The second morning of my stay, awake in bed and staring up into the cavernous ceiling sixteen feet or so above the floor in the bedroom, the realization hit me there were no sounds in the hotel room. No humming refrigerator or heating unit or door slams or voices in the hall or cars outside the window. Real quiet is seldom experienced when traveling around hotels.

This week was Sundance Film Festival 2015, one of the premier US events for independent film showings and movie deals. I booked my free nights reservation last week, relatively last minute, since rooms at Hyatt Escala Lodge were nonrefundable once reserved for hotel stays during Sundance Film Festival event.

I used my one free night certificate Hyatt Gold Passport Visa credit card members receive as an anniversary benefit. The category 4 Hyatt Escala Lodge Park City Utah was available at 15,000 points per night, even for the weekend of January 23-25 when rates were over $800 per night. There is a $25 daly resort fee for Hyatt Escala Lodge.

Hyatt Escala cover

Did Hyatt price themselves out of the market for Sundance?

Hyatt Escala Lodge is an 85 units/177 key condo hotel built in 2009. I checked rates in Park City this week to see other units in the Canyons Resort area were available for half the $500 per night rate at Hyatt Escala Lodge. Although, Waldorf-Astoria Park City also in Canyons hillside ski complex area had room rates several hundred dollars higher than Hyatt.

Read More…

There are about 60 hotels in the Park City area of Utah spread out over more than a dozen miles along the eastern slopes of the Wasatch Mountains, referred to as the Wasatch Back. There are three primary ski areas with Canyons closest to Interstate 80, central Park City a few miles south of Canyons and Deer Valley a few miles south of Park City. Most of the ski resort hotels are located in these three areas. I stayed at Hyatt Escala Lodge and checked out Waldorf Astoria Park City and St. Regis Deer Valley while in town.

Waldorf Astoria Park City is located at Canyons, a large ski resort area with several timeshare resorts, Sunrise Lodge Hilton Grand Vacations and Hyatt Escala Lodge. A new soon-to-open Wyndham Resort is in final phase before opening across the street from Waldorf Astoria Park City.

Google maps Park City Utah

Canyons ski area is isolated within Park City with only a 7-11 store at the base of the hill at the intersection of Route 224. There are shopping center areas to the north three miles at Kimball Junction with Whole Foods and a shopping center three miles south in Park City. Main Street Park City is the old part of town 4.5 miles away.

Click on maps to see full size. Google maps shows the ski lifts and trails.

Google Maps Waldorf Astoria Park City

Waldorf Astoria Park City, Utah

My site visit to Waldorf Astoria Park City during Sundance Film Festival 2015 allowed me to check out the location and interior of the hotel, but no rooms. The hotel was full with guests Sundance when rates were around $1,000 per night. Room rates in other peak ski season weeks average $600 to $1,400 per night.

Tuesday-Thursday Feb 3-5, 2015 rates: There are some basic rooms at 300 square feet with a balcony. Best Flexible Rate on Hilton site $629 or 80,000 points for a Standard Reward.

Midweek one bedroom suites with kitchen or kitchenette start at $584 nonrefundable with free parking were offered on third party sites like Expedia.

Weekend rates Friday to Sunday Feb 6-8 only show two bedroom suites at $1,434 per night. Tax and $35 nightly resort fee additional.

WA Park City 2BR suite

Sleeps 8 sounds like a family holiday in 1,230 square feet. I can see a family of four or five spread out in the space comfortably and that is $1,500 daily lodging expense. That is a ski holiday vacation outside my ball park.

Got One Million Points?

WA Park City 2BR pointsaward

498,240 points per night this week for the 2 Bedroom Whirlpool Suite for 1,230 square feet of vacation space.

That is basically one million points for a last minute 2-night HHonors Premium Room Reward this coming Tuesday to Thursday Feb 3-5, 2015.

WA Park City 1M points

Rooms have balconies. That was a feature of the hotel I was able to see when I stepped out of the lobby for a view of the central courtyard of Waldorf Astoria Park City.

WA Pool courtyard

The complex is set up in circular wings around the pool courtyard with an opening to the mountain side from the lobby view. The largest pool in the Canyons area is heated throughout winter.

WA balconies

The lobby is an inviting space in the Waldorf Astoria. A grand staircase near the front door to the second floor is an eye-catching feature of the lobby.

