Friday, February 24, 2012

Officially Live On BoardingArea!

After some technical issues getting my domain to forward to my new BoardingArea hub, it looks like I finally made it with very little bumps in the road and sunny skies ahead!

If you're seeing this page, you'll have to update your bookmarks to, which will redirect you to

For those who are subscribed by email/RSS - I'm working on getting your subscriptions transferred to the new platform so you can receive emails with every update (the good news now is that you'll receive an email  the instant I hit publish so the latest posts will be at your fingertips).

If you are the impatient type like me, feel free to resubscribe on so you don't miss a post between now and then!

As always, we can connect on Facebook and Twitter by using the handy dandy buttons on the right. :)

See you over at BoardingArea!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exciting Blog News

I'm excited and honored to announce that Just Another Points Traveler will joining the BoardingArea blog alliance in a few days! I'm not going to lie, I kind of felt like a little kid getting candy when Randy Peterson contacted me with the opportunity, and the best part about being part of the BoardingArea community is that I'll be able to have access to a wider network of information and tips to continue to share with you. Cheers to more points and miles for everyone!

The inspiration behind the blog dates back to when I attended the Chicago seminars in October 2011 with my father and learned an incredible amount of information in such a short amount of time from some of the leading bloggers and experts in the industry. Before that life-changing weekend in Chicago, I knew nothing about the wonderful world of points and miles, and I had a great admiration for all those who shared their stories, tips, and tricks with me.

I take that back; I knew the basics. By "basics", I mean that having my one and only frequent flyer account, my Continental OnePass account, in my mind, made me a savvy traveler. Ha! Little did I know. Now if only I could turn back time to correct the mistakes I've made in the past and apply what I've learned so far (that will be another blog post... and I'm sure you'll laugh and/or cringe at some of my "points"-absentmindedness).

Do be assured that all of my blog posts, stories, and tips will still be genuine and written by me. In fact, even the layout will be the same after the transition. For those of you who are subscribed to the blog by email or RSS, don't worry, you'll still receive all of the updates as you usually do. Those who visit by typing into your browser, no sweat for you either; the site will automatically redirect.  Less confusion = less worry = happy readers. :)

If you haven't already, do feel free to connect with me on Twitter or Facebook. I love getting to know my readers!

Oh, and stay tuned... I'm in the mood for another contest this week. ;)

Quickies: 1,000 Bonus SPG Points & 1000 British Midland Diamond Club Miles

1,000 Bonus SPG Starpoints: Starting today, you can earn a 1,000 Starpoints bonus for every Sheraton Club room stay booked and consumed through May 31st and paid for with an American Express credit card. Bookings made online at or through Starwood’s Customer Contact Centers are eligible. If booking online, look for rate plans DAILYFS or SICLUB to auto-populate. If booking through the Customer Contact Centers, please ask for Promotion Code CL1. (Hat Tip: SPG Champion on MilePoint).

1,000 Bonus BMI Diamond Club Miles: Ben from One Mile at a Time writes that he received what seemed to be a targeted offer allowing you to earn 1,000 BMI bonus miles simply by taking a 5 minute survey. I did not have a BMI Diamond Club account until today when I learned that BMI miles might be transferring to British Airways Avios with the upcoming merger. New members can also receive 1,000 miles by joining BMI Diamond Club. I took the survey after my new account was created, and it it said the 1,000 miles would be posted to my account in 40 days. Hopefully, I'll be getting a total of 2,000 miles with the new member bonus and the survey bonus. As always, YMMV.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Amazing Hotel Deal: Hyatt Place Waikiki Via Hyatt Best Rate Guarantee

Don't you love that feeling when you find an awesome travel deal? I do! As I am in the very beginning stages of planning our Hawaii trip coming up in June, I started nonchalantly researching hotel possibilities in Honolulu, Maui, and Kauai.

I originally planned to redeem some of my Hyatt and SPG points, but I always like to keep my options open incase I find an amazing price on a room that is worth paying for (and earning points for). I just so happened to stumble across a 60% "Grand Opening Special" on for the brand new Hyatt Place Waikiki in Honolulu, and I was amazed that rooms were priced at just $149 a night for a Thursday-Sunday stay in June.

