As a frequent traveler, the monkey has made amassing free miles and hotel points one of his favorite pastimes and he’s become pretty good at it. It’s all about the points, baby! So on this trip to Europe Mrs. Kongo and the monkey flew back and forth in first class for free, courtesy of miles collected this past year on Kongo’s almost weekly trips to and from the West Coast. Of course during all that travel he had to stay someplace, so he concentrated his hotel choices to Marriott or Hyatt, depending on where he was at. In Venice, he was able to stay three free nights at the 5-star Boscolo Venezia in a deluxe room. In Barcelona, he again used Marriott points to book three nights at the Hotel Arts. This wonderful hotel is also a Ritz Carlton where Marriott credits are good.
Now the monkey’s status with these hotel programs frequently scores a suite upgrade but he knew he was getting something special this time when the very nice man at the check in desk started mumbling about the penthouse apartment. Then quick as a flash we were turned over to an assistant manager who escorted us up to the top floor to another check in desk where more assistants and managers then took us to our two-story penthouse atop the highest building in Barcelona.
Mrs. Kongo paced off the dimensions of the apartment and determined that it was about 1700 square feet, which is a couple of hundred square feet larger than the first home the monkey ever bought. The apartment included an entrance foyer, dining room for 8, a living room, kitchen, 2 1/2 baths, a sleeping suite, and a giant master bath with his and her vanities, a spa tub, and a huge curved shower with body sprays.
The view was nothing to sneeze at either and it provided a spectacular panorama of Barcelona and the nearby mountains.
Mrs. Kongo immediately began checking out the goodies…like the shampoo brands, the scented soaps, the scrub brushes, and the little jars of nuts and potato chips. Kongo checked out the more practical goodies such as the fully stocked bar and refrigerator.
Now certainly these types of upgrades don’t happen all the time but when they do, it really makes a trip special and this was the perfect way to finish up three weeks in Europe. There are certain rules you follow to get these types of upgrades — first you have to be loyal to the brand. It doesn’t matter which hotel chain you choose, just pick one and stay with it. Always stay there…even if it might cost a few dollars more than the competition. Make sure your rewards card gets punched every time you check in. When they ask you if you want “points or amenities” always choose points. Get the hotel (or airline) credit card and use it when you travel to leverage even more points.
Also, don’t be stingy with your tips to the bellmen, room service, and those unseen ladies who keep your room looking wonderful every day.
You might want to read Kongo’s blog post from three years ago about scoring an upgrade.
Life has a way of evening things out though. As Kongo writes this he is in Los Angeles on a house hunting trip sleeping on an air mattress at his son’s house. It’s not the penthouse suite but he has a couple of little grand girls that makes the stay “priceless.”
And when he picked up his SUV at LAX (another upgrade), Kongo drove off in his free car for a week. No charge. Just points. Thank you Hertz rewards!
Travel safe. Have fun.