Club Carlson family room redemptions …. a good deal or not?

If you have kids, hotel reward redemptions can be a bit messy.  Most programmes only make standard rooms available for redemption and, especially in big cities, these are small with a maximum occupancy of two people.

(There are exceptions – in London, Holiday Inn Mayfair, Holiday Inn Camden and Hilton Park Lane are three I have booked for my brother in the past with two double beds in a standard reward room.)

The only option is to book two connecting rooms.  I promise you, however, that getting hotels to honour requests for connecting rooms is a complete nightmare.  I have stayed at super-luxe hotels where I have personally contacted the Director of Rooms in advance and had a guarantee in writing that my connecting rooms would be available – only to find out, on arrival, they were not.

The other downside of booking two connecting rooms is that, in terms of value for your points, it is often a bad deal compared with paying cash for one superior / deluxe room or junior suite.

Club Carlson – the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn programme – made a change of its programme in 2014 which brought in ‘Family Room Redemptions’.  These are an interesting option worth looking at if you have kids.

The only Club Carlson property where I redeem on a regular basis is Park Plaza Westminster Bridge in London (below), where my brother and his family also occasionally stay when they visit.  I reviewed the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge here.

Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

The hotel offers three levels of redemption:

Standard Room at 70,000 points

Standard Atrium Room at 105,000 points

Studio Room (‘Family Room Award’) at 87,500 points

The Atrium room is a waste of the extra 35,000 points.  These rooms only sell for a modest premium and are the same size.

The studio rooms are a lot bigger and well worth 87,500 points for a family.  The rooms sleep three adults or two adults and two children.

Plaza on the River London is also interesting.  They are offering 1-bedroom suites at 60 square metres for 105,000 points, 50% more than the standard redemption.  This would sleep four people.

As well as offering ‘Family Room Awards’, Carlson also has ‘Premium Room Awards’.  If you can’t see a family room offered, click through to the details of the premium award.  This rooms are usually bigger and may be able to sleep a whole family anyway.

Don’t forget that Club Carlson is an American Express Membership Rewards transfer partner at the generous ratio of 1:3, so this article may be more relevant to you than you think.

PS.  One other option for family-sized rooms is via Marriott Rewards.  A lot of Marriott hotels offer, via the usual booking site, larger rooms for a co-pay on top of the standard reward price.  When we went to the JW Marriott Venice (review here) in 2016 we booked a Junior Suite, sleeping four, for the standard 35,000 points per night plus €110.  Bargain.  It doesn’t always work out – when we went again this year, it wanted 40,000 points per night (higher category now) plus €300 so we paid cash instead – but it can be a good deal.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Bits: Luxury Travel Diary deals, bargain at the new IC Perth, Etihad business sale
Virgin Flying Club - what are the best partner awards, whilst we wait for Air France / KLM?
About Head for Points

We help business and leisure travellers maximise their Avios, frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. Visit every day for three new articles or sign up for our FREE emails via this page or the box to your right.

Comments

  1. For very small children Club Carlson hotels provide free crbs or cot beds. Also larger kids can stay free when sleeping with parents.
    Some resorts e.g. they have bed sofas.

    • Actually older children can stay for free too but it is but more iffy. These are the rules for Radisson Blu. Probably Park Inn has different rules since we could not book the Park Inn in Glasgow with points but we could for Radisson Blu.

      – Children 16 and under stay for free when sharing their parent(s)’s room, provided that the room type allows for the sufficient number of beds or sufficient space for roll-in bed.
      – Children 12 and under eat breakfast free when accompanied by at least 1 parent staying on a breakfast inclusive rate or when purchasing breakfast at the hotel.
      – Children 12 and under eat dinner free from the children’s menu when accompanied by at least 1 parent paying full price for at least 1 main course.
      – Offer is valid only in combination with an overnight stay. Room service is excluded.
      – Offer available at hotels in the UK and Ireland excluding Radisson Blu Portman Hotel London and Radisson Blu Manchester Airport where a charge for extra beds applies.

  2. Recently we encountered a near £75 a day charge for a child and as she is now 10 and nearly an “adult” in hotel (and airline) speak, we need other options.

    Two rooms, non connecting is impossible, given her age and frankly, the cost. One bedroom suites or large junior suites with true separate living areas can work, but often don’t !

    Not sure what the answer is really but it isn’t what the hotel industry is offering at the moment. I find our choices more limited by the room options than I ever thought, which is a shame.