WA spiral stairs

The main lobby seating area looks out to the courtyard opposite from the front door of the hotel.

WA Chandelier

The hotel restaurant Powder and bar are left of the lobby. A high end ski wear retail shop to the right. The lobby was a bit brighter than the chandelier photo depicts.

WA lobby-1

Hyatt Escala Lodge has less lobby space than Waldorf Astoria and St. Regis Deer Valley is largest of the three with the most seating.  These are the main loyalty program points ski resort hotels. Marriott has properties in the business areas in downtown Park City.

WA fireplace

The story I was told is this Waldorf Astoria Park City fireplace is around 300 years old and installed to be a signature piece of the hotel with the two flanking bronze stags.

If you want more details on designers and furnishings, check out this JetSetter review of Waldorf Astoria Park City.

There is a good size fitness room.

WA fitness-1

Waldorf Astoria Spa is one of the highlights of the hotel.

WA spa

The space offered a relaxing environment with fountains, fireplaces and a green wall.

WA green wall

The Waldorf Astoria shuttle offers complimentary scheduled service into Park City a few miles away.

WA Park City sign

Waldorf Astoria Park City and Hyatt Escala Lodge are in same Canyons ski area; one of the main ski areas of Park City. Hyatt is about one mile away at the higher end of the main Canyons mountain road. This ski area is not within walking distance of any Park City facilities, except a 7-11 store and gas station on the Park City road. The hotel shuttle offers direct service into Park City or free public buses can be reached in less than five minutes walk on the Canyons route and run every 30 minutes all day.

WA front

Waldorf Astoria Park City

In the past two weeks I have made four Alaska Airlines flights between San Francisco and Salt Lake City. I traveled light with carry-on bags for three flights. On my most recent flight from SLC to SFO, I figured there was nothing to lose in racing Alaska Airlines 20 minutes checked bag guarantee.

Get Your Bags in 20 Minutes Guaranteed

At Alaska Airlines, we understand how important your time is. That’s why we’re the first major U.S. airline with a Baggage Service Guarantee.

If your baggage is not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate, we’ll offer you a $25 Discount Code for use on a future Alaska Airlines flight, or 2,500 Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan™ Bonus Miles.

If we don’t meet our 20 minute guarantee, simply see one of our Customer Service Agents within 2 hours of your flight’s arrival for your voucher.

Alaska Airlines Baggage Service Guarantee

Alaska Airlines ran a January 2015 promotion for one free checked bag for any flyers. I had nothing to lose. I checked my bag at Salt Lake City and either my bag would be there around the time I reached baggage claim in SFO or I would file a claim at SFO for 2,500 miles.

Alaska Air Flight Arrival at SFO

The wording reads, “If your baggage is not at baggage claim within 20 minutes of your plane’s arrival at the gate”, then you can file a claim for 2,500 miles or $25 flight voucher. I wanted miles.

Plane’s arrival at the gate is the key wording. Still, SFO is a big airport and I gave Alaska Airlines a head start by waiting to start my iPhone stopwatch timer for 20 minutes at the time the first passenger walked off the plane. I was near the back of the plane. Eight minutes passed before I stepped off the plane.

I stopped in the first bathroom I saw to wash my hands.

Stopwatch read 9:40 seconds remaining.

I continued through the SFO International terminal, which is where Alaska Airlines flights operate out of in SFO. The thought of a 2.5 hour drive to Monterey motivated me to stop in a second bathroom to relieve myself before catching the Hilton SFO shuttle to my parked car.

Stopwatch read 4:54 seconds remaining.

Past the security gate and a walk through the terminal check-in area for flights to reach the escalator down to #9 baggage claim. At the top of the escalator baggage claim monitor showed first bag arrived for a set of flights. Alaska Air from Salt Lake City did not show first bags arrived.

Stopwatch read 2:34 seconds remaining.

Down the escalator and around the corner to baggage carousel #9 with 1:45 seconds remaining.

My eyes spot the carousel with bags and my bright yellow Tumi suitcase directly in front of me. I tried to recall when was the last time I saw my checked bag on a baggage carousel upon arrival?

Stopwatch read 1:32 seconds remaining.

I raced Alaska Airlines for their 20 minute checked bag guarantee and lost. My bag was waiting for me on the carousel at SFO within 20 minutes of people de-boarding the plane at the gate. No 2,500 miles for me.

In 20 minutes I was outside SFO International Terminal with my checked bag waiting for the shuttle bus to Hilton SFO.

Alaska Airlines was the checked bag guarantee winner for this flight. Standing outside SFO airport with my checked bag ready for the next leg of my journey home 20 minutes after the Alaska Airlines flight landed made me a winner too.

Last week I wrote about the new Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash reward nights option. Members can use 8,000 points per night and pay $7.50 per 1,000 points for the remaining points needed for the reward stay. This option is available on hotel reward stays at 10,000 points or higher per night.

The original Choice Privileges Rules and Regulations posted last week stated Points Plus Cash reward nights were not elite qualifying nights. This seemed strange since standard reward nights are elite qualifying for Choice Privileges status levels.

I received an email from a Choice Hotels representative stating Points Plus Cash reward nights count as elite qualifying. The Choice Privileges terms and conditions have changed to reflect this benefit.

Points Plus Cash reward nights do not:

a. Qualify for bonus points offered as part of any other promotion through Choice Hotels.  This includes, but is no limited to, the national promotions such as Take Two Separate trips, Earn One Night Free.
b.  Earn elite bonus points.

Points Plus Cash reward nights count toward Elite status.

Choice Privileges Rules and Regulations

The terms and conditions clarify two main questions being asked this past week by members. Points Plus Cash reward nights count for elite status, but do not count as eligible stays for promotion bonuses and will not earn elite bonus points.

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash Trick

I have redeemed 16,000 Choice Privileges points for a Comfort Inn stay in Utah when room rates were about $130 after tax. Under the Points Plus Cash system, the room could be purchased for 8,000 points + $60.

This is a typical redemption opportunity in the USA.

The value I place on Choice Privileges points is for a hotel like Clarion Collection Hotel NO13 in Bergen, Norway. This is a cool, boutique hotel I stayed in last September.

Choice Bergen CC NO13

Clarion Collection Hotel NO13, Bergen, Norway is 12,000 points per night. A 2-night stay in February will cost 24,000 Choice Privileges points using the standard reward.

Choice Privileges Points Plus Cash will cost 16,000 points + $60. Essentially, a member can buy points at the rate of $7.50 per 1,000 points compared to the normal purchase rate of $11 per 1,000 points.

The main issue with buying Choice Privileges points is a 20,000 points per calendar year limit. That rule is now far less a limiting factor since members are allowed to purchase up to 250,000 points per calendar year when buying points through Points Plus Cash reward nights.

Choice Privileges also works like IHG Points & Cash trick where you can buy points for a reward stay, cancel the reward stay and the points are re-deposited into your account.

9. If you cancel your reservation in accordance with the hotel’s cancellation policy stated on your reservation confirmation, all points used for the reward night, including those purchased through Points Plus Cash, will be re-deposited into your Choice Privileges account.

Choice Privileges Rules and Regulations

This can be a route to growing your account balance. If you have 16,000 points, you can book a 2 night stay at a 25,000 points per night hotel and buy 34,000 points for $255 at the rate of $7.50 per 1,000 points.

Cancel the reward stay and you have 50,000 points in your account.

$255 to buy 34,000 points can be a good investment, particularly in Scandinavia.

Back to Clarion Collection NO13 in Bergen. 50,000 points is sufficient for four standard hotel reward nights at 12,000 points per night.

Or book 6 nights in Bergen for 48,000 points + $180.

When starting with 16,000 points, a Choice Privileges member can buy 34,000 points for $255 with a reward stay that is cancelled and then use 48,000 points + $180 to book a 72,000 points reward stay for six nights.

Total cost = 16,000 points + $435.

Don’t have 16,000 Choice Privileges points?

You can buy 8,000 points through Choice Privileges regular channels for $88 and then use Points Plus Cash rewards to build your account balance.

Choice Bergen NO13

Is it worth it?

Six nights February 13-19 at Clarion Collection NO13 has a published rate of $1,504 USD. This stay can be booked for 48,000 points + $180. A Choice Privileges member from the USA with no points can buy 8,000 points for $88 to start the Points Plus Cash reward trick.

Total cost to buy 72,000 points = $568. Total savings on the published rate for Clarion Collection NO13 = $936. Average nightly rate drops from $250 per night to $95 per night to stay in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

This example shows how a Choice Privileges member can use Points Plus Cash reward nights to save more than 60% on the published winter rates for Clarion Collection Hotel NO13 in Bergen, Norway.

