Club Carlson Visa gives 9 free award nights. Head east, west, south and India.

Club Carlson advertises its credit card with Big Print ‘9 Free Award Nights’.

Club Carlson Visa

An issue I have seen repeated over the years makes this kind of credit card loyalty advertising almost meaningless. Starwood and Hilton over several years moved the majority of hotels out of the lowest cost hotel reward night category and left little in the way of hotel choice to back up the Big Print marketing claims. I made an analysis of Starwood Hotels shift in SPG award category between 2006 and 2010 four years ago to find only 22 hotels had dropped one category in that timeframe while 389 hotels (about 40% of Starwood Hotels at that time) had increased by one or more category tiers over five years of hotel category reassignment.

Club Carlson has followed this same pattern in the past three years with 25% fewer hotels (48 to 35) remaining in category-1 for 9,000 points per reward night after three years since the 9,000 points award tier was created.

Club Carlson currently has 44 hotels at the category-1 award level.

As of March 15, 2014 this drops to 35 hotels globally out of 1,300 hotels at the category-1 award level.

Locating Club Carlson Category-1 Hotels

Club Carlson designates its hotels in three regions with Americas, EMEA-Europe-Middle East-Africa and Asia-Pacific.

Here is a quick look at Category 1 hotels now and the changes for March 15, 2014 for these regions.


Club Carlson cat-1 Americas pre-2014

There are 12 hotels in the Americas in category 1 for 9,000 points per night prior to the March 15 hotel category reward reassignment.

Six of these hotels will rise to category-2 on March 15, 2014 with 5 U.S. hotels and Radisson Cancun Mexico moving up. Radisson Indianapolis Airport and hotels in Florida, Georgia and Texas rise to category-2 reward nights at 15,000 points.

Country Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport South drops from category 2 to 1.

Net Result: Today 12 hotels in Americas are in category 1.

As of March 15, 2014 there will be 7 hotels in Club Carlson category-1 in Americas.

At least I still have Park Inn Fresno in my region. The hotel was rebranded from a Four Points. Great big outdoor pool.

Club Carlson 1-2 USA


Category-1 hotels Europe – Middle East – Africa

The EMEA region has the largest proportion of Club Carlson category 1 hotels currently with 21 hotels out of 44 category-1 hotels worldwide.

Club Carlson EMEA cat-1 pre2014 

18 of 21 category-1 hotels are in Europe with one in Turkey and two in Egypt. Seven of these European hotels go to category-2 on March 15.

Germany on the Rise Again

4 of 5 hotels in Germany go up to category 2, including Radisson Blu Hotel Neubrandenburg. Park Inn Weimar remains the last category-1 hotel in Germany.

Germany is on the rise with four out of five category-1 hotels rising to category 2.

I booked a stay at Radisson Blu Neubrandenburg last March, but changed my plans to Radisson Blu Berlin. Aquadom giant cylindrical aquarium is the lobby atrium centerpiece.  

Radisson Blu Berlin

Aquadom, Radisson Blu Berlin is the world’s largest cylindrical aquarium. The attraction is not run by the hotel and there was no discount or special access for hotel guests when I stayed. AquaDom is run by Merlin Entertainments, which I refer to as the “British Disney” to give a sense to Americans of what this company does in managing tourist attractions like The London Eye and AquaDom.

And I could have left Berlin to stay in a category 1 hotel while touring the medieval town of Neubrandenburg. The hotel in Berlin worked out well. A big snowstorm hit Berlin and I spent time cozied up in a corner suite looking out the wall-to-wall windows looking over Berliner Dom, an attraction even bigger than the aquarium. 

Berliner Dom

Berliner Dom in Radisson Blu light. Truly. The hotel blue lights reflected off the cathedral dome casting a snowy blue look. I digress on the higher category-5 Radisson Blu in a post on category-1 hotels.

Club Carlson cat-1 EUR

Seven hotels in Europe at Category-1 reward level move up March 15.

Park Inn Tallinn, Estonia and Radisson Blu Beke, Budapest, Hungary and Park Inn Doncaster, GB are three hotels outside Germany moving to category-2.

Park Inn Harlow, GB drops, the only hotel in Europe to go down to category 1.

18 hotels in Europe today at Club Carlson Category-1 drops to 12 hotels as of March 15. That is a loss of one third of the total category-1 hotels in Europe.

Those 12 hotels are primarily in eastern Europe, UK and Iceland.

  • Bulgaria – Park Inn Sofia
  • Germany – Park Inn Weimar
  • Hungary – Park Inn Budapest
  • Slovakia – Park Inn Danube Bratislava
  • Lithuania (3) – Park Inns at Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda
  • UK (4) – Park Inn Cardiff North, Park Inn Harlow, Park Inn Leigh, Park Inn Birmingham Walsall.
  • Iceland – Park Inn Island, Reykjavik

Going to India?

There are a selection of category-1 hotels to choose from in the Club Carlson portfolio if India is in your travel plans.


There are currently 10 category-1 hotels in India and one in the Philippines. Country Inn Ahmedabad and Park Inn Davao, Philippines go to category 2 on March 15, 2014.

There will be four more India hotels added to category 1 on that date making India with 13 category-1 hotels the host to 35% of the 35 hotels globally designated Club Carlson category-1 hotel award nights at 9,000 points.

Club Carlson new cat-1

Related links:

Club Carlson reward category-1 hotel list

Loyalty Traveler – Analysis of Club Carlson award category increases at 114 hotels on March 15, 2014.

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 in 2008.

More articles by Ric Garrido »


  1. I stayed at the Park Inn Covina, CA last year and it is a Cat 2 hotel. The carpet had several big stained and the place was very outdated. I booked two nights but ran away after the first night. Huge disappointment. It leads me to believe that for lower category hotels in Club Carlson, the quality is mostly well below standard.

  2. @Danh – that hotel used to be a Radisson. My parents stayed there for an event and sent me a photo of the toilet seat that did not properly fit the toilet bowl.

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