Bits: IHG’s best sale is coming back, BA launches LHR to Billund, Hyatt to buy Starwood?

News in brief:

IHG’s Winter Sale to return on 5th November – rooms from £29?

IHG announced yesterday that its Winter sale will be returning on 5th November.  Full details are here.

This has, historically, offered excellent deals – as low as £20 per night in Central London!  Last year, the deals were more muted.  Whilst there were £29 Holiday Inn Express rooms in the regions, the cheapest half-decent London room last year was £49 at the Holiday Inn Kensington.  The Holiday Inn Stratford at Westfield, pictured below – which I booked for £20 in 2013 – was £89.

You will be able to book for stays between 18th December and 29th February.  As the current Accelerate promotion runs until 31st December, you may be able to pick up the remaining nights you need at a low price.  I will remind you when the sale is live.

HI Stratford City

British Airways to launch Heathrow to Billund

British Airways has made another slightly bizarre route announcement for Summer 2016!  From 3rd May, it will operate 11 flights per week from Heathrow to Billund in Denmark.

Billund is best known as the home of Legoland and is the global HQ for Lego.

What is odd is that British Airways – via its franchisee SUN-AIR of Scandinavia – has been running a successful Billund service from London City for some years.  I would be very surprised if the market could support 11 Heathrow flights plus the London City service.

I can imagine that the SUN-AIR people are not very happy about this, to put it mildly, as Billund was the biggest route they had.  Perhaps there is more to this story to come and we may be about to hear that the SUN-AIR franchise deal is ending?


Hyatt to buy Starwood?

There have been plenty of rumours this year about the fate of the Starwood hotel group following the resignation of its CEO earlier in the year.

A number of names have been in the frame at one point or another, including InterContinental.  Just 48 hours ago, it was reported that three separate Chinese groups were looking at the company, with the Chinese Government intervening to stop them outbidding each.

Yesterday, however, CNBC reported that a deal is about to be agreed with Hyatt for a cash and shares acquisition to be unveiled as early as next week.

The deal makes sense, with Hyatt and Starwood being the smallest of the global chains.   From a loyalty point of view, the merger of Starwood Preferred Guest with Hyatt Gold Passport may have some benefits.

Starwood is a far larger company than Hyatt and you would imagine that the SPG programme would be maintained.  Because of the strong links between American Express and SPG, we may find that:

Amex Platinum would give you status at Hyatt hotels, once they were integrated into SPG (Amex Platinum comes with free Starwood Gold status)

There would be a UK credit card which earned points you could redeem at Hyatt (assuming the Starwood Amex was retained)

Membership Rewards points would allow you to redeem at Hyatt properties (assuming that the ability to transfer into SPG remains and the Hyatt properties are added)

Hyatt and Starwood have a relatively similar brand overlap so it would be relatively easy to rebrand one set of hotels – although I doubt the Hyatt name would be allowed to die.  Hyatt would also need to be careful – the percentage of Starwood properties which I would class as ‘poor’ is far higher that the percentage of Hyatt properties, and there is a risk of Hyatt brand dilution.

This is all still rumour for now – more news as it emerges.

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  1. Re the new Billund route. 11 flights a week is purely slot sitting and you are right it can’t possibly make money as a stand alone route. However it does make sense in so far as BA retains dominance at LHR and reduces capacity on UK domestic services forcing fares ever higher. The Glasgow route is a case in point where capacity has been markedly reduced and fares increased. You can fly to Europe for silly money even from LHR but you can’t get the dames fares within the UK.
    Billing will last till such time as more long haul aircraft arrive.

  2. Is Legoland in Denmark that much better than the Legoland next to LHR?

    • yes, Like much else in SE England, Windsor LEGOLAND though good is horribly overcrowded. Billund much less so especially when you take into account the different school holiday.

      • I fly Stansted – Billund once a month and it’s always packed with families going to Legoland. There’s more than just Legoland in the area – a lot of families go to Fanø for example.

  3. gumshoe says:

    Strange how BA can find 11 slots a week to launch an obscure route to Denmark when the pro-expansion lobby is constantly telling us LHR is full and there’s a desperate shortage of slots to serve the BRIC destinations we’re assured the UK desperately needs to remain competitive.

  4. Starwood is still considered premium and has strong following, rightly so- not sure post merger if any major changes. Holiday Inn and Premier Inn in Stratford Westfield- fantastic location with plenty of green area, and what-a -turn around after Olympics.

