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I have just been tweeting back and forth with some other mile enthusiasts and thought that I would quickly share my recent experience with a ’hidden’ Club Carlson gold benefit for FREE LAUNDRY at a few European properties.

Earlier this month, I did a 25 night European tour, staying at several Club Carlson properties along the way.

It wasn’t until I was checking out of the Radisson Blu in Nice, France, that I noticed this ‘hidden’ benefit.  My wife had dry cleaned 2 pairs of shorts during our stay, as we had been on the road for a bit.  When we checked out, the front desk attendant looked at our folio, and said, ‘OK, two pieces of laundry, will of course be removed from your bill as you are a Club Carlson Gold member’…. WHAT?  This was news to me!  I promptly asked him to explain and he told me that you are allowed 1 piece of laundry/dry cleaning for free per night as a gold member.

I thought that I may have just been ‘out of the loop’… so I went to Twitter to ask @ClubCarlson what this was all about.  @ClubCarlson confirmed that while this is NOT a STANDARD benefit offered by the program in general, the property CAN offer this AT THEIR DISCRETION.

Twitter Convo with @clubcarlson re: laundry

Twitter Convo with @clubcarlson re: laundry

This was fantastic news to me as we had several more Club Carlson stays on our itinerary and our clothes were due to be washed again.

The second attempt I made at this benefit was at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Dubrovnik Sun Gardens in Croatia.

Now, I will say, at the Dubrovnik property, there was some confusion about the benefit – at first they said I was entitled to one load of laundry, but not dry cleaning, however, they later came back to clarify that it was actually just one article.  Unfortunately for them, this was after they had already processed my load of laundry, which I ultimately got taken off my bill after some discussion.

So, I guess the lesson to be learned here is:

  1. Awesome benefit that you can take advantage of which is not publicized
  2. Make sure to clarify UP FRONT what the benefit is, as there is no website to point to that describes the benefit.  If there is confusion, they will likely try and make you pay for the difference.

Enjoy and stay snobby!

PS

Hyatt Vendome entrance

Hyatt Vendome entrance

Background

During the 2012 holiday season, my wife and I decided to head down to Paris for Christmas. As an avid Snobby traveler, I found this as an opportune time for me to check out the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome for the very first time! This is highly touted as one of the best hotels in the Hyatt portfolio, and I needed a first hand experience!

Our original stay was scheduled for 4 nights, using the two free night certificates that we each got from the Chase Hyatt Visa. However, during our stay, we loved it so much that we ended up negotiating with the front desk to allow us 1 more night on Hyatt points (22k/night) – so 5 nights in all! We actually wanted 6 nights, but they were “fully booked” given holiday season. I use quotations as they were not actually fully booked, however the general manager was certain the last few rooms were going to be booked at the revenue rate at the time, which was 1200€ per night, which from what I understood was more than Hyatt Corporate would reimburse for the points I would redeem (a concept that is still unclear to me). We had to stay the last night at the Westin Vendome about 2 minute walk down the street, so if you are in a toss up situation between the two hotels, see that review (coming soon).

Other reviews to expect from this same trip:

– Westin Vendome, Paris France (coming soon)

– Waldorf Hotel, London England (coming soon)

Cash value (CV)

At 22,000 points per night (or 1 free stay certificate), and a rate of 1200€ per night during the holiday season, we were able to get $0.07 per point, which is a fantastic redemption!

Room

We received a ‘standard king room’, so no upgrades for us (room 505 to be exact).  As a Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum member, we just didnt have enough clout at this high season to get upgraded.

The room was small, make no mistake. But then again, this was expected, as it is Europe (specifically, Paris).

Room 505

Room 505

Hyatt Vendome room

Hyatt Vendome room

Hyatt Vendome bed

Hyatt Vendome bed

Hyatt Vendome TV

Hyatt Vendome TV

The familiar statues from Juliette Canet (artist) that you see in the lobby and outside the hotel are redundant throughout the room as well.

Hyatt Vendome statues

Hyatt Vendome statues

There was a nice lounging chair and desk area in the main bedroom, with some cool little quirks like blinds that were closed via switch by the bed. I always like small, relatively unique items like this. The bed was insanely soft, which was very comfortable for my wife and I… However, could be problematic if you prefer a more firm mattress.

We had a nice view of the interior courtyard of the building, where the restaurant is below. It didn’t feel like too crowded of a view, even though it was interior.

Interior courtyard view

Interior courtyard view

Interior courtyard view

Interior courtyard view

The bathroom and closet were the real winners of the room. Adorned with marble all around and tasteful gold fixtures… As well as my favorite – Blaise Mautin bath amenities.

Hyatt Vendome room bath/shower

Hyatt Vendome room bath/shower

Blaise Mautin product

Blaise Mautin product

Blaise Mautin product

Blaise Mautin product

Hyatt Vendome room bath

Hyatt Vendome room bath

Hyatt Vendome room

Hyatt Vendome room

Hyatt Vendome shower

Hyatt Vendome shower

Hyatt Vendome room closet

Hyatt Vendome room closet

Hyatt Vendome toilet

Hyatt Vendome toilet

Another great little quirk about the bathroom was that the middle portion of the mirror in the shower must have been treated with anti-fogger so you can take a hot shower and still use the mirror. This, coupled with the sink in the shower, meant that you could easily shave or brush teeth, etc, all while enjoying a nice hot shower.

Service

My favorite thing from a service prospective about this stay was the fact that management gave us access to the free breakfast buffet, a Hyatt Diamond amenity, despite the fact that my wife and I were only platinum status at the time of our stay. The breakfast was amazing and fresh, not to mention, saved us the 86€ it would have cost to otherwise purchase the breakfast, although we would not have paid for it if it was not offered.

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

wpid-Photo-Dec-26-2012-1100-AM.jpg

For the Christmas Eve turndown service, the maids left us a gift from management, which was a small package of glazed chestnuts from Torino. While not my favorite treat, it was a nice gesture from the hotel.

Glazed chestnut xmas gift

Glazed chestnut xmas gift

Given that we actually had two separate reservations, under two different names (my wife and mine), I felt the need to shoot the hotel an email before arriving to ‘link’ the two reservations and ensure we did not have to move rooms, as I know the hotel can get busy this time of year. The front desk almost immediately replied to my email, letting me know that they had already assumed that this is what we wanted and already ensured we would be in the same room. Love this. Especially for someone that is frequently ordering ‘off menu’ due to some of the various point stipulations/availabilities/promotions (meaning untraditional reservations/requests, etc).

Over the 5 day stay, we probably stopped by the concierge at least 2x per day, as well as some calls for on-the-fly advice. It took them about one full day to start calling us by name. To me, this is one of the most impressive service aspects of the staff and I always appreciate the effort this takes. Overall, the concierge was amazing with on point suggestions for all types of things from sites to restaurants and other to-dos. We even pushed their outer limits by having them research and price out a trip to the Champagne region for us, while in the end, we did not end up going.

Finally, when we checked out, we ended up leaving some personal items in the room safe. The hotel security manager emailed us just hours after we checked out, letting us know that they had found it, and asking where they could mail the contents. They also specified the contents in the email so that we could rest easy knowing they had recovered everything and were taking responsibility for making sure that the entire contents were returned.

Common areas and restaurants

The overall cleanliness and class of the common areas in the hotel were amazing.

Hyatt Vendome lobby/common areas

Hyatt Vendome lobby/common areas

Hyatt Vendome common areas

Hyatt Vendome common areas

Hyatt Vendome bar/common areas

Hyatt Vendome bar/common areas

Hyatt Vendome hallways

Hyatt Vendome hallways

Hyatt Vendome lobby bar

Hyatt Vendome lobby bar

IMG_0586

Hyatt Vendome lobby

Hyatt Vendome lobby

Due to the holidays, the common areas were all decorated in good taste to remind us the seasonality of our stay. All these decorations were great and added to the overall feeling of the common areas.

Hyatt Vendome couryard restaurant

Hyatt Vendome couryard restaurant

Hyatt Vendome courtyard

Hyatt Vendome courtyard

As far as restaurants in the hotel goes, we had a small bite at the outdoor courtyard restaurant La Terrasse, in the center of the hotel. I had an asian soup, closely resembling Vietnamese Phó. This was really good, however, maybe a bit pricey, as expected. My wife had the dumplings. These too were good, with an amazing hot mustard sauce served with them. I also cashed in a certificate for a “platinum perk” gift, which ended up being a nice 1/2 bottle of red wine, which was sold on the menu for over 30€.

