Point Lobos State Park is six miles south of where I live in Monterey, California. In the mid-19th century, from about 1861 to 1882, some 250 whales were processed at Whalers Cove in Point Lobos State Park.

Whales were slaughtered primarily for lamp oil and machinery lubricant. The widespread use of cheaper kerosene and other petroleum products put most shore whalers out of business in California by 1880. Good for the whales, and even better for John D. Rockefeller who built a fortune on the nation’s desire for kerosene lamp fuel in the era before electricity. California’s own petroleum oil industry boomed in the 1890s, further reducing the value of whale hunting.

Along with Monterey, Point Lobos was one of the major shore whaling stations along the California coast until 1882. By 1874 an estimated 4,000 whales were killed and processed by shore whalers in 16 California locations from San Diego to Crescent City.

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Furnace Creek Death Valley National Park in southeastern California may hit 130 F degrees today for the first time in 100 years. The highest temperature ever recorded on earth and officially recognized by international committees of scientists occurred at Greenland Ranch (now called Furnace Creek), Death Valley July 10, 1913 when the thermometer hit 134 F.

Furnace Creek is where the main hotel lodge resort, golf course and park visitor center are located in Death Valley National Park.

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A cool day May 28, 2013 when I stopped at Furnace Creek to find it was only 106F at 6:30pm.

Yesterday, June 28, 2013 the temperature at Death Valley reached 122 F. The temperature was actually hotter in Death Valley three weeks ago Saturday, June 8 when it hit 123 on the same day I was in Las Vegas (112) and Valley of Fire State Park (115), Nevada for record hot temperatures.

Yesterday was just the first day of the heat-up expected to last through Monday in Death Valley and much of California, Nevada and Arizona.

The temperature today is forecast by the National Weather Service to reach 129 F or 130 F at Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park. If the temperature hits 130 F, that will be the highest recorded temperature since July 10, 1913.

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Badwater Basin is the lowest spot in North America at –282 feet. This is 14 miles south of Furnace Creek in Death Valley. The valley is surrounded by mountains on all four sides and hot air remains trapped and recirculates at night rather than escaping into the atmosphere. The overnight low tonight in Death Valley might not drop below 100 F.

The NWS reading currently at Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley at +80 feet elevation is 98 F at 6:00am this Saturday morning June 29, 2013. The air temperature rises as you descend into Death Valley and Furnace Creek is about 15 miles from Stovepipe Wells at –190 feet elevation.

There are scientific seminars planned in Death Valley National Park on July 10, 2013 for the centennial of the world record hottest temperature. Scientists will speak about Death Valley weather and explain why the World Meteorological Society in 2012 overturned the longstanding Libya temperature record of 136 F in 1922 in favor of the July 10, 1913 Death Valley measurement as the official ‘world’s hottest temperature’.

Today: Sunny. Highs 104 to 107 in the mountains…around 130 at furnace creek. Winds generally light becoming south around 10 mph with gusts to around 20 mph in the afternoon.
Tonight: Mostly clear. Lows 75 to 78 in the mountains…around 100 at furnace creek. South wind 10 to 15 mph shifting to the southwest after midnight.
Sunday: Sunny. Highs 106 to 109 in the mountains…around 130 at furnace creek. Northwest wind under 10 mph shifting to the south around 10 mph in the afternoon.
Sunday Night: Mostly clear. Lows 76 to 79 in the mountains… Around 100 at furnace creek. Southwest wind around 10 mph.
Monday: Sunny. Highs 104 to 107 in the mountains…around 130 at furnace creek. West wind under 10 mph.
Monday Night Through Thursday Night: Mostly clear. Lows 86 to 89. Highs 114 to 117.

National Weather Service Forecast June 29-July 4, 2013

Excessive Heat Warning

* TIMING: A PROLONGED PERIOD OF EXCEEDINGLY HOT TEMPERATURES WILL CONTINUE THROUGH MONDAY. LITTLE RELIEF IS EXPECTED AT NIGHT…ESPECIALLY IN URBAN AREAS SUCH AS THE LAS VEGAS VALLEY WHERE LOW TEMPERATURES NEAR THE STRIP AND DOWNTOWN MAY NOT DROP BELOW 90 DEGREES. *

GREATEST IMPACTS: THIS HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE A LIFE- THREATