Hilton

Bits: Luxury Travel Diary auctions, BA New York JFK Galleries First closed, my Accor status finally drops

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News in brief:

Luxury Travel Diary auctions ending soon

The Luxury Travel Diary site dropped us a line about a new wave of its auctions that are closing within the next 48 hours.

Most of the items offered tend to go for far less than the standard retail price. Included are hotel stays, travel equipment and various gift vouchers.

Interesting options closing either today or tomorrow include:

2 nights at the 5-star Sofitel St James in London 

4 nights at a Park Hotel in Tokyo 

2 nights at a 5-star golf resort in Tuscany  

It’s worth taking a look at the different auctions. Not everything will work for you, either in terms of location, length or dates, but you’ll probably find something of interest if you poke around.

British Airways closes the New York JFK Galleries First lounge

The British Airways Galleries First lounge at New York JFK has closed for refurbishment.

There is no fixed date for reopening apart from a vague ‘summer 2018’.  The work is part of BA’s major project to fully refurbish JFK’s Terminal 7.

The Concorde Room remains open for ticketed First Class passengers.  British Airways Gold card holders and oneworld equivalents who would normally use Galleries First will be redirected to Galleries Club.

You can learn more about the work taking place at JFK on this special page of ba.com.  The two images above and below show how it will look by the end of the year.

My Accor status finally drops …. but only to Gold

I wrote last week about how I appeared to have received a stay of execution on my Le Club AccorHotels Platinum status.

Like many HFP readers, I had received this via American Express Platinum before it was withdrawn in April 2016.  Our cards were all due to expire on 31st December 2017 but I was still showing as Platinum well into the New Year.

On Thursday night, however, my account was finally amended.  The good news is that I only dropped to Gold and not all the way down to Classic, so I will get some Accor benefits for another year if my travels find me in a Sofitel, Novotel, Pullman, Mercure etc.  The only real loss is lounge access at the few Accor hotels which have one.

(Want to earn more Avios?  Click here to visit our home page for the latest articles on earning and spending your Avios points and click here to see how to earn more Avios from current offers and promotions.)

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Bits: Date for IHG's increased reward prices; free private jet flight for Amex Centurion cardholders
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Comments

  1. Have had two great deals from Luxury Travel Diary in the past (not dirt cheap but ~50% off so still v good) but am finding the latest auctions to end up being pretty expensive – definitely check the pricing elsewhere – particularly in Asia the RRP is often beaten by other public deals available

  2. I’ve just dropped to Accor gold, too.

  3. My Accor also dropped to Gold.

    Aside from the (basic) welcome drink, I never found any significant advantage from Platinum, never had a room upgrade even when hotels were sparsely occupied, brand-specific benefits were often not offered or were unavailable when I asked.

    Undoubtedly varies with which hotels one stays at, but it’s not going to be a big change for me!

    • +1

      • Accor Platinum once got me lounge access at the Sofitel T5 (booked via lastminute.com!) but apart from that, it’s been almost as useless as IHG Spire….

  4. hypascend says:

    Not sure if this has been mentioned but for anyone wanting an easier route to get Accor Platinum back: If you are Accor Gold and can get 5 stays or 10 nights with Fairmont to reach Premier, you will get Accor Platinum till Dec 2019.

  5. OT – Would love some HfP input into my upcoming hols to South Africa;

    Flying in and out of JNB (first First – 2-4-1),
    2 nights in Kruger (via a Luxury Travel Diary auction),
    7 nights in Cape Town (Marriott Rewards cert),
    1 night in Franschoek (Marriott Rewards redemption),
    1 night in George (Marriott Rewards redemption),
    2 nights at the Conrad Pezula (cash booking via a BRG claim),
    1 night at Port Elizabeth (Marriott Rewards redemption),
    before flying to JNB for one night (Marriott Rewards redemption) before London.

    Definitely a holiday sponsored by Marriott Rewards points!

    What to do/see/experience/eat in any of these places?

    • JNB- we did Pilansburg so couldn’t comment on Kruger. If you have spare time in JNB, then Soweto is a must visit. What a cultural celebration that place is !! Of course, good to be accompanied by a local.
      CPT- 1 day to Robben Island ( you need to prebook in advance to avoid disappointment), 1/2 day at Table Mountain ( weather dependent ), 1 boulders beach ( penguin capital of Indian Ocean) and rest of days for wine tour, water front (My fav hangout) and some stunning beaches all over.
      PLZ – we did Mandela bay (suburb) , SANCCOB Penguin rescue centre ( you will love it and it’s very close to heart if you are maritime & animal lover ) and whale watching at Algoa bay ( season dependent ).
      We drove through Garden route from PLZ to CPT, it’s about 1000kms journey connecting Indian Ocean to Atlantic Ocean via scenic landscape ( I would rate it as best drive in SA )
      We also did Victoria Falls, Zambia & Zimbabwe as part of this itinerary but yours look like very planned & pre-booked so looks fine. You will enjoy It!! Cape Town was my personal favourite of all 100 + cities & 55 countries that I visited.
      Ps: Interest level vary from person to person so you may do your research on places before you plan.