Hyatt Vendome couryard restaurant

Hyatt Vendome couryard restaurant

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Hyatt Vendome breakfast

Snob Factor: 100% snobby:

This is my all time favorite property I have stayed at in the world. It provides an amazing product with high end spaces, furniture, food and service. There is not much else out there that competes with the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, and at 22,000 Hyatt points, you will not get a much more valuable redemption.

Panorama view from room in Hotel Martinez

Panorama view from room in Hotel Martinez

Background

For our summer holiday, in late July ’13, my wife and I ventured south to the Cotes d’Azur to visit the new Hyatt properties in Cannes and Nice as a part of a much longer European vacation. These properties were acquired by Hyatt only about 4 months earlier in the year, so it was a great sneak peak at what I suspect is soon to be the cornerstones of Hyatt’s European portfolio, given the properties locations, proximity to each other and the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris,  and the overall quality of the  properties.

Other Reviews to expect from this trip:

– Radisson Blu hotel Nice

– Palais de la Méditerranée (Hyatt Regency Nice)

– Fairmont Monte Carlo

– Radisson Blu Split Croatia

– Radisson Blu Dubrovnik Croatia

– Radisson Blu Helsinki Finland

– Radisson Blu Stockholm

Exterior of hotel at night

Exterior of hotel at night

To further the experience, we enrolled in the Gold Passport Diamond Status Challenge before the trip in order to secure room upgrades as well as free breakfasts and other perks that come along with Diamond status. Given that we had done the challenge solely for this trip, I made sure to track the separate benefits we received from Diamond, that we would not have otherwise had if we took the trip as Platinum members as we typically are (see CV section below)

CV (Cash Value) – Standard redemption

We used some of our Chase Ultimate Reward points from our Sapphire Preferred/Ink spending, transferring them to Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. We ended up redeeming 22,000 points per night, for a two night stay.

The rack rates on the Hyatt website for an entry level Grande Queen room (which is what we were able to book with our points) was €320 ($422USD) per night or $844 USD for the stay.

So, the non-elite award redemption would yield you about $.019 per night. Not amazing but a valuable redemption overall. Basically on par with what I value Chase points at.

Incremental CV for Diamond Perks

As a Diamond Gold Passport (GP) member, we were able to secure the following additional benefits and related values (benefits are further discussed below):

– Upgrade to the Sea View Deluxe King room which was priced at €860 per night (€540 incremental value over standard room each night or €1080 for the stay)

– free breakfast for two (€40 per person, per day or €160 for entire stay)

– free Diamond happy hour (value depends on guest but we were able to get about €170 from this perk)

– free L’Oreal nail bar manicure for wife (not sure if this was a diamond perk or a hotel specific perk but I will factor it in here anyways – €20 value)

– free bottle of wine in room each night (€20 per day or €40 total)

– free wifi (not going to include this as CV as it is offered to platinum guests as well)

By tallying up the benefits from above, we were able to receive an extra €1470 (or $1944USD) in “value” from the Diamond status, for this stay.

Total CV – standard redemption + diamond perks

Total overall “value” received was $2788 for the entire stay ($844 + $1944 = $2788 USD) for 44,000 Hyatt points. This is an amazing redemption at $0.063 per point (although I would never pay full price for the room or other benefits)

Room

This room was unbelievably nice! It seemed to be newly renovated with a very high quality feel to the fixtures accompanied by an extremely comfortable bed.

Floor plan

Floor plan

Room #525

Room #525

Martinez room bed and window

Martinez room bed and window

Martinez desk area

Martinez desk area

Martinez bed and entry

Martinez bed and entry

The room had amazing views of the beach and the yachts on the Cotes d’Azur!

View from room

View from room

View from room

View from room

View from room

View from room

The bathroom was also excellent. Extremely spacious and well finished. It reminded me very much of our bathroom in the Ritz Carlton in Berlin, which we had just recently stayed at (review soon). His and her sinks, a spacious tub and separate toilet and shower rooms all made it great. Annick Goutal amenities and plenty of them, kept us showering about 4x per day!

