Mar282012

Aspirational Best Western properties for using Free Night

The title of this post is lifted from this FlyerTalk thread “Aspirational BW properties for Using Free Night.” I checked in on this FlyerTalk thread a couple of times over the past two weeks hoping to see a growing list of Best Western hotels people praised.

The lack of recommendations for aspirational hotels in the Best Western chain led to a qualification of “expensive” Best Western hotels. The Best Western forum on FlyerTalk does not get a whole lot of attention with fewer than 25 threads responded to in the past two months. MilePoint offers even less discussion with only two posters for the current 3 stays, one night free promotion ending April 8. I called the Best Western free night offer a 5-star promotion for a midscale chain. I expected free night offers to be scarce in 2012 and there have been a couple of surprises.

Grab the good offer for the next ten days it lasts. You can only earn one free night anyway. The new Best Western promotion is kind of more what I expected for 2012. The upcoming Best Western promotion looks weak.

Midscale Chains get Short Shrift

Midscale chains like Best Western get short shrift from the elite frequent flyer crowd looking for ways to get aspirational hotels on award stays for little money down. SPG, IHG, Marriott, Hilton and Hyatt all offer that.

But the average hotel rate per night to earn points will be higher in those chains; sometimes much higher.

The main point I like to make about Best Western is the large number of hotels around the world in the Best Western chain (4,200+ hotels). There are about 300 Best Western hotels in the UK and 200 hotels in Australia.

Best Western has far more hotels outside the USA (around 2,000? hotels) than any other major chain besides Accor (France based hotel chain). And Accor does not operate a loyalty program conducive to leveraging low rate paid stays into high rate reward stays. Accor points exchange into cash credits. Using $50 vouchers off a $300 hotel night is not the same value as a free $300 hotel night with points in U.S.-based hotel chain loyalty programs.

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The Best Western hotel chain has more international hotels than Marriott and Hilton combined. Wyndham (7,000+ hotels) and Choice (6,000+ hotels) are larger hotel chains, but almost all their hotels are in the USA (80 to 90%?).

[I use a question mark by some hotel chain numbers because these are my educated guesses from past analyses and I don’t want to take the time to research those fine details right now.]

Aspirational Quest

I decided to seek out some expensive and possibly aspirational Best Western Hotels. There have got to be some gems out of 4,200 hotels in 100 countries.

I have not been to any of these Best Western hotels mentioned. This is raw internet research. The same kind of limitation most travelers face when searching out hotel options for a new location.

The Best of the Best – Best Western Premier

Best Western has done some of the aspirational quest work already by designating hotels into three tiers in 2011 with the top tier Best Western Premier, followed by Best Western Plus and the other 3,000 or so hotels remaining plain old Best Western.

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Best Western Premier hotels seemed like a logical place to seek out aspirational hotels. I also decided to focus on international hotels since the vast majority of Best Western Premier hotels are outside the USA.

In early 2011 Best Western Rewards launched the three tier system and celebrated with a 650,000 bonus points promotion for the first ten people to stay in a Best Western in all three tiers. I completed the task in the first three nights of the promotion. So did around 25 other Best Western Rewards members. I didn’t win one of the ten prizes for 650,000 bonus points.

But I did stay at the Best Western Premier Ivy Hotel, Napa, California. The room was a nicely furnished room in a remodeled hotel that I enjoyed. The hotel itself seemed like a roadside motel in northern California. I wouldn’t dub Hotel Ivy as aspirational.

Perhaps some of these Best Western Hotels are aspirational.

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague felt like the real Disneyland Europe to my wife and I when we spent a week there in February 2007. No fast rides, except on incredibly steep elevators in the subway system, but we drank great beer, and saw a castle and lots of old buildings. And really drank many different kinds of beer. Art too – on buildings and in museums and around the hotel. In 2007, glass art in stores was really inexpensive to buy. Our regret is we didn’t buy some objects of beauty while in Prague.

Best Western Premier Hotel Royal Palace

Best Western Hotel Royal Palace is about 1/4 mile north from the gorgeous Mala Strana district where we spent our week in Prague. I have not been to the Best Western hotel, but the location looks to me like a great location for Prague if you want to walk historic neighborhoods and also have easy subway transportation.

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The Best Western Premier Royal Palace hotel is shown in this Google Maps photo of Prague.

The astronomical clock photo in Loyalty Traveler homepage slideshow is from the clock in the historic square of Prague that is an easy walk across the river from the Best Western hotel location.

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159 EUR = US$210.11 (tax included) or free night voucher or 24,000 points. Hotel has 36 rooms and suites.

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Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka in historic Helsinki, Finland prison.

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106 rooms in a hotel that was converted from a 19th century prison closed down in the past decade.

The oldest part of BEST WESTERN PREMIER Hotel Katajanokka dates back to 1837 and the main part to 1888. The building originally served as a county prison and pretrial detention centre. The prison was closed down in 2002. The open central corridor, red brick outer walls and the high wall around the park are protected by the National Board of Antiquities and serve as a reminder of the building’s long and colourful history.

Following extensive restoration work, a high-quality and modern hotel opened its doors in May 2007. BEST WESTERN PREMIER Hotel Katajanokka is the first Premier hotel in Finland for the World’s Biggest Hotel Family, Best Western.

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One free night voucher or 24,000 points or USD$229 at Best Western Premier Hotel Katajanokka. Your friends bring out pictures of a European ice hotel and you can show them your photos from a stay at a Baltic region prison hotel. Sounds so gulag.

 

Best Western Premier Majestic Ponta Negra Beach, Natal, Brazil – Southern Beach Skies

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One free night voucher or 32,000 points or USD $128 for a night at Majestic Ponta Negra Beach, Natal, Brazil. Not a great rate savings for 32,000 points. How many other major hotel chains have a hotel in Natal, Brazil?

Best Western Premier Hotel Kaiserhof Wien, Vienna, Austria

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One free night voucher or 36,000 points or USD $250 for a night at Hotel Keiserhof in Vienna.

 

Best Western Premier Hotel Corsica, Calvi, Island of Corsica, France

Calvi is on the north coast of the French island Corsica off the coast of Italy. Summer tourism is big business and prices are high.

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One free night voucher or 36,000 points or USD $400 for a night at Best Western Premier Hotel Corsica.

 

Best Western Premier Hotel Laurus al Duomo Firenze, Florence, Italy

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One free night voucher or 36,000 points or USD$460 for a night at Best Western Premier Hotel Laurus al Duomo in Florence, Italy.

 

Best Western Premier Hotel Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan

I have visited Dresden, Germany a couple of times and saw the burnt buildings from the WWII firestorm that raged through the city and killed tens of thousands. Nagasaki seems like a pilgrimage we all should make in the atomic age.

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One free night voucher or 28,000 points or USD$261 for a night at Best Western Premier Hotel Nagasaki, Nagasaki, Japan.

 

Best Western Premier Port Harcourt Hotel, Port Harcourt, Nigeria

This hotel makes my list just because it sounds so James Bond for the 21st century petroleum business traveler.

The hotel homepage has this warning to prospective guests:

Please be aware that you need to book transport and a security escort with the hotel on booking. Most local companies have their own security services and can also do this for you. if booked with hotel, rate will be advised at time of booking.

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One free night voucher or 28,000 points or USD$280 for a Queen Bed Superior room night at Best Western Premier Port Harcourt Hotel. A hotel for those who aspire hotel living on the edge.

 

Best Western Sile Gardens Hotel, Sile, Turkey

Istanbul is a city of fine hotels at the crossroads of global regions. This city has three Best Western Premier hotels including the all-suites Acropol Suites & Spa. I could not find any reward night availability for these three hotels through June 30.

Then I saw the photos of Best Western Sile Gardens.

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Obviously you can’t write off the hotels without a Plus or Premier label.

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The hotel is 20,000 points per night or USD $227 for a large King Bed room at the Best Western Sile Gardens Hotel, Sile, Turkey.

One of the interesting facets of Best Western Reward nights is the option to get a higher category room with points. I often see this with IHG Priority Club reward nights too.

And I have not even ventured into the territory of Paris and London.

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36,000 points or $367.70 or a free night voucher from the current Best Western Stay 3, One Night Free promotion through April 8.

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

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Comments

  1. Thanks Ric! I almost PMed you to ask you to specifically address this question.

    I was looking at using some certs in Moab over Mem Day weekend. Rate around $200 per night seem like good value. But they are almost sold out. 🙁

  2. Enough! YOu must have been paid well for this post – too long and far too brand specific. A also think that you have runined the word, “aspirational,” for all time. Come on… Clean up you act at least a little.

  3. @Cook – As far as I can tell, it was just Ric showing that a low-to-mid end hotel chain can have nice properties. They may not be the Hilton Maldives, but they are still very nice properties given what one usually expects from Best Western.

    The same can be said for Wyndham (including a fantastic Ramada I stayed at on points at Bourbon & Toulouse in New Orleans last year) and Choice (Just look at their Scandinavian properties, for example).

  4. Thanks for the post! I’d been trying to figure out if this promotion was working working towards. I think I’ll sit this one out, but if I already had hotel visits coming up, I’d jump right in.

