Intercontinental Presidente Cancun Review (Trip Report)

We booked a trip to Cancun over Christmas when we saw last minute availability with points. We have wanted to review the Intercontinental Presidente Cancun ever since we stayed and wrote a review about the Intercontinental Presidente Cozumel in March 2018.

With a combination of points and one free night earned through our IHG Rewards Credit Card, we stayed five nights. The hotel was retailing for $418.00 per night (plus tax) for our dates. We used 35,000 IHG points per night for 4 nights, in addition to our free night. Our out of pocket cost for the room was $0!

The hotel is older than others in Cancun, but the beach at this hotel is widely regarded as one of the best beaches in Cancun Hotel Zone. The lobby and check in area for the hotel is very modern, and there is a bar that features Hora Feliz (2 for 1 drinks) from 7-9pm each night.

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See these pictures of the dreamy white sand beach. Again, we had read in many forums and reviews of the hotel that it has the best beach in Cancun.

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There were plenty of palapas and beach chairs available and they were not all claimed by 8am like we have seen at other hotels. Closer to the resort, there were many palm trees which provided adequate shade. The palapas did have electricity which was a huge bonus as we were able to charge our phones here one afternoon. At night, the palapas’ lights came on and they look amazing.

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Because of our status as Platinum Elite Members with IHG (this comes automatically with the credit card), we were upgraded to a Deluxe Ocean View Room. Our 10th floor room had amazing views of the ocean!

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The room was smaller than the Intercontinental Presidente Cozumel hotel room that we had (albeit, in Cozumel we had a suite). As you can see from the pictures, there was not a lot of additional room. It is officially listed at 366 square foot and you definitely felt this smaller room size- in the evenings we found ourselves not wanting to stay in the room too much as there was not really anywhere comfortable to sit. Viewing the hotel website, the club rooms are larger so these rooms are not indicative of all the rooms at the hotel. We were offered the opportunity to upgrade to a Club room for $55 + 19% tax per night. Club rooms come with access to the Club Lounge at this hotel which comes with breakfast in the morning and drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the evening.

There are a number of restaurants on the property- Le Cap Beach Club, El Caribeno and Cafe Urban Restaurant. Prices were reasonable for an upscale hotel- “expensive” for Mexico though- 230 peso for 3 tacos ($11), compared with 45-48 pesos at off-resort hotels. We did have lunch on the beach a few times from Le Cap- the Mediterranean Pizza was fantastic.

As we like to eat local, we passed on this and instead ate dinner twice at El Galeon del Caribe, where we had some of the best seafood, ceviche and amazing pescadillas (fried fish tacos) for 16 pesos each. Another night we ate dinner at El Poblano ZH, a lovely family owned restaurant that was within walking distance from our hotel. We also had breakfasts at VIPS- a Denny’s style restaurant that was also within walking distance of the hotel.

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The Intercontinental Presidente Cancun Hotel attracts a much different crowd than hotels down the strip- there was no loud music blaring like the Riu Hotels, no dancing competitions like at the Dream Sands Hotel, no volleyball competitions like the Fiesta Americana Cancun Villas. On the expansive beach of the Intercontinental Hotel, a lovely volleyball court was available for guests to use but we did not see any real games of volleyball take place- just some families knocking a ball around every now and then.

One thing we noted, was the number of airline staff that checked into this hotel on a daily basis. This could explain the "sleepiness" of the hotel as the airline staff tend to check in for a night and depart soon thereafter.

Overall this is a great hotel with an amazing beach. If you want the atmosphere of a club, the Riu Hotels would be a better option.

Tips for renting a car in Mexico

We would not have been able to have lunch at this amazing beach in Tulum without a rental car.

We would not have been able to have lunch at this amazing beach in Tulum without a rental car.

In areas without reliable public transportation, or in places that we know we are going to need to take a multiple hour drive to reach an attraction, we love to rent a car and enjoy these sites at our own pace. No company shooing you along on their time, no stopping at 10 resorts to pick up people, and no crammed bus. We enjoy taking our time, visiting local restaurants instead of the tourist traps that these tours take you to and most of all, in Cancun and Cozumel, we enjoyed going to off the beaten path beaches that we could not have gone to without a vehicle. Just look at that beach!!

The main roads in Quintana Roo are in fantastic condition. In Cozumel, the road that rings around the island is a wonderful highway with breathtaking views on the eastern side. Just watch out for dune buggys on the days that cruises are in town!

