Surrendering to a Hotel Chain

The way I see it, the smart travel dollar does triple duty, rewarding you not once, not twice, but thrice.

Take, for example, last week’s online purchase of Cathay Pacific tickets using my RBC-Cathay co-branded VISA: (1) I get the tickets (duh), (2) I earn Asia Miles travelling on said tickets and, critically, (3) I earn double the Asia Miles on the purchase thanks the co-branded credit card. It’s a holy trinity of travel rewards.

So now we come to hotels…


Why the sad face? I guess it’s because I’m resigning myself to a future where TripAdvisor rankings take second place to whether or not a hotel property is a member of my chosen loyalty program. And it looks like that loyalty program is going to end up being Accor Hotels.

My first experience with an Accor property wasn’t great. The girlfriend and I stayed at the Ibis Sheung Wan last winter, mostly to get what everyone in Hong Kong wants from their hotel—a room with a commanding view of Victoria Harbour. We got the view, but almost everything else about the Ibis was lacking. The room was annoyingly small, not only for us but for our big bags as well. The styling seemed more in line with an upscale hostel then a cheap and cheerful hotel. And the restaurant? Let’s just say the Starbucks in the lobby saved us from the bland and tepid buffet breakfast.

And yet we find ourselves on the cusp of booking another Accor property for our next visit—this time going a bit upmarket for the Novotel Century in Wan Chai. One of the considerations is price; another is the Nespresso machine included in executive rooms. Then there’s the hundred or so Canadian dollars we have in credit from our suffering at Ibis. I told you, loyalty really does pay!

We missed out on an opportunity to stay at another Novotel last year, closer to home in Ottawa, Ontario. Our official test run of the Novotel experience is scheduled for next month, a weekend stay at the Novotel Montreal Centre.

If Novotel delivers then we’ll forgo the Hong Kong Harbour View and settle for a more central location. And I guess that’s ultimately the problem… settling. In previous visits our favourite place to put up our feet has been the student-staffed T-Hotel. That place makes for an amazing vacation—truly a five-star experience at a three-star price. The problem is that it’s located in the remote village of Pok Fu Lam, currently a 20-minute bus ride to the nearest MTR station. Also, it’s unavailable for the dates we want.

I’ve no doubt that business travellers are comforted by a consistent hotel experience in whatever far-flung locale they find themselves in. What worries this leisure traveller is the potential monotony. Will the ongoing rewards be enough to balance out that monotony? I guess we’ll have to see…

How’s your experience been with Novotel?


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