Be smart about how you use this trick. Take your time to accrue points. A reservation reward stay here and there that is canceled will not likely raise alarms. If you buy 100,000 points in a day by booking and canceling Points Plus Cash stays, then you might find yourself facing an account audit.

No 13 suite-bed

Loyalty Traveler posts:

Choice Privileges launches Points Plus Cash rewards (Jan 23, 2015) has a listing of Nordic Choice Hotels where I stayed last summer using Choice Privileges points.

  1. Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
  2. Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
  3. Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
  4. Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
  5. Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
  6. Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
  7. Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
  8. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
  9. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
  10. Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
  11. USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
  12. Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Sep 12)
  13. Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
  14. Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
  15. Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
  16. Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
  17. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
  18. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
  19. Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
  20. Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
  21. How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
  22. Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
  23. The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
  24. Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is recommended Nordic Choice Hotel (Sep 27)

Uber will contribute $1 to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for rides taken SuperBowl day between 3pm and midnight ET on Sunday, February 1. Enter promo code THINKANDRIDE when reserving your car.

In California, Uber’s home state and largest market, drunk-driving crashes fell by 60 per month among drivers under 30 in the markets where Uber operates following the launch of uberX. That’s an estimated total of 1,800 crashes prevented since July 2012.


This week was my first-time to Sundance Film Festival and I was not even a paying participant since I showed up without any movie tickets or Festival Pass.

My interest was more about other happenings around Park City besides the films. I was uncertain before arriving in Park City if I would be able to do anything related to the festival without a Sundance Film Festival pass.

Sundance Film Festival had all kinds of free activities to occupy my few days in Park City.

Sundance Poverty Jet Setter

I frequently joke about being a poverty jet setter. The phrase comes from the foresight of Doug Coupland’s 1991 book Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.

Poverty Jet Set

“A group of people given to chronic traveling at the expense of long-term job stability or a permanent residence. Tend to have doomed and extremely expensive phone-call relationships with people named Serge or Ilyana. Tend to discuss frequent-flyer programs at parties.”
–Douglas Coupland, novel Generation X, 1991

These days there are hundreds of us in the blogosphere who make our living discussing miles and points at parties.

Going to Sundance Film Festival 2015 was a by-product of my Alaska Airlines mileage run for their Ski the West promotion, whereby two round trips from California, Oregon or Washington to any of ten ski destinations earns a free ticket to any of those ten ski destinations to be used by April 30, 2015.

I bought two round trip tickets for $96 each between San Francisco and Salt Lake City, Utah at the beginning of January. Last week I flew to Salt Lake City during Martin Luther King 3-day holiday weekend and explored downtown SLC. This week I flew back to Salt Lake City and attended the Sundance Film Festival 2015. The film festival is primarily in Park City, Utah in the Wasatch Mountains, some 30 miles east from Salt Lake City.

Festivals tend to be the kind of events I avoid. And I do not ski.

SLC Capitol view

Park City ski resorts are 30 miles east of Sat Lake City on slopes 7,000 to 10,000 feet in elevation in the Wasatch Mountains.

My typical travel pattern is to go places when there are not crowds and prices are low. Sundance Film Festival was stepping outside my normal travel pattern. Hotels were too expensive, so I redeemed points for Hyatt Escala Lodge. I figured I could always hang out at the hotel room if I could not access Sundance Film Festival activities.

My experience was three days attending events and checking out venues and the only event that cost any money was $15 I paid to see the film The Tribe at a Sundance Film Festival theater. I probably watched 15 hours of free live music performances from a dozen bands. Three days cost about $80 for beer, food, musician tips, round trip bus from Salt Lake City, shuttle driver tips and one Sundance movie. I did Sundance on a poverty jet setter budget.

Getting to Park City, Utah

On a Sunday, I was the only person in Salt Lake City with a suitcase getting on that Park City bus. Utah Transit Authority charges $4.50 to take the public bus from downtown Salt Lake City to Park City. The catch is you have to catch one of four buses leaving downtown Salt Lake City between 6:00 and 8:00 am in the morning. The ride is about 60 to 80 minutes.

There were a couple of doormen at the Waldorf Astoria Park City talking about a $90 Uber ride a couple paid the night during Sundance to go five miles into Park City. I took the hotel’s free Sundance Festival shuttle from the hotel to Main Street.

In the Park City area, public buses are free year-round as an effort to keep vehicle traffic congestion at a minimum in the affluent ski resort town of 8,000 residents. The Canyons bus runs every 30 minutes between Main Street Park City and gets you within five minutes walk of Waldorf-Astoria or Hyatt Escala Lodge all-day until near midnight.

Park City bus

During Sundance Film Festival, when about 40,000 visitors come to Park City, there is an additional fleet of hired buses to transport people around town between theaters and Park City Main Street where many of the public events related to the film festival take place.

Park City Main Street-1

There was quite a bit more activity the first weekend of Sundance Film Festival 2015, although the streets were not as crowded as I expected on the weekend and there were far fewer people on the weekdays. Many of the storefronts in town are leased by companies. On Sunday I walked by the CNN Lounge. By Tuesday the space was a restaurant again.

Park City Main Street-2

Lodging is the challenge during Sundance Film Festival. I saw availability using points on weeknights at Holiday Inn Express Park City off Interstate 80 at Kimball Junction. That area has Whole Food Market, Wal-Mart and a few other hotels like Best Western. The I-80 freeway is seven miles from old town Main Street.

Hyatt Escala Lodge had rooms for 15,000 points per night when rates were $500. I booked a free stay using points. My 9:00am arrival at the Hyatt Escala meant checking my luggage for the day and heading into Park City to see what I could see and do. The bus ride was about 30 minutes to travel five or so miles on the bus from the Canyons ski area to Main Street in downtown Park City.

Within minutes of arriving in downtown on the public bus, I was in the heart of the Sundance Film Festival action. Camera crews were doing media takes on Main Street.

I stepped inside Airbnb Haus for a scene that made me feel the Sundance experience would be relevant to Loyalty Traveler in more ways than leisure entertainment.

Airbnb Haus

Airbnb was giving away free coffee and prizes for submitting an entry for Airbnb spend credits.

Sundance HP House

Minutes later I was sitting in Sundance House sponsored by HP and listening to a panel discussion on creativity and the impact of online piracy in media. I was let in without a festival pass. They only restrict access to the panels if the event is too crowded.

One of the panelists stated 25% of all internet traffic worldwide is pirated media viewing of songs and films. I know when I want to hear a specific song, YouTube generally has a video for the song uploaded by some user.

What I gathered from the discussion is many creative artists do not care about piracy since it is primarily a corporate control issue and not an artist’s issue. The commonly expressed sentiment seemed to be the artist already earned the income they will get from their corporate contract regarding the sale of their creative work. Piracy is more of a media corporation marketing issue due to lost revenue from pirated material broadcast illegally on the internet in copyright violation. Some other website is making the Google ad revenue on pirated media, even Google.

An hour later I found the place where interviews and photographs of celebrities were happening above the Stella Artois Lounge near the Park City Main Street pedestrian bridge. I saw film director Jennifer Siebel Newsome. She was at Sundance as director of a documentary premiere for The Mask You Live In, a film about the impact of American society on cultural development of young boys attitudes to power, dominance  and aggression. Jennifer is also the wife of California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome.

Jennifer Newsome     Slash Sundance15

A few minutes later, when I was sitting at the top of the stairs, Slash, guitarist of 80s rock band Guns ‘n Roses, walked up the stairs in front of me.

My primary objective was trying to figure out how to get into the Stella Artois lounge. That was a hard task on the weekend with a waiting line and bouncers and a preference for Sundance badged guests. I was not planning to be paparazzi.

On Monday night, I walked right in to the near empty Stella Artois lounge and drank free beer until I had to refuse more.

Stella Artois lounge

Loyalty TravelerStella Artois Buy a Lady a Drink for (Jan 27, 2015)

New Frontier 2015

One of the most popular venues on Main Street Park City was New Frontier 2015 where visitors could sign up to participate in Virtual Reality exhibits.

VR equipment

This woman was in the process of virtually flying around the skyscrapers of San Francisco as seen on wall-mounted two dimensional monitors by others.

My first day at Sundance Film Festival was simply trying to figure out where I could eat and drink and what could I do without a Sundance Film Festival pass. The second day I saw a morning film, had free beer in the afternoon and evening and watched bands play live music in several venues on one city block of Main Street over an eight hour period. By day three I was sitting in the front row of shows, being greeted by musicians off stage who had seen me the day before in the audience and buying the discount food specials at local restaurants.