There is a new toll road between Cancun and Merida is a beautiful straight shot and while hefty in price (up to US$25 if you were to drive the whole way), it is well worth it to take this road and get to Chichen Itza before the crowds! (Peter- It is also a VERY fun road to drive on because there is hardly any traffic and you can go VERY fast! Melissa…… we do not promote speeding, Peter! )

Our experience from Cancun in November 2018 and Cozumel in March 2018 is hopefully going to help anyone else who is considering renting a car on holiday in these areas. We got a DIRT CHEAP car in Cozumel- we have posted a picture of the proof of this, below- $4.34 was the TOTAL cost of our 3 day rental!

See these tips below for renting a car in Quintana Roo.

The proof is in the picture- $4.34 for a 3 day rental!

The proof is in the picture- $4.34 for a 3 day rental!

Hack to avoid the mandatory insurance

Oftentimes, the cheap cars come with a catch- once you go to pick up the car you are surprised by the mandatory insurance that is required and end up paying much more in insurance than you did on the vehicle.

When paying for our car rentals, we use our Chase Sapphire Reserve card that, not only earns 3X points on travel purchases, but also comes with built in primary auto collision damage waiver. While this is great, Mexico law mandates liability insurance coverage and this can be much more expensive than the rental fee paid. Your cheap car for the week all of a sudden turns much more expensive when you have to purchase the insurance on the spot.   

Be sure to look for a rental that includes the liability insurance. In both cases of our rentals in Cozumel and Cancun, when we got to counter we just pointed out to the reps that the liability insurance was included in the price of the rental and as a result, did not have to pay one more cent over and above what was already paid for!

Watch out for those topes

Topes are speed bumps along the roads. We did not encounter many of these in Cozumel in March 2018, but in Cancun they were widespread. They are littered across the roads to control speeds- and in all honesty are rather effective at what they do. However, if you are not aware of these, they could easily leave some damage to your vehicle that could leave you in some financial and physical pain!!

Carry cash to fill up

Most fuel stations that we filled up at in Mexico did not take credit cards. Be sure to carry cash for these fill ups. As a bonus, in both Cancun and Cozumel we encountered full service stations where you can have your windscreen washed, car filled up, and at most fuel stations they also offered to check out oil levels (we declined this though). See the note below of why you should NOT stay in your car.

Watch out for the fill up scam (aka don't be a dumb tourist!)

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There are two frequent scams that we had read about in multiple forums, but had no issues with whatsoever in our time in Cancun or Cozumel.

a. You are waved up to an open bay and the pump is not zeroed out. Your car is filled up and all of a sudden you are faced with the bill for your fill up, and the bill for the person who was there before you. Get out of your car and make sure the pump is zeroed out! In Cozumel, there were signs with this warning.

b. The old switcheroo scam. After filling up your car with 500 peso, you are told you only gave the attendant a 50 peso bill. The bills are a similar colour and if you are not aware of this, you may pay a lot more than you expect! Learn some Spanish, greet your attendant, be attentive, be friendly, and say the amount you are paying to the attendant. Peter counted the amount he was handing over to the attendant and gave the exact amount- before handing it over, he confirmed that it was the correct amount.

Conclusion

We found driving in Quintana Roo very safe, very cheap, and very fun and would do it again! We were able to get to beaches that we would not have been able to get to without a car.

It is important to know about the above to help you and your budget while in the area!

Let us know if you have ANY questions about renting a car in Cancun or Cozumel.

Cheap parking options at Atlanta Airport

Flying on miles and staying in hotels on points saves a lot of money. One of our biggest expenses every time we do hit the road, however, is parking at the airport. An Uber each way would cost us around $45 and MARTA (train) to the airport is oftentimes inconvenient as parking at a MARTA station is not free for longterm parking so we found that it sometimes costs more to park at a MARTA station (and times of the train in the evenings is often inconvenient).

Atlanta Airport has so many options for parking, but what are the best and cheapest places to park at Atlanta airport? What programs have great rewards for frequent parking? What is our favourite parking option at the Atlanta airport?

1. Hotel parking - Cheapest, least convenient, no rewards programs

We came across hotel parking in Atlanta early on after we had moved here. This website has the most comprehensive search function showing hotels around the airport that offer parking and free shuttles to the airport. Rates start at $3.25 per day with a flat $5.00 service charge per booking. The website shows the distance from the airport, the full cost due at booking and when parking, as well as the shuttle times.