    • I’m always surprised there isn’t more ingenuity in the industry. Two bedroom suites are only generally offered at a large premium, but you’d think there would be consistent enough demand for more at the right price. A second family bedroom doesn’t need a bathroom or a window frankly so it should need to carry a >100% premium.
      Finding such rooms or decent junior suite setups is also frustratingly hard – if anyone wants an idea for a new hotel booking website! 🙂
      At the moment it’s pushing me in the airbnb direction.

      • Totally agree. The inability to book or guarantee connecting rooms is a joke.

        We have given up now on 1-2 night stays. We book 2 rooms and a parent and child goes in each. Not a major problem and it actually benefits me, since I can work when the kid is asleep – my wife is a light sleeper and can’t handle the room lights on whilst I work.

  3. Looking at the demographic for this site and using anecdotal evidence from when I travel, it’s fairly clear that a large proportion of frequent flyers and hotel programme members are of child-rearing age.

    Given this, why are airlines and hotels not falling over themselves to cater for this group to encourage further loyalty.

    Unless……. I am totally wrong on the demographics and frequent flyers don’t, on the whole, have children?

  4. OT – How long do you have to wait to receive the free Friday night certificate after completing two stays at CC?

  5. I always look at Melía hotels for family redemptions as they allow all room types. Got a great suite at the Girona Melía which slept up to 4 and was only 25% more than the standard room.

  6. For UK travel, Premier Inn and Travelodge are your friend! A family room for 2 adults + 2 children (generally) the same price as a double room. What’s more, they even throw in the children’s breakfasts for free when you buy the adults :-).

    The only hotel points redemption I’ve done for a family room was the Courtyard Marriott at Gatwick South. A 2 double-bedded room for 20k Marriott points a night and easy walk into the aiport :-).

  7. We didn’t ever encounter any difficulties when traveling with our eldest up to the age of 2.5…. now she is 3 and we have a 5 month old too it is a little trickier as we’re not simply asking for a travel cot/rollaway but need the space for both!

    We have been ok with Hilton so far – St Georges, Doubletree Cheltenham & Belfast – but know this will get harder as they get bigger…

    Car hire is a completely different matter though – did you know that requesting a carseat is not guaranteed in any shape or form??

    • Car seat hire is a bigger joke than D.T. in the White House (and probably just as dangerous)!
      Not only are they not guaranteed but they also don’t come pre-fitted. At Malaga airport they dump it/them on the service counter and then look at you incredulously for politely requesting one without vomit stains on it. You are then expected to carry them with your luggage to a poorly lit multi-storey car park, at which point you have to struggle to fit it with the door only fractionally open due to the tight spaces.
      It is actually cheaper to buy a car seat from the Hipercor supermarket than rent one for a week, you just have to get there first!

      BTW – there is a great alternative at Malaga if anyone is interested, I’m just not sure of the rules of this site for posting other website links?

      • Feel free.

        • http://totsstore.com/

          A husband and wife team (expats) run this business and I have used them a couple of times (the last of which was May this year). I met them in the arrivals area (not the car hire) signed the paperwork and they escorted my family and I to our car which had the car seats already fitted and ready to go. They even provided complimentary drinks for the journey. It does stop there though. Travelling with little ones means packing everything
          including the kitchen sink. They can rent pretty much everything you need and sell formula and nappies.

          Only warning I’d give is if you already have excess waiver insurance then make sure you decline it upon arrival as it’s added automatically.

  8. Fairly OT – but can anyone recommend a Cat 1-5 Marriott that would be suitable for a family with their travel package… ideally a European beach/resort property? Or am I better saving for a higher category?

    • Nick – I did have a look and obviously everyone has different priorities, but I didn’t find anything within 1-5 that took my eye. However, we have booked a category 6 (so extra 30k Mariott/10k SPG) which is the Renaissance Tuscany il Ciocco resort & spa. From what I’ve read online, you’ll get free breakfast with Gold status, and they’re very good at upgrading. We’ll be going for the first week in April including part of the Easter weekend with our yet to arrive daughter who will be 5 months old at the time.

      If you add a child into the booking when searching it says rooms aren’t available, however as we’ll only have a crib rather than older children, I booked and then called the hotel who said they’d happily be able to add a crib into the room and would prioritise an upgraded room (probably from the status).

      Have read a fair bit online and whilst a little bit of a drive, day trips to Pisa (also looking at driving to Lucca and getting train in from there rather than trying to park in the city itself) and if doing an early start, Florence, are both within reach.

