Post-Merger Is Sweet Spot for Marriott, Starwood Customers

As expected, following approval by Chinese regulators, Marriott this morning completed its acquisition of Starwood, creating what the company’s news release touts as “the world’s largest and best hotel company.” The size part of the claim is easily enough assessed. With the merger, the Marriott network will span 5,700 properties, with 1.1 million rooms, representing…

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A New Starwood Credit Card? Maybe Not

The Starwood Preferred Guest credit card, issued by American Express, has long had a prominent place in the wallets of savvy frequent travelers. Here’s why: Annual fee: $95, waived the first year Annual percentage rate: adjustable, currently 15.49% to 19.49%, based on creditworthiness Earn up to 5 Starpoints per $1 at Starwood hotels, 1 Starpoint…

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The 10 Airports with the Best (and Worst) Cell Service

Travelers expect—or at least hope for—fast, reliable cellular connections wherever they go. On the road. In the store. At the airport. On the plane. At the hotel. On the mountaintop. The reality, though, is that solid cell service is a crap shoot. It’s here and there, but not everywhere. Where travelers rely particularly heavily on…

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Carlson’s New Member-Only Hotel Rates

To the list of hotels that offer discounted rates to members of their loyalty programs—Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, InterContinental, Choice—can now be added the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group (Quorvus Collection, Radisson Blu, Radisson, Radisson RED, Park Plaza, Park Inn, Country Inns & Suites). Beginning this week, Club Carlson members can save “up to 10%” when…

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Here Are 25 Restaurant Chains to Avoid

And from the ever-growing Master List of Lists comes this, from Consumer Reports: the 25 most complained-about chain restaurants. For context, the ratings are based on 170,838 reported visits to 238 full-service restaurant chains (so no McDonald’s or Burger Kings). Some are regional, but many have a national presence, and thus might well be among…

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New Passport Rule Affects Travelers Who Wear Glasses

September, according to the U.S. State Department, is passport awareness month. And the Department is using the occasion to publicize on its Twitter and Facebook feeds a noteworthy policy change in passport processing. Beginning on November 1, eye glasses will no longer be allowed in passport photos. More generally, the Department notes that bad photos…

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Your Choice: Points or Cash Back for Your Hotel Stay

Given the choice, which reward would you choose for your next hotel stay: loyalty points or cash back? That’s more hypothetical than realistic, since the great majority of hotels utilized by frequent travelers award loyalty points rather than cash. But there is one cash-back option that’s increasingly look-worthy. When The Guestbook launched, just over a…

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Yet Another 500 Free Virgin America Points

Barring the highly unlikely possibility of a successful anti-merger lawsuit, Virgin America’s future is as a footnote to the history of commercial aviation: the innovative, highly popular carrier whose spark was extinguished when Alaska Airlines purchased them and consolidated the two airlines’ operations, erasing any traces of Virgin’s outsize personality. Between now and Virgin’s eventual…

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From Best Western: 1,000 Bonus Points Per Stay

This fall’s crop of hotel promotions has been notably lackluster. The latest from Best Western is no exception. Offer Details Between September 12 and November 20, Best Western Rewards members can earn 1,000 bonus points for every eligible Best Western stay booked on the company’s website or mobile app. Registration is required. Related: New Hyatt…

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