Parking at these hotels is easy- once you find a spot you just have to go into the hotel and sign in (probably so they don’t tow you for parking illegally!). Pickup is easy too, once you get back to the hotel you just need to go to your car and leave the car park- at the gate you just give them your name and they will open the gate for you to be on your way.

The most important thing to check on is the time that the shuttles run (every 15 minutes, every 20 minutes, every half hour or every hour). It is extremely inconvenient to see your shuttle leaving the pick up area and then to have to wait up to an hour for the next one to arrive. A suggestion if you do miss your shuttle is to take an Uber- the hotels are so close that the cost would not be that much and if it is very hot or cold, you would save yourself from standing outside as the pickup areas for these shuttles are all outside the airport.

Since this is at hotels, there is no frequent park programs that you can sign up for.

2. Off airport parking - Lots of options, rewards programs available

We have been big fans of Park and Fly recently. Costco used to sell 6 days of parking for $29.00. These recently went out of stock and now they have a new offer for 5 days of parking for $39.00. Park and Fly in Atlanta had two locations- Park and Fly (Domestic terminal only) and Park and Fly Plus (Domestic and International terminal). The international terminal pick up is about a 15 minute drive from the Park and Fly Plus parking area. 

There are many different companies offering off airport parking- Peachy, Park and Fly, Wally Park, Park N Ticket, The Parking Spot, PreFlight parking are three that you will predominantly see. They offer a variety of self park, valet, covered, and uncovered options and rates vary from $8.25 per day (Preflight Parking with a reservation and a Saturday night stay) to $16.95 per day (Park and Fly Plus, Valet covered parking).

All of them offer different amenities (some for additional fees) such as EV charging, water and newspapers, baggage check, pet boarding, oil changes and complimentary car washes to name a few.

As we always used the Costco coupons for the parking at Park and Fly, we were ineligible to receive the frequent park perks- but they all of the programs widely promote these.

3. On airport parking - Convenient, no frequent park programs

The Atlanta airport does have many on airport locations to park. Hourly parking is the most obvious that most people know about from picking up their friends or relatives, but there is also long term, economy parking available. At the domestic terminal, parking lots A and C cost $9 per day. At the international terminal, rates are $12 a day. We have never used these options so can’t review them, but there are no frequent park programs.

Just be sure you don’t park long term in the hourly spots as they charge a whopping $36 a day for this.

4. OUR WINNER- FAST PARK AND RELAX

Fast Park and Relax was developed for the corporate traveler with only carry-on luggage.  They have 1686 spaces at the location close to the International Terminal and are adding 1000 more spaces in the fall 2018.

The obvious downside is that if you are flying domestically with luggage to check then you would need to take the airport connector from the international terminal to the domestic terminal. However, if flying internationally or with carry on luggage only then they are a clear winner.

We tried them out for the first time in May and were blown away by how convenient it was! They advertise that they are only three minutes away from the International Terminal so we put them to the test- It took 3 mins 55 seconds from their gate to the terminal (On a Friday evening of a holiday weekend). On the return it took 2 minutes 43 seconds from being picked up at the terminal to the time when we were in our car!!! Their shuttles will pick you up from where you park, and they always seem to be waiting once we return.

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Rates are $10.50 per day and they offer a great rewards program- each day you stay earns you 1 point and you can redeem your points for the below:

8 points- 1 free day
20 points- 3 free days
40 points- 1 free week

Have a free day on us!
click here for a free day with Fast Park and Relax


(If you use this link, you will receive a free day of parking at Fast Park and Relax, and we will as well)

Do budget airlines actually save you money?

We have had many questions from readers and friends about budget airlines. The influx of new routes by Norwegian Air and WOW Air to the US are a new phenomenon which is taking the airline industry by storm and slashing Transatlantic fares.

What do we think about low cost carriers? WE LOVE 'EM!

To better understand how budget airlines can charge such low fares, enjoy this video.

For those who didn’t watch, it explains that low cost carriers are able to charge low prices by flying newer, more fuel efficient planes, flying one type of aircraft which lowers their maintenance costs, flying into smaller airports which lowers their landing costs, charging for (literally) everything additional to the flight itself, and hiring fewer staff to get the same job done.

If you are trying to save money on flights (which can be the biggest cost in any holiday), and you don't have points to fly on a full service airline, consider a low cost carrier.

