Feb122008

Starwood Le Meridien Brand Free Nights Promotion

Le Meridien Hotel San Francisco

Le Meridien San Francisco, center and to left of pyramid TransAmerica building.
This hotel was formerly a Park Hyatt.
I was looking back at the Le Meridien Journey for free nights promotion running from December 1, 2007 through March 31, 2008. I drafted a piece December 13th and from this draft developed a piece for the December Hotels-and-Points report. The Le Meridien promotion is a 5-star promotional opportunity for free nights.
There have been some changes in the terms and conditions of the promotion since I wrote the December pieces. One major change is good — Le Meridien Cambridge in Boston, Massachusetts is listed as a participating property. I have tried to update the articles to reflect changes.

The main point for rehashing these pieces is I believe this is one of the best SPG promotions we will likely have this year. There are still 7 weeks to get your Le Meridien 7 stays to maximize the offer. There is a high value benefit relative to the cost of maximizing this offer.

Offer: (Free nights may be redeemed at most Le Meridien hotels through Mar 31, 2009.)

· Earn one free night after first 3 stays at Le Meridien hotels

· Earn one more night after 5 stays at Le Meridien hotels (2 free nights total)

· Earn two more nights after 7 stays at Le Meridien hotels (4 free nights total)

Dates: Le Meridien hotel stays through March 31, 2008, participating hotels only

Brands: Starwood Le Meridien Hotels—View list for participating properties as most hotels in the brand are eligible, but some properties are not participating.
Le Meriden participating hotels

Registration link: https://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/promotions/registration/landing_page.html?promoID=LEM

Starwood Category 6 Hotels cost 20,000 to 25,000 per free night using points. Opportunities to earn free nights at a Starwood Category 6 hotel do not come around often which makes the Le Meridien-brand promotion for up to 4 free nights after 7 Le Meridien stays an intriguing offer.

The frequent guest needs to get to San Francisco, Boston, Miami, Cancun, Toronto, or Montreal if you want to do the promotion in North America. These are the participating Le Meridien hotels for stays qualifying for the free nights.

Sample rates for North American hotels for this Saturday, February 16, 2008

Le Meridien Cambridge, Boston, Massachusetts $189

Le Meridien Cancun, Mexico $238

Le Meridien Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, Florida $319
(Rate for Feb 21; No Availability for Feb 16.)

Le Meridien Versailles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada $159 CAD

Le Meridien San Francisco $289

Le Meridien King Edward, Toronto, Ontario, Canada $179 CAD

Le Meridien San Francisco View at Dawn
View of North Beach and cruise ship arrival at dawn, May 2007
Le Meridien San Francisco 22nd floor
The following piece is an idea seed for people who have the time and inclination to plan an international Le Meridien getaway for March. When I wrote this in December, I took the time to actually plan a schedule and go through the reservations process to find out the total hotel cost for 7 stays in Germany over a two-week period. This methodology allowed me to see how to plan the routing around Germany to plan for lowest cumulative cost of the hotel nights. Laying out the daily rates for all the hotels in the country allowed me to visualize an itinerary where the trip would take the traveler to Nuremberg when the price for a room at the Le Meridien was under 100 Euros and avoid Cologne when the price was over 300 Euros.

Airfare is still relatively low for travel to Europe in March and the hotel prices are not prohibitive, even when paying in Euros.

A Le Meridien Romance 7-stay (days) planner

Some people look at the Le Meridien promotion and think “No good for me!” San Francisco, Boston, and Miami are the only participating hotels in the USA and I don’t live near these places. A weekend in Canada doesn’t help me get 7 stays.

Loyalty Travelers think outside the box.

Do you want to visit Germany and drink beer in Munich and Nuremberg? Try a late winter/early spring volksmarch in the forest hills and river valley villages of Bavaria.

Do Egyptology and the Pyramids rock you? Sunning in the Seychelles or Bora Bora your fantasy? A week in a 5-star London hotel your cup of tea?

Le Meridien hotel chain was originally established by Air France in 1972. A couple of years ago Starwood purchased the hotel chain and has worked to integrate and showcase the unique flair these hotels offer to the Starwood frequent guest. I personally have stayed in 4 Le Meridien properties in San Francisco, Singapore, and the Netherlands, and I noticed a different style in each hotel that was interesting and memorable for each of my experiences.

Europe, particularly Germany and Italy, are the best represented region for Le Meridien hotels. Egypt is another location with multiple properties. The choice of several Le Meridien properties makes Egypt, Germany, or Italy a great vacation destination for fulfilling the Le Meridien 7-stay promotion requirements.

To reduce the frequency of changing hotels, a couple can book consecutive reservations under each individual’s name. In the past, I have booked one night under my name and the next night under my wife’s name. It might require changing rooms, but keep your loyalty program focus on the objective of earning free nights. Even with a room change possibility, the advantage of two nights in one hotel is a budget minded solution and both SPG members will earn credit as long as the reservations are maintained separately.

[Note: This hotel rate data is from Dec. 12, 2007] I checked a sample week of hotel rates from February 16-23 for Le Meridien hotels in Germany and found prices ranging from 80 Euros/night at Le Meridien Nuremberg and up to 199 Euros for Le Meridien Munich. My sample itinerary would cost about $225US/stay = $1,575 for 7 stays.

Use the points for a high-value hotel redemption such as 4 free nights for a hotel with lowest available rates around $400/night. This Le Meridien promotion allows a frequent guest to stay 11 nights for about $1,600. The fair market rate of $3,200 would be double the actual paid rate for the loyalty traveler who plans the promotion well.

[The math: Traveler pays $1,575 for 7 paid nights at Le Meridien hotels and earns 4 free nights with a $400/night value. $1,575 + $1,600 = $3,175 value received in hotel rooms.]

