over $1,000 per night for several dates. The hotel has a 4.6 rating and 89% recommendation.

The Park Lane Hotel London is $290 or $340 for most dates in September. This is a hotel with a poor rating of 3.1 with only 51% recommendation. Looks like a hit or miss with guests. The hotel was described in one guest review as “shabby, not chic”. This Mayfair property will begin renovation September 22 through April 2016 while the hotel remains open. I suspect the rating will likely drop once renovation noise interferes with stays.

USA

Only 35 Starwood hotels this week for the USA and 21 of these hotels have a guest rating under 4.0.

Four Points by Sheraton Punta Gorda Harborside in Punta Gorda, Florida is rated 4.5 with 93% recommendation and the hotel is $68 per night in August and $75 for nearly every date in September.

The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa, Vermont in Manchester Village, Vermont has a 4.4 rating and 89% recommendation. This hotel is a weekday bargain at $205 to $219 in September. The higher rate is for late September dates. Weekend rates are over $500 per night. This category 5 property is 12,000 points for some weekend dates with $700 room rates after tax if you really want good value from your Starpoints.

Equinox Vermont

Equinox Hotel, Vermont

Friday, September 19 to Sunday, September 21

  • $727 per night after tax and resort fee
  • Standard Award = 12,000 points per night + $35 resort fee per night. (redemption value = $57 per 1,000 Starpoints).
  • Cash & Points Award = 6,000 points + $156 per night (tax + $35 resort fee). Remarkable redemption value of $95 per 1,000 Starpoints.

Compare SPG Hot Escapes rate to Starpoints rate for midweek stay at Equinox Main Hotel.

September 7-11 Sunday to Wednesday SPG Hot Escapes rate = $235 or $293 after tax and resort fee. $1,465 for five nights.

SPG 5th night free award = 48,000 points + $175 resort fee for redemption value of $26.88

 

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

A FlyerTalk thread started yesterday about the targeted Hyatt Gold Passport promotion emails sent yesterday. Lucky at One Mile at a Time posted about his targeted offer for 50,000 points after 20 nights at Hyatt Hotels between September 1 to November 30, 2014.

Hyatt GP 50K

He included a link to the offer. I tried the link and received the message that I was not eligible.

Honestly, I did not like this same Endless Possibilities offer when it came out in fall 2013 since 20 nights is a pace far beyond the average traveler. This year the offer does not include MGM Resort properties in Las Vegas, so an even more restrictive offer.

2,000 bonus points on three stays is my offer for 6,000 bonus points

I received my targeted offer less than two hours ago at 3:36pm California time.

I am Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond. This offer pleases me. Three one-night stays in a 3-month period is totally achievable for me and offers a better bonus than the 50,000 points offer which would require 6 hotel nights to earn 6,500 points. I can earn 6,000 bonus points in three nights.

Terms & Conditions

You will receive 2,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after your first Eligible Stay, an additional 2,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after your second Eligible Stay, and an additional 2,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after your third Eligible Stay from September 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014. A maximum 6,000 bonus points may be earned, regardless of the number of stays completed during the offer period.  For the purpose of this offer, an “Eligible Stay” is defined in the terms and conditions of Hyatt Gold Passport, except that stays at M life resorts do not count as Eligible Stays under this offer. Hyatt Gold Passport members will only receive Eligible Stay credit for their room, regardless of the number of rooms paid. You must provide your Hyatt Gold Passport membership number at the time of check-in and choose points or miles for your stay. Hyatt Gold Passport will automatically track Eligible Stays when you provide your Hyatt Gold Passport membership number. Please allow two to three weeks after your stay for bonus points to be posted to your Hyatt Gold Passport account.

Here are versions of Hyatt Gold Passport targeted offers on FlyerTalk:

  • After completing your tenth Eligible Night from September 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014, you will receive Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond membership, valid through February 2016.
  • 2000 points after one stay; 2,000 points maximum
  • 2,000 Hyatt Gold Passport® bonus points after each of your next 2 eligible stays from September 1 through November 30, 2014. That’s a total of up to 4,000 points!
  • 5000 points after one stay, 5,000 points maximum.
  • 2,000 Hyatt Gold Passport® bonus points after each of your next 3 eligible stays from September 1 through November 30, 2014. That’s a total of up to 6,000 points!
  • 8,000 Hyatt Gold Passport bonus points after you complete two Eligible Stays from September 1, 2014 through November 30, 2014. A maximum 8,000 bonus points may be earned, regardless of the number of stays completed during the offer period.
  • 10,000 points after 3 nights.
  • 50,000 points after 20 nights.