They do save you money if you know what you are expecting going into the flight.

1. Budget airlines give you a choice of what you want to purchase

The big complaint that we hear about low cost carriers is how they charge you for everything. “Fare” enough (Pun intended)! If you have ever flown on Ryanair, you will know that from the start of your flight to the end of the flight you will be offered nearly everything under the sun to purchase including lottery tickets, cigarettes, and cologne. But that $8 flight from London to Rome was so worth it!!

Budget airlines give you the ticket from point A to B and then allow you the choice of choosing add-ons. This ancillary revenue is a huge part of their profits. See the table below showing the ancillary revenue as a percentage of total revenue.

With a full service airline, you are paying for a meal, entertainment, a seat selection, and checked baggage. How many times have you got off a long-haul flight and commented to someone that the meal you just ate was amazing? If you opt to eat before getting on your flight, then you can purchase a ticket without a meal and simply board and head to sleep. That meal is included in the fare of the full service airline and it is not very good anyway!! How many times have you flown on a long-haul flight and checked a bag because it was free, while you would have just normally taken a carry on bag?

We love the freedom to choose what we want- and at the end of the day measure it against a full service airline and see if it does save you money.

2. More competition lowers rates

In an research paper called "Public Benefits and Private Successes: The Southwest Effect", Drs. Beckenstein and Campbell assert that when Southwest starts a new route in the US, fares for all carriers dropped by at least 15% in 56 markets, at least 10% in 74 markets and only in 12 markets did the rates go up.

According to this Time Magazine article, data from Kayak.com shows that in 2017, fares between Europe and the US have dropped at least 20% year on year. They go on to say "The flight search app Hopper reports similar data, with average European airfare prices down 18% for the summer of 2017, following a decrease of about 14% between summer 2015 and 2016."

Even if you are not flying on a budget airline, they lower fares all around in the long run and are good for everyone. In a response to Transatlantic budget airline competition, the full service airlines have had to drop their rates or lose market share.

Peter about to board Ryanair from London Stansted to Girona Airport, August 2014

Peter about to board Ryanair from London Stansted to Girona Airport, August 2014

3. Opens up new, underserved routes

If you live in a smaller, regional city and want to fly long distance, chances are that you will need to fly through a major airline hub. The joke in the Southeast US is “To get to heaven or hell, you have to connect through Atlanta!!”

Look at some of the Transatlantic routes compiled by Airfare watchdog for Summer 2018. Because these airlines are not heavily dependent on business travelers between two points, and they fly newer planes that are much more fuel efficient, they can fly into the cheaper airports and all of a sudden, open up new routes that save you time!

All of the below are DIRECT flights with a budget airline from a North American city to Europe! And yes, if you are wondering- it might be worth it to get yourself to one of these cities to get a cheap flight across the pond.

Anchorage: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair.

Austin: Frankfurt/Condor; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian.

Boston: Barcelona/Level; Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/WOW; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; London (Stansted)/Primera; Manchester/Thomas Cook; Paris (DeGaulle)/Norwegian.

Baltimore-Washington: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/WOWIcelandair.

Calgary: Frankfurt/Condor; London (Gatwick)/Air Transat

Chicago (O'Hare): Keflavik/WOWIcelandair; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian.

Cincinnati: Keflavik/WOW.

Cleveland: Keflavik/WOWIcelandair.

Dallas-Ft Worth: Keflavik/WOWIcelandair.

Denver: Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/Norwegian.

Detroit: Keflavik/WOW.

Edmonton: Keflavik/Icelandair.

Ft Lauderdale: Barcelona/Norwegian; Copenhagen/Norwegian; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian, Oslo/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/Norwegian; Stockholm/Norwegian.

Halifax: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair.

Kansas City: Keflavik/Icelandair.

Las Vegas: Frankfurt/Condor; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; Manchester/Thomas Cook.

Los Angeles: Barcelona/NorwegianLevel; Copenhagen/Norwegian; Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/WOW; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian, Madrid/Norwegian; Manchester/Thomas Cook; Oslo/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/NorwegianXL Airways, Rome/Norwegian; Stockholm/Norwegian.

Minneapolis-St Paul: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair.

Montreal: Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Air Transat; Paris (DeGaulle)/Air Transat.

New Orleans: Frankfurt/Condor.

