Feb122008

$8 Cups of Beer! Pinch Me, I’m Luxuriating.

Hyatt Carmel Highlands Inn
Hyatt Highlands Inn, Carmel Highlands, California

An article I read today about Leading Hotels of the World members stated average room rate for 2007 was $470 per night for these luxury hotel members.
http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/article/20080208114856638

$8 Cups of Beer! Pinch Me, I’m Luxuriating.

I took time out this weekend from the internet and writing to go hang out with the mostly rich and predominantly beautiful crowds at the golf tournament. I spent Saturday at the ATT Pro-Am mingling around the Lodge at Pebble Beach and the 18th hole.

The constant work of adding to my knowledge base of luxury hotels combined with honing my skill of refusing to buy $8 cups of beer is demanding.

Golf? What Golf? I had to come home on Saturday and check the internet to find out that Vijay Singh was tied for the lead. And my wife, who spent all day there at the Pebble Beach tournament yesterday, was there not watching the tournament. She did not even find out there had been a play-off for the winner until she got home. They had ATT wireless “Golf Caddy” devices one could arrange to rent for free, but I thought it would be easier to follow play than it turned out to be. In retrospect, I wish I had tried the Golf Caddy. Golf is much easier to follow on TV and more interesting to watch on screen.

The people, however, well, that is another story altogether. The crowd spectacle reminded me of the Superbowl half-time show last week watching the young crowd dancing at the Tom Petty Band. The appeal of Pebble Beach is simply being somewhere exclusive and of course there is star appeal. The ATT Pebble Beach crowd, hanging around the Lodge and around the 18th green was surprisingly young, lots of drinking, lots of cigar smoking, and lots of cell phone talking and photo taking of Kevin Costner, Don Cheadle, Kenny G, and others (despite the ban on cell phones at the tournament).

The ATT tournament raises money for charities, but I’d appreciate a better system of wealth re-distribution than $8 cups of beer and $3 water bottles on a sunny, hard-to-find shade day.

And my question: Why place the outdoor cigar lounge at the 18th green, adjacent to the primary path to the golf tournament play?

As a non-smoker and boycotter of $8 cups of beer, I waited for golf play to end, walked over to the Pebble Beach Company Store 200 yards away, and picked up a six-pack of Stella Artois. My idea of a fun golf day is sitting above the 18th green on the bleacher stands, drinking with friends after the crowds left, and listening to the rock band play below at the cigar and beer café.

5-Star guerilla tourism.

Locals joke about the seasonal timing of the ATT Pro-Am. Winter here on the Central Coast of California, the Monterey Peninsula, and the golf courses of Pebble Beach is typically like everchanging wave sets. The occasional crash of a torrential winter storm blows in from the vast Pacific, a few periodic mild storms, and generally lengthy periods of no storms and high pressure sunshine. The torrent passed through California a week ago, and we have been in high pressure all week on the California coast, for sunshine and golf. The temperature kept rising, a couple of degrees every day, to peak at 70 with slight ocean breezes here on the coast over the weekend. Golf by the sea in Pebble Beach at its finest.

InterContinental Carlton Cannes

Friday afternoon, I caught the Season 4 final Entourage episode where the lads are in Cannes. I was interested to rewatch this show since I wrote a feature piece discussing how to find hotels in Cannes for Hotels-and-Points.

The article shows a detailed online search starting with Kayak and TripAdvisor and following those site leads to Orbitz, Skoosh, Priceline, Expedia, otel.com. Then, I searched several InterContinental Hotels Group websites looking for their rates and special offers. Each search path led to a different hotel result as I made choices based on user ratings and reviews. Kayak and TripAdvisor provided several leads, all within a $30 range as I searched 4-star hotels in $120-$180 range. Ultimately the “Online Reservationist” shows how to land the InterContinental Carlton Cannes for $170 per night, tax included – a full $80/night less than Priceline quoted for IC Carlton. This was only $14/night more than the Kayak.com lead for a 4-star hotel and $16 less than the TripAdvisor 3-star hotel lead based on the #1 TripAdvisor rated hotel for Cannes, France. The InterContinental Carlton Cannes was rated #3 for TripAdvisor hotels. The deal is IHG 2 Nights for Price of 1 special offer through April 30, 2008.

There are good location shots of the lobby, entry way, building profile, beach and dock shots of the InterContinental Carlton Cannes throughout the Entourage show. I laughed so hard seeing Drama thrown out of the IC Carlton for complaining about the lack of an oceanview room upgrade.