My take away from Sundance Film Festival is the place is a media exposure outlet for independent artists. Many of the filmmakers and musicians at Sundance are there to gain exposure, be recognized and provide their creative content to the public.

For some artists, the film and photographic imagery, the musical and vocal sounds, written and spoken words are primarily a creative expression that may or may not be marketable. Sundance Film Festival is the interface of creative art and marketing.

Anyone can make a film and put it on YouTube. That is artistic freedom. There is plenty of artistic content created and accessible if you know where to look.

Marketing is about generating the buzz to spread the word that this content is worth your time to experience. Marketing builds the audience to appreciate your art.

The inspiration I found in Sundance Film Festival were musical artists I heard who are on the road and playing venues where sometimes they feel purely exalted and sometimes totally exhausted.

I found it inspiring to hear stories from people on stages sharing about how their car broke down on the drive to Park City, or his guitar broke, or he came down with the flu and traveled anyway or the 6,500 feet elevation had her breathless between songs or he should have come several days earlier to acclimate to the altitude of Park City. These are poverty jet setter travel stories and business travel worker stories of Sundance 2015.

My poverty jet set life this week involved sitting in music cafés in Park City, Utah during Sundance Film Festival 2015 enjoying free music and free beer and a free hotel room that I accessed with a $96 plane ticket, some hotel loyalty points and $9.00 in public bus fare on the Salt Lake City – Park City Connect.

Back home I think that I need to pay the bills too. I better keep writing. The road is always a bit uncertain, but I know in my soul this is the creative path I want to follow.

Will work for tips.

Club Carlson has been one of the more exciting loyalty programs for promotion bonuses in 2015. The latest offer is Club Carlson new hotels NOWOPEN 1,000 bonus points per night available at 17 hotels in the Americas.


Arizona,  Radisson Hotel Phoenix North, 1/15/15 Book Now

Florida, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Jacksonville I-95 South 9/17/14  Book Now

Illinois, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Prospect Heights 1/7/15  Book Now

Louisiana, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Metairie (New Orleans) 12/1/14 Book Now

Michigan, Radisson Hotel Detroit-Farmington Hills 12/30/14 Book Now

Minnesota, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Bemidji 10/10/14  Book Now

Minnesota, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Roseville 8/26/14  Book Now

Montana, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Bozeman 8/15/14  Book Now

Nebraska, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Sidney 10/31/14  Book Now

North Carolina, Radisson Hotel High Point 1/12/15 Book Now

Ohio, Radisson Hotel Cleveland-Eastlake 11/4/14 Book Now

Oklahoma, Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Enid 11/6/14 Book Now

Pennsylvania, Park Inn by Radisson Beaver Falls 9/17/14  Book Now


Alberta, Radisson Hotel & Convention Center Edmonton 9/14/14 Book Now


Chile, Radisson Ciudad Emprasarial Santiago 12/31/14   Book Now

Chile, Radisson Hotel Puerto Varas 12/31/14  Book Now

Colombia, Radisson ar Hotel Bogota Airport 9/14/14  Book Now

club carlson NOWOPEN bonus


NOWOPEN room rate analysis

Rate checks at a couple of hotels show the New Hotel Member Bonus is same as Best Flexible Rate. Advance purchase rates are lower and discount rates like AAA are probably a better deal to save 10% on room rate instead of earning 1,000 bonus points per night.

Even better than 1,000 bonus points per night is a triple points deal I see for Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Metairie (New Orleans), Louisiana,  Book Now offering triple points for the same rate as Best Flexible.

Look at this points earning potential for a 3-night stay in February 23-26, 2015 for a midweek stay. This hotel has higher rates on weekends.

Queen Bed Triple Points rate = $109/night for $368.70 after tax.

Club Carlson 3x points = 60 points/$1, so $327 in hotel spend earns 19,620 points. Extend Your Stay bonus = 30,000 bonus points. Total points earned for a base member are 49,620 points. This is close to 50,000 points needed for a category 6 hotel in places like Paris, San Francisco and London.

Club Carlson Visa card member earns an additional 27 points/$1 for a total 87 points/$1. That is 58,449 total points for $327 room rate on a three night stay.