New York (JFK): Amsterdam/Norwegian; Copenhagen/Norwegian; Frankfurt/Condor, Keflavik/Icelandair, London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; London (Stansted)/Primera; Madrid/Norwegian; Manchester/Thomas Cook; Oslo/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/NorwegianXL Airways; Paris (Orly)/Norwegian; Stockholm/Norwegian.

New York (Stewart): Belfast/Norwegian; Bergen/Norwegian; Dublin/Norwegian; Shannon/Norwegian.

Newark: Barcelona/Norwegian; Birmingham/Primera; Keflavik/IcelandairWOW; London (Stansted)/Primera; Paris (DeGaulle)/Primera; Paris (Orly)/Norwegian, Level; Rome/Norwegian; Stockholm/Norwegian.

Oakland: Barcelona/Norwegian, Level; Copenhagen/Norwegian; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; Oslo/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/Norwegian; Rome/Norwegian; Stockholm/Norwegian.

Orlando (MCO): Copenhagen/Norwegian; Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; Manchester/Thomas Cook; Oslo/Norwegian; Paris (DeGaulle)/Norwegian.

Philadelphia: Keflavik/Icelandair.

Pittsburgh: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/WOW.

Portland (PDX): Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair.

Providence: Belfast/Norwegian; Cork/Norwegian; Dublin/Norwegian; Edinburgh/Norwegian; Shannon/Norwegian.

Quebec City: Paris (DeGaulle)/Air Transat.

San Francisco: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/WOWIcelandair; Manchester/Thomas Cook; Paris (DeGaulle)/XL; Paris/Orly/Frenchbee.

Seattle: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Norwegian; Manchester/Thomas Cook.

St Louis: Keflavik/WOW.

Tampa: Keflavik/Icelandair.

Toronto: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Air Transat; Manchester/Air Transat; Paris (DeGaulle)/Air Transat.

Vancouver: Frankfurt/Condor; Keflavik/Icelandair; London (Gatwick)/Air Transat; Manchester/Air Transat; Paris (DeGaulle)/Air Transat.

Washington (Dulles): Keflavik/Icelandair, London (Stansted)/Primera.

The big takeaway

Budget airlines lower the cost of travel all around as they impose competition on the market. They give you choice of what you want and do not want when flying

YES! They CAN save you money! YES! They probably have saved you money, even if you have never flown them!

Get paid if your flight is delayed

You've been there before- sitting at the gate watching the departure time change. 8:30pm, 9:00pm, 10:14pm..... The clock passes the scheduled departure time and no update is on the screen, nor is any plane waiting at the gate. 

So excited to be delayed! March 2013. 

So excited to be delayed! March 2013. 

What should you do?

In the US, there are no set rules for delays, it is up to each individual airline. The only kind of protection provided is in the case of overbookings. And even then, the protections are not that stellar (cough cough United Airlines).

(Un)helpful advice from the DOT website regarding delays:

If your flight is delayed, try to find out how late it will be. (Not that helpful if you have already been waiting 6 hours)

If you are delayed, ask the airline staff if it will pay for meals or a phone call. (If you do get a free phone call, pick your friend in the furthest away destination to call and finally catch up with!!)

Remember, however, that there is no rule requiring them to do this.

In other words, if you are delayed, sorry! The airline has no responsibility to do anything for you. 

Reach out to the airline on Social Media!

We have had great success in reaching out to the airline via Twitter. In March, we were delayed over 8 hours on our return to Atlanta from Cozumel. Delta ended up having to fly a new plane to Cozumel to pick us up and bring us back (this is known as a relief flight). In this instance, Delta sent us a $200 voucher each- way more than we were expecting and useful for a new flight within the next year. However, they were not obligated to do this so YMMV! As a result of this, flight delays in the US are common and people have generally just come to accept them as the norm. 

Stuck in Europe? Different Story!

Europe is a different story though. EU 261/2004 is a fantastic law that has been passed to the benefit of consumers. The summary of this from good ol' Wikipedia

EU 261/2004 establishes "common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. It requires compensation of €250 to €600 depending on the flight distance for delays over 2 hours, cancellations, or being denied boarding from overbooking. Shorter delays mean a percentage of the full compensation."

This law has forced the airlines to improve on-timeliness, cancel fewer flights, and in general improve air transportation across Europe. 

A Foster experience of EU 261/2004

Not too shabby of a view there Libby!!

Not too shabby of a view there Libby!!