The InterContinental Carlton Cannes is 5-star hotel class according to Expedia and TripAdvisor ratings and is part of the

Conde Nast Traveler 2008 Hotels Gold List.

http://www.concierge.com/bestof/goldlist/

In January, I studied the regional lists of more than 700 hotels making the 2008 Conde Nast Traveler Hotels Gold List and Reserve List. I categorized the major loyalty program hotels for Starwood, Marriott, Hyatt, Hilton, and InterContinental Hotels Group. A full 20% of the hotels listed are available for room redemption using hotel points. My statistical research is in the February issue of Hotels-and-Points.

My interest in the survey analysis was to examine brand appearance for loyalty program hotels allowing room redemption using points compared to the total hotel list. The Gold List and Reserve List offer a broad-based sample of luxury and high-end upscale hotels around the world. My analysis shows that loyalty program hotel points are a valuable currency to earn and spend for travelers wanting to stay in finer hotels.

In short, my analysis of the Conde Nast survey shows (in elementary poetry form):
• Starwood’s the Star, and Luxury Collection is the popular European selection
• Hyatt is definitely the Parks and Grands, so fit these hotels in your travel plans
• Marriott, the JW appears a lot, but on these lists the Ritz-Carlton hotels dominate the Gold spots,
• Hilton, Conrad, InterContinental, which I personally think are alright, on the CN lists are mostly out of sight.

The Lodge at Pebble Beach
This weekend I experienced my own domestic hotel 5-Star Class and Conde Nast Gold List ambience while spending time at the Pebble Beach Lodge. The Pebble Beach peninsula is land, golf courses, resorts, and private homes owned by a private corporation in a gated community, sandwiched on the California coast and hills between Monterey, Pacific Grove and Carmel. The ATT Golf weekend reminded me that I like hotels and resort locations when they are quiet and uncrowded.

Walking the grounds and drinking $8 beer on the terrace is luxuriating at 5-star prices when you can watch a beautiful sunset and the waves crashing in the cove. The ATT golf tournament security limited Lodge access to all, but the highest tiers of VIPs. I felt like Johnny Drama getting no respect. My friend was inside the Lodge and my cell phone locked in her car (I followed the rules of no cell phones at the tournament) and security kept me outside the Lodge and unable to make contact.

The Conde Nast Traveler Hotels Gold List has 39 hotels in California.

The Post Ranch Inn and Ventana Inn are remote getaway locations on the Big Sur coast, 35 miles south of Monterey.
http://www.concierge.com/bestof/goldlist/2008/regions/northamerica/usa/california/bigsur

Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley is ranked #3 on Gold List in Hotel Service in the USA and is known locally for its restaurant and wine selection.
http://www.concierge.com/bestof/goldlist/2008/regions/northamerica/usa/california/carmelvalley

 

The Highlands Inn is a Hyatt Regency and Vacation Club hotel located 8 miles south of Monterey in Carmel Highlands. L’Auberge Carmel missed my attention when I originally drafted this piece. There are 7 Gold List hotels in Monterey County.
http://www.concierge.com/bestof/goldlist/2008/regions/northamerica/usa/california/carmel_by_the_sea

The Inn & Links at Spanish Bay and The Lodge at Pebble Beach are both on the Gold List.
http://www.concierge.com/bestof/goldlist/2008/regions/northamerica/usa/california/pebblebeach

Seven hotels on the California Gold List are Monterey County locations. Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach, Highlands Inn, and Post Ranch Inn have some rooms with excellent ocean views.

The Hyatt Highlands Inn is a Category 5 Gold Passport Hotel property. A free night takes 18,000 points. The September 2007 Hotels-and-Points article described how to use the Faster Free Nights promotion to get a room at the Highlands Inn for under $150/night. Room rates are as low as $215 currently in off-season.

Locally in Monterey County, California, 1 of 7 hotels as a member of a major corporate hotel chain participating in a points-based frequent guest loyalty program mirrors the overall Conde Nast Gold List of 1 in 5 of the 535 Gold List hotels, as part of five major hotel chains. There are 107 hotels on the 2008 Gold List which are affiliated with the major hotel corporations of Starwood, Hyatt, Marriott, Hilton, and InterContinental and 104 of these Gold List hotels are available for free nights using hotel points.