In peak season, most of the nicer hotels in Waikiki are priced between $300-$400 a night on the weekends. I instantly saw that this price was a steal for a new Hyatt property and was determined to make a reservation right then and there. However, I was not impressed with's service fees/cancellation policy, so I went directly to to reserve the room to avoid incurring any additional booking fees.

As you can see from the screenshot below, I saw that the room on was listed at a significantly higher rate of $294 instead of $149. What's a girl to do?

I did remember that Hyatt has a "best rate guarantee" policy which will not only match any lower rate, but also take an additional 20% off the lowest rate.

After a brief phone call with Hyatt, they gladly honored their best rate guarantee policy and allowed me to reserve the room at $119.20 per night. Awesome!

If anyone is traveling to Waikiki from now through June 30, I strongly suggest you consider booking the Hyatt Place Waikiki using the method I did.

As far as the rest of our stays in Hawaii, I do plan on using points and/or points and cash for the rest of my reservations.

For those who have visited Hawaii, please do share your points-redemption stories. I'd love to get ideas for Maui and Kauai!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Hotel Review: Celebrating Valentine's Day Weekend at W Hoboken

Is it me, or is 2012 passing by so quickly? It seems like yesterday that it was New Year's Day, and now Valentine's Day has graced passed us with a blink of an eye. Jeez, can we hit the pause button on 2012 for a little bit?

With the year zooming past us lately, Kevin and I have sadly been all work and no play, and believe me, our relationship was feeling the tension. Since our schedules didn't allow us for a full weekend away, we decided it would be best to dedicate even just a single night away simply for a change of scenery.

Our usual "night out on the town" consists of us taking the 2-hour drive down to Atlantic City where he can get his gambling fix, and I can get my dress-up time. But... our last time in Atlantic City left a bad taste in my mouth.

All I'll say is that a bad argument lead to Kevin being extremely foolish in the casino, and we said goodbye to lots of rent money. Yeah, that was a bit personal for me to share, but I don't like to sugar-coat or censor my experiences in life; I was beyond pissed and he knows it very well (proof that women never let men live it down). Hey, that's all past us now, but AC remains on hiatus for me. :)

We decided that the better option was driving less than 10 miles to Hoboken to impulsively check out the W since we heard rave reviews about it from some of our local friends. Luckily, we happened to get a great rate despite it being a Saturday night on Valentine's Day weekend, and we were thrilled to have a night out during our first "W" experience.

When we arrived, we were impressed with the location - perfect views of the NYC skyline and located directly on the Hudson River. Parking was a steep $35, but all of the other lots were in the same price range so we really did not have any other options but to park at the hotel. Check-in was quick and we loved how posh and upscale the hotel was. We were given a "cozy king" room on the 16th floor, which would have been breathtaking if we had views of NYC, but our room faced Hoboken, which we didn't mind either way.

By the time we got settled, it was around dinner time, and we were quite starved so we called downstairs to make reservations at Zylo, the hotel's steakhouse. The hostess was very rude in telling us that she did not have a table for us until after 10:30 PM. She made it seem like we had the nerve to be asking to eat at the hotel we were staying at. Mind you, it was only 5:15 PM and we had just come up to the room from the lobby and saw that the restaurant was empty.

Her attitude upset me, and had me thinking the rest of the evening at the W was going to be filled with snobby staff. With that said, I nonchalantly tweeted to SPG from my bed saying I was disappointed with the unnecessary rudeness. To my surprise, SPG tweeted back at me within minutes saying they were sorry and would address the problem.

Less than an hour later, a manager of the hotel called my cell phone directly. Never again will I underestimate the power of social media. I was blown away that SPG had called the hotel, the hotel located my reservation by my twitter handle (which happens to be just my first and last name), and a manager called me directly. Now that's customer service 2.0. Thumbs up.

The manager on duty, Brian, apologized for what had happened and applied a $75 credit to the room, which was very generous and unexpected. That entire act of excellent customer service literally turned our night around. It's unbelievable how good customer service could reset the tone of the night. We were ready to kick off the night on a new foot! :-)

All in all, we ended up having such a fabulous time together in Hoboken at the W. We had time to reconnect, have dinner (we ended up going to a great Malaysian place near by called Satay), have drinks at the "Library" (downstairs lobby bar), and even went dancing in the hotel lounge/club, "The Chandelier Room". Many thanks to SPG and all of the hotel management at the W Hoboken for such a great stay!