In March, Peter's parents (Geoff and Libby) were flying back to Zimbabwe from London Gatwick, transiting in Dubai. The flight between Gatwick and Dubai was delayed for mechanical reasons for over 3 hours causing them to miss their onward flight from Dubai to Harare. As a result, Emirates put them up in a hotel for the night and provided them with food vouchers and transportation to and from the airport. 

They did, finally, get to Harare 24 hours after they were originally supposed to and they were entitled to file for additional compensation from Emirates for the delay.

In comes a disruptor- Airhelp.com who have set themselves up and are trained on compensation techniques for flight delays. It was started in 2013 by internet entrepreneurs and their goal is "to fight for millions of travelers who are unsure of their rights, lack the time, or lack the expertise to embark on the claims process independently. We believe that air passenger rights weren't made for airlines to interpret on a whim."

NOTE- It is possible to file for compensation yourself, but the airline will drag this out and make you complete a lot of paperwork (See this article where this guy has been waiting for 6 months on his claim!!.

Airhelp will even scan through your emails (if you give them permission to) to see if you had any flights within the last three years that were delayed that they could try and get you compensation for. Even for flights within the US, they can see if the airline will provide any sort of compensation to you for your time stuck, sitting and waiting at the airport. 

Once you start the claim with Airhelp, they will gather the necessary information about the flight: date, destination, airline, and the stated reason for the delay (don;t worry if you do not know). Once you submit this to Airhelp, they will run it through their database and check to see if your flight is eligible and if it is worth putting in a claim. If not, you will see right away. 

I tested a flight that we were recently delayed on and it instantly gave me feedback that our flight was not eligible for compensation. 

I tested a flight that we were recently delayed on and it instantly gave me feedback that our flight was not eligible for compensation. 

If it is approved, they will start working on their end to get you any compensation you are entitled to based on the law. Their fees are simply laid our on their website.

Essentially, the basic cost is 25% of the compensation received for our regular customers and 35% for Online Travel Agency (OTA) customers. If we proceed with legal action, we will add our Legal Fee and round the amount off at 50%. This rate is fixed: we will never charge more than that, no matter what the amount. Fees include everything – our communication with the airline, any and all assistance we provide across multiple channels, preparation for legal action, and then taking further legal action, if necessary. So, feel free to sit back and we’ll take care of the rest. (Source)

Their communication along the way is very good- they advised Geoff and Libby that the claim would take about 35 days on average with Emirates. Since they deal with these airlines on a day to day basis, they have the data that shows how long it generally takes, and who is generally the best and the worst at paying claims. (No surprises, US airlines are ranked low on EU 261/2004 claims!) Once approved, they were told it would take about a week to receive their compensation from the airline, minus their cut for filing the claim. It doesn't take long and you could be missing out on money that legally is owed to you.  All in all it took Geoff and Libby about 38 days to get compensation from Emirates. 

Have you had delayed flights in Europe or in the US? We'd recommend Air Help to assist you in the claims process and getting your compensation. If you have had a delayed flight in the last three years, start your claim today, you have nothing to lose (Fostering Travel has an affiliate relationship with Air Help and may be compensated for any successful referrals. This has in no way influenced our review of them). 

Kimpton Angler's Hotel Review, South Beach

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we headed to Florida for the long weekend. We capped it off with one night in Miami where we chose to stay at the Kimpton Angler's Hotel. Kimpton Hotels were recently purchased by IHG and incorporated into the IHG portfolio. We have long been wanting to stay in a Kimpton Hotel and were glad to see online that we could use our free night from the IHG card at this hotel. 

Kimpton Angler's Hotel. Courtesy of  Hospitality Online

Kimpton Angler's Hotel. Courtesy of Hospitality Online

South Beach IHG Hotels

South Beach has no shortage of hotels, let alone IHG hotels. The Holiday Inn Miami Beach Oceanfront ($142-$360 according to Tripadvisor), Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel ($210-$513), Kimpton Angler's Hotel ($208-$564) and the Crowne Plaza Z Oceanfront Hotel ($234-$569). 

We arrived on Sunday afternoon, day 3 of Urban Weekend in Miami aka 350,000 people in South Beach!! Traffic was so backed up and it took us over 45 minutes to travel the last half mile. Valet parking at the hotel is $40 (!!!) so we instead parked across the street at Miami Beach Parking garage. This was $20 for the night.