Egypt has four Le Meridien hotels and prices range from $90 to $130 per night on most dates I checked.

7 nights in hotels will cost about $225/night average. A couple can pay for 14 nights and earn 8 free nights for about $3,000. The free nights can be redeemed for rooms that you would not be able to get for under $400 per night otherwise, even if you had 50% off rack rate. Basically, you can have a two-week vacation in Europe and consider all of your hotel expenses to be credited and applied to a future luxury resort hotel vacation worth at least $3,000 for the 8 free nights in Le Meridien hotel resorts. There are several beach resort Le Meridien properties.

Le Meridien Hotel Singapore

Le Meridien Singapore
Hotels-and-Points article excerpt:

Offer: (Free nights may be redeemed at most Le Meridien hotels through Mar 31, 2009.)
· Earn one free night after first 3 stays at Le Meridien hotels
· Earn one more night after 5 stays at Le Meridien hotels (2 free nights total)
· Earn two more nights after 7 stays at Le Meridien hotels (4 free nights total)
Dates: Le Meridien hotel stays through March 31, 2008, participating hotels only
Brands: Starwood Le Meridien Hotels—View list for participating properties as most hotels in the brand are eligible, but 11 properties are not participating.
Registration link: https://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/promotions/registration/landing_page.html?promoID=LEM

Voyage of Discovery Promotion

2008 is upon us and Starwood has the jump on the other hotel loyalty programs with the first “free nights” of the new year with a Le Meridien-brand promotion.

7 Stays at Le Meridien hotels earns 4 free nights.

Four nights are worth 80,000 to 100,000 points at a Category 6 hotel. This offer is potentially a huge bonus for 7 hotel stays. SPG Category 6 properties in Bora Bora, Seychelles, and London and several expensive Category 5 resorts that normally run about $400 to $500/night in peak season are participating in free nights redemption.

“You can earn the free nights up until 31st March 2008, but you have up until March 31, 2009 to utilize the free nights you earn.”

Potential Value of Le Meridien Free Nights used April 22-26, 2008

Nightly Low Rates for Luxury at these Le Meridien Hotels
(12-15-07 SPG.com)
Bora Bora, French Polynesia (SPG Category 6) 45,000 XPF = $543/night
Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles (Indian Ocean)(SPG Category 6) 485€ = $698/night
Beach Plaza, Monte Carlo, Monaco (SPG Cat 5) 395€ = $567/night
London Piccadilly, United Kingdom (SPG Cat 6) 269 GBP = $544/night

Potential Value of Le Meridien Free Nights used July 22-26, 2008
Bora Bora, French Polynesia (SPG Category 6) 48,500 XPF = $585/night
Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles (Indian Ocean)(SPG Category 6) 485€ = $698/night
Beach Plaza, Monte Carlo, Monaco (SPG Cat 5) 445€ = $641/night
London Piccadilly, United Kingdom (SPG Cat 6) 279 GBP = $564/night

Potential Value of Le Meridien Free Nights used October 12-16, 2008
Bora Bora, French Polynesia (SPG Category 6) 48,500 XPF = $585/night
Fisherman’s Cove, Seychelles (Indian Ocean)(SPG Category 6) 485€ = $698/night
Beach Plaza, Monte Carlo, Monaco (SPG Cat 5) 240€ = $346/night
London Piccadilly, United Kingdom (SPG Cat 6) 279 GBP = $564/night

The primary obstacle to fulfilling this promotion is the relatively small number of participating properties combined with the number of frequent stays to maximize the promotion for its potential value.

The challenge is to either travel to several places over the early months of 2008 or design a vacation to frequent Le Meridien hotels in one region over a week or two of vacation nights. There are only about 120 Le Meridien hotels worldwide. Only 6 hotels are located in North America. Miami, Cancun, and Guadeloupe, in the Caribbean, are all high season rates in winter. Le Meridien hotels in San Francisco, Toronto, and Montreal have hotel rates from $130 to $230 for many dates.

Europe is feasible for hotel hopping this winter with Germany, France, Portugal, and Italy having sufficient hotels at reasonable rates to travel within a region and limit the geographical distance traveling between hotels.

A tour of Le Meridien hotels in Asia can find reasonable rates in Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore. Egypt’s three Le Meridien hotels have lowest average rates in the world.

Winter time in the urban centers of Germany may not be the “Sound of Music” vision you had for a European vacation, but keep the objective in mind of luxury free nights. Stay 7 nights bouncing around western Germany, north and south. Your Le Meridien hotel hopping can take you to Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich, Nuremberg, Cologne, and Hamburg. (Sorry, no LMs in eastern Germany). Plan a two-week trip for a couple and earn 8 free nights and then stay at expensive Le Meridien resort hotels for your next vacation in 2008.
Flights are abundant and airfare is low this winter to Germany. Plan on an average nightly rate of about $225 for your 7 stays. About $1,600 for 7 one-night stays.

A couple spending $3,000 to $4,000 for hotel nights to maximize this promotion can earn another $3,000 to $4,000 in free hotel nights—a two-for-one. A couple can earn 8 free nights for a Le Meridien island resort like Bora Bora, Sardinia, or the Seychelles with a value of $500-$700 per night. Essentially, you can earn free trophy travel by taking a winter European vacation tour with Le Meridien hotels guiding your locations.

Le Meridien Des Indes, The Hague, Netherlands

Le Meridien Des Indes, The Hague, Netherlands  July 2006

Three participating Le Meridien Hotels are in the United States. Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, Florida is in high season with rates regularly $300+. Le Meridien San Francisco is in the low season months and rooms are as low as $129 in December, and $209 rates available many dates in Jan to March. Le Meridien Cambridge, Boston has rates under $200 on some nights.

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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