Club Carlson Hotel Rewards Category Reassignment Analysis – Overview and Category 1 Hotels

Club Carlson replaced goldpoints plus on March 31, 2011 as the hotel loyalty program for Carlson Hotels which consists of Radisson, Park Plaza, Park Inn and Country Inns & Suites hotel brands.

There was a significant shift in the hotel reward category assignments for U.S. properties. Most U.S. hotels were reassigned to a higher category and increased in points cost for a free night reward despite a reduction in the points required for a free night in each of the six categories of hotel rewards. 395 of 587 hotels in U.S. cost more for a reward night while 134 hotels decreased in reward night cost. 

In Europe and internationally the changes are substantially more favorable with a number of hotels decreasing in category and points cost per night in the new Club Carlson hotel reward category assignments. Europe, Middle East and Africa saw 271 hotels of 349 hotels dropping in cost and only 54 hotels rising in reward night cost.

Asia and Pacific hotels overall saw a decrease in hotel reward night cost.

Loyalty Traveler presents a detailed analysis of the hotel reward category changes in Club Carlson from the former goldpoints plus program and the impact on the cost in points for a free night in different regions of the world.

These reward category hotel assignment changes will be covered in a series of posts due to the length of this analysis.

Club Carlson unifies the Earn Rate Differentials

Goldpoints plus was often called the Radisson Hotel program (FlyerTalk) when in fact midscale hotel brand Country Inns & Suites is the largest brand by number of hotels in the Carlson Hotels family. Country Inns & Suites are predominantly in the U.S. and Canada (475 hotels) along with about 120 upscale Radisson Hotels. USA hotels comprise about 55% of the global properties of 1,070 Carlson Hotels in 77 countries. Carlson Hotels plans to grow to 1,500 hotels by 2015.

Club Carlson has a globally uniform earn rate at 20 points per U.S. dollar for all hotel brands in the 1,070 properties of Carlson Hotels. This program change eliminates the split personality aspect of the former goldpoints plus loyalty program where hotel stays had different earn rates depending on the location and brand of the Carlson hotel.

In the former goldpoints plus loyalty program, hotels in Europe, Africa and the Middle East earned 20 points per Euro for Radisson and Park Plaza hotels stays and 15 points per Euro at Park Inn and Country Inns & Suites . Hotel stays in the Americas and Asia-Pacific earned 20 points per U.S. dollar for Radisson and Park Plaza and 15 points per dollar for Country Inns & Suites and Park Inn.

The change in earn rate to 20 points/US$1 for all hotel stays globally benefits members in all areas.

Currently over 95% of the 500+ Country Inns & Suites are located in North America. Club Carlson members now earn 33% more points per US dollar in hotel spend at Country Inn and Park Inn brands. A Club Carlson member who earned 1,500 points for a $100 Country Inn stay last week earns 2,000 points for the same spend this week.

The majority of Park Inn locations are in Europe and the change to 20 points per dollar is a 33% increase along with a present-day currency factor of 1.40 US dollars per Euro. A member staying at a 100€ per night Park Inn last week earned 1,500 goldpoints in the former program and now with Club Carlson the same 100€ stay earns about 2,800 points, dependent on currency conversion rates. That is an 87% increase, so international members should keep this in mind if feeling slighted about the Club Carlson CWT Vacation rewards and Club Med options being restricted to U.S. and Canada residents at the present time.

Hotels in some countries, specifically the USA, see rises in the number of points required for a free night and hotels in other countries, particularly places in Europe see the cost of a free night fall to new lows.

Category 1 Hotels

There were 131 hotels assigned to Category-1 in goldpoints plus. Club Carlson reduced the cost of a reward night in Category-1 from 15,000 points per night down to 9,000 points per night, a 40% reduction in reward cost, yet also reduced the number of hotels assigned to category-1 from 131 to 51 hotels.

Category-1 hotel global distribution of 51 hotels.

  • USA = 24 hotels
  • Canada = 0 hotels
  • Mexico = 3 hotels
  • Europe = 14 hotels
  • Egypt = 3 hotels
  • China = 1 hotel
  • India = 6 hotels

Earning 9,000 points for a category-1 hotel reward night takes only $450 in hotel spend for a general member, making Club Carlson the lowest spend to standard reward cost ratio among hotel loyalty programs. Club Carlson Concierge level members earn a 75% elite bonus and the cost of a free night requires only $257 in spend. Concierge elite requires 75 nights or 30 stays in a calendar year.

