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Challenge tutorial: 7 nights in Chicago for $700 during IPW convention

Today I took my first look for good hotel rates in Chicago when the big IPW travel trade show of the U.S. Travel Association is in town in early April.

2014 seems to be my agricultural and rust belt tours with Detroit in January, Minneapolis in February and Chicago in April.

Hotels love the high rates a convention brings.

April 3-10, 2014 (7 nights)

  1. Chicago Marriott Downtown = $260
  2. Hyatt Regency Chicago = $259
  3. Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers = $255
  4. Park Hyatt Chicago = $250.50
  5. Radisson Blu Aqua = $247
  6. InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile = $240
  7. Conrad Chicago = $235
  8. JW Marriott Chicago = $199
  9. Courtyard Chicago Downtown = $196
  10. Springhill Suites by Marriott Chicago Downtown = $191
  11. Residence Inn Marriott Chicago Downtown = $190
  12. Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza = $190
  13. Hampton Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown = $179
  14. Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago Downtown = $177
  15. Sofitel Chicago Water Tower = $175 (nice deal for a beautiful hotel)
  16. W Chicago Lakeshore = $173
  17. Four Points Chicago Downtown = $173
  18. Embassy Suites Chicago Downtown = $170
  19. Aloft Chicago City Center = $170
  20. Crowne Plaza Metro Chicago Downtown = $167
  21. Holiday Inn Chicago Downtown = $159
  22. Hyatt Chicago Magnificent Mile = $157

These are all rates that will make my hotel spend upwards of $1,200.

My main objectives are Marriott stays for MegaBonus credit to earn one free category 1-4 hotel night after two stays by April 30.

Club Carlson 38,000 bonus points for three nights by April 13.

IHG Next Big Win credit for 76,600 bonus points after 5 nights, 2 brands, 2 Saturdays and other tasks.

I don’t want to spend more than $700 for a week in Chicago hotels. And I don’t want to burn my points for a business trip unless that is unquestionably the best deal.

IPW Chicago 2014 Hotel Rate Challenge

The challenge I have set for myself is booking seven nights in brand name hotels in downtown Chicago earning hotel points and promotion bonuses.

I could Priceline or Hotwire the stay, but I think I can get better deals through hotel loyalty program offers and reward nights. That remains to be seen.

I only have two nights booked so far with Radisson Blu Aqua at $139 per night. That is a higher rate than I would normally book for a hotel, but since I have stayed twice at Radisson Blu Aqua at the invitation of the hotel, actually paying for a hotel stay there seems reasonable.

The real value for me though is that two nights at Radisson Blu Aqua earns two of the three nights needed for the 38,000 bonus points offer in the current promotion. I figure $340 in hotel spend will earn nearly 50,000 points (about $350 in hotel stay value), so that is a good deal.

I have a Best Rate Guarantee claim for one night at a Starwood Hotel. That claim is pending.

Will hotel loyalty program and the main chain brands get me the rates I need? 

Marriott rates are sky high. Hyatt is high. I saw a potential Best Rate Guarantee for Hyatt Regency Chicago, but 20% off a $200 rate is still more than I want to pay.

Even did not have any deals I found compelling.

These hotel reservations are a work in progress. There are still six weeks to find Best Rate Guarantee discrepancies and other rate discounts.

I predict I will be able to find hotels where my spend will come out to around $700 all-in for seven hotel nights while earning about $500 to $700 in rebate value from the points and bonuses earned for my stays.

We will see and I will share the strategies I use to get hotel rate discounts for my Chicago trip.

The next post shares one of the best rate discounts I found today through Starwood Hotels for Chicago hotel stays.



  • Huy February 12, 2014

    Very interesting challenge and I look forward to seeing how you will do it as I like spending time at hotels in the city. I was wondering why you didn’t consider theWit Chicago at $183.20 a night (for IPW week).

  • Aaron Makinen February 12, 2014

    Hey, Ric,
    Don’t forget to check Kimpton’s four downtown properties. Stay one night there to earn one seventh of a free night (stay credits roll over, of course).

  • ATLTraveler February 12, 2014

    Those rates are both competence and normal for Chicago. The conventions aren’t influencing most of those rates. I book corporate rates on the Mile and would pay almost any of those.

  • Al February 12, 2014

    Park Hyatt seems like a bargain.

  • toomanybooks February 14, 2014

    As always, if you want to go out for dinner or something in Chicago, let me know.

    I am HH Diamond, so I could book you a room and you could get the benefits.

  • Ric Garrido February 15, 2014

    @Al – Park Hyatt is a decent deal. The rates were about $450 per night when I stayed there on points in 2010.

    @Huy – The primary reason I am not looking at Hilton brand hotels is the BRG value is not too high with a $50 credit and the current promotion is not high value.

    @aaron – I saw a good Kimpton BRG opportunity on Thursday when traveling, but rate gone when I checked Friday, Feb 14.

    @toomanybooks – Thanks for the offer. Yesterday I received an offer for a sponsored 3-day group tour of Iowa. I am kind of into this grain belt mentality at the moment and I might end up going to Iowa instead of being in Chicago hotels before the IPW conference. I’ll let you know when plans are firmed up.

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