$368.70 after tax for 3-night stay earns 58,449 points for a Club Carlson Visa member paying with Club Carlson credit card. That works out to earning points at a rate of $6.32 per 1,000 points while getting a 3-night hotel stay in the New Orleans area.

The NOWOPEN promotion for 1,000 bonus points per night is a good deal if you need to pay Best Flexible rate. Other bonus points opportunities like triple points at Country Inn & Suites Metairie offer a great rebate value for a newly opened hotel.

Maintaining a heated outdoor pool in the middle of winter at a ski resort has to be an expensive luxury. Especially when few people use the swimming pool. Twenty years ago my wife and I lived in a house on the coast of Maine with an outdoor heated pool and the electricity bill for one week in September when the temperature dropped to the 40s was astronomical. Our outdoor pool was shut down for winter after Labor Day weekend.

I saw several heated outdoor swimming pools at luxury hotels in Park City, yet I never saw a swimmer. The smaller hot tubs by the pools were frequently in use by snow monkeys.


These Japanese macaques are hanging out in another Winter Olympics location hot spot in Nagano, Japan.

Here are three outdoor heated pools in the snow country of Park City, Utah if you want to live like a snow monkey.

St. Regis Deer Valley

St. Regis pool

You can literally walk 50 feet from the pool deck to the ski slope at St. Regis.

Waldorf Astoria Park City

WA pool

This is the largest pool in the Canyons area of Park City, along with an adults only hot tub and one the kids can use.

Hyatt Escala Lodge

Hyatt pool

You can fit your entire tribe in this Hyatt hot tub for a communal experience.

Hyatt hot tub

No wonder these Park City resorts charge $500 to $1,200 per night in winter. Somebody has to pay the utility bills.

Last night, I made a discovery inside the Stella Artois Lounge of the Sundance Film Festival 2015 in Park City, Utah. Actually, two discoveries. As I sat down at the bar, my first surprise was to learn the beer was free. Regular readers probably know I have a fondness for Stella Artois beer. This was the second time in six hours I had stumbled upon a place on Main Street Park City during #Sundance to find bottles of Stella Artois being served for free. A couple of the Sundance music venues I had been inside during the intervening hours charged $4 or $6 for a bottle of Stella Artois.

More importantly for readers is the second discovery I made regards a campaign sponsored by Stella Artois to raise money for #buyaladyadrink

Buy a Lady a Drink

Now, I already have several Stella Artois chalices at home. But to my surprise the glass chalice holding my beer was a design I had not seen before.

2015-1-27iPhoneSundance 069

I looked at the glass chalice intricate design. After having been on the streets of Park City for nearly 12 hours, it took me a little while to piece together that the Stella Artois Sundance lounge had a higher purpose than getting movie buffs drunk on free beer.

2015-1-27iPhoneSundance 074

The glass was engraved with the words “Water India”.

Then I looked around and saw on signage, on displays and on video screens around the room. is a non-profit organization co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White to help bring clean water to communities around the world.

Stella Artois is sponsoring the Buy a Lady a Drink campaign to sell chalices for $12 in support of

stella Artois buy a lady a drink water

I looked at the chalice in my hand and noticed two other designs on the bar counter.

2015-1-27iPhoneSundance 075

There are three Stella Artois chalice designs for Ethiopia, Honduras and India.

Stella Artois lounge water

Disappointingly, the people working the lounge were not able to tell me how one goes about buying a chalice.

Here is the link for The chalices are sold for $12 each through Unfortunately, they are sold out at the time I published this article, but they should be back in stock soon.

Stella chalices

Every chalice purchased will provide 5 years of clean water for one person in the developing world.

That kind of ROI makes it worthwhile to Buy a Lady a Drink today.

Big news today with the announcement Marriott International has signed a deal to acquire Delta Hotels 38 properties in Canada for about $135 million USD. Delta Hotels & Resorts are located in 30 Canadian cities. The acquisition is expected to be completed in Q2-2015. The deal will make Marriott the largest hotel chain in Canada with more than 120 hotels.

Marriott International has grown quickly in the past few years to more than 4,100 hotels worldwide in 79 countries. Different hotel brands acquired by Marriott include AC Hotels (Spain), Protea (South Africa) and now Delta Hotels (Canada).

There are currently about 49 million Marriott Rewards members.

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