Posted by Ric Garrido

Club Carlson launched March 31, 2011 as the redesigned hotel loyalty program for Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The loyalty program includes over 1,100 hotels globally in the hotel brands of Radisson Blu, Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn and Country Inns & Suites.

Hotel Missoni, a luxury brand of the hotel chain has only two properties currently open in Edinburgh and Kuwait. Hotel Missoni is not yet participating in Club Carlson.

Club Carlson is a split personality that has unified into one hotel loyalty program. The American side of Club Carlson is one of extremely generous promotions over the past two years, a program heavily populated with Country Inns & Suites hotels in the eastern half of the country and the midwest states around its Carlson HQ city of Minneapolis. Radisson (green) had a bad rap in the USA with older hotels. Intensive property improvement plans and the shedding of dozens of Radisson Hotels in the past four years has improved the average Radisson in the USA.

Radisson Blu, prominent in Europe and other global regions are upper-upscale hotels on par with Marriott, Hilton, Westin and Hyatt Regency. Typical room rates are far higher in Radisson Blu hotels than Radisson Hotels in the USA. Club Carlson points tend to have better value in Europe for high end market hotels in major cities like London, Amsterdam and Paris. London in particular has a large network of Radisson Blu and Park Plaza hotels.

Six Carlson Rezidor Hotel Brands

  1. Radisson Blu - upper upscale hotel market segment with 275 hotels globally.
  2. Radisson (green) – upscale with 150 hotels.
  3. Park Plaza – upscale (41 hotels, with 40 outside USA)
  4. Country Inns & Suites – upper midscale (around 470 hotels, mostly USA, also India, Canada and Mexico)
  5. Park Inn – Upper midscale (140 hotels)
  6. Hotel Missoni – luxury (2 hotels)

Carlson Rezidor Global Hotel Directory pdf link (January 2014)

Hotel market segment for chain brands is from Smith Travel Research/ STR Global hotel industry room rate data.  economy, midscale, upper midscale, upscale, upper upscale, luxury.

Most hotel chain brands in big programs with 1,000+ hotels like Hilton 4,000+ hotels), InterContinental Hotels Group (4,600 hotels) and Marriott (3,900 hotels) fall in the upper midscale, upscale, upper upscale and luxury segments.

Similar to the profile of Accor Hotels, this post shows how Club Carlson defines their own brands as a way to examine their marketing pitch to consumers.

Radisson Blu Hotels

Radisson Blu – Hotels Designed To Say Yes!

One of the world’s leading hotel brands, Radisson Blu is iconic and contemporary with leading-edge style where the delight is in the detail. The brand’s innovative design-inspired rooms, superb meeting and event facilities, fitness and spas, very own restaurants and bars and Yes I Can! ethos delivers a guest experience that is truly unique in the world of hotels today.
Radissonblu.com

Club Carlson brand descriptions link.

A bit of marketing pitch to me. I have liked the Radisson Blu hotels where I have stayed and there is style. Like an aquarium in the lobby of Radisson Blu Berlin.

Radisson Blu Berlin

Cylinder aquarium in lobby of Radisson Blu Berlin. This architectural wonder of the atrium lobby is also seen from elevators and interior facing rooms of the hotel. Visits inside the aquarium are handled by a concession and not run by the Radisson Blu hotel. I stayed in Berlin and Oslo at Radisson Blu hotels. Loved both of them and they ranked high for hotel location and quality.

Chicago, Philadelphia and Mall of America, Bloomington, MN are only three Radisson Blu hotels in USA at this time.

Radisson Hotels

Radisson® – Caring. Sharing. Daring.

Radisson is contemporary by attitude, socially responsible and service-driven. A brand that is caring, sharing and daring at its heart and core, Radisson understands guests as real people with very real wants and needs, is truly committed to building meaningful, personal relationships and has a passion for Yes I Can! hospitality. Radisson.com

Does not tell me much about the rooms or market segment. The Radisson hotels where I have stayed in California had nicely furnished lobbies and tended to be comparable quality as neighboring properties of other hotel brands in the same location. Rooms are functional. The hotels have mostly been good experiences and the bonus offers for hotel stays have put me into most of the USA Radisson hotels.

Radisson bridge photo

Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco

Country Inns & Suites

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM – I love this Country

Country Inns & Suites By CarlsonSM is an upper midscale brand focused on delivering caring, consistent and comfortable hospitality with a touch of home. From our complimentary hot breakfast served on classic diningware, to how guests are treated like family whether they are staying with us for business or leisure, Country Inns & Suites delivers unexpected value at each stay. It’s for these reasons and more, our guests say, “I love this Country.”
Countryinns.com

I would have more to say about Country Inns & Suites if there were more properties in the western USA. My local hotels in the Silicon Valley south of San Francisco command outrageous rates from the tech world visitors and I have never stayed locally.

