There are currently 11 hotels in Club Carlson category 7, the new high end category introduced in March 2014 at 70,000 Club Carlson points per night. On June 1, 2015 there will be 67 more category 7 hotels at 70,000 points per night to fill the Club Carlson high end hotel tier with 78 hotels.
London’s burning my Club Carlson points now
In November 2014 I burned 170,000 Club Carlson points for six nights in London when published room rates were around $2,500 for the six hotel nights. London is the city most severely impacted by these June 1 hotel category changes.
To get the best value from my remaining points, I am looking to London for burning my Club Carlson points now.
There are currently 18 Carlson Rezidor hotels in London with the Radisson Blu Edwardian and Park Plaza properties. The May Fair and Park Plaza on the River were already category 7 at 70,000 points per reward night. London sees 13 more hotels rise to category 7. Three hotels in London at category 5 rise to category 6.
Scandinavia sees most category 6 hotels go to category 7. Paris and Switzerland rise. All four USA Radisson Blu hotels in Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia and New York’s Radisson Martinique move to 70,000 points.
Points with a Crew, another Boarding Area blogger, has a sortable Club Carlson reward category changes chart, if you want to focus on hotels in each category. I need a lesson in how to create those myself. I found his sortable table useful for analyzing the changes.
Carlson Rezidor Ambition 2015
Five years ago in March 2010 I attended the Carlson Global Conference Ambition 2015 when the Carlson Rezidor company announced a five year strategic plan to make the company an integrated hotel company with global name recognition. Club Carlson as a loyalty program came about in 2011 and created a six category hotel reward night system with 50,000 points as the high end category. This change had a net effect of decreasing the cost of hotel reward nights around the world at the same time several lucrative promotions were announced for earning 44,000 and 50,000 points with one stay at specific brands. Many of us pulled in several hundred thousand points in 2011 and 2012 from those promotions. The Club Carlson Visa card was introduced in late 2012 with the fantastic benefit of one free night on reward stays of 2 or more nights, limited to USA residents. This meant a 2-night stay on points was 50,000 points for the top priced rewards worldwide. More Club Carlson promotions for bonus points followed.
In 2014 Club Carlson introduced a new category 7 and placed 11 hotels in that top category. These were primarily hotels in London and Paris.
Now, we see a six-fold increase in Club Carlson hotels at 70,000 points per night as of June 1, also the same date that the free reward night for Club Carlson Visa card members goes away.
How the devaluation changes my summer plans
I have a reservation in place for Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Copenhagen for two nights upon arrival in Copenhagen on WOW Air in July. I had planned an itinerary only yesterday to travel to Stockholm and Oslo for our trip. Stockholm is a good use of Club Carlson points, but when it came to Norway, I actually prefer the Nordic Choice hotels available for 16,000 or 20,000 points per night.
The announcement today has me thinking that we will fly to London on $40 round trip RyanAir flights instead of going to Stockholm and Oslo for our summer trip. I think London is the best value for redeeming Club Carlson points since we can book two night stays and bounce around for 8 or 10 days in London hotels. Kelley reminded me this morning that London Museums are free and beer is affordable in London compared to Scandinavia.
12 nights in Europe will burn 300,000 points, if booked before June 1. Perhaps more if I book stays at some of the current category 7 hotels like The May Fair and Plaza on the River.
12 nights in places like Stockholm, Oslo, Paris and London will cost 840,000 points if booked after June 1.
Kelley and I have over 500,000 Club Carlson points between us. That is 20 hotel nights on points, if we book hotels as Category 6 hotel rewards using the Club Carlson Visa benefit before June 1. I had planned to keep 200,000 points in reserve, but this announcement of so many hotels moving to category 7 has changed my plan to burn out my Club Carlson account points for high value now.
I don’t have airline tickets yet for another 2015 trip to Europe after July, but I plan to book all our points reservations before June 1 for another trip to Europe in the fall months.
Club Carlson Silver Lining in India
There are 17 category 2 and category 3 hotels in India dropping to category 1 at 9,000 points per night. A Club Carlson member with 180,000 points can stay 20 nights in India after the changes without the 2-for-1 Vasa card benefit.
This was an unexpected change today for my summer travel plans. I’ll probably have more analysis after I study the tables more carefully. For now, I am more focused on making my own reservations for Club Carlson hotel reward stays. The last time I planned a trip to Scandinavia with Kelley when I planned to burn Hilton HHonors points at Scandic Hotels back when every hotel was 10,000 points per night, British Airways announced that USA to Australia in First Class was rising from 140,000 miles to 420,000 miles in June 2003. We ended up spending our summer vacation in Australia at Starwood Hotels, instead of Norway and Sweden. Looks like Copenhagen might be as much of Scandinavia as Kelley sees this summer.
London’s Calling us, again.