As much as I love Hyatt properties and the service I receive there (regardless of my status), I am consistently finding myself searching for a property near my destination. With fewer than 700 properties in the entire Hyatt family, worldwide, this isn’t surprising. Comparatively, Hilton and Marriott have over 4,000 at their disposal, each.
The changes to the Hyatt program have been making someseriouswaves in the blogosphere. In addition to going from a 3 tier (base, Platinum, and Diamond) system to a 4 tier system (base, Discoverist, Explorist, Globalist), the qualifying number of nights required for each tier is changing. Furthermore, instead of receiving Platinum status with the co-branded Chase card, you now receive Discoverist with the option of “buying” your way to Explorist by spending $50,000 in a calendar year on your credit card.
There are some very interesting perks that come at the upper tier, but I will be taking a hard look at where I will be staying this coming year. Tentatively, given the very limited footprint I will be largely focusing on other hotels.
A good friend of mine, Ant Pruitt, recently wrote about CyberGhost’s VPN service on the GoGo blog. Ant goes on to explain just how the CyberGhost product functions. As someone who spends a lot of time online while in the air, this is a pretty big deal for me.
Even if you think nobody could be interested in your information, think about how much information you actually put out there online. Credit card information when you shop? Addresses? Contents of emails? Chat message transcripts?
Though I have access to a VPN thanks to my job, I know many folks don’t. Additionally, many VPN solutions are limited to computer use. Having a way to protect your browsing when you are on your phone is no less important!
Do you use a VPN when you use public services like Boingo and GoGo?
Recently I had the opportunity to stay at the Hyatt Place in Lansing, MI. Located behind the Eastwood Towne Center, it is has excellent accessibility to nearby restaurants as well as US-127. Though it lacks a lot of parking immediately in front or behind of the hotel, there is a large parking structure adjacent, and it has no additional fees.
Each room has a massive 42” TV, compared to the 30-40” TV in most comparable hotel rooms, as well as outlets at the desk that have USB ports! There is the standard complimentary breakfast, WiFi, and either a sofa-sleeper or “Cozy Corner”. I was lucky enough to get the latter.
As you can see, the bathroom is very spacious with ample counter-space as well as a reminder that if you forget anything, the hotel staff is happy to provide you with replacements.
The Cozy Corner, pictured above, consisted of a firm yet giving microfiber L-shaped couch and ample lighting from the hanging lamp. Hyatt goes out of their way to ensure that the color scheme of the room aligns with the coloring of the Hyatt Place logo.
The wall-mounted TV is capable of tilting (offering a good viewing angle from both beds), and the outlets behind the coffee-maker has two USB outlets. Though not having the highest current output, they are sufficient to charge your phones! Just be sure to use an actual adapter when charging any tablets.
As someone who spends (conservatively) two thirds of a year on the road, comfort in a hotel room is crucial to me, and the little things matter. Hyatt doesn’t pull any punches with these beds, and my back is grateful! My favorite beds are still those at Westin locations, but these are a close second – even beating out the ones at the Hyatt Regency in Sacramento!
Speaking of details, the entire closet is resting above the floor, and is further raised within the exterior shell. This allows a space for shoes to fit comfortably (though not boots). Rooms also come with luggage stands, full size ironing boards and irons.
The added perk to all of this is that I was able to take advantage of Hyatt’s current promotion: Stay More, Play More. Shortly after my stay completed, I received my 5,000 bonus points! Score! Be sure to sign up and stay!
Turkey has long-since been on my bucket list, and though previously limited to Istanbul, I recently discovered this amazing hotel on Uncrate.
The Yunak Evleri Cave Hotel, as the name implies, is a series of 7 cave houses with a total of 40 rooms; there is even a Greek mansion! The rooms are a variety of configurations (Suite, Deluxe, or Classic), accommodating a total of 80 guests. Each room has its own balcony, which is a wonderful touch. The Greek mansion you can find the hotel lobby, meeting rooms, and other amenities. A full list of services and activities can be found here, on the hotel website.
The other day, Stefan at RapidTravelChai answered United when they asked him if he going in the direction he wanted. He outlines the real reasons to keep United as a secondary airline in the US, and many resonated with me. In particular: Star Alliance partners.
Though I am a loyal Delta flyer, the others of the big three can’t come close to their operational performance, having a backup option is always nice. With members in the Star Alliance that are known for their hard and soft products (Singapore and Lufthansa, for example), they are definitely a valuable asset to a traveler. Right now, my Star Alliance status is courtesy of Marriott, but with 2017 around the corner it is a good time to re-evaluate travel plans.
This morning, Tiffany at OneMileAtAtime published an article that shows just how broken the United website has become when trying to book award tickets. The worst part is, agents seem to be powerless to override these changes and book the tickets themselves! Miles are nice to have, but if you’re unable to use them, it’s kind of a moot point. 🙁
Singapore Airlines is well known as a workaround to earn at least 100% of the miles flown regardless of fare. Though I am not sure how long this is going to last, Singapore frequently has sales that reduce the number of miles needed for award flights. Another option is one I had previously not considered until Stefan mentioned it: Asiana. Asiana requires only 500,000 miles flown on Star Alliance partners before you attain lifetime Star Alliance Gold status. This is particularly valuable as you receive lounge access when you have Gold status with a foreign airline. While you don’t always earn full distance flown when it comes to award miles, it is much better than being a factor of the ticket price. (Especially when watching your budget!)
I’m still uncertain where I’ll put my extra flights next year, but Singapore or Asiana are looking to be very strong contenders for where to credit United miles, when I do fly them.
Though many savvy travel hackers are familiar with the ins and outs of Google Flights and its underlying engine (ITA’s Matrix), not everyone is aware that you can use ITA’s software on your mobile device! The app, OnTheFly, is in both the Android and Apple app stores and is surprisingly easy to navigate.
Though you don’t have the ability to use the advanced routing codes that you would when using the web interface, you still have a fair amount of control. You can see these options below.
Unfortunately, you also are limited in the way the flight results are displayed, simply because of the limited screen real estate and functionality limitations of a mobile device. The information is presented in a clear manner, though, and the search is quite fast.
My only real complaint here is the fact that you can’t see time-bars. It is my preferred method of search result display for flights. That said, Hipmunkwill give you this information, and it pulls its information from ITA as well. Small world, right?
Once both outbound and return flights are selected, you are shown the fare details, as well as the total trip distance (for those that are conscious on qualifying miles and cents-per-mile!). Naturally, you are shown the fare class, and are even given a breakdown on where the fare price comes from.
For more on ITA’s Matrix, check out Scott Mackenzie’s guides on Travel Codex. It’s very important reading for the aspiring travel hacker!