Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A (Nearly) Free Hotel for a Week

Many hotel chains offer frequent travelers the opportunity to join their loyalty programs.  These programs often offer points toward hotel stays, airline miles, and other leisure or consumer goods.  Marriott offers its guest the opportunity to join its Marriott Rewards program.  I have actually been a member of this program for about eight years.

The Marriott Rewards program provides member the opportunity to obtain a credit card from Chase Bank that earns points toward hotel stays.  Marriott just sweetened the pot.  For new accounts on the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card, users will earn 50,000 points and a free night in a category 4 hotel, plus Chase will waive the $85 annual fee for the first year.  These are just some of the benefits of this card, which you can view at the link above.

If a couple were to both get one of the cards, they would be able to get 100,000 points, which would pay for 5 nights at a category 5 (of 8) hotel.  Each night at this level is 25,000 points, but the fifth night is free.  Hotels at other levels require differing amounts, so you could actually get more nights if you chose a less-ritzy stay.  If you stay at a category 1-4 hotel, you get two free nights as a bonus.  Therefore, you could get an entire week at a Marriott hotel in many areas of the world.  Not a bad deal.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hotel in Wall, South Dakota

Where on earth is Wall?  Why would anyone stay there?  I'm sure these are questions that some of you may be asking.

Actually, Wall is a bit of a tourist trap off of I-90 about 50 miles from Rapid City.  Wall is the home of the famous Wall Drug, one of those stops that gets advertised for about 100 miles before a driver reaches it.  It's also really close to the Badlands National Park.  The population of Wall is less than 1,000, but it has several hotels for road-weary travelers.

One of these hotels is the Best Western Plains Motel.  I chose this hotel basically at random on a recent Western road/work trip.  In many of these small towns along western interstates, you can expect to pay a bit more for a hotel room than you would in a town with more competition.  The room was about $100.  There were both positives and negatives about this hotel.

Positives:
1. There is a pool.
2. The hotel has free high-speed internet.
3. The room was surprisingly large.  I expected a very small two double bed room consistent with an older hotel.  However, there was way more than enough room to feel comfortable with two adults and two children.
4. The room was clean.

Negatives:
1. There are no interior corridors.  Guests have to park outside of their room and use outside access.
2. There is no elevator for those who are staying on the second floor.
3. The pool and breakfast require guests to walk across the parking lot to a separate building.  While this was a bit chilly in June at about 60 degrees, I would hate to have to make the walk in January or February.
4. The water has a bit of a strange taste.  The hotel said that Wall grew up because of its great water.  It wasn't really cold, and it had a bit of a strange taste (for a guy used to drinking city water).

Overall, we had a good stay, and the hotel more than met our needs.  I can definitely recommend this hotel for those needing a stop in the Wall, South Dakota area.