The Good

The outdoor patio where we enjoyed the complimentary wine hour

The outdoor patio where we enjoyed the complimentary wine hour

Check in was easy- we were acknowledged for our Platinum Elite status (through our IHG credit card) and told about the complimentary wine hour at 5pm. See you there!  We sat outside on their patio and enjoyed the wine hour. 

We were in the brand new section of the hotel that had just recently opened (we were told it was only 3 weeks old). Our room overlooked Washington Avenue which is a busy street on South Beach- we could make out where the beach was from our balcony but note that the hotel is not on the water. 

The rooms were very clean and neat. If you are a fan of a million pillows on the bed, this is your hotel!!

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Kimpton does offer a "Raid the bar" credit for elite IHG Rewards members. This hotel does participate and offers $10 credit per stay (not per night). Enough for a bottle of water and a coke :)

The rooftop swimming pool is very nice. There are ample cushy loungers. We spent about an hour at the pool after we arrived but then headed downstairs... Because wine....

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The Bad

To be honest, the hotel didn't WOW us. Lots of people rave about Kimpton Hotels being a high end boutique style hotel, but the atmosphere was lacking and details that would be expected out of a boutique hotel were missing. It reminded us of a very nice Holiday Inn. The details did nothing to place the hotel above and beyond like we are used to at other high end Intercontinental Hotels. We realise that these are so #firstworldproblems, but out of a high end hotel you would expect more. 

The shower, while beautiful, had a very basic shower head with low pressure. 

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There was a bar close to the check in area but every time we walked by it it was empty and no drinks were on the shelves so we presume it was closed. There were also dining tables set up in this area but we did not see anyone there at dinner or breakfast. No information was provided to us about food and drink options at the hotel (not that Fostering Travel would have partook in these!!). Instead we ate dinner and breakfast the next morning at Las Olas Cafe around the corner. Seriously good Cuban food!!! Cheap and delicious Cuban sandwiches, and $6.25 breakfast!

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No mention was made at check in about a resort fee of $15. For what? Not entirely sure... They did two have bikes that were available but because of the rain and busy streets we didn't use them. A check of their FAQ's on their website does not show this fee. A user on this Tripadvisor page asked this question and multiple people said that there was no resort fee. Something new?

Would we stay here again?

Great question! Maybe the older block of the hotel would be a different experience. From all the pictures and reviews of the hotel they mention "beyond spacious rooms" and "private jacuzzi's". Could this be a case of two different experiences in one hotel? 

Earning hotel points through hotel promotions (IHG edition)

When we first began to travel as a couple, we always booked Priceline Name Your Own Price hotels. These were GREAT for us at the time as we were not shelling out a lot for hotel accommodation. Any bookings made through a 3rd party do not earn hotel points or count towards any promotions.

However, we have since learned of the value of booking direct with the hotel. These bookings do earn points and count towards promotions. As a result, it is important to know of the different kinds of promotions that exist. Today we are going to give an overview of our favourite hotel brands loyalty program.

IHG, Intercontinental Hotels Group, is our main go to brand due to the IHG credit card that we hold. For $49 a year, we receive, among other benefits, Platinum Elite status which is the 2nd highest tier for IHG hotels. Within the US this is not generally given any special treatment. However, outside the US we have received complimentary upgrades, welcome drinks, daily drinks (France!!) or special dinner reservations at an All Inclusive Resort in Jamaica.

IHG's most popular promotion is the Accelerate promotion. Every quarter, IHG offer points for meeting various benchmarks through hotel stays. See below Peter's 2nd Quarter Accelerate promotion offers.

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The great thing about these offers is that they can be accomplished simultaneously. Take for example our plan this quarter. We have scheduled to go to Florida over the Memorial Day weekend to visit the Everglades and have a paid, 2 night stay at the Candlewood Suites in Fort Myers. Our out of pocket cost for these two nights is $128.00.

1. We'll knock out the first offer "Stay once, get 2,000 bonus points".

2. The second offer we will not meet- it requires 5 nights during the promotion.

3. The third offer "A bonus weekend stay" will be accomplished because we purposefully booked 2 nights at the hotel.

4. The fourth offer is to pay with our IHG card. Done.

If we meet three of the four offers above, we will earn an additional 22,500 IHG points. In total, this $128.00 stay will earn 32,000 IHG points.

Well, what can 32,000 IHG points get you?

We realize that for many people reading this, you may not know what this means. If you use IHG points frequently, you will know that you can get a decent hotel for 32,000 points. An estimate by Wallet Hub values IHG points at $0.0077 each. So our $128 out of pocket has net us $246.40 in points. The Points Guy values IHG points at $0.007 each- so would net us $224 in points. 