Complimentary hot cooked breakfast is a great feature of the few Country Inns & Suites where I have stayed in the USA.

image

Country Inns Breakfast

 

Park Plaza Hotels

Park Plaza® – Smart, Spirited Service

With smart, engaging service, Park Plaza hotels’ trend-setting designs capture the energy and style of each individual location. An upscale hotel brand for business and leisure travelers, Park Plaza offers stylish guestrooms, outstanding meeting spaces and dedicated staff who offer reliable service that is flawlessly delivered.  Park Plaza hotels go out of their way to show appreciation to their guests.
Parkplaza.com

There are currently 41 Park Plaza hotels with one hotel in the USA at Bloomington, MN. There are 11 hotels in the UK, mostly in London. Croatia (3), Germany (3), The Netherlands (5), Israel (1) and Brazil (2) have Park Plaza Hotels. China (3), India (10) and Thailand (2) are emerging markets.

Park Plaza Westminster in London is located directly across the bridge from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

Park Plaza Westminster

My room view from Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London (March 2013).

 

Park Inn

Park Inn by Radisson – Adding Color To Life

Park Inn by Radisson is a fresh and energetic, full-service upper midscale brand, focused on the essentials of a great hotel experience. Park Inn delivers on what really matters: comfortable beds, spotlessly clean rooms and hassle-free service in a vibrant, friendly environment. Add some color into your next stay and see how Park Inn is different by looks, different by attitude.
Parkinn.com

Park Inn is an upper midscale brand with 140 hotels, mostly outside the USA, although growing in the states.

– complimentary internet.

– complimentary lite and go breakfast.

Follow-up posts will cover earning and burning Club Carlson points. Club Carlson has earned a reputation for high value promotions and a credit card benefit offering one free night on every award stay of 2 or more nights.

*****

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.

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8 Responses

  1. I’d note that Club Carlson has another brand called Art’otel that they’re rolling out in Europe. I think they’re technically part of the Park Plaza brand, but I’m not sure why, because they are so different. As the name implies, the hotels feature a cool art vibe — and art. I’ve stayed at their Budapest hotel, which has a great location along the Danube, and I plan to stay at their new Amsterdam hotel, which is getting 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor.

  2. I have been very frustrated with the Park Inn website.

    When I search for Canterbury, England, it comes up with the Park Inn Canterbury, which is expected to open in 2011, and a phone number that does not work.

    Club Carlson reservations also cannot seem to figure out if this hotel exists yet, or if it will ever.

  3. Great overview to a portfolio of hotels that has terrible marketing people behind it
    At least they improved the program so it can compete
    I find their award availability criminal so I stopped ding business with them
    Its easy to promise redeem two nights get the 3rd free
    with their credit card
    Tried 6 times in London and Chicago and never once could get more than a night or two in a row if lucky
    Canceled the credit card stopped staying in their hotels

    Comment by D Wonderment on January 8th, 2014 at 1:31 pm
  4. Among the Club Carlson hotels that are in central locations and get pretty good customer reviews, these would probably top most lists:
    All three Radisson Blus downtown Paris, as mentioned above;
    The Madrid Prado Radisson Blu;
    The Copenhagen Tivoli Radisson Blu;
    The Budapest Art’ otel, as recommended by iahphx (and Rick Steves);
    Vienna Style Radisson Blu;
    Nantes (France) Radisson Blu;
    A few of the London CC hotels, including The Mayfair Radisson Blu (due more to its larger rooms and location than for its customer service).

  5. @D Wonderment – I’ve had the opposite experience when trying to utilize the free award night with the credit card. I’ve had success every time I’ve tried it (5). Also, it’s redeem 2 (minimum) and get the last night free, not minimum 3 as you stated.

  6. I just staid at the Radisson Blu Gewandhaus Hotel Dresden, RB Alcron Prague and RB Style in Vienna – RB Dresden is in a historic building, Prague and Vienna were stylish boutique properties – more like a W than a Marriott. I used a 2for1 night offer in Dresden (better value than points) and was able to use the second-night-free awards in Vienna and Prague, at sold-out hotels over New Years no less!
    The Club Carlson program and credit card is awesome, especially if you have a chance to travel to Europe! The award redemptions at the Radisson Blu hotels are exceptional value! I found award availability to be pretty good and was able to get rooms where I wanted to go. I already have award reservations for Cape Town, no problem, and even finding availability in Paris and Rome for this year…

  7. To add to the list of really good Club Carlson properties, I’d recommend the boutique-like Radisson Blu in Cape Town. Fantastic, quiet location along the waterfront, but within easy reach of downtown.

  8. Great analysis Ric, Club Carlson is a great program, great service and the last night free on two or more Reward Nights with a Club Carlson Visa card makes this program a must have. I do have one point of disagreement. I would not classify Country Inn and Suites as “upper midscale”. Country Inn are not on par with Courtyard by Marriott or Hampton Inn. Closer on average (or slightly above La Quinta) or similar to Comfort Inns. Some of their properties are old and in poor condition. Their unique design makes it hard for Country Inn franchises to change to another brand.

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