Posts in the “Hertz” category...

Free Car Rental – Get A Weekend Day For Free When You Sign Up To Hertz Gold Plus Rewards

by Continental Club on February 24, 2012  |  Leave a comment

Hertz car rental have long been partners of many airlines and hotel companies and so, when you rented a Hertz vehicle on an eligible rate, you may also have earned some points in your preferred travel loyalty programmes.

Well, Hertz have just launched their own programme: Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. And, as well as still allowing you to convert your new Gold Plus Rewards into airline and hotel points as before, you can now redeem Gold Plus Rewards for Hertz rentals too.

Better still, when you register and rent before 30th April 2011, you’ll earn a bonus of 100 Gold Plus Rewards points per rental day on top of the standard earning rate of 1 point per US Dollar (or converted local currency equivalent) for eligible rentals.

Here’s the best news though: simply sign-up for Hertz Gold Plus Rewards in this promotional launch period and you’ll automatically receive 800 points as a welcome bonus. Those 800 points are worth a free weekend day’s car rental in Europe.

The offer is one of the most generous car rental promotions that’s been seen for a long time, and is valid only for registrations completed by the end of April 2012. Signing-up to Gold Plus Rewards is free itself, so there’s really no good reason not to do it now and to bank those points while you can.

For full terms and conditions, and to sign-up, click here.

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Phoenix, Arizona – Part One

by Continental Club on July 30, 2008  |  One comment

If any city is going to struggle with the stratospheric rise in the price of oil, it’s going to be Phoenix. The Arizonan capital is the epitomy of the American Dream of limitless expansion driven by the all-conquering internal combustion engine. Against this background, it’s encouraging to see that the city is investing in a light-rail tram system, but as a solution to a looming crisis, it’s a sticking plaster on an impending amputation.

Still, while the sun shines (and boy, does it shine) things have been good. The Greater Phoenix area is comprised of several distinct cities, among them the City of Phoenix itself, Tempe, Chandler and our home for the next 8 days, Scottsdale. Each of these cities has a particular character, indeed brand, and there is a pride and competition between them which makes for pleasant civic characters. The City is ringed by a main gyratory freeway, and bisected by several other penetrator routes. Navigation is easy, however the first turn from the airport may be the hardest.

 

That’s all down to the relevant newness of the Rental Car Centre, whose location doesn’t seem to have been picked up by lots of route information providers. The trick if heading to Scottsdale, therefore, is to retrace the route of the shuttle bus all the way back to the airport terminal and then out the other side. Look for the 44th Street Exit and head North to Camelback Road where you hang a right alongside the southern flank of Camelback Mountain.

Given the short inbound flight from Las Vegas and therefore the minimal risk of missing anything alcoholic and of quality, a hire car is definitely the way to go. A full-size from Hertz, through Amex and with #1 Club Gold Service was under £30 inclusive for a one-way 24hr hire. It’s a 25 minute drive in weekend afternoon traffic to our hotel, The Phoenician.

Holder of the AAA Five Diamond Award and repeatedly named in the Conde Nast Gold List, The Phoenician is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection of individually branded properties. It’s considered a flagship hotel and is not only managed by Starwood, but also owned by them and Starwood’s South West Regional Office is on-property.

The hotel has a particular style, which is probably best described as late 20th Century American Luxe. The main hotel building spreads in two crescent wings either side of the lobby, with a further wing backing off the hotel at the base of Camelback Mountain. The crescent wings frame terraces which play host to bars and pools (the lower of which is mother-of-pearl lined) and which are bound at their base by an ornamental necklace lake filled with koi carp (and a turtle). An oval lawn spreads out beyond the lake and is ringed on the facing side by two-storey casitas with drive-up access, the central Centre for Well Being (spa), Fitness Centre, Funician Kids’ Club and Beauty Salon.

Between the casitas and to the left looking from the main hotel is access to the Golf Club and its cafe, and the Windows on The Green Restaurant above.

It is a popular convention hotel (a new meeting wing is slated for 2010) and also has facilities for weddings. Although there are some family-friendly facilities, such as the aforementioned Kids’ Club and waterslide, Starwood market other hotels such as the Westin Kierland and Sheraton Wild Horse Pass as more suited to younger families.

The Phoenician has a strong local following who dine there and seems also to be a favourite of college student parents visiting their young ones at Arizona State. Repeat custom appears high, evidenced by numerous overheard and participated-in conversations.

This is my second stay at The Phoenician, but the Meerkats first and I’m interested to see what they think. Last time (2007) I had actually booked and rebooked several times as different SPG promotions were launched. These are real dealmakers for me, as combinations of double/triple-points and one-off bonuses can easily bank the equivalent of 25,000 BA Miles from a 12 day stay. I settled then on a $299 tax incl B&B; rate, which offered the fourth night free. Unlike some Starwood rates (eg ‘Free Nights at Resorts Worldwide/35% Off Best Available Rates), this benefit is repetitive and therefore every fourth night is comp’d.

Cruising up the hotel drive in last year’s Mustang, we presented ourselves at the gatehouse and were asked to drive not to the main hotel lobby, but instead to the Canyon Suites which occupy a separate building. A cursory glance at the web reviews for The Phoenician will elicit the knowledge that the Canyon Suites are considered the place of myth and legend – a fantastical place to which no Starwood Preferred Guest status-holder has ever been upgraded.