    • @Nick M, I’m saving for the Domes of Elounda as I couldn’t find a better alternative for family. The Domes is a good option because of the 4 bed rooms that are available on std redemption. I’m staying at the Marbella beach resort next Easter as they have 2 and 3 bed rooms, but the redemption rates were awful (as they usually are for Marriott Vacation Club properties) so ended up booking for cash.

      Agree with the comments above – very difficult to find a solution that works reliably. On the face of it, StayBridge Suites should be the perfect model for a weekend away with a young family, but frustrating that all rooms appear to be limited to two person occupancy. I’ve got a two room (Cash + Redemption) booking at the IC in BUD at the end of the year, but probably one of the last I will do because it is not a cost effective use of points, and is one of the reasons, why I’ve decided to cash out a large number of IHG points to Avios next mth.

      • Had a great family adventure in a Staybridge 1 bedroom apartment. App would only let you book for 2 but text description stated sleeps 4. All solved by contacting hotel directly.

    • Thank you both… this is largely what I was thinking from the searches I’ve done so far… will build up the stash a bit more first!

      • Or if you have enough for the travel package get it booked up now (and pay later).

      • Agree with Genghis about booking early – the Renaissance Tuscany only had 7 nights on points starting from Easter Sunday for us, so we’re doing that and 3 nights elsewhere beforehand. I did the booking with no points in my Marriott account, and then just got the certificate applied at the same time I purchased the package

  9. I think an article or two on various aspects of family points travel would go down well.
    I’ve found in the UK (outside the major cities anyway) hilton\DT and Holiday Inn seem pretty good for having standard redemptions that sleep 4 (although as the kids get older their tolerance for sharing a sofa bed is diminishing) .We often use them to break journeys or go somewhere random for a weekend away. I think we have redeemed in Oxford, Bristol, Taunton, Bath, Colchester, and Cambridge to name a few. Hilton is good with the free (D\G) breakfast and also Holiday Inn with the kids eat free offers.
    In London Hilton Canary Wharf does family rooms as standard redemptions We got a nice suite upgrade when there for the Athletics this year.
    Internationally it seems much harder to find, although just booked Hilton Labriz seychelles for 5 days on points for a family holiday.

  10. I find that some hotels are very accommodating if you contact them. I needed one night in Monterey, California next summer as part of a driving trip but the Intercontinental in Monterey only allowed standard room redemptions sleeping 2 adults. I emailed the hotel who said to book the standard room & they would manually change it to a 2 bed room sleeping 4. I booked it and it was updated within the hour 🙂

  11. Sussex Bantam says:

    Two thoughts which might help (our kids are 8 and 10 now so we’ve been at this a while):

    1) Airlines will offer to take your car seat and buggy free of charge. I think they all do this – we’ve certainly used most of the major ones. Whilst it is a bit of a faff getting it to the airport from the car there is real value in knowing that it is your car seat, how to fit it and that it isn’t covered in vomit (or at least it is your own kids vomit…)

    2) We’ve had success using Novotel as a hotel chain. They seem to come with sofa beds largely as standard and this is a decent option for younger kinds. Not working so well for ours now they get older. Marriott has also worked in a few places for us.

    Generally though we’ve ended up paying cash for hotel rooms and using points for the flights.

  12. ankomonkey says:

    Don’t SPG often do second room at 50% for families if paying cash?

  13. ankomonkey says:

    O/T: @alan. We discussed months ago the honouring of Accor status at Fairmont properties. I’m Accor Plat, currently staying at Fairmont Istanbul. They told me the two schemes are not integrated so registering my Accor status would get me any points or benefits.

    I quite wanted to point out that I’m the highest Accor status and presumably post-integration this would get me something so couldn’t they offer an upgrade or something out of good will, but I wasn’t brave enough…

    • Did you manage to use your Fairmont upgrade certificates that they gave you via Accor Plat?

      • ankomonkey says:

        I didn’t get them. At the time the offer was on I didn’t expect to stay at a Fairmont Hotel any time soon. I did try to register for them after the offer had officially ended, but their IT was solid and refused to process the promo code.

  14. Rooms that sleep four are all very well, until you have a family of five.

    • We often invite a friend or relative, book 2 rooms for 4/2 but actually sleep 5 in one, one in the other.

    • One of the many reasons we decided to stop at 2 children!

    • the real harry1 says:

      not so difficult so smuggle in the fifth one when they’re young! 🙂

      we used to pull the switch the hoody trick with the 2 boys, not sure reception staff were ever remotely bothered & I’m sure they knew exactly what was going on