Sunday, June 2, 2013

Westin Paris - Vendôme

Hotel Stay Detail 
Hotel: Westin Paris - Vendôme
Dates: June 1-2, 2013 
Rate Paid: Free Night Coupon 
Regular Room Rate: $625/night (incl. tax) 
Total $ Benefit: $625
Point Redemption: N/A

If you recall, my parents and I stayed in San Francisco back in early February 2013 as a stopover to Thailand. A few months before that, my mother had signed up for her own Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty account. But of course, since my father had SPG Gold Status already, we typically used his account to book our Starwood hotel stays. Unlike airline frequent flyer programs, the hotel loyalty programs usually don't make sense to have multiple accounts in the same household, except...

...when the hotel companies try to encourage new but inactive members to book a stay and try out their properties by offering them special promotions. Most of the time, it's extra hotel points or enhanced amenities (free breakfasts, drinks, internet, etc.), but sometimes you truly get an amazing deal(s).

This past December, my mother was targeted for SPG Bonus Beginnings:
"No time like the present — book now and complete an eligible stay¹ with us between December 1, 2012, and February 28, 2013, and we'll add a Free Weekend Night Award to your account, redeemable through February 28, 2014, at any of our more than 1,100 Category 1–6 hotels and resorts worldwide. No blackouts, no hassles."
Then came another promotion from TravelZoo:
"Experience the "City by the Bay" with this 55%-off special at the upscale Le Meridien San Francisco. Visit Dec. 9 - March 3, including weekends, to nab this $149-per-night package that includes $101 worth of extras (valet parking, 2 cocktails, wireless internet access)"
So being the travel-hacker my father was, he registered my mother's SPG account for the Bonus Beginnings promotion and then used the TravelZoo discount code to book 1 night at the Westin San Francisco for $149/night (vs regular rates of $320/night).

After completing the stay, my mother received an email from Starwood with her coupon code for her Free Weekend Night Award. With these awards, you get the most value out of them by picking the most expensive hotel. But the catch is that you only get 1 night. Chances are, however, that you'd want to stay the full weekend, meaning you'd have to pay cash/points for the 2nd weekend night.

But as luck would have it, we were already staying in Paris over the weekend and there was a Starwood Category 6 Westin Paris Vendôme only 2 blocks down the street from the Park Hyatt Paris Vendôme. So after staying 3 nights at the Park Hyatt, we checked out and switched to the Westin to use our free night.

So for only $149 (plus another $30 of taxes), we received a $320 hotel room at the San Francisco Westin AND a $625 hotel room at the Westin Paris - Vendôme. And now, for the requisite 1980's Pop Culture reference: "I just love it when a plan comes together."

Hotel Room

When we arrived to the Westin early at 11AM, they actually had a room ready for us to check into (4 hours before we were supposed to). But since this was an unexpected surprise, we had already made plans to do the Hop On-Hop Off Tourist bus. So we just dropped off our bags and left the hotel, but thought about having coffee in the beautiful atrium cafe downstairs.

The room itself was pretty standard and a smaller than what we had at the Park Hyatt, but it suited our needs perfectly. Honestly, the fact the room was available early was the biggest plus, because my anal father really gets nervous leaving his passport and other valuables in the luggage storage room. (I didn't bother tell him that virtually NO ONE wants to steal the identify of a short stocky Asian man, but that wouldn't have helped the situation).

In terms of Paris hotels in general, we really just needed a place to stay for the night and didn't spend much time at all inside them. That's why we usually stay in more moderately priced hotels when we're in fun cities like Paris, but when you have a SPG Free Night Coupon staring at you in the face, we sure weren't going to let it expire!

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