However, recently we were explaining to a friend about the points that we were earning and without context of what these points are worth, it did not mean much to them. The best example is practical- see the hotels below that you could book with 30,000 points and how much the hotel would cost for that night if paid with cash.

Stay local? 25,000 points or $306 ($306 for a Holiday Inn Express?!!??) 

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How about a beach? 30,000 or $263. 

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For a getaway that we were planning on doing anyway, this is a great additional bonus. The key here to maximizing the points we are going to earn for as little out of pocket cash as possible was choosing a lower cost hotel.

How can you take advantage of this?

If you have any planned leisure travel- SIGN UP FOR HOTEL PROMOTIONS. If you know that you are going to need a hotel, why not take advantage of additional points?

If you have any business travel- SIGN UP FOR HOTEL PROMOTIONS. If you are going to be there for work in the first place, make it easier to sleep at night knowing you are earning additional points for a future "non business" getaway!

If you have a cheap hotel around the corner from you that you don't even want to stay in- SIGN UP FOR HOTEL PROMOTIONS. Now this one is ninja level (@grantcj007) and will be the subject of a future blog post!!

If you've signed up for IHG Accelerate promotions, what offers have you received? Or what other hotel point program do you prefer to use? 

Earn and burn your points

Collecting points is like holding cash. Sure- you can hoard your points and build up an impressive bank of them, but their value is decreasing by the day. Hotels and airlines will devalue their programs whereby they will require more points for the same redemption.

Take for instance Southwest Airlines points. The author of a popular blog we follow, Doctor of Credit, compiled this list of the history of Southwest points:

§  2011-2014 (March): All points were worth a fixed 1.67¢ per point

§  2014 (April) – 2015 (April, 16th): All points were worth a fixed 1.43¢

§  2015 (April 17th) – 2016 (April 19th or so): Fares in the lowest class were worth a fixed 1.43¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale

§  2016 (April 19th or so) – 2018 (April 3rd): Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.39¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale

§  2018 April 3rd – Currently: Fares in the lowest class are worth a fixed 1.28¢, fares in other classes were on a sliding scale

Points are like the Zim dollar, airlines and hotels can devalue them leaving you with worthless points overnight. 

Points are like the Zim dollar, airlines and hotels can devalue them leaving you with worthless points overnight. 

A "wanna get away" fare of $100.00 would have cost 5,988 points in 2014. Today, that would cost 7,813 points. This is economics 101, time value of money- the value of a dollar today is more than the value of a dollar tomorrow. All other things being equal, the value of a point today is more than the value of a point tomorrow. Hotels and airlines see the points that people are holding as currency- when there is too much "currency" out there, they will devalue their programs and require more points to be used in order to redeem them.

What does this mean if you have any points?

Due to inflation, Peter was a trillionaire in Zimbabwe. In the grand scheme of things, this did not mean much at all- everyone was a trillionaire. Don't let your points balance become so big you can boast about it- let your experiences become so amazing because you've used your points to get there!  

Life situations dictate how each person should redeem their points

The value of all points are relative to those that are holding them. Flashback to our early days of points when we used points to buy a store gift card- at the time, that was what we needed and what was the best use of our points. Today, we look back at that and wish we had not done that- however, in that time, we had the best use of those points for our particular situation. Could we have got better value by redeeming for a flight somewhere? Sure. But we had determined a need for the gift card and a solution in the points that we were holding. 

"Earn and burn"

A familiar saying in the points world is earn and burn. Without any system of "investing points" there is no point in keeping a huge balance of points. We love to use points for flights and hotels to take regular trips. Some people like to earn points to take a once in a lifetime business class, hotel with a butler sort of trip. Don't sit on your points balances- some points even expire and then you're left with nothing!!

We used points to go and see our friends in Cape Town in January 2016. So worth it!

We used points to go and see our friends in Cape Town in January 2016. So worth it!

The hottest points aren't necessarily the best points for you

Just because everyone you know has the Southwest companion pass from credit cards, it does not mean that this is the best card for you. For starters, if you don't have a companion to fly with regularly then it makes no sense to go after the companion pass. Different programs work for different people- for instance, if you live in a city that is an American Airlines hub then it may make sense to collect American points and get an American Airlines credit card for points.

You do you.