Thursday, May 31, 2012

Hertz rental car is still trying to buy DTG

I can’t afford to buy a “green” car but its easy to rent one. Hertz are the first rental company to offer  Volkswagen Jetta TDI® Clean Diesel cars in their rental car fleet. Reserve and Conserve. The Hertz Green Collection offers fuel-efficient, environmentally-friendly vehicles. Green Collection vehicles, available in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Europe. Green Collection vehicles can be reserved by make and model -- so the car you reserve is the one you get. Not sure if I trust it because they always state that ” Specific makes/models within a car class may vary in availability and features" Hertz has a line of  eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles that are good for the environment. The truth is that even with the government subsidy, electric and Hybrid cars are hard on the wallet, so only wealthy people can afford to buy them (and they only get them as a second car) the myth is that they use clean energy, but the truth is that electricity is produced with dirty coal. In the case of the Aveo;-. fuel economy also largely depends upon the driving skills of each individual.

image              So when I tried to book from the Hertz Green Collection, they offered me a  Chevy Aveo or similar  Compact 2 or 4 dr. for $65 in Los Angeles, CA. one day rental. or a Full Size 4 Dr., FCAR or a Chevrolet Malibu or similar for $75.  The Aveo is an inexpensive car at $15,365 so I would have thought it would rent for less. It has a Fuel economy (MPG): 25 - 27 city / 34 - 35 highway. I would not consider it a “green" car but Hertz does, I suppose it is because it comes with an iStop mechanism that is helpful in minimizing the consumption of fuel in most heavily traffic areas and indirectly helps the car to increase its fuel economy.

As an Elite HERTZ Gold Plus Rewards member, you enjoy privileges and benefits. For a limited time, members can upgrade to #1 Club Gold for free till the end of September 202.! Normally this costs you 10 rentals per year.    Earned with 40 Rentals Annually you get the top level Hertz President's Circle:

  • Guaranteed vehicle availability
  • Guaranteed one-car-class upgrades
  • 25% bonus on Gold Plus Rewards Points
  • 600 Bonus Points after every 15 (qualifying) rentals
  • Special savings with limited blackout dates
  • Includes all Gold benefits

Hertz (HTZ) is nearing its long-cherished goal of buying out rival Dollar Thrifty, after a long run at  pursuing   this goal  through a bidding war with rival Avis Budget (CAR) in what is hoped to be a friendly deal.  As far as the regulatory side of the deal they have worked out the objections to the Advantage unit deal as a potential buyer for Hertz's budget brand. Hertz said earlier this month that it was close to getting antitrust approval - seen as the biggest hurdle to a transaction - having identified a buyer for the assets it needs to divest. They are just waiting for the FTC to make their decision. Hertz has worked with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to get antitrust approval for almost a year. It has agreed to divest its budget brand Advantage, which caters to the same market as Dollar Thrifty. Analysts and shareholders consider U-Save Car & Truck Rental, owned by Franchise Services of North America Inc (FCHAF) a potential alliance, if Dollar Thrifty and Hertz don’t come to a deal. If Hertz delays the offer till next year, Avis could come back into the race.
"We believe that Hertz will be motivated to follow through and negotiate a transaction," said Roy Behren, co-chief investment officer at Westchester Capital Management - Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group Inc's (DTG)

Como socio Hertz #1 Club, usted tendrá acceso a privilegios y beneficios especiales diseñados para que disfrute Ascenso de categoría de auto gratuito y Acceso a descuentos y ofertas especiales

Monday, May 21, 2012

Elite members are tossing $25 in the trash

Many Elite members are tossing $25 in the trash
In this bad economy, I am not inclined to leave $25 on the table, but I will have to do so because the SPG customer Care agents don’t know how to redeem the award. It’s an award that elite members get for renewing Platinum status.
Log on to your account to see if you have this award that you can use for food or at the Spa..

spg1Many Starwood Preferred elite members are going to miss out on an award that they are not aware of. If you qualify for it you will see it when you log on to your SPG account and click on the “My Earned Awards” tab. It states that you should call to redeem  (book by phone):
My Earned Awards
Congratulations on your earned awards! Award quantities listed are eligible for your use.

