Ritz-Carlton launches hotel loyalty program

Luxury travelers rejoice: The Ritz-Carlton will finally start giving customers loyalty points in exchange for stays at Ritz hotels around the world. Ritz-Carlton officials will unveil the “Ritz-Carlton Rewards” program this morning at a press conference in New York City.

Why the excitement? Until now, Ritz-Carlton has remained Marriott’s only brand that doesn’t offer customers points for frequent stays. Starting Sept. 15, both Marriott and Ritz-Carlton guests who sign up for the new loyalty program will be able to earn and accumulate points for reward stays at Ritz-Carlton hotels, or use points toward experiences offered through specific partnerships. Some of the partnerships with the Ritz-Carlton rewards program include Vera Wang, National Geographic Expeditions photography workshops, and Neiman Marcus.

So how will Ritz-Carlton Rewards work? According to Barbara De Lollis over at USA Today’s Hotel Check-in column:

  • There will be silver, gold, and platinum status for the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program and each level will have the same requirements as Marriott Rewards.
  • Customers can be a member of either Ritz-Carlton Rewards or Marriott Rewards; not both.
  • Marriott Rewards platinum members who stay at a Ritz-Carlton will receive a complimentary room upgrade.
  • Ritz-Carlton Rewards members who earn platinum status will receive upgrades at Marriott hotels.

I’ll report on more details from this morning’s press conference, but until then… now’s a great time to start looking at Ritz-Carlton for your upcoming trip.

Club Epoque offers loyalty programs for boutique hotels

You want your loyalty points AND a stay a chic and trendy boutique hotel? What in the world are you thinking?! You’re thinking ahead, my friend, and thanks to a new program by Club Epoque, you can have your loyalty points and your boutique bedroom.

The newest hotel loyalty program from the Epoque collection allows each club member to earn 6 percent of the pre-tax room price toward your account (called “the bank” for members). Once you accrue $50 in bank, you can start applying your earned dollars toward a new reservation.

First thing is first, you must sign up to be a member. Then, every time you make a reservation on www.epoquehotels.com, your reservation will end up on your personal profile page where you can track your dollars earned. You can also buy more “money” whenever you want, you can gift your bank to others and you can buy a gift certificate for yourself or someone else.

Like many loyalty programs, there are additional benefits of being a member. You’ll get free WiFi in all hotels, and priority status for early check-in and late check-outs. Epoque reps more than 300 boutique properties in its roster. Among our favorites: The Lenox in Boston; The EPIC in Miami; Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans; and the Dream Hotel in New York.

Summer reminder: keep track of your mileage and points accounts

When on vacation this summer, pay close attention to your mileage and points accounts – despite all the advances in reservation technology, hotels, airlines and rental car firms regularly manage to “forget” crediting your account.

Especially when you are enrolled in promotions, getting correct credit for your stay or flight is very important. Here are some simple tips to be sure you get what you deserve:

  • Always make sure to enter your account number when booking
  • Make sure your account number is listed on your boarding pass and/or reservation email
  • If you change flights, seats, room or car, be sure your account number carries over
  • Always keep copies of your boarding pass and hotel folio if you need retroactive credit
  • Check your mileage account regularly for discrepancies
  • Add your frequent guest and flier accounts to a note on your (smart)phone
  • Sign up for an online mileage tracker like Pageonce or MileTracker

Even if you are not a frequent traveler, hotel and flight credits can add up fairly quickly, and getting credit for missed flights or stays can be tricky if you wait too long.

Best Western announces new hotel points matching program

If you have hotel points from other hotels, Best Western will match them. Of course, there’s a catch: you have to be a member of the Best Western Rewards loyalty program and have elite status with another hotel group.

Best Western’s new “Status Match, No Catch” program rewards members of its free loyalty points program with matching elite status of any other hotel loyalty program-free of charge.

Here’s how it works:

Starting now, new and existing Best Western Rewards members can upgrade their Rewards status by contacting Best Western and providing proof of elite status with another hotel loyalty program. Best Western Rewards points will be earned at the equivalent elite status immediately.

According to the hotel’s website, members of the elite status loyalty program with Best Western enjoy:

  • Gold Elite (awarded after 10 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 10 percent Rewards bonus
  • Platinum Elite (awarded after 15 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 15 percent Rewards bonus
  • Diamond Elite (awarded after 30 qualified nights in one calendar year), which earns a 30 percent Rewards bonus.

Time to start digging through your old accounts for those extra hotel points.

Join the program – Hotel tip

Whether this is your first time at a hotel or you are a regular, you should always be a member of the chain’s loyalty program.

There isn’t a charge to join and – with your very first stay – you start gaining points. Points can be used for free nights and other perks. Some programs (like Hilton Honors) will even let you exchange points for miles in airline programs.

Members of the hotel’s loyalty program also have a better chance of getting upgrades, so make it a habit to join the program.