The lobby was trendy and posh.
"Cozy King" room on 16th floor - Hoboken view.
I loved the decor of the room. It had a very swanky, posh, Vegas feel.
Desk/Mini Bar/TV and gorgeous full window. I love an abundance of natural light.
Close-up of the in-room mini bar. $8 for Oreos, $5 for water. I'll pass LOL.
Modern corner chair.
The bathroom was very modern and clean. I loved that the mirror extended all the way across into the shower. 
The bath products were from their in-house spa, Bliss.
More Bliss toiletries
Kevin and I having drinks in "The Library" (FYI: drinks were in the $12-$14 range).
Me feeling fancy in the fancy chair in "The Chandelier Room" lounge.

Kevin and I dancing in "The Chandelier Room" (We tried this photo 3 times and his eyes were closed every time!)
Kevin insists that every great night ends in late-night room service.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quickies: 500 United Mileage Plus Miles in 10 Minutes

Got this in my e-mail today - 500 United MileagePlus miles for creating a new account with e-Rewards. I totally love easy ways to get more miles, especially United miles because it's the airline I fly most frequently. Enjoy!

Quick Tips:

  • You must complete your first survey within 90 days of enrolling to receive your award miles. This one-time bonus of 500 Award miles is only available to newly enrolled e-Rewards members.
  • If you already have an e-Rewards account like I do (I signed up during last year's U.S. Airways Grand Slam Promotion), I recommend creating a new account using an alternative email address and providing your MileagePlus Account number.
  • Don't forget to activate your account on the verification page by entering your confirmation code which will be sent to your email. Accounts will not be active (aka no 500 bonus miles) until you do so.
  • After your complete your profile with E-Rewards, there will be a page that instructs you to choose two "Welcome Gifts". One of them is 4,500 Club Carlson points, which I recommend you choose. Here's why: my guess is that e-Rewards will create a new Club Carlson account for you using the information you provide during registration (I even went as far as using a different address when registering). Once your new Club Carlson account is created, do know that Club Carlson allows instant point transfers from one account to another simply by calling and asking for a transfer. I plan on "transferring" my 4,500 new Club Carlson Gold Points into my current account. Catch my drift? :)

Guest Post: Dad's Take on Valentine's Day

Today is Valentine's Day, but what does that really mean? Flowers? Chocolates? A romantic candlelight dinner? A flight to Paris? Sure, those are lovely ideas to celebrate with, but this year I challenge you to think differently.

Hi I'm Joe, the proud father of your "points-obsessed" blogger. You can definitely say that the travel bug runs in the Aucello family. I was fortunate to travel to over 31 countries, but mostly on my own dime.

In fact, I did not discover the wonderful world of point and miles until 2010. I think the first travel blog I stumbled upon was the Frugal Travel Guy, because Rick and I both seemed to share the same perspective on travel. To me, traveling, is not staying in 5 star hotels or flying 1st class. In all honesty, my favorite travel memories were when I had to find value accomodations according to my budget.

Some examples: I was able to rent a two bedroom apartment in Prague, complete with breakfast for $30 a night. On another trip, I went the same route and rented a 2 bedroom apartment for a week in Budapest, right in middle of all the action for $150 a week. I was also able to spend 4 nights at a Buenos Aires bed and breakfast with my wife for a total of $100. To me, those were the ultimate "local" experiences that I'll never forget.

It wasn't until 2010 that I skillfully discovered and started playing the points and miles game with credit cards and airline promotions. I know that Angelina already posted about the credit cards in her wallet (let's just say like father, like daughter... she can thank me for all of the credit card advice... all of the cards she listed were some that I currently have/have had). In summary, I earned 674,000 points in 2010 alone. A new obsession hobby? I think so.

Now let's get back on topic... the meaning of Valentine's Day. To me, Valentine's Day was September 11, 2001. I was working on the 59th floor of 2 World Trade Center. On that day, my outlook on life changed completely. I realized how "fragile" life is. I learned not to sweat the little things. Love your families, connect with old friends, make amends, travel, dance laugh... life is too short, and I know that because of that day.