spg award

But when I called the platinum line, they said that I should have received it by mail and it would take 5 days for them to let me know why I had never received it by mail. So by the time they get back to me, it will have expired. No empathy from the Plat call center!  I told them that last year I also had to speak to about 10 people before I could find a knowledgeable Starwood Preferred Guest Customer Care agent, willing to help. Last year I did eventually have it waiting at  the hotel and redeemed it electronically because they said that it was not a paper award. I had been dreading spending hours on the phone again this year so I only got around to following their instructions and calling 2 weeks before it expired.
I’m also still waiting for the paper SPG50 Award 50% off certificate they promised to send me. They have been sending me this award every year for being an American Express Starwood cardholder, but today, I discovered that they don’t do this anymore.
This is annoying because I would have used it if they had not told me that they would send me another one with a later expiration date. It’s not such a problem though because they still have the 50% off award but you have to pay 1000 points for it and most of the time it’s not worth using because it’s off the highest rate (rack).
Starwood have come up with a promotion that lets you choose when, what and how you earn awards called the SPG NICE Choice. You have to register before Jun 30th  then you have several choices of dates and awards;  June 1st to Aug 31st   or July 1st to Sept 30th for merchandise or elite nights credit  or free  nights  or Starpoints  …..
Only after I selected to earn elite night credit, I discovered that its only if I stay 5 nights and I NEVER say as long as 5 nights in one spot.
Members may choose to register to earn one (1) bonus Elite Qualifying Night toward elite status after every five (5) eligible paid nights. I may go back to select another but it’s too much work for today. I’ll probably go with the most popular choice they suggest; -  to earn double Starpoints beginning with your second stay, though I’m not sure it’s worth my time because I have more Starpoints than I need.
Not having much luck with Starwood today!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Exploring the Caribbean island of Curacao

It is so much fun to take the ferry boat over to the main shopping areas on Curaçao by ferry or by walking over the bridge.When ships come through the harbor, the floating bridge opens. The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge, in the middle of the city opens frequently during the day, to allow access to one of the busiest ports in the world.

If you book the Hyatt on Expedia you can pay as little as $900 for 3 nights including a flight on American Airlines to Curacao. Four nights is $1,179 includes flight + hotel, taxes & fees

curacao-pontoon bridge

I enjoyed shopping at the duty free shops in this Caribbean city. They even host a Fashion week on the 21st of May at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Curacao. Curacao has a duty free shopping area in the harbor, you must show your passport and airline ticket to get the deals. Renaissance Mall & Rif Fort is also a good place to shop with stores offering local and designer brands.

On our last trip to Curacao, we stayed at the Curacao Marriot and Casino and an elite upgrade got us a stunning ocean view. The Hotel needs a renovation but you can get a low rate. It's in a similar price range of about $130 a night as the  Hilton. Its nice to have a drink at a bar at the fort next to the Renaissance Curacao Resort.

Curaçao became a Dutch island in 1634 as evidenced by the name of the capital, Willemstad ! it could not be more of a Dutch name.The island in the southern Caribbean Sea is a part of the group known as the ABC Islands alongside Aruba and Bonaire. This trio is located near Venezuela. I did take a boat once from Caracas to Curacao,  but it is probably not advisable because tensions between Venezuela and Holland have been mounting since Hugo Chavez is paranoid about any unfavorable criticism on his human rights violations. From its home base in Curacao, Insel Air connects the Caribbean region by offering affordable service if you want to go island hopping or you could take the ferry to Aruba. Spirit Airlines have flights from Fort Lauderdale (FLL) to Aruba (AUA) but it is very difficult to get the low fare that they offer with their $9 fare club. Spirit Airlines announced today,  that they are going to hike some carry on bag fees to $100 each bag on all flights. United Airlines can work out cheaper for elite members when you factor in that MileagePlus Premier Silver and Star Alliance® Silver members get one checked bag free.

Willemstad is one of the Caribbean’s few UNESCO World Heritage cities. Vivid, brightly-colored,Yellow, pink and blue faded paint on gabled buildings showcase Dutch colonial architecture displaying their heredity  from The Netherlands.
Diving, Snorkeling, or just relaxing at the beach or Spa makes a great holiday. you have to experience ATABEI Spa at the Hyatt Hotel, where you can relax in the best, possible luxurious way. The average air temperature is 82º Fahrenheit (30ºC) and 75% humidity.There is a constant trade wind that generally makes the evenings cool and comfortable. It's very windy  - make sure you hold on to your hat, mine turned into a kyte and flew away.

In the evening, fine restaurants and an exiting nightlife are all nestled within and around the historic setting of the Rif fort, a 19th century landmark high above the harbor.
The legal drinking age is 18 and the legal age for gambling in a casino is 21. The Netherlands Antilles has its own drug laws which are not as lenient as they are in Holland. This is fortunate for me because, although I have never smoked pot or cigarettes or anything! I have become  violently ill from second hand weed smoke in Holland.

Don’t forget the mosquito repellant! no where is perfect …….