Seperate toilet and shower rooms

Seperate toilet and shower rooms

Bathtub and robes/slippers

Bathtub and robes/slippers

Plenty of Annick Goutal amenities

Plenty of Annick Goutal amenities

His and hers sinks

His and hers sinks

IMG_5958

Shower and toilet rooms

Seperate room for toilet

Separate room for toilet

Amazing spacious shower with 2 heads (overhead rain or standard tilted)

Amazing spacious shower with 2 heads (overhead rain or standard tilted)

Service

Overall service was excellent. Probably the best I have ever experienced (ok, maybe a tie with the Park Hyatt Vendome). As we reflected on our stay, we noticed the following niceties which contributed to the overall service experience:

– We stepped not a foot into the front door of the hotel before our bags were grabbed and vanished out of sight. Of course, they were brought to our room seamlessly without having to tell anyone our name/room #/etc. While this is service I expect at a hotel like the Martinez, I still can’t explain how great this feels when done right and how cumbersome and awkward it can be when done incorrectly.

– Upon arrival at around 2pm, our room was not ready. The reception agent promptly apologized and offered to buy us a drink in the bar while we waited the 1hr until it was prepared. As an alternative, they made it clear there were other rooms which were ready, however, they recommended we wait for ours as it was “better”. We opted for the free drink and the “better” room. We were not in a hurry.

Reception

Reception

– The reception agent gave us the typical read through the diamond benefits and let us choose our points or in room amenity. We chose the points as I typically value those more than a fruit and nut basket.

– As mentioned above, we were able to get upgraded to a Deluxe King Sea View room. See the “room” discussion above.

– While we chose the points amenity as opposed to the in-room amenity, we still received a bottle of red wine each night in our room with a card saying with the compliments of management. Not sure why we got this but I thoroughly enjoyed this nonetheless.

Wine in room every day

Wine in room every day

– Diamond happy hour: As this property was acquired to be a Grand Hyatt, the hotel is currently in the process of implementing the Club room. In the absence of this, for our stay, management invited us down to the bar between 5pm – 7pm for free drinks. Upon arrival in the bar, I was given a small placard with the available drinks on it. I focused most of my efforts on the Tattinger champagne that was included on the list, at €22 per glass on the menu, I knew this was the best bet to get my highest value! They also served a few little snacks, mostly nuts and olives but also these amazing variety of chips made from sweet potato, bananas and regular potato.

Diamond happy hour side #1

Diamond happy hour side #1

Diamond Happy Hour side #2

Diamond Happy Hour side #2

Tattinger Rose (ordered off menu) and the snacks

Tattinger Rose (ordered off menu) and the snacks

– The concierge was excellent. Great recommendations right off the cuff and my favorite was that they were not shy to pick up the phone and make a reservation immediately without being prompted, etc. In my opinion, a good concierge is one that will do everything without asking. Mainly because I feel a bit high maintenance when I have to ask them 20 questions, so it makes me feel comfortable as a guest when they do things unprompted.

This was very evident one afternoon when I asked if they had beach towels we could take with us on a walk, in case we were inclined to stop off for a dip in the Côte d’Azur. The concierge told me initially that we can just grab the towels from our room. I paused only about one second before he took a look at my wife and I, noticing that we were already on our way out the door and probably didn’t want to be bothered to go back up to the room. Within 3 seconds he picked up the phone, called housekeeping and asked them to bring some towels down. A perfect example of me as a guest receiving high quality service without having to ask and sound like a lazy/pretentious guest 🙂

Concierge

Concierge

– The housekeeping service was very nice as well. On our second day, we arrived back into our room with a heart made of (fake) rose petals on the bed. Not something I had pre-arranged, but a nice touch.

Heart of (fake) rose petals on bed during cleaning service

Heart of (fake) rose petals on bed during cleaning service

The turndown service was great as well with nice feet pads put down on either side of the bed, and bottles of Evian water next to the bed.

They did not draw the curtains however, I would suspect it’s because the view is so excellent, even at night, coupled with the fact that there were automatic curtains with a button next to the bed.

– Finally, while checking in, we were offered a certificate for a free nail painting for my wife at the L’Oreal nail bar that was in the lobby. I can’t say that I fully understood why they offered this (if it was for all guests or just diamond) but my wife seemed to enjoy it. From what I have been told, it was not a full manicure, rather a “light manicure” and a painting. Either way, this was on my wife’s to-do list anyways, so I count it as value add and great service to offer.

Restaurants and common spaces

Breakfast was offered in the Le Relais restaurant until 11am or in your room until 12pm. Both options were free of course given our diamond GP member status.