      • Kinkell says:

        CPT: go to The Heart of The Cape Museum at Groot Schur (?)hospital where the first heart transplant took place with Christian Barnard. Absolutely fascinating. Highlight of our Cape Town visit. Also enjoyed Kirstenbosch botanical gardens. I,too, loved CPT.. Hire a car and drive down to Cape.
        Have a lovely tme

    • When in Franschhoek you’re a bit spoiled for choice, but Bread and Wine for lunch, simply fantastic, both location, quality and value. Probably worth booking, but we’ve been lucky just turning up in the past. Michelin star quality for about £35 a head for 3 courses and drinks.

      • I second this. Franschhoek is one of my favourite places and Bread & Wine is a stand out place.

  6. OT
    The One4All cards sold by the Post Office (sometimes Amex statement credit) can no longer be used at Amazon. But they can be used at John Lewis to buy gift cards which can then be used at Waitrose.
    There are also various gift card purchase schemes run by SVM which are available from employers etc. and a worth a look.

    • Craig Strickland says:

      They can also be used at M&S including food, 6 vouchers gave us £60 of Xmas treats although it was a pain having to do 6 transactions.

      • Genghis says:

        I bought a M&S gift card in store with the One4all cards we had and then used that online.

        • Did you use multiple One4all GC’s to purchase?

          Problem with the M&S website is that it treats the One4all GC’s as a Visa card as opposed to a giftcard meaning you can only use one per transaction. Been meaning to call M&S and put an order through over the phone but an M&S giftcard instore might be another way round it.

        • Genghis says:

          Yes, I used 4 One4all cards each of £10 to buy one £40 gift card. The cashier couldn’t do it at first but a manager then could.

        • Tom Cook says:

          I’ve had issues using mine in M7S which has resulted in complaining emails to One For All. They blame M&S, M&S blame them!

      • ankomonkey says:

        We did the same.

        • Thanks both – assuming you also only had the PO offer on 4 cards 🙂

          Will have a go.

  7. O/T but might be useful for some. Just received an email from AVIS regarding a BA competition. Details here:

    https://www.avis.co.uk/competitions/experience-days-competition-preferred

    I don’t have a car hire planned so can’t enter.

  8. Lostantipod says:

    My Accor level also dropped to Gold this week after many undeserved years as Platinum. Having said that, unlike above post, I was regularly upgraded , enjoying lounge access including both breakfasts and evening canapés, free in-room mini bar in some cases, free welcome drinks, and sometimes the choice of extra points or an in-room amenity, and up to a 5pm checkout, across European and Australasian destinations. So this Platinum membership that I held often swung my buying decision in favour of an Accor Property. Today I checked out of a Sofitel and had the gold experience, compared to Platinum just 10 days earlier in the same property – no upgrade, no lounge access, 3pm late checkout instead of 5pm.

  9. OT – not sure if it’s been mentioned elsewhere on here. IHG has just started a flash sale for UK, Ireland and Germany. Can already be booked on the app. Savings are on a par with the Mastercard discount – slightly more, but offset by breakfast being included. And since Mastercard bookings can’t be done on the app, this is perfect for meeting the app bookings target some may have for Accelerate.

    • I’m seeing the exact same price for the two hotels I’m looking at, whether using the app for the sale rate, or a browser not logged in to my IHG account. Usual fake sale nonsense, or just unlucky with the hotels I’m interested in?

      • Andrew McLintock says:

        Rates appear pretty rubbish to me!

        • The price you see at first on the app is NOT the sale price! Odd, but that’s what I’ve found. So it looks rubbish, but it gets better if you actually click through to see the various rates available.

      • Brian’s comment below is correct – cheaper rates once you click through to select a room. Great IT!

    • Thanks Brian – I need 2 stays over Easter, and the sale price is a bit cheaper than before AND includes breakfast. This should allow me to achieve 3 of my accelerate targets for 9300 points, which isn’t bad off a £77 spend. The other targets are not possible so a decent return for once.

  10. Luxury Travel Diary site bust?

  11. Richard G says:

    I really hope the BA lounge is open again by mid August. My better half has a first class flight (only second ever) leaving JFK then, and it would REALLY suck for her to miss it.

  12. Harkirat says:

    O/T Offer on Amex Gold – spend £800 get £100 back with Etihad

  13. OT
    Morrison’s Gift Card offer covers Apple Store, John Lewis/Waitrose, Currys PC World, Halfords, Amazon, Restaurant Choice, M&S, Debenhams.
    When you buy a £50 card you get 5,000 More points in addition to usual 1,250 so £6.25. You need a More card and points paid out in £5 gift vouchers for 5,000 points on next purchase.
    So I got 12.5% off to shop at Waitrose!

  14. OT one of our HfP readers is at LHR T3 after getting held up at security due to a broken belt he missed his tight connection flying in from Belfast. At the moment they have him and his wife on standby for the AA LAX flight ~5pm travelling economy. At least he has his Plat for lounge access
    Any suggestions re AA putting on another carrier if not able to get seats on the 5pm flight.