For comparison, HHonors Points & Points is the next lowest program with an earn rate at 15 points/$1 requiring $500 in spend to earn a 7,500 points category 1 reward night. Marriott Rewards requires $750 in spend for a category 1 reward night at 7,500 points. Keep in mind that the cost of a reward does not have a correlation to the number of hotels assigned to that reward category. For example, Hilton has about 40 hotels or only around 1% of its 3,600 hotels in category 1, whereas Club Carlson has 51 hotels in category 1 for nearly 5% of its global hotels. Marriott Rewards has about 250 hotels in category 1 or about 7% of its global hotels.

USA Hotels overwhelmingly reassigned to higher reward category in Club Carlson.

USA Category 1 Hotels

  • 24 hotels in USA are Club Carlson category 1 hotels.
  • Only 19 hotels of 107 hotels in the U.S. in category 1 last week remain in category 1.
  • Only 3 hotels in the USA dropped from goldpoints plus category-2 to Club Carlson category-1.
  • Over 50 hotels formerly category-1 increased to Club Carlson Category 2 and are still 15,000 points for a reward night in Club Carlson for no change in points required for a free night.
  • About 20 hotels that were goldpoints plus category 1 increased to category 3 and currently cost 28,000 points compared to 15,000 points last week; an 87% increase in reward night cost.

Europe, Africa and Middle East (EMEA) Category 1 Hotels

  • There are 17 hotels in Club Carlson hotel reward category-1. Europe sees a rise from 3 hotels formerly in category-1 to 14 hotels. Europe only had three category-1 hotels before Club Carlson and all were in Sweden. 
  • Two of the Sweden hotels are now category-5 hotels and increased from 15,000 points to 44,000 points per night (193% increase) and one hotel is category-4 at 38,000 points (153% increase).
  • The other three former category-1 hotels were in Egypt and two of these hotels remain at category-1 and Radisson Blu Resort Sharm el Sheikh was reassigned to category 3 and increased from 15,000 to 28,000 points per night.
  • 14 hotels in Europe and one in Egypt were reassigned to category 1 in Club Carlson from the former Goldpoints Plus category-2 (7), Category-3 (6), and Category-4 (2). This is a dramatic reduction in the cost for a hotel reward night at these hotels.
  • Park Inn Pribaltiyskaya St. Petersburg and Radisson Blu Alexandria Egypt dropped from category-4 at 40,000 points per night to category-1 at 9,000 points per night for a 72% reduction in cost. Four nights at these hotels are less than the cost of one night last week.
  • 6 hotels in Europe dropped from category-3 (30,000 points per night in goldpoints plus) to Club Carlson category-1 at 9,000 points for a 70% decrease in reward night cost.


Club Carlson Category 1 Hotels and Former Category Assignment

Yellow-fill cells with no 2010 category were not listed on the Goldpoints Plus website in February 2011 when data was acquired.  (Click on image to open full size in separate window).

Links will be added to this post as more analyses are added to the Club Carlson hotel reward category reassignments.

Related Posts:

Club Carlson Hotel Rewards Category Reassignment Analysis – Overview and Category-1 (April 7)

Club Carlson Category 2 Hotel Rewards Analysis (April 8 )

Club Carlson Category 3 Hotel Rewards Analysis (April 8 )

Club Carlson Category 4 Hotel Rewards Analysis (April 8 )

Club Carlson Category 5 Hotel Rewards Analysis (April 9)

Club Carlson Category 6 Hotel Rewards Analysis (April 9)

Competitive Advantages of Club Carlson Hotel Rewards (April 10)

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 »



  1. HI Ric,

    On Carlson’s webpage, they list Category 2 hotels as costing 15,000 points, not 16,000:

    Points needed for an Award Night
    (Standard Room)
    Category 1 9,000
    Category 2 15,000
    Category 3 28,000
    Category 4 38,000
    Category 5 44,000
    Category 6 50,000

  2. @Bob – Thanks for the correction. I was working off a chart Carlson Hotels provided me in February. They obviously changed category 2 from 16,000 to 15,000 before the program launched.

    This does not affect the analysis too much. I created a new old category and new category chart to correct category 2 from 16,000 to 15,000 points and I changed the sentence for 2 out of 3 hotels costing more in USA with Club Carlson. It is probably around 50% of hotels costing more in USA.

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