The breakfast was buffet style and included all the usual suspects, bread station, fruit station, meat/cheese station, hot made to order egg dish station, etc. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for the breakfast.

Breakfast area

Breakfast area

Juice station

Juice station

Bread station

Bread station

Breakfast pastry station

Breakfast pastry station

Hot food station

Hot food station

Breakfast cold cuts

Breakfast cold cuts

Omlette station

Omelet station

Fruits and yogurts

Fruits and yogurts

Indoor breakfast area

Indoor breakfast area

My breakfast selection

My breakfast selection

We didn’t check out the other restaurants mainly because there are so many good ones nearby and the Le Palme d’Or in the hotel is a 2 Michelin star rated restaurant at about €200 per person.

Common spaces were nice and upscale, rounding off the overall experience.

Lobby #1

Lobby #1

Lobby #2

Lobby #2

Hallways

Hallways

Poolside (also breakfast areas)

Poolside (also breakfast areas)

Elevator bank

Elevator bank

Staircase

Staircase

Lobby #3

Lobby #3

The largest disappointment by far from the experience was the fee to use both the pool area and the beach club.  I do not have the exact figures in front of me, however, it was something like 36EUR to reserve a beach club lounger for the day and 20EUR for the pool.

This type of arrangement is fairly common in this area in France (they also charged for pool chairs at the Radisson Blu in Nice, FR, however, not at the Hyatt Regency Nice). As a ‘paying’ hotel guest, I would not expect to pay to lay by the pool (maybe the beach club fee is OK).

Due to the price of these facilities, we did not use them.  Instead, we went to a nearby beach club for 3EUR per chair (much easier to swallow).

(Paid) pool area

(Paid) pool area

Pool area (from above)

Pool area (from above)

Beach club

Beach club

Snob Factor – 100%

This property is designed for the rich and famous and it shows through in all aspects. The service is unparalleled and you will not receive much more high end experience for your points anywhere else (at least that I have been to so far)

Stay Snobby,

PS

Deal: The Park Hyatt Paris Vendome hotel is offering a free breakfast at Les Orchids to Hyatt Gold Passport members who are staying on property for the first time.

Cash Value (CV): Breakfast runs 42€ per person. So, for a standard 2 night stay for 2 people, you are looking at a CV of 168€ (2*2*42)

Background: This holiday season, I was fortunate enough to stay 5 nights at the Park Hyatt Paris Vendome, celebrating the Christmas holiday.

I will spare you the details of this amazing hotel and get straight to the point – as this was my first time staying at the hotel as a Gold Passport Member, the woman that checked me in explained that complimentary breakfast will be a part of the benefits package offered to me, which is a perk typically reserved for Gold Passport Members with Diamond status.

The breakfast was ‘buffet style’ but offered a great variety of cold meats, great French cheeses, cereals and breads. Not your typical continental breakfast. Also – drinks were included in the benefit (fresh OJ and/or coffee and espresso drinks)

Photos:

Snob Factor: 95% snobby. If you are not a HGP Diamond member, and you are in the market for a Parisian hotel, jump on this opportunity as it adds a great value to an award stay and will likely not be around for long.

Miles, points and credit card rewards make me a luxury travel snob, and they can do the same for you (which is why I am here). My travel history includes 8 years and 30+ countries of what I refer to as “proper traveling” – travel outside of North America. Currently located in Oslo Norway, and exploring all the luxuries that Europe has to offer.

What I will blog about:

  1. LARGE rewards/bonuses in the travel points scene. I will define LARGE as having a cash value/potential (CV) of >$100USD, in my personal CV calc (everyone is different).
  2. Pictures from my luxury travels around the world

What I will NOT blog about:

  1. Personal items/random thoughts. I do not know you, and you do not know me. Lets keep it that way. I am here to help you and awe you with some luxuries that you cannot otherwise afford, not tell you when my flight is delayed in LHR. So, my vow is to not bother you with the trivial day-day tweets.
  2. MINOR point earning opportunities. If you are looking for a toolbar to download in order to get 100 United miles, go to a different blog. I don't sign up for those things, and neither do my readers. We go big on points, or we spend time doing other things.

We here at PointSnob hope that you follow along with our blog and become a snob yourself.

Stay Snobby!

PS