Well, there I was, Starwood Preferred Guest Gold (not Platinum) on a promotional rate and I was being met on the steps by one of the seven Canyon Suites Ambassadors who fulfil the combined roles of concierge, butler and receptionist. The suite was superb and, frankly, I was spoilt to the extent that I wasn’t going to take a chance with The Meerkats this year.

So, the 2008 trip beckons and I register for the SPG third quarter promotion. I want a double double room and, conveniently, this opens up a neat access route to the Canyon Suites. Each suite, you see, is separated from the next by a connecting double double bedroom. These bedrooms are furnished to exactly the same standard as the suites – they just lack the additional space and one or two features like a fax/printer and spa bath. All other Canyon Suites amenities remain available and the rooms themselves are far from small. They are also bookable separately, but seem sometimes not to appear on a general rate search. The modus operandi therefore is to seek out the 4 for 3 rate – Taste of Luxury – and then do an availability search based on that. Hey presto, $429 inclusive for 3 people.

Once again then, we present ourselves at the gatehouse and are directed to the Canyon Suites drive. On this occasion, we are met by the bellhop at the car and an Ambassador intercepts us as we walk into the lobby. As on the first visit, there are no check-in formalities since all details are held from SPG and the credit card used to guarantee the booking. We are walked to our room and shown around, the detailed tour we enjoyed (and needed) last time being declined on this second visit. We’re offered coffee which arrives moments later and gives us the opportunity to take the weight off before we finally allow ourselves to properly unpack for the first time, despite being 10 days into the trip.

The decor throughout the Canyon Suites is certainly more contemporary than the style of the main hotel, with muted beiges and greys set off by features of turquoise and pewter. Suites comprise a bedroom separated on one side from a dining area by sliding louvred doors, and on another by a traditional door to the desk/office area. Between the office and the dining area is the living area with sofa, chairs, coffee table and large plasma.

The bedroom too has a plasma screen and the bathroom leading off has a smaller LCD screen above the over-sized spa bath. The loo is in a separate room off the bathroom and there is a spacious shower cubicle.

Toiletries are a grapefruit and eucalyptus combination, branded for The Phoenician and made by Gilchrist & Soames. They are generous in proportion and make for useful gifts for maiden aunts upon return to Blighty.

At the entry to the suite there is also a guest loo and abundant storage along the passageway that leads to the connecting door to the adjacent double double. All suites and rooms have furnished balconies with a minimum of a day bed, two chairs and a table. Views are either of the pool and Camelback Mountain, or the quieter outlook of the Golf Course.

The Canyon Suites has its own separate pool, with abundant beds and also cabanas for hire (can’t see the point myself, but there you go). Each bed is provided with a couple of towels and pitchers of ice water are delivered and constantly replenished. There is free wired broadband in the rooms and free WiFi around the pool (can’t see the point…..). Signs direct you to the Canyon Grill, but this is actually something of a misnomer. All service is poolside or at your lounger/cabana, with four tables at the far end of the pool if you wish to dine at a table. The menu is reasonably extensive – American and Southwestern snacks and salads – and mirrors that offered by the pool bar in the main resort area.

Morning tea or coffee is served by your Ambassadors on a silver tray and there is a coffee and pastry station in the lobby, replaced later in the day with Iced Tea and cookies.

Come teatime, one of the hotel Sommeliers picks a couple of bottles from the million dollar cellar and treats you to a wine-tasting in the lobby with assorted canapés. It’s a great way to learn about wine in a completely sales-free environment. In fact, I’m absolutely amazed that they don’t take the opportunity to flog you some.

A couple of Mercedes R-Class are available to run guests into Scottsdale on a complimentary basis, which is useful for shopping at Fashion Square and dining around about. Should an R-Class not be available, then the in-house Execucar rank will provide a Town Car which the Canyon Suites will cover the cost of.

It’s about a 150 yard walk from the Canyon Suites to the main hotel lobby but, if heat or fatigue prove too great a barrier then a golf buggy will be summoned to buzz you down there. Likewise, if you need a lift to the spa or the golf club, then a buggy (or Mercedes) will appear.

The one facility that is arguably missing is some kind of evening bar service in the Suites lobby however – for those times when you really can’t face the busier hotel bar.

Breakfast can be taken in your room/suite, or in the hotel’s Il Terrazza Restaurant. In the restaurant, there is a choice of buffet or a la carte, with a chef manning the central station to cook egg dishes to order. Seating is indoor or out on the terrace, but the warmth even at the outset of the day – and the usual outdoor problem of the odd scavenging bird mean that air conditioned comfort is the only choice. Orange juice and coffee are the default offerings, but your server will provide other juices from a wide selection at back-of-house and also tea. Remember, this is America, so tea will not come with milk unless asked for and, unbelievably for a property of this calibre, they did run out of English Breakfast one morning. It did appear that the spread was slightly less deep than the last visit also, but this may very well have reflected the fact that the whole property was much less full than last time.

The restaurant has just emerged from a refit which, it has to be said, is not 100% successful. Although the previous design was beginning to show its age, the new version is somewhat less spacious and suffers, in particular, from the use of some very expensive but very ‘clingy’ velour. Ladies, hold on to your skirts! It’s a long way from being in any way unpleasant – just not quite perfect.

 

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