Do know that the best trips don't always involve 5 star hotels, but 5 star experiences. The trips I remember most are ones like the time Angelina and I stayed at a hostel overlooking Lake Como, Italy... and when my son and I went zip-lining over the rainforests of Mindo, Ecuador... and when my wife and I attended a cowboy festival in Buenos Aires. 

And I still laugh at the memories I have while traveling with my sister to Prague and Terazin concentration camp... because we could not find anyone that spoke English or Italian, we had to draw a picture of a bus to get to the bus stop...

Stop reading, and use this year's Valentine's Day a day to go make some memories with your families and loved ones. Life is precious and the only thing that matters in the end is the love you share with those around you. Use today to laugh, smile, and love. 

Me in Quito, Equador at the "middle of the world".
My son, Anthony, and I ready to go zip-lining. Can you tell I was terrified?
My wife, Marie, and I dining with some local friends we met in Argentina.

Happy Valentine's Day from "The Dad".

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Added Two More Credit Cards to My Wallet - What's in Yours?

First off, let me start off by saying that blogging is not my primary source of income (or any income for that matter), so I can assure you that you won't see me pushing any credit cards in my posts. I strive to keep my posts genuine to my personal experiences on the points and mile journey, and frankly some might agree that the CC push has become too polluted in the blog-o-sphere (but that's a whole other discussion, and you're welcome to share your thoughts on that topic by visiting the many forum threads there are regarding this matter on FlyerTalk and MilePoint).

Just like you might be [or not be] - I'm in this game for the points and miles, not the money. :)

Yesterday I  had the "pleasure" of adding two more credit cards to my collection: The Starwood Preferred Guest American Express and the Chase Continental OnePass MasterCard.

Last time I checked, my credit score was 773 and I hadn't opened up a new card since November 2011. Plus, SPG has a great referral bonus going on until Feb 13, 2012 (10,000 bonus SPG points vs. the normal 5,000 point referral bonus), so I went ahead and used my dad's referral so he'll earn an additional 10,000 SPG points.

So let's evaluate what's in my wallet at the moment:

  • American Express BlueSky Traveler Card: This is my oldest account, so I plan to keep it around - no annual fee. I rarely use it anymore.
  • British Airways Visa: Got this one during last year's 100,000 mile sign-up bonus (I used those miles for our upcoming Hong Kong/Thailand/Singapore trip). I don't use the card anymore, and plan to downgrade to the no-annual-fee Chase Freedom Visa around April (before $95 renewal).
  • Citi AAdvantage Visa: Signed up during last year's 75,000 AAdvantage sign-up bonus. Here's another card that I don't use anymore & plan on canceling in July (personally I like Chase better than Citi anyway).
  • CitiBusiness AAdvantage Visa: Signed up simultaneously with Citi AAdvantage Visa during the 75,000 mile sign-up bonus. I don't use this one anymore either, and plan on canceling in July as well before the annual fee kicks in.
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa: Signed up in November and got 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points, which transfer on a 1:1 basis to many airline and hotel programs. I LOVE this card and the Ultimate Rewards program, and I plan on keeping it around for a long time. I use this card for almost everything under the sun.

With my new Chase Continental OnePass MasterCard, I'll get 50,000 Continental OnePass miles with my first purchase (additional 10,000 if I spend $25K in a year, but I'm not going that route), and with my SPG American Express, I'll get 25,000 bonus SPG points if I spend $5K in 6 months.

I'm glad I finally jumped on the bandwagon with the SPG card - it seems like a very favored card amongst many travelers, and I'm happy that I was able to get my dad 10,000 bonus points for referring me.

Idea: Since I'm in it for the points, and if the SPG Amex is something you've been eyeing, send me an email and I'll send you a referral. Referrals must be sent by 2/13/2012 (that's the last day of the double referral bonus) and you have until 2/28/2012 to apply and be approved. I'll gladly split the 10,000 bonus referral points with you 50/50 once they post. Win-Win :)

I'm curious - What cards are in your wallet at the moment? What are your favorites, and what do you plan on getting rid of?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quickies: Earn 750 United MileagePlus Miles By Joining MyPoints

I know this offer might be old news for some, but I just stumbled upon it while browsing United's e-store. Since registration literally took less than two minutes (you can see how short the form is in the image below), it would be foolish of me not to pass it along to those who have yet to take advantage of it. Enjoy!