The value of loyalty and the cost of luxury are apparent in a room rate analysis of Monterey County’s Gold List hotels. Room rates demonstrate the value of hotel loyalty programs when looking at a 5-Star hotel getaway and the Highlands Inn on Faster Free Nights award stay.

Current Listed Room Rates
for 6 Monterey County, California hotels on Conde Nast Traveler 2008 Gold List.

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur ( Special Note: No one under age 18)
Butterfly Room $550 to $725/night Forest and Mountain View
Tree House Room $895 Forest and Mountain View
Coast House $1,060 Ocean View.
Post Ranch Inn
Winter special offer for two nights is $1,140 for Butterfly Room ($40 more than rack rate, but with spa treatments added) or
$2,040 for Coast House ($80 off rack rate and with spa treatments). The Winter Special “Spa and Wellness Escape” package has the value added feature of two 1-hour spa treatments.

Ventana Inn, Big Sur – Valentine’s Day “Passion from the Heart” Package includes two room nights, dinner for two, and two 50-minute spa treatments. Price begins at $850 for guest room (regular rates are $350/night) or $1,200 for suite (regular rates are $638/night for Big Sur suite).

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley
$415/night Premium Garden room;
$685-$815 for Luxury Spa Room;
$1,065 – $1,970 one- and two-bedroom suites.
A special offer currently available for Sunday through Thursday nights at the Bernardus Lodge is $475 night for Garden room and two 50-minute spa treatments. Or $485 night with a $150 dining credit at the famed Marinus Restaurant. Again, value added items are available in package offers without reducing the room rates for lodging only.

Spanish Bay Inn, Pebble Beach
Garden View $580/night
Ocean View $815
Suites $1,150 – $2,495/night

Pebble Beach Lodge
Garden View $675/night
Ocean View $925/night
Suites: $1,550 – $2,195/night
http://www.pebblebeach.com/page.asp?pageName=2007_Offers_Lodge_Spa_winter_20070522

Hyatt Highlands Inn, Carmel Highlands
Weekend stays
Ocean View $465/night
Senior rate (62 or over) $395.25
Ocean View Townhouse $635.00/night
Weekday stays (Sunday-Thursday)Ocean View
AAA rate = $215.10
Ocean View Townhouse (AAA rate) = $368.10

Hotel Rates for 2 nights in Monterey County at 2008 Gold List hotels:

Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur
http://www.postranchinn.com/packages.shtml
$1,140/2-nights Butterfly Room (includes two 50-minute massages)
$2,040/2-nights Coast House (includes two 50-minute massages)

Bernardus Lodge, Carmel Valley (mountain views, about 10 minute drive to Carmel Beach)
http://www.bernardus.com/lodge/rates/index.htm
$950/2-nights (Garden View room with two 50-minute massages) or
$970/2-nights (Garden View room with $150 dining credit)

Ventana Inn, Big Sur
http://www.ventanainn.com/packages_internet.asp
$850/2-nights Guest room (Dinner for two and two 50-minute massages)
$1,200/2-nights Big Sur suite (Dinner for two and two 50-minute massages)

The Lodge at Pebble Beach
http://www.pebblebeach.com/avail_rates.asp
$2,035/2-nights Ocean View (+ 2 massages)
$1,535/2-nights Garden View room (includes tax and two 50-minute massages)

Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach
http://www.pebblebeach.com/page.asp?id=2139
$940/2-nights Garden view
$1,290/2-nights Ocean view

Hotel has special offer for 4th night free that may be slightly less than Ocean View room winter special offer currently $645/night.

Hyatt Highlands Inn, Carmel Highlands
http://www.hyatt.com/
$430/2-nights Ocean View room (AAA rate Sun-Thu)
$736/2-nights Ocean View Townhouse (AAA rate Sun-Thu)

Hyatt Highlands Inn View of Pt. Lobos State Park

View of Pt. Lobos from Highlands Inn

My travel recommendation is come to Monterey and stay at the Hyatt Highlands Inn midweek.

A loyalty traveler can use the money saved to eat at Bernardus Lodge and visit the winery in Carmel Valley.

Spa and play or just walk the golf courses at Pebble Beach. Plan a meal at The Lodge’s Club XIX or eat at Roy’s in Spanish Bay and have drinks on the terrace by the fire pits at sunset.

Post Ranch Inn has off season free tours midweek, and you can dine at Ventana Inn, or go further down the coast to Nepenthe on the cliffs.

[originally posted Feb 11, 2008 at www.loyaltytraveler.net/wordpress]

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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