Bits: Amex MR transfers to SPG delayed, new Amex offers, Hilton takes three SPG Dubai hotels and launches a new brand

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News in brief:

American Express extends Starwood Membership Rewards suspension 

American Express Membership Rewards has suspended transfers into Starwood Preferred Guest until 21st August.  This is two weeks longer than originally announced and takes us beyond the launch date of the new programme.

This is a disaster if you were hoping to pick up a Marriott Travel Package before they shoot up in price on 18th August or book a redemption at a property which is going up in cost on the same date.

If you have a transfer ‘in the system’ you may want to call Amex and try to reverse it, assuming you wanted to book a hotel at the old price.

Membership Rewards transfers to SPG

New American Express cashback offers

Another batch of offers has launched on my American Express cards, and presumably on yours too.  To find these, you need to go to the ‘Offers’ section of EACH Amex card you hold, either on the app or website.  For some reason the website often shows more offers.

Of things I found interesting:

£75 back on £250 spend at MR PORTER (exp 30 September) – not travel related but a great opportunity to get a serious discount on some new season fashion

5,000 Avios or Membership Rewards points on £300 spend at Claridge’s, The Connaught and The Berkeley (exp 10 September) – this is ONLY valid on room spend which means that eating and drinking in the hotel without staying there is unlikely to count.  I got this twice, on my BA and Platinum card, so in theory a £600 bill split over two cards would trigger both bonuses.

Bonus points on Hilton stays in Europe (exp 18 October) – this appeared a couple of weeks ago and there are numerous permutations of bonus and spend.  My Platinum has 7000 Membership Rewards points for £500 spend.  My wife had a VERY generous 5000 Membership Rewards for £150 spend.  There is a separate US offer too.

There are various others available including high end restaurant options such as Nandos …..

Habtoor’s Dubai hotels rebranded by Hilton

We recently wrote how the St Regis, Westin and W hotels at Al Habtoor City in Dubai were to be deflagged on 31st July.

From yesterday, Hilton is now operating the hotels – although I doubt the signs have been changed yet!

The St Regis becomes ‘Habtoor Palace Hotel, part of the LXR Hotels & Resorts collection’ – the hotel site is here 

The W becomes ‘V, part of Curio Collection by Hilton’ – the hotel site is here 

The Westin becomes Hilton Dubai Al Habtoor City – the hotel site is here 

LXR is a new Hilton brand.  It is designed to be a home for independent luxury hotels who want to join the Hilton ‘system’ whilst still remaining outside Hilton control.

There are now THREE Hilton brands for independent hotels:

LXR – for five star properties

Curio – for four star properties (Ibiza reviewed here, Boston reviewed here, Hamburg reviewed here)

Tapestry – for three star properties (Washington DC reviewed here)

I am very positive about these moves because they are attracting very good hotels.  I was very keen on The Graham in Washington.  We were also back at the Reichshof in Hamburg last month which is much improved on its chaotic opening which I reviewed.

Whether this can be enough to save the Al Habtoor City hotels, which suffer from a blighted location next to Sheikh Zayeed Road – see photo above – and chronic over-development, is a different question …..

(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.)

REMINDER: Up to 10,000 Avios with your household, business or landlord insurance
Bits: new BA champagnes, Mandarin Oriental coming to Lake Como, more SPG Amex news
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  1. Newbie help please. I was going to book a 5 nights for 4 SPG hotel but it seems I’ve missed the cut off date for transferring AMEX points to SPG. The problem I have is that the hotel increases in points after Aug18th? So is it possible to book a 5 night travel package after the 18th Aug?
    Currently I have 140,000 Marriott points but need 250,000 points (Cat 6) for the 5 night travel package so would require to convert an approx. 74,000 Amex points but I would then receive 120,000 Avios points.
    Is my maths correct (I would probably end up converting the Amex points to Avios anyway) so I’d be 46000 avios points up?
    Is it possible to book a 5 night or will they insist on a Vacation club membership?

    • Peter K says:

      It is not possible to book a 5 night travel package. Apparently it used to be possible if you got lucky with a phone agent who didn’t know what they were doing but not any more. It’s 7 nights only.

    • guesswho2000 says:

      My opinion – clutching at straws. Aeroplan is a dead duck, highlighting that, whilst frequent flyer schemes can indeed be incredibly profitable, their value becomes worthless if the main airline partner severs ties.

      Qantas points are a good example, they’re like a second currency in Australia, you can earn them doing almost anything. If QF spun of QFF, which has been mooted previously, I doubt the value (to consumers, and hence shareholders) would remain, especially in the light of the Aeroplan saga, once bitten, twice shy, and all that.

      Also, look at the disaster that Nectar is – seemed like a good idea at the time (Sainsbury’s Rewards), and probably was for J Sainsbury, but it’s a pretty useless scheme now.

  2. Alex B says:

    About to book two weekends away with Hilton in August but sadly I don’t seem to have been selected for the Amex offer in any guise.

    I’ve got Thistle and Melia instead 🙁

  3. Daniel says:

    As I’m based in Dubai, I can confirm that the W sign has been removed and now a very similar looking “V” is in it’s place…. So it does seem like the Habtoor group has had the sign on order for a while 🙂

    Not sure about all the others, but things are moving quick to change to Hilton I think

  4. guesswho2000 says:

    *SPG obv

  5. I’ve just received the SPG Amex Sign-up bonus (11k SPG points) into my Amex card – but, Amex had already converted the pending values by multiplying by 3 for the new scheme points. The bonus points weren’t multiplied and have come in as 11k new scheme points – which I presume is wrong! Presumably unless Amex fix this I’ll get the wrong amount transferred into the new scheme next week.

    Anyone have a similar experience or heard anything from Amex? I tried on web chart but the support person had no clue…

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