    Thanks.

  15. OT – Do BA Citiflyer still do free drinks and snacks in Euro Traveller? Haven’t flown them for ages.

    • Genghis says:

      Yep

      • Thanks – having priced things up looks like a morning flight to LCY so of limited value.

        Shame as I could very easily have managed a couple of cheeky g&ts on an evening flight.

  16. OT, how does the marriott 5 for 4 nights offer work with the 7 day travel package? If I book ten nights and apply the package voucher to 7 of them, what is the cost of the remaining 3? The average cost per night (taking into account the 2 free nights using 5/4) or the standard cost for 3 nights?

    • I believe that you will pay the standard night for the three nights. In my view it only works if you want to stay somewhere for seven nights and convert some Marriott points to Avios at 1:1, neither of which I want. Others differ.

      • To offer an alternative view on the marriott packages, if you exchange 270k points (=90k spg) for cat 1-5 a travel package when there is a 35% bonus on you get a 7 night voucher and 162k avios.

        Ignoring the voucher for the time being, assuming you got that through spending £90k on the SPG amex it gives 1.8 avios/£ spent, your alternatives were:

        – BA premium plus would have given 1.5 per £ and triggered a voucher, but beyond £10k your better off with the SPG.
        – SPG direct conversion to avios = 1.25 assuming done in 20K +5K bonus chuncks.

        working it from the other angle 7 days in a cat 5 is 150k marriott points (50k SPG) so if you were going to take a 7 day break on points anyway you effectively converted 120k marriott (40k) SPG into 162k avios or 4 avios/£ spent on the SPG amex.

        My take on it is that it’s actually the best avios earning cc spend even valuing the marriott voucher at zero.

        • We are staying in a Marriott Cat 8 property for 10 nights in October paying 8 nights @ 40,000 = 320,000 for the hotel.
          A seven night package would cost 290,000 + (3 nights @ 40,000 =) 120,000 totalling 410,000 points, an additional 90,000 points for 50,000 Avios.
          I would rather use the Marriott points to stay in their hotels but everyone has different requirements.

        • william merrett says:

          Mark,
          You could look at your example 2 ways to make it more favourable:
          1: if you converted with a 35% bonus (there were 2 chances last year and the voucher is valid for 12 months from issue) you’d have 74,250 avios with the package. Given 90k marriott points equal 30k SPG points then that is the euqivalent of 2.47 avios per £ on the SPG amex, a great rate of return.
          2. if you took out the 360k marriott package which gives 162k avios with a bonus your looking at a total spend of 450k marriott points. In this example 130k marriott (43.3k SPG) gets you 162k avios or 3.74 avios per £ on SPG card.

          What I’m really getting at is if you collect avios on a credit card and are redeeming points for 7+ day marriott stays then using an SPG amex to top up a marriott redemption to a travel package is absolutely the best rate you can get in the UK at the moment.

        • william merrett says:

          Sorry I made a mistate in number 2.
          Maths should be 360k package + 120k for 3 nights = 480k marriott. Thats 160k more than you would pay with a simple redemption which is 53.3k spg or 3 avios per £ (double the BA amex)

        • Genghis says:

          I’m going to do some more analysis before I decide to go for another travel package. Avios are easy to collect from other sources. Do I want to fly SQ? Are they worth just leaving as Marriott points? More work needed.

        • I think if your options are other airline miles it’s a subjective.

          If you currently collect avios via a UK credit card and have already hit £10k for the BAPP companion voucher then the SPG amex, to marriott, to avios via a travel package when on a 35% bonus is a no brainer even if you don’t value the travel package. The fact you can just buy the cheapest 120k avios package and then upgrade to whatever cat you want at a later date (which also extends the validity) is the icing on the cake.

      • Thanks

  17. Tom Cook says:

    Has anyone had any joy with the mulberry offer, i.e. spend £200 and get 3k avios? I’ve got it on 3 cards and wonder if mulberry might let me split a payment into three transactions, or buy three gift cards at £200 a pop to trigger the bonus. The Mrs wants a new holdall…… 🙂

    • Shouldn’t be a problem doing either of those to be honest.

      • Tom Cook says:

        Thanks Rob!

        • Just check the locations in the terms first. The outlet stores aren’t included from what I can tell in case you were intending visiting Bicester/York/Chester for example. Although my statement shows Mulberry Sales ltd, so might give customer services a call and see whether they are feeling generous.

    • Presumably you could buy the gift cards (x3) at a regular Mulberry shop, triggering the offer 3 times; and then spend them at an outlet, benefiting from reductions.

  18. OT: Has anyone got recent experience for Amex referrals? i.e. can I refer someone from my Amex Plat and they take a BAPP card but I still get 18k MRs? If so could solve a First World Problem for me…

  19. william merrett says:

    Raffles will surely run an article tomorrow but qatar sale 9-16 Jan booking window rolling out as I write this.

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