Club Carlson announces 120 hotel category changes for 2018 – book now to lock in cheap deals

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It is ‘hotel category changes’ week.  Marriott and Starwood announced their 2018 changes yesterday, but first I want to look at Club Carlson.

Club Carlson, the Radisson / Park Inn / Park Plaza scheme, has announced that 120 hotels will be changing their reward cost on 1st March.

Even if you never earn points from these chains, it is worth remembering that Club Carlson is arguably the most generous American Express Membership Rewards redemption as I wrote here.  1 Amex point is worth 3 Club Carlson points which should get you 1p of value.

The list of category changes is here.

Park Inn Southend

It is a genuine mixed bag and you can’t say that it is an overall devaluation because I don’t think it is.  I will not be changing my value of a Club Carlson point – around 0.33p – as a result of this.

What you CAN say is that some illogically cheap hotels are moving up.  The Park Inn Walsall and Park Inn Harlow, for example, were very cheap for 9000 points per night.  These will now be 15,000 points.

(The sign-up bonus on the free Amex Gold card – 20000 Amex points, so 60000 Club Carlson points – currently gets you a free week at the Park Inn Harlow.  I had a quick look for the first week of March and a seven night stay is £392.)

Here are a few other observations:

The Park Inn Palace, Southend on Sea (picture above and below) which I reviewed here drops to 28,000 points per night.  You are paying £141 per night over a weekend in August, which means 0.5p per Club Carlson point (1.5p per American Express point if you convert them).  That is good value.  The hotel home page is here.

Park Inn Southend

Turkey sees some large falls, presumably linked to large falls in cash rates. 

There are some interesting cuts in rates in Dubai and Oman ….

…. but in Abu Dhabi points rates are going up. 

Similarly, Dublin sees one Radisson drop a category whilst the other goes up a category! 

The Radisson Edwardian Grafton goes up to 70,000 points but that only aligns it with other top London properties.  70,000 for the Radisson Edwardian in Manchester does seem toppy – it is an impressive hotel, I was there recently myself, but Manchester is not that expensive.

You have until 1st March to lock in redemptions at the old rates.  This gives you plenty of time to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points if necessary.  The list of changes is here.

(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.)

VERY interesting - lets you refund non-refundable flights
Amex loses its final appeal - it must cut its fees to retailers who accept BA, SPG and Nectar cards
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  1. Robert Sharp says:

    Having stayed at Walsall for a number of years they have upgraded the bar and restaurant there.

    Still not worth 15000 points though, unless you’re there for a soccer game.

  2. Likewise Park Inn Harlow is a ####hole. I would struggle to justify it being worth 9k Points.

    • You are absolutely right, it is probably the worst CC property. I booked a room there for my friends (I live only 10 minutes walk from this hotel) and when I saw the state of the room, I offered them to move elsewhere.

    • Correct. Visited friends nearby once for a quick stop while transiting from Canada. 9k pts… surely couldn’t be that bad? Wow, how wrong was I. A total hole.

  3. Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    Unless things have changed in the last five years, the Grafton isn’t anywhere near the top London properties. Reasonable enough 4* hotel in a decent location and always got good upgrades as an elite, but that’s about it. Entry level room is a single, but I assume they’re not selling those for 70k surely.

    • Totally agree there Andrew. The Grafton is ok but not worth 70000. I used to stay there because it was the few central London properties that were not 70000 a night.

  4. The_real_a says:

    This is bad news. I stayed at the Harlow park inn quite a lot last year. The staff told me it would be leaving the franchise quite soon as the owners were unwilling to invest in a refurb. It is very tired but perfectly good to lay your head.

  5. The_real_a says:

    Is anyone else seeing ads on here for embrarer aircraft? I suppose someone might be in the market for one or two!!

  6. Bit O/T

    Any recommendations for a kickback on booking with Hilton, 6 Avios per point is the best I can find?

    • Thanks, went with 6x Avios and set myself a reminder to chase it up, heard they aren’t exactly forthcoming either..

      Still £55 for a DoubleTree inc breakfast ain’t bad, should get 4k in HH pts + Iberia Avios whilst P&M still exists..

    • Shift it to Hilton? Or elsewhere?

  7. Pangolin says:

    Rob needs to get the poison pen out when he writes up the Marriott Category changes – that’s one big horror show!

    • Dimitri says:

      True! I did not see a single one going down!

      • A lot are going down – scroll to the bottom of the list. They are generally in countries which have also gone down, however!

    • Scallder says:

      One big advantage of SPG over Marriott in this instance is the booking window is longer for SPG (18 months) whereas with Marriott it looks like 355 days. So you could book through most of summer 2019 before these changes apply for SPG.

      Rather annoying personally as looking at Washington DC using a Marriott travel package for next Easter and the hotel was looking at is going up so won’t be able to lock in before the changes…

  8. OT: For those of you who aren’t aware, WB studios are opening up a massive theme park in Yas Islands, Abu Dhabi in April this year. The project worth $1bn and it is one of the digital revolutionary park to come. Hence property prices are going up and EY redemptions are going to be tight. Lot of interesting things coming up in Yas Islands this year including a sea world water theme park. It will soon be Orlando of East/ME.

  9. Great news for me. Have an April booking at the Cassa in New York that I will now cancel and rebook saving me 40,000 points!

    I assume there’s nothing to stop me doing this?

    • You need to wait until the changes kick in before you can rebook – don’t cancel now in case reward nights aren’t available once the prices change.

  10. Frenske says:

    55 properties cost more but 69 properties cost less which and an average -0.25 drop in the category. One could argue this is good for Club Carlson members. However it is also clear that the more interesting properties have been upgraded, so my gut feeling is that the members earning points through work and use them for holidaying are worse off. I kind of hoped I could to book Radisson in Crete for a week but with 20.000 increase per night I might miss out.

  11. RussellH says:

    Does this mean that there are now no Club Carlson properties in the uK that charge lass than 15000? I had absolutely no intention of ever going back to Harlow anyway, but Walsall was always a possibility – Though the HI there was still only 10000 last time I looked, and my partner gets us free meals at the nearby casino (do not ask!).

    • Yes, I think so off the top of my head.

    • Frenske says:

      Club Carlson gives 20 points per $ on everything on your bill (room, phone bill, etc). Hilton gives 10 points or less depending on exceptions. So you if you look at 10K point Hilton property you need to look at 20K Club Carlson property.

  12. A decent looking CASSA hotel in New York (location is fine though not great) will drop to 50,000 points. I don’t value Carlson points high, so that I assume it’s a great option in NYC. I’ll be happy to burn my remaining points for 2-3 weekday nights there.

  13. On a related note do readers know how long it takes for Club Carlson accounts to be linked to AMEX Rewards? I requested it on the 3rd Feb and it is still pending. Hilton took 24 hours and BA Avios was instant.

    I was also told by AMEX, Club Carlson can take some time before transferring rewards points over. Fingers crossed I can transfer across ahead of some of the rates changing!

    • Transferred some over late last year and my account wouldn’t link – I had to ring the call centre (who linked them straight away). Transfer took a long time too so don’t leave it to the last minute.

      • Thanks Kiran, spoke to AMEX again and they have said Club Carlson can take 14 days to validate and then the process of transferring points can take 10 days too. Will just need to be quick on the buzzer once validation is done and request a points transfer pronto!

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