Cabin Fever Cures: Hotel Rewards Programs and Time Shares

March 13, 2008 11:10:35 AM PDT
The Shop Cop Jennifer Litwin shares some insider secrets to booking the best hotel rooms and tips on how to avoid time share traps. As the vacation season heats up we are all looking for a way to get a good deal on nice hotels. The larger hotel chains are offering perks not available at boutique hotels, like the ability to earn rewards and get upgrades at thousands of hotels across the world, and even points that can be used towards time shares, or time shares that can accrue hotel rewards points.

Time shares

The hottest trend in hotel chains right now are Time Shares. With the economy in a slump, time shares, popular at hotels since the mid-80's, offer little "investment" for a return of possibly luxury accommodations at first class hotel resorts.

Beware:

  • Don't think of time shares as way to get a return on investment
    Paying today for future vacations during the course of your life, and ability to stay at hundreds of different locations throughout the world for however many weeks per year you want. The idea is to save money on future vacations.
  • Annual fees add up
  • Black-out dates during peak season
    (Saturday-Saturday rentals; weeks not split up to accommodate your preference), or difficulty getting into a resort you want to go to, without paying more money; book out only 12 months in advance at some resort properties.
  • Hotel Rewards Programs

    Hotels like Marriott teaming up their rewards points with luxury chains like the Ritz (can use Marriott points at the Ritz-not the other way around), like the airline companies are doing---ability to use points on merchandise at retailers.

    MARRIOTT:

    Positives: Points can be accrued at retailers like Golfsmith, Sears, Sky Mall; also car rentals, like Hertz, and other hotel chains: Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, InterContinental, Hyatt. Every dollar you spend translates into points.

    Negative: Like the airlines- blackout dates-watch out!!! Can gift or buy points.

    HYATT:

    Positives: As a great write-off, can donate 5,000 points to Make-a-Wish Foundation. Seniors: Great discounts of up to 50 % for seniors.

    Negative: the better hotels cost more points for upgrades, obvious customer service expectations with platinum level (like the bed type you request is available upon check-in, and early check-in allowed, etc.)

    HILTON:

    Positives: no black-out dates. Only hotel chain that allows you to earn both miles and points in same stay. Great for families-can use points at Disney, Universal, get points for donating to charities, get up to 500,000 points when you buy or sell home, even when hiring a moving service! Can use points at your favorite retailers: Bloomies, American Airlines, Diners Club, FTD, Nike, Montblanc.

    STARWOOD:

    Positives: No black-out dates, can get gift cards from favorite retailers with enough points.

    Negative: May be costly to stay at hotels just to be able to shop at the retailers-benefits may not outweigh costs.

    AAA Travel Discount Benefits?

    Like hotel rewards programs. Great if you are NOT frequent traveler, but still want discounts every time you travel. Also, huge discounts on retailers, like Target.com, Lenscrafters, Dell Computer and Geek Squad.

    For more information visit www.jenniferlitwin.com


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