  5. There must be more to the flights to Billund than meets the eye as BA’s franchisee SUN-AIR of Scandinavia also flies there directly from Manchester twice daily Mon-Fri with one flight on Sundays. I find it hard to believe that those flights are simply slot sitting.

    • Makes total sense to me (but then I’m Danish!).

      Whilst Billund itself is a town/village of 6,000 people (+ Legoland), BLL is – for geographical and historical reasons – the main airport in Western Denmark. It is smack bang in a middle of an area of a couple of million people within a just over an hour’s drive – much like central Scotland. Copenhagen is a 2-4 hour drive away for all of these people and it’s an affluent area with lots of knowledge enterprise and exporting businesses.

      SAS don’t have much of presence and don’t have a decent route network from CPH either, but KLM, Air France and Lufthansa all have successful feeders to their route hubs in Amsterdam, Paris and Frankfurt from BLL.

      So whilst the town itself can seem a random place to have two daily departures from to/from, there will be plenty of in-bound and out-bound business traffic to/from the North America where BA are stronger than the competition.

  6. The IHG website advises that winter sale rooms will start at £39, not £29 unfortunately.

  7. LEGO – Literal translation means “play well”. A completely useless piece of trivia, unless you get the question come up in a pub quiz, which is how I know this very dull fact! Happy Thursday HFP readers!

  8. I hope it’s not the end of the Sun air franchise, my family frequently books last minute (week before) flights on the MAN>BLL route as a route as reward flight saver which would cost £200+ (return).

  9. OT: vente-privee is selling Iberia £1500 coupon code for £500. Must be used on long-haul business flights, Iberia metal only. Valid on departures from the country of your registered address.

    Unfortunately, I can’t find any eligible ex-UK flights as all of them have the first segment operated by BA. The voucher is utterly useless! However, there are good deals to be had if you are happy to travel ex-FR or ex-DE…

    • Jeremy I says:

      This looks great and thanks Kai for flagging it.

    • OverTheHorizon says:


      This would have been great as I have an apartment in Barcelona (and hence a Spanish mailing address !).

      However, the page now tells me “Oferta agotada” so I guess there were only a limited number of vouchers… 🙁

      Oh well, on to the next one :^^

      • I’m looking at the UK site and all three coupons are out of stock. It started yesterday and was supposed to last 7 days, so hopefully it’s a sign they found something’s wrong and are trying to fix it…

    • Also gone ex-FR, but in the terms and conditions this was not earning Avios.

      • UK/US return in biz for £500. Well I don’t think earning avios is that important given this price…

        • OverTheHorizon says:

          Absolutely, it’s worth doing on its merits.

          But I would certainly put my BAEC number into the booking just on the offchance of gaining 280 Tier Points 🙂

        • Those pelican kids lol 🙂

        • OverTheHorizon says:

          Seems to have disappeared completely from the site now 🙁

  10. The billund route is a boon for milage runners from MAN… Hop onto the MAN – BLL then start your ex EU there 🙂

  11. I’m looking forward to hearing about the best options in the IHG 72hr Winter Sale which starts in the morning.

    Could do with a couple of bookings in this to get some qualifying stays for the Accelerate promotion – hopefully they count towards Accelerate.

    • Be careful with this. Unless it clearly says on the website that these rooms will count for points, you should assume that they won’t if deeply discounted. I need to careful how I cover it on Friday.

  12. testpie says:

    Heads up for those of you awaiting the IHG Sale; the IHG Mobile Site is now saying the Winter Sale starts on Sunday 8 November at 09:00, instead of today.

  13. Its started already

    Finishes 09:00 on the 8th Nov

    These rates do get points, but be careful as some hotels advanced purcahse rates could be cheaper-they were last year.

    • Does it say they earn points? If it does I missed it.

      Edit: forget it, email says they earn points!

    • Note dates apparently are from 1st Dec (text below), not the 18th Dec as listed above…
      “You only have 72hours so take action now and book your break by 9.00 am (GMT) on 8th November for stays between 1st December 2015 and 29th February 2016. Then you can relax and wait for your break to start.”

  14. Make sure you check both FLASH SALE and FLASH SALE BREAKFAST INCLUSIVE rates as some rooms are no longer available as FLASH SALE but can still be had with breakfast at sale prices+£10.

    • (the app shows them up without having to select the rate, but the website doesn’t seem to)

  15. tall trader says:

    looks like Starwood is going to Marriott
    any idea about the Marriott program ?