Have you received one of these offers or a different offer? Are you happy or unhappy with the targeted Hyatt Gold Passport offers?

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

One day about 12 years ago I was helping a friend pick grapes in his vineyard. The conversation turned to finding a work-life balance with adequate time off for travel.

As a public school teacher, I was finding that my 14 weeks off were insufficient for the travel I had planned. My input to the discussion was to quip, “I already have all my sick days planned for the year.”

Overwhelmed-America_Final

Travel Effect

Travel Effect is the U.S. Travel Association’s research-driven initiative to prove the personal, business, social and economic benefits that taking earned time off can deliver. We aim to shift culture so that using personal time off is not considered frivolous, but essential to strengthening families and improving personal health; a business investment with proven returns and an economic necessity.

Travel Effect

There is a new report released today from Travel Effect. Here are some of the report findings.

Overwhelmed America: Why Don’t We Use Our Earned Leave?

Americans are overwhelmed—but they aren’t taking the breaks they’ve earned. Nearly three-quarters of workers say they are stressed at work, with one-in-four reporting they are either “very” or “extremely” stressed.

It’s no surprise that Americans feel this way. Many workers leave their paid time off (PTO) unused, despite near-universal recognition of the importance and benefits of using PTO, from reducing stress to improving productivity when we return to work.

My wife has been a public school teacher for 20 years, yet last night she was completely stressed out about the first day of school today. I spent two hours last night filling out name tags and sorting papers and sharpening pencils. Tonight I will likely be doing similar chores to reduce her stress for tomorrow, the second day of school. In the past two weeks I have put about 40 hours of my time into helping her with her job. Fortunately, schools close for vacation breaks and getting time-off as a teacher is not an issue as long as it is not one of the 180 work days of the teaching calendar.

I have also worked in private industry and I know the difficulties of using paid time off in the workplace.

America’s Hard-Charging Work Culture

America’s always-on work culture exerts powerful influence on our decisions about using Paid Time Off (PTO).

Some of the leading cultural barriers include:

A Negative Vibe About PTO: Two-thirds of American workers (67%) say their company says nothing about taking time off, sends mixed messages or discourages them from using PTO.

About one-in-five Americans (19%) say their company culture sends mixed signals or actively discourages them from using PTO.

Nearly half (48%) report that their company culture neither encourages nor discourages PTO, leading to anxiety about how their time away from work is seen by their employers.

When asked to name barriers to taking time off, one-fifth of workers cited their company’s culture (20%).

Americans are too afraid and stressed to take days off from work

The two most common reasons survey respondents cited for not taking a break: They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return, and no one else can do what they do at the office. These people suffer from what the researchers called a “martyr” complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.

Most telling: More than 20 percent of workers said one of the main reasons they aren’t taking all of their vacation days is because they don’t want to appear replaceable.

Americans are too afraid and stressed to to take days off work.

This is just a small sample of data from resources on TravelEffect.com.

I worked in private sector food industry employment where my vacation days were dictated by the vacation weeks taken by more senior employees since the testing laboratory always had to be staffed.

I worked in public schools where the days off were set long in advance, but also coincided with peak rate holiday travel at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Presidents Week, Easter and summer vacation. Points and miles were instrumental in keeping costs down and my experience traveling during peak holidays using points and miles led to my current self-employment as a travel writer.

I worked in publishing with a 9-to-5 schedule, yet arbitrary and fixed deadlines often limited my ability to travel when I wanted and even then, I was frequently asked to do work while on vacation or even worse, given unpaid vacation days when work slowed. I found it kind of hard to use unpaid and unplanned vacation days for travel with no income.

Self-employment allows me to achieve a good work-life balance and the unused paid time off afflicting so many others with the inability to vacation is a fading memory. My problem these days is convincing myself to maintain sufficient paid time on and write travel pieces when the weather is gorgeous and the beaches are waving at me.

I am my own boss and sometimes I have to remind myself that my time off is mostly unpaid time off. Without a doubt, my productivity improves after a day spent outside, away from my computer. I think it took me three years of working Loyalty traveler before my mindset changed to be an everyday self-employed worker. Fortunately, I have created a work-life balance where I work nearly every day at writing, but I am not a 24/7 worker.

