Hotel deals to help your travel budget

Planning on some summer day trips with the kids?  Turn at least one of them into an overnighter with a free night at one of the Intercontinental Hotels properties.

Guests can earn a free night by registering at and staying two nights at any Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza, Hotel Indigo, Staybridge Suites or Candlewood Suites around the world (except for Japan) between May 4 and July 3, 2009.

I racked up my two nights this past weekend; I had to go to two different areas in Houston anyway to research my upcoming articles for Texas Highways magazine, so after a search for good rate on the InterContinental Hotels (ICH) Group Web site, I landed at two different Candlewood Suites on Friday and Saturday night.

Both were comfortable and came with mini-kitchens, which is always a nice money-saver on family road trips.  One had screaming fast WiFi, one had Ethernet WiFi, and it was free. My pet travel peeve is hotels that charge for Internet access – I actively avoid them, so beware the “higher-end” hotels because they’re the worst offenders. In this chain, that’s the InterContinentals and possibly the Crowne Plazas and Holiday Inns.

Weekend promo rate for my Candlewood Suites room was $78 – 88 which beat AAA, government rate and pretty much everything else.  NEVER pay a hotel’s rack rate, sports fans, not in this economy.  It’s a buyer’s market.

There is not a free breakfast, so either tote your own cereals & buy milk in the lobby “Candlewood Cupboard,” or do what I did Sunday morning and head for the nearby Waffle House.

Here are the specifics on the offer:

***   Register for the promotion at (prior to that, you do need to be registered for ICH Group Priority Club, the InterContinental’s free hotel loyalty points program. Note my caveat below about how this may screw up your points.)

***   Stay any two nights between May 4 and July 3, 2009.  The two nights do not have to be consecutive or at the same hotel brand.

***   Get one free night to use between July 3 and December  26, 2009.

***   Use your free nights at one of over 4,000 hotels around the world (except in Japan.) Earn up to four free nights (e.g. stay eight nights, get four free.)

Caution – a tip from my Twitter follower @globetrav (blogging at Musings of the Global Traveller) who will not use this deal because you do NOT accrue Priority Club points if you use this promo. Read that fine print at the bottom of the GetAFreeNight promo page BEFORE you register, to see if your points situation would make it more advantageous for you to amass points rather than participate in this deal.

There are also restrictions on the number of rooms available for the freebie in each hotel, the rooms “may be unavailable during high demand periods” (i.e., there are blackout dates) and it’s only for one standard room.

Other hotel chains are rolling in with  offers:  Hilton Bonus Points until June 30, 2009, Starwood’s Free Weekend Night promotion through July 31, 2009 and Smarter Travel has the scoop on a short-duration deal for Marriott points.

For more on current travel deals of all kinds, see the BootsnAll Travel Deals site and sign up for notifications.