  5. We stayed at the Hotel Laurus al Duomo Firenze several years ago – the hotel was great – but the location was amazing. You walked outside of the hotel and you were right at the Duomo.

    You missed a gem in Venice http://www.venicehotelmontecarlo.it/en . Hotel Montecarlo – one block off St Mark Square. You couldn’t ask for a better location.

    I really like Best Western’s in Europe, but not so much in the States. Plus, Best Westerns in Europe are usually reasonably priced, so it doesn’t make sense for me to mattress run for free nights, which I can do with Club Carlson or IHG.

  6. cook – this is exactly the sort of original, quality material that frequent travellers blogs SHOULD be publishing, not just regurgitating promo information from FT or Milepoint!

  7. @cook – I will disclose anytime I am writing a sponsored post. They are extremely rare on Loyalty Traveler.

    The whole point of the post was to be brand specific. I think my purpose was stated clearly.

    “Aspirational Quest

    I decided to seek out some expensive and possibly aspirational Best Western Hotels. There have got to be some gems out of 4,200 hotels in 100 countries.

    I have not been to any of these Best Western hotels mentioned. This is raw internet research. The same kind of limitation most travelers face when searching out hotel options for a new location.”

  8. I have had some good stays at a couple of nicer Best Westerns in the US.

    The Best Western Plus Carriage Inn in San Francisco was conveniently located and nicely appointed. It definitely felt like a boutique hotel more than a chain hotel. The price was much better than comparable Hilton properties on the dates when I stayed.

    The Best Western Pioneer Inn in Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii, is a great location in a historic building (the oldest hotel on Maui). It was a bit rustic feeling, and the room’s interior was a bit dated, but the size was sufficient, and the patio (lanai) was nice and large, and well-situated for people-watching in the middle of Lahaina, where all the shops are located, instead of the relatively isolated resorts a few miles up the road. Easy walking distance to all of the restaurants and shops in the tourist area. The price was also VERY reasonable compared to the resorts. I think it was only around $100/night. For Maui this is a great deal.

    Neither of these is necessarily “aspirational” — nothing close to a Ritz-Carlton, Park Hyatt, or Conrad — and they might not even be good values as reward stays (since the rates are reasonable anyway); but they were on the higher end of the Best Western scale, and my wife and I enjoyed our time there.

    I chose them because at the time I was a Platinum with BW due to work stays. I did not really receive anything special for being a Platinum, in either case. I was technically entitled to the best available room, and it’s debatable whether I got it or not, but in both hotels I think the total number of rooms was low enough that there would not be much differentiation.

  9. Well, this post works for me. I just finished what for me was my first aspirational stay at a Waldorf Resort property in Boca Raton, and it was disappointing. On my average stay, I had been doing HHonors and Hampton Inn. But sometimes I actually like the local Best Western better than the Hampton Inn. So I am now more open to what this Midscale has to offer. Thanks.

  10. @LBB Flyer – Best Western Plus Tuscan Inn at Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco is actually owned by Kimpton Hotels. This property consistently is among the highest rated hotels in San Francisco.
    http://www.tuscaninn.com/

    There is also a Best Western at Pismo Beach, California that I am going to stay at one of these days. It is situated on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The place must have gorgeous sunsets on clear days.
    http://book.bestwestern.com/bestwestern/US/CA/Pismo-Beach-hotels/BEST-WESTERN-PLUS-Shore-Cliff-Lodge/Hotel-Overview.do?propertyCode=05203&cm_mmc=PTI-_-local-_-feed-_-05203

  11. As the OP of the FT thread, I really appreciate Ric addressing this. Look, maybe ‘aspirational’ is a bit tongue-in-cheek since it’s a BW property — I get that. But clearly there are good, bad, and great uses of the BW free nights. As a miles and points geek, I’m very interested in seeing how to maximize the value from these.

    I very much agree with the comment about ‘original content’ — rather than pimp credit cards like the rest of the bloggers, Ric is actually generating his own content here, and does a fantastic job of analyzing all levels of reward programs.

    Keep up the good work.

  12. The Carcassonne BW looks interesting. Will have to take the game over there and play it also. 🙂

    While you focused on those outside the US, I’m more interested in the ones in the US. Hawaii is nice – thanks LBB Flyer.

    Currently thinking about using the free night in Nederland, CO. A scenic little town. It’s where liberals go when they think Boulder is too conservative.

  13. Another California Coast location, good for visiting Hearst Castle, is San Simeon, with its Best Western Plus Cavalier Inn.
    Also, we also have loved some of the historic properties we have stayed at in Europe.

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