Now it is time to go to my house cleaning job and scrub our two bathrooms. Then, I will walk Carmel Beach before grocery shopping. That is work-life balance for me today.

pelican dive

Don’t fear diving head-first into time off for travel. Your mind will benefit from the travel effect.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

If Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano does not blow its top preventing air travel between the USA and Europe, then in a couple of weeks I will be hotel hopping in Norway with $6,000 in free Choice Hotels on points.

This is a great deal for $850 in Choice Privileges points that were available for purchase in the Daily Getaways offer in May 2014.

My plans currently have me staying in Choice Hotels for all but two nights of my trip.

Here are the Nordic Choice Hotel properties I have booked with Choice Privileges points.

Oslo, NorwayThe Thief, an Ascend Hotel Collection member

Oslo, NorwayClarion Collection Hotel Folketeateret.

Oslo, NorwayClarion Hotel Royal Christiana.

Holmsbu, NorwayQuality Resort & Spa, Holmsbu

Larvik, NorwayFarris Bad, an Ascend Hotel Collection member

Son, NorwayQuality Resort & Spa Son

Bergen, NorwayClarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret

All hotel plans are soft until 4pm day of arrival.

One of the great advantages of award travel is each Nordic Choice Hotel I have booked can be canceled with no penalty up to 4pm day of arrival.

My wife when discussing my travel plans fondly quotes an Aaron Sorkin line from the character played by Michael J. Fox in the 1995 movie The American President with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening.

Lewis Rothschild: I tell any girl I’m going out with to assume that all plans are soft until she receives confirmation from me thirty minutes beforehand.

Robin McCall: And they find this romantic?

Lewis Rothschild: Well, I say it with a great deal of charm.

The American President IMDB

Choice Privileges points hold high value for travel in Norway and Sweden with more than 175 hotels about evenly distributed between these two countries.

The hotels listed here are reservations I have booked, however, my plans are likely to change. I am still looking at an Arctic region trip if my SAS miles post from a Diners Club points transfer and there is flight award availability.

Yesterday, I purchased 1,000 Best Western Rewards points to open the possibility of an additional reward night through Best Western if I make it to the Lofoten Islands.

Norway is an expensive country to visit. Choice Privileges points reduce the cost of this two week trip by thousands of dollars. Free breakfast is provided at all the hotels and many also offer an evening social buffet.

Even if I don’t make it north of the Arctic Circle this trip, Nordic Choice Hotels should keep me satisfied with a fine selection of hotel award stays.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

Members who select British Airways Executive Club as their Points & Miles airline partner with Hilton HHonors earn 4x Avios points per dollar for stays at participating London hotels and 3x Avios points for stays at hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa. This promotion bonus is available for stays from August 11 through November 30, 2014.

Hilton HHonors promotion registration is required is required at www.hhonors.com/BAQ32014.

Base & Bonus Mileage: Earn 1 base Avios award per 1 USD spent per stay during the Promotional Period. In addition, earn 3 bonus Avios on any stays at participating hotels in the London area* or 2 bonus Avios on any stays at participating hotels in Europe, Middle East and Africa** (excluding London hotels) during the Promotional Period.

HHonors London Participating Hotels (4x Avios at London hotels)

HHonors Europe, Middle East and Africa Hotels (3x Avios points at over 300 hotels).

HHonors BA 4x 8-14

British Airways Executive Club are valuable points for short distance air travel with flight segments up to 650 miles only priced at 4,500 Avios for one way travel on Alaska, American, US Airways in the USA or with other OneWorld Airlines for travel elsewhere around the world. Flight segments from 651 to 1,251 miles are 7,500 Avios points for a one way award ticket. This makes British Airways Avios one of the least expensive reward flights for short-distance air travel.

Club Carlson Great Escape Face-Off Sweepstakes is starting week four of six weeks of vacation giveaways. I only registered today for a chance to win this week’s offers for a trip to Niagara Falls or Virginia Beach.

Club Carlson Great Escape Face-Off began July 28 and ends September 8, 2014. Each week is a separate entry period. Sweepstakes is open only to legal residents of the United States of America, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec).

Club Carlson Great Escape-8-14

You need to register for the Club Carlson Great Escape Face-Off.

