My “Travel Made Easy” posts are meant to provide easy access to new destinations, hotel groups or airlines, by providing a quick summary of the most important information and links to more details, as you might need it. Today’s post provides a summary of all the information around the Carlson Group of hotels, their brands, the reward program and reviews of hotels I stayed at!
The Hotel Group: The Carlson Rezidor hotel group has more than 1,000 hotels around the world, with their biggest brands being Country Inn & Suites (> 460 hotels, mostly, North America & India), Radisson Blu (>280 hotels, mostly Europe) and Radisson (>150 hotels, mostly North America). They also include the Park Plaza, art’otel and Park Inn brands, as well as the recently launched, luxury Quorvus Collection and the soon to be launched, hip Radisson Red brand. While Carlson Rezidor is bigger than the Hyatt group and about the same size as Starwood, they are not as well know, due to their brand and hotel distribution across different regions of the world.
The Experience: I have stayed at Carlson hotels from the most basic Park Inn hotels to the stylish art’otels and the high-end Radisson Blu. My experience has been good throughout – the Carlson hotels often provide more stylish rooms than the competition and better value than the big American chains! Check out some of my reviews to get an idea of what to expect.
The Radisson Blu hotels are upscale, full service hotels, with stylish rooms, targeting both business and leisure travelers (overview here):
Radisson Blu Waterfront, Cape Town
Radisson Blu Le Dhokan’s , Paris
Radisson Blu Champs Elysees, Paris
Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire, London
The Radisson hotels are a step down from the Radisson Blu hotels, but still full-service hotels. Expect slightly simpler rooms and reduced service levels at lower prices:
Radisson Suites Sukhumvit, Bangkok
The Park Plaza and art’otel properties are mid-scale hotels at the stylish end, competing with independent boutique hotels and some of the hipper brands, like Kimpton or aloft (overview here):
Park Plaza Sukhumvit Soi 18, Bangkok
The Park Inn is at the low end of the Carlson spectrum, offering mid-scale properties with limited services. While many will offer food, a pool or gym, don’t expect a concierge or bell boys..
Park Inn Foreshore, Cape Town
The Rewards Program: The Club Carlson saw a great marketing push a few years ago – and a massive devaluation recently. Now, you have a small program with about 1,000 hotels around the world and few partners. You earn 20 points per USD spent, which is a reward rate of about 6%. You can redeem your points starting at 9,000 points per night for a category 1 hotel or 70,000 points/night at the top category 7. They offer cash & points rates starting at 5,000 points/night plus a cash amount depending on the property and availability. There are three elite levels for members that give you access to free upgrades, free breakfast and other perks. One of the best perks for me has been the 2-for-1 rates available to Gold members at hotels in Europe – they make for great bargains! You can get Gold status with the Club Carlson Rewards Card from US Bank (review here) – while it has lost its best benefits, it’s a decent card to hold. While the program has lost a lot of its luster since the devaluation, it’s an interesting “back-up program” if you are traveling a lot in Europe – read all the details here!