The Offer: Earn 750 United MileagePlus miles by joining MyPoints

The Fine Print taken directly from the offer:

Clicking Join MyPoints indicates you have read and agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. Check your inbox for details on completing your registration as well as other great offers from MyPoints. After 30 days of active MyPoints membership, you will qualify for your 750 Mileage Plus bonus award miles.
Bonus award miles do not count toward elite status. Miles accrued, awards issued and bonus offers are subject to the rules of the United Mileage Plus Program. Allow 6-8 weeks for award miles from partner transactions to post. The Mileage Plus Program, including accruals, awards and bonus miles offers, is subject to change without notice. Taxes and fees related to award travel are the responsibility of the passenger. United and Mileage Plus are registered service marks. For complete details about the Mileage Plus program, visit

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Quickies: SPG Four Points By Sheraton "Breakfast for a Buck Promo"

Staying at a Four Points by Sheraton between now and April 15? Select locations in North America are now offering a full American breakfast for $1. Here's a complete list of participating properties.

T&C taken directly from offer's page:

  • Offer is valid at participating Four Points by Sheraton hotels in North America.
  • Offer is valid for stays booked and completed between February 1, 2012 and April 15, 2012.  
  • All package amenities associated with this promotion are per room, per eligible night and includes a full American breakfast in the hotel's restaurant for one (1) person. Full American breakfast includes a breakfast entree with toast or breakfast pastry plus coffee or tea and juice at a minimum. Breakfast may be offered buffet or a la carte, based on hotel. Breakfast for additional guests may be purchased at regular rate.
  • Advance reservations are required and may be made online, by calling 877-782-0020 and mentioning Rate Plan FPBKPKG, or through your preferred travel professional.
  • An eligible stay is defined as one or more consecutive nights paying a qualifying rate in the same hotel regardless of the number of check-in or check-outs that occur.
  • Rates are per room, per night, based on single/double occupancy and availability at time of reservation and do not include additional per room, per night charges that may be imposed or state/local taxes.
  • A limited number of rooms may be available at these rates.
  • Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
  • Valid for new reservations only.
  • Offer not applicable to groups.
  • Not to be combined with other offers or promotions.
  • Not responsible for omissions or typographical errors.
  • Void where prohibited by law.
  • Starwood reserves the right to discontinue this offer at any time.
  • Starpoints, SPG, Starwood Preferred Guest, Sheraton, Four Points, W, Aloft, Le Meridien, The Luxury Collection, Element, Westin, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Great Deal Alert: $5 For $10 Tango Card Via Groupon (Can Exchange for Cash!)

[Edit] 2/7/12 3:00 PM EST: Looks like this deal has already sold out.

Now here's a great deal:  You spend $5 on Groupon and you get a $10 Tango Card. You take that Tango Card, and you can exchange it for a $10 gift card at premier retailers such as Amazon, Gap, Pottery Barn, SpaFinder, Target, Groupon and many more. OR, get this, you can exchange it for cash. So, spend $5 on Groupon, and get $10 in cash. Sounds good to me.

Before you think this is a cash machine, there is a limit to how many you can buy. There's a limit of 2 per person, and 2 to give as gifts. However, for those of you who are whizzes at creating new accounts, Groupon does have safeguards in place, and will be backing out orders that appear to be from the same individual - so let's not abuse this one, k?

This deal is live right now, and will run through next Monday, February 13. But, I bet anything it'll sell out before the weekend. Have fun!

53754 Miles Later, I've Taken British Airways Avios By Storm

When two of my favorite drugs come hand in hand (miles and shopping), it's really hard to say no to temptation, especially when Valentine's Day is right around the corner and I have some bargaining leeway with Kevin (just kidding- I'm self-sufficient, I swear).

