New Hilton brand, Rakuten frustration, safari planning, upgrading with points, and more

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In this weekend’s week in review around the web, we have a new Hilton brand on the horizon, a type of purchase I typically avoid making through Rakuten, a new option for upgrading using points and more. Read on for the weekend recap.

Hilton About To Unveil a New Chain For New Affluents That Hate Tiny Rooms

This post gave me a giggle. I understand hotel chains wanting to have a variety of brands to appeal to a range of consumers, but I do laugh at some of the various brand descriptions. I also frequently wonder who the people are who prefer an upscale (priced) hotel with small rooms and no desk / basic amenities. It sounds like this new brand might be better than some of the others that have launched in the past couple of years, so that’s encouraging. And with Hilton, at least you won’t need to consult a chart to know whether or not you’ll get breakfast, unlike when I messed up the other night and answered yes to the question, “I assume you want the points” at a Courtyard, thinking that my option was points or a marketplace item (like at Fairfield, TownePlace Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, and probably a couple other brands I can’t think of?). Turns out that choice was points or breakfast (credit). That worked out and I was able to get it reversed in the morning, but I appreciate that Hilton makes it less complicated — so I’ll be happy to check out the new brand.

My One Huge Frustration with Rakuten (Ebates) & Why It Might Be A Deal Breaker!

Rakuten Ebates 11%

Shawn at Miles to Memories writes about an issue with portals that offering varying category payouts. I gambled on this once at Walmart with a product I bought just for the higher payout for that category. As I half expected, it didn’t pay out according to what one would have thought based on the category. It didn’t break my heart and I let it go rather than pursuing it. In hindsight, I probably should have pursued it — but at the end of the day, I’ve mostly avoided portals when they list varying category rates as I feel like there is too much potential for problems — whether that’s on the retailer end (which I expect in many cases) or the portal end, I get turned off from portals for those types of purchases.


Everything I Wish I Knew While Kenya Safari Planning

I took this shot in South Africa, but I’d love to check out the wildlife in Kenya also!

Becky at SightDOING writes about her recent safari in Kenya. Part of me had to include this in week in review because I’m a sucker for a safari story. After going on my first one in South Africa in 2015, I returned 14 months later. It’s now been almost 3 years since that trip and my wife and I often talk about how old our son will have to be before we take him to spend days on end in the car searching for wildlife for the first time. As much as I love the beach, and anyone who knows me knows that my blood runs tropical, I’d choose a safari if I could only have one more vacation. Becky has some great tips here in terms of Kenya-specific intel and also in terms of acceptance that there isn’t one “right” way to do it. Having done my safaris as self-drive experiences through Kruger where I stayed in private bungalows within the national park quite cheaply (and also using Marriott points to stay right outside of the Paul Kruger Gate), I’m interested in checking out a private safari lodge or two and a game drive led by a professional on a future trip just to be able to compare. This post didn’t dissipate that interest one bit.


You can now upgrade Delta flights using Velocity Points

 

This post from Australian blog Point Hacks caught my eye not because I’ll find this trick personally useful – after all I rarely fly Delta or paid flights or paid flights in Delta economy class from Australia to the US, no less ones with available upgrade space — but I always find this kind of information useful in terms of looking for other opportunities. Are there other partners where this could work, or will similar partnerships sprout in the future? I doubt there is a ton of value to be had here and doubt that many readers have Velocity points, but we frequently get asked questions about upgrading paid fares, so I know that many people are looking for these types of opportunities.


PSA: Check Existing Marriott Reservations To See If They Have Changed From Peak/Off Peak

I hate that this is even necessary (one of my reasons for including Marriott on the naughty list), but you have to keep an eye on award stays if you want to be sure you don’t overpay. Last week, we linked to a post about some Marriott properties changing category mid-year, and here Doctor of Credit notes that some are also changing between peak and off-peak mid-month. The moral of the story is that you have to set a regular reminder to tend to your Marriott reservations if you want to make sure you get the best deal.


That’s it for this week around the web. Check back for the final last chance deals of 2019.

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