 

Great Escape Face-Off Week 4: Monday, August 18-24

Get Away from the Kids at Radisson Fallsview, Ontario

  • 3-night stay at Radisson Fallsview, Ontario
  • 50,000 Delta Skymiles
  • 3-day Avis car rental
  • $500 helicopter tour gift card
  • $300 winery tour with lunch
  • E-reader
  • $1,000 in cash

Get Away with the Kids at Country Inn & Suites Virginia Beach

  • 5-night stay at Country Inn & Suites, Virginia Beach oceanfront, Virginia.
  • 50,000 Delta Skymiles
  • 5-day Avis car rental
  • $400 parasail adventure gift card
  • Video camera
  • $1,000 in cash

Club Carlson Week 4 trips

After registering for the promotion, members can vote once each day for an additional sweepstakes entry. This week your choice is vote for Virginia Beach or Niagara Falls as the Great Escape. The rules state the destination with the most votes is the prize destination for the week. So if you really want Niagara Falls, you can vote for Niagara Falls seven times, but as the winner you still might end up winning the trip to Virginia Beach if the votes go that way.

One of the things I have noticed more frequently this past year is sweepstakes terms tend to offer a cash prize to offset the tax liability for large cash value prize wins. These Club Carlson prizes tend to be $4,000 to $7,000 ARV.

Entry Period Four

Prize A: ARV: $3,970 USD/$4,315 CAD. Winner will receive a check for $1,000 USD to help offset but not completely eliminate the potential tax responsibility associated with the acceptance of the prize.

Prize B: ARV: $4,150 USD/$4,510 CAD. Winner will receive a check for $1,000 USD to help offset but not completely eliminate the potential tax responsibility associated with the acceptance of the prize

Another feature of the Club Carlson Great Escape Face-Off Sweepstakes is each week there is a Club Carlson blog Destination Guide for the two hotels and locations in the Face-Off.

Club Carlson blog:

Great Escape: Get Away from the Kids in Fallsview, Ontario

Great Escape: Get Away with the Kids in Virginia Beach

Good luck.

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

This week’s Marriott eBreaks offer room rate discounts of 20% for paid stays from Thursday, August 21 to Sunday, August 24. There are participating hotels in 19 states, Canada, Aruba and Panama. Thursday night stays require Friday night and Sunday night stays require Saturday night for these discount rates. Friday or Saturday night can be booked as one-night stays. These discount rates earn Marriott Rewards points. Rate rules at most hotels generally have a flexible cancellation policy allowing day of arrival cancellation with no penalty.

Alabama

California

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Iowa

Massachusetts

Michigan

Mississippi

Missouri

New Hampshire

New York

North Carolina

Ohio

Oklahoma

Oregon

South Carolina

Tennessee

Texas

Outside of U.S.

Aruba

Canada

Panama

Terms & Conditions

  • Rates are per night. Thursday requires a Friday night stay. Sunday requires a Saturday night stay.
  • Rates are valid for dates specified in email at advertised hotels only.
  • eBreaks rates are exclusive to customers who subscribe to the eBreaks program. Therefore, these rates do not qualify for Marriott’s Look No further Best Rates Guarantee.
  • A limited number of rooms are available and will be sold on a first-come, first served basis.
  • Advance bookings are required and must be guaranteed with a credit card.
  • Rates are offered Thursday through Sunday Some hotels only offer eBreaks rates Friday- Sunday. These hotels indicated with an asterisk ( * ) next to rates.
  • Rates are standard room, per night and based on single are double occupancy.
  • Rates are non-commissionable and not include taxes, fees, or other costs or gratuities.
  • Rates cannot be used in conjunction with other offers and/ or discounts.
  • Does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms.
  • Canadian cities are quoted in Canadian dollars and US cites are quoted in US dollars. All other destinations are quoted in currency listed.
  • Rates are eligible for Marriott Rewards Points and miles credit.

Manhattan Beach Marriott

*****

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

Car Week has been a prestigious auto viewing experience around town this past week as I did my regular driving to Costco, Safeway and the beaches around Monterey, California. I saw the sign for the Lamborghini Club of America meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn down the street from me. Yesterday, three Ferraris driving in tandem zipped by me on Highway 1. Regal Bentleys driven by octogenarians have been blocking traffic all over town with slow purposeful movements through grocery store parking lots. That is the Car Week experience in Monterey in conjunction with the annual August Concours d’Elegance Pebble Beach.

2014 Pebble Beach: ’54 Ferrari 375 MM wins Concours best of show award (LA Times- August 17, 2014)

In celebration of Car Week in Monterey, here is a Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience unique opportunity I want to share with readers.

Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience

Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience is your opportunity to get behind the wheel of three supercars under the guidance of Belgian professional racecar driver Didier Theys.

Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience give participants access to three of the world’s most famous super cars, including a Ferrari 458 Italia Spider, McLaren MP4-12C, and Porsche 911 Turbo.

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