Last Friday, The Points Guy posted an insane offer - Triple Points at Nordstrom through British Airways e-store using promo code NORDX3 (P.S. - reader Joseph just told me that now you might have to manually type out the promo code letter by letter if code doesn't work via copy & paste). Since the normal earnings-rate was 12 points/$1. Multiply that by 3 and you have a lucrative 36 points per/$1 spent at Nordstrom! You can sense my excitement about this offer by seeing the text message conversation I had with Kevin in my previous post.

With that said, it was time to go shopping! I decided to go through with purchasing a designer bag I've been eyeing for a year or so. When I think about the price, I feel an anxiety attack coming on, so I'll pretend it didn't cost $1,395. I'll have to keep thinking about the free flights that come along with it, and frankly, that makes me more excited than the bag.
The purse I chose was the Chloe Ethel satchel.
Seeing this many pending miles makes my heart flutter <3.
When British Airways changed their miles program last year, the program received a lot of harsh criticism because there was a significant and obvious devaluation of the miles when redeeming for some major International routes (thank God we booked our upcoming first-class Hong Kong trip literally days before the program changed).

However, there is an obvious ribbon of hope when it comes to using Avios with short-haul domestic flights, which I decided would be great for some last minute getaways (I love those), or if I should need to travel on the spur of the moment for an audition or work.

For example, traveling from JFK to Toronto only "costs" 4,500 Avios each way plus minor taxes. A flight to Miami or Chicago from JFK is 7,500 Avios one way, and getting to Cancun from JFK is only 10,000 Avios each way. You get where I'm going with this.

Just when you though you've had the best, another easy offer of 3,000 Avios comes through. Thanks again to The Points Guy, you can now earn 3,000 additional Avios just by signing up with a free trial of RealtyTrac and canceling before 7 days (they will bill you after your trial is over).

Since 5.3 million other travel blogs have already covered the breakdown of the deal, I won't go into specs. I'll leave it to Brian, The Points Guy to explain.

[EDIT] Feb 9 11:42 AM ESTAs of last night, we found out that the RealtyTrac BA offer was actually unauthorized by RealtyTrac. Take a look at TPG's very recent post about this matter here.

For now, I'm crossing my fingers that I book this Samsung Galaxy commercial that I've been put on first refusal for (acting lingo defined: client's strong consideration). I mean I do have to pay for the purse somehow...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Quickies: Virgin Atlantic Unveils Its Redesigned Clubhouse March 5 + Enter to Win

In celebration of Virgin Atlantic's newly-renovated Clubhouse lounge in JFK airport, they're having a "design a drink" contest where you and a guest can win a trip to NYC and attend the launch party on March 5.

Complete contest details and to enter, go here - Hurry, contest ends February 9.

EDIT: My tired self last night overlooked an important addition to the T&C - this contest is only open to residents of the UK. A big thank you to the reader who pointed that out! :)

Quickies: Best Western's "Stay Three, Sleep Free" Promotion is Now Live

Registration is now open for Best Western's "Sleep For Free After Three" spring promotion. After completing three separate stays between February 6, 2012 and April 8, 2012, you'll receive a free night voucher valid across any of their three hotel brands (Best Western, Best Western Plus, Best Western Premier).

Just a side note: Best western also has an on-going promotion called, "Status Match, No Catch" where they will match any status from another hotel brand. You may email, mail, or fax proof of your elite status with another hotel brand and they will upgrade your account. Here is a direct link to the form you would use. I sent them an email containing a screen shot of my Accor A|Club Platinum status, and I was matched to Diamond status with Best Western.

Friday, February 3, 2012

I'm Clearly Ruining Valentine's Day... I Wear the "Points" in This Relationship

Apparently I've reached a point of no return when it comes to collecting points and miles. Take a look at the actual conversation I just had with Kevin via text message:

For those of you who are "iPhone-impaired" - the text in green is me, and the text in gray is him :)

Please make me feel more normal, has this happened in your relationship at all?

P.S. Yes, the lovely pet name Kevin chose for me is "babies", and yes, my phone is in dire need of a charge.

Lastly, I hope your Friday night is more exciting than mine... LOL

Quickies: Free United Upgrades Via Twitter

Follow @United on Twitter for Free Economy Plus Upgrades on Select International Flights: Self explanatory - refer to screenshot below:

Happy Weekend!

