Conde Nast Traveler has released its Gold List 2012 for the World’s Best Places to Stay. There are 511 hotels on the list and 214 of these make the Platinum Circle for five years as Gold List picks.
I just wish they included the hotel loyalty program for these hotels. In the past I have actually created a loyalty program list from the CN Gold List. Many of these hotels have sky high rates that are irrelevant if you are redeeming your points from Choice Privileges or Red Lion R&R Club points for a Preferred Hotel Group reward stay. Some hotels are Kimpton properties where Kimpton InTouch members earn a free night after every seven stays. There are Ritz-Carlton hotels you can redeem Marriott Rewards points for free nights and Waldorf-Astoria Hotels for using HHonors points.
St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, California is a Starwood Resort where I have redeemed several free nights over the years from various SPG free night promotions. This hotel is a SPG category 6 award night at 20,000 or 25,000 points per night.
The SPG “Stay Three, Getaway Free” promotion from May through July 2011 earned a free resort night after every three stays. Westin Monache and St. Regis Aspen are the other two hotels I used free nights from this year’s SPG Resort promotion. I probably should have stayed at Westin Riverfront in Avon, Colorado since the St. Regis Aspen didn’t make the 2012 Gold List and I wasn’t impressed with the hotel either.
Last month I stayed at the St. Regis Monarch Beach using free nights when the lowest published rate was $660 per night. I earned all my free nights for under $300 each.
St. Regis Monarch Beach Arrival
My wife was shocked when I actually let the attendant valet park my car for this stay. I do valet parking even less frequently than taking a taxi. There is a street a block away from the St. Regis with some unmetered parking where I usually leave the car, but I splurged this stay with $30 per day valet parking.
My tip for other cheapass travelers visiting the St. Regis Monarch Beach is the hotel has one hour of free self-parking in the garage. You can park in the garage and check-in with your luggage and then move your car to the free zone on Stonehill Drive if there is parking space. CNTraveler is not going to give you a tip like that on their Gold List.
Check-in at St. Regis Monarch Beach
A couple of years ago I blasted St. Regis Monarch Beach for the response I got from the front desk when I mentioned being a SPG Platinum member. What a difference two years make. The young woman who checked us in for our stay went into detail about SPG Platinum benefits. I received 500 bonus points for a welcome amenity. In 2009 the desk clerk said something to me like, “We are a resort and we don’t have to provide a Platinum member amenity.”
The $25 resort fee was knocked down to $15 as a SPG Platinum member. Although I did have to point that out to the receptionist who checked us out when the folio showed $25 per day resort fee.
The fact that there was some SPG Platinum member recognition was a huge improvement at the hotel from my last stay. And we received a better view room this time.
Here was the room view from our last stay.
My first stay in 2005 back when I was still a wage earner business traveler provided the best room I ever had at the hotel. Since then my rooms at the St. Regis dispel the myth of special treatment upgrades for being a hotel travel blogger.
The grounds and facilities of the St. Regis Monarch Beach are the highlight of the hotel. This place offers traditional luxury.
St. Regis Monarch Beach hotel is actually about 1/2 mile from the beach. There is a paved walking path through the golf course and a golf cart shuttle transports hotel guests to and from the beach.
Previous Loyalty Traveler posts provide more detail and photos on rooms and facilities.
St. Regis Monarch Beach – The Room (Sep 23, 2009)
St. Regis Monarch Beach – The Hotel (Sep 24, 2009)
St. Regis Monarch Beach – Pools and Beach (Sep 25, 2009)