Club Carlson has a less than stellar reputation among miles and points enthusiasts in the United States. In fact, recently I listed my own reasons for finally breaking up with the program, though now I’m not so sure. It came through for me in a big way, just when I needed it the most. In fact, in the last month alone, I was impressed by how employees of Club Carlson handled two separate issues. So let me address them one by one.
About a month ago we had a death in the family. It happened suddenly, and kind of turned our world upside down for a week or so. As a result, I simply forgot to take care of several things, including canceling Club Carlson reservation that I made awhile back. It was supposed to be a 2-night stay, and we simply would not be able to do it.
Anyway, I remembered it on the day we were scheduled to check in, which was past cancellation deadline. That meant I would lose points for one night, 38,000 to be exact. I called the property and explained that we had a crazy week due to loss in the family and the manager was very understanding. She told me to contact Club Carlson, and that they would have no problem refunding the points. So I called, and a very nice rep said that she would reach out to the property and I would know in a few days if the refund would be approved.
I followed up and sure enough, ended up getting my 38,000 points back. Club Carlson would most certainly be entitled to keep them because it was clearly my fault for not canceling the reservation. But they were extremely easy to deal with, and at no time made me feel like a freeloader. For that I’m very grateful.
Very often I point out various issues with programs or hotels because it’s important to be objective. After all, this blog is not in the business of advertising, but breaking down the good, the bad and the ugly, so you can get decent value out of your miles and points. However, I don’t want to focus so much on the “bad” that I forget forget to mention outstanding customer service experiences. It’s only fair.
On to the second incident. As many of you know, our county was a mess after hurricane Irma. Most people (including us), lost power for days, and some still don’t have it. Having A/C in Florida is something you take for granted, until it’s not there. And believe me, after sleeping in the suffocating heat for few nights, anyone will be in a bad mood. I know I was.
Fortunately, I had hotel points that could book me a place with A/C and hot shower. However, many properties nearby didn’t have power either, and we sure didn’t feel like driving several hours after all the stress we’ve been through. We settled on Port Charlotte, because it’s only one hour away from our house.
IHG has a property there that costs 15,000 points. Unfortunately, award rooms were sold out for the next few weeks. Hilton has a hotel there too, but standard rooms were sold out as well. And they wanted 64k points for a premium room that (I’m guessing) had a view of a parking lot instead of a dumpster. What is this, Bora Bora? Hilton program can be a great deal in some cases, and pathetic value in others.
Enter Club Carlson. Country Inn and Suites Port Charlotte had award availability and the cost was 28,000 points per night. There was even an option to use 5,000 points+$67 (all-in), which was a great deal considering huge demand due to all the people being displaced from their homes. No price gouging here. The property even had a coin-operated laundry room. I had about 84k points and no specific plans to use them, so why not burn them to make our lives easier, right?
But here is the best part. You could cancel your reservation that day before 6 PM and get your points back without penalty. This proved to be invaluable. You see, we booked a room for my sister-in-law on Wednesday and Thursday, and my husband and I planned to join her on the weekend.
My SIL was going to take the kids with her, which would make things at home easier to deal with. She left around 5 PM and 15 minutes later I got a phone call that she had to turn around. Apparently, the road to Port Charlotte was flooded, and she was fed up with the whole thing and wasn’t about to look for another way to get there. She ended up finding a rental in Ocala and left that night. My kids got a nice vacation out of it.
I called the hotel right away. The lady was very understanding about the whole thing and said their main concern is to make things easier for people who are dealing with a lot stress. Thumbs up! She suggested that I cancel online instead, though, because she was afraid that the points would not be redeposited if she did it. I followed her advice.
By Friday I was seriously losing my mind, and my Country Inn and Suites getaway couldn’t come soon enough. I actually made two separate reservations, thinking we would cancel one night if the power came back. Well, the power did come back at 4PM on Saturday, but we ended up staying because we were having such a good time.
The room had a mix-and-match style, as is usually the case with Country Inn and Suites:
But let me tell you, when you had no hot shower or A/C for 6 days, you don’t give a rat’s behind about color scheme. I actually think that breakfast at Country Inn and Suites properties is pretty decent, much better than the one you get at Holiday Inn Express. They have fresh waffles, oatmeal, and eggs actually taste like eggs. Also, they had nice bed sheets at this particular property, something I really appreciate in a hotel.
I do think a lot of their properties are “tired” (read Nancy’s post), but many are quite decent. If you are simply looking for a hotel near an airport, don’t automatically overlook Club Carlson based on its reputation in the community. Find more details on its co-branded credit card here
My husband and I had such a nice time in Port Charlotte. We even made a day trip to Boca Grande, a tiny Southwest Florida island with beautiful beaches and quaint architecture, reminiscent of Key West.
Cruising in a Ford Mustang
Nothing is more calming to me than being by the ocean. Thank you, Club Carlson, for helping us make lemonade out of lemons!
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.