And The Winner of My 9,000 Club Carlson Points Is...

First off, off I'd like to thank everyone who entered to win 9,000 of my Club Carlson points; I really enjoyed reading all of your best points-redemption stories!

Thanks to all who liked the Facebook fan page, tweeted at me, and subscribed - I'm grateful for all of your support.

Without further delay, let's get straight to the winner, shall we?

Using, the lucky number that was generated was 3, making commenter Hans Mast the winner! Congratulations!
Hans, please send me a private email with your full name and Club Carlson number no later than Monday, February 6, 2012. As soon as I receive your account information, I'll go ahead and transfer your prize to you.

Thanks again to everyone who entered! Be sure to check back for more some more upcoming contests soon, as I plan on doing at least one reader contest per month. :)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Hotel Review: Country Inn & Suites Knoxville Cedar Bluff

En route back to NJ and after driving 15 hours straight with minimal stops from Houston, we finally arrived in Knoxville, TN at around 8:00 PM. We were utterly exhausted from driving, cranky, and felt like we were still moving even after getting out of the car. Ever feel like that? Anyway, you can bet that it felt incredible to finally arrive at the hotel.

As you see from the planning in progress page, we were originally set to stay at the Country Inn & Suites By Carlson, Knoxville Airport, TN, a category 1 Club Carlson hotel. However, Club Carlson generously upgraded us and comped us into their brand-new Country Inn & Suites Knoxville Cedar Bluff property - very generous of them to do so, and we were excited to check it out (most importantly, sleep!).

Up on arrival, we were impressed with how new the hotel was, and it actually still smelled new. We later found out that it was only built a couple of years ago - no wonder why everything looked pristine in the lobby/common areas.

Check in was a breeze and Michael and Rachel at the front desk were courteous and entertaining to talk to. Rachel suggested a bunch of near-by restaurants for us to get a quick bite to eat (we were starving), and even offered to print out directions for us, which was very sweet of her.
Here's a shot of the hotel's lobby - very cozy and welcoming!
Another shot of the lobby/fireplace.
Michael and Rachel at the front desk were helpful and very fun to speak with (believe it or not, we talked about Jersey Shore, LOL please don't unsubscribe now!).
The hotel had a great heated indoor pool and jacuzzi, and I would have loved to relax in either one of these... too bad we had to hit the road again in less than 8 hours after check in :(
The fitness center was loaded with brand new equipment and weights - tempting, and such a tease... I was too tired to do anything but sleep!
After exploring the hotel a bit and grabbing a bite to eat at nearby Puelo's, it was time to go to our room and get settled in for the night. When we opened the door to our room on the 2nd floor, we were happy to see that we were upgraded into a gorgeous suite. It was so refreshing that the suite smelled like entering a brand new home, and the hardwood floors looked untouched and gorgeous.

On the counter I noticed a nice little goodie-bag welcome gift and card from the hotel's GM, Renie Carroll, that was a nice touch because it was filled with snacks that we could munch on during our drive back home to NJ the next day.
A peak inside the welcome gift that was left for us on the counter of our suite.
Inside the welcome goodie bag was a nice hand-written card from the hotel's GM.
Here's a portion of the living room area of the suite.
I loved the hardwood floors, new furniture, and brand new flat screen TV.
The corner nook had a coffee machine, a fridge, and a microwave.

The bathroom was beautiful, clean, and I loved the brand-new granite countertops. Amenities included Pantene shampoo and conditioner, Jergens bar soap, and Vaseline body lotion.
The shower was fantastic (partially due to the fact that I may or may not have been in dire need of one), clean, and refreshing.
Our bedroom area had a separate door for added privacy within the suite. We had two queen beds, and they were without a doubt, the most comfortable beds we've slept in out of all of the hotels so far on the trip. It was extremely hard for me to get out of bed the next morning.
Tiffany watched her non-sense reality TV shows on this TV (I believe we were "graced" with Teen Mom... ugh).
In conclusion, Tiffany and I can both agree that this was one of our favorite stays during our trip because it was brand new, felt homey, and the beds were heavenly. Too bad we only used Knoxville as a short layover as we made our way back home. I'd love to come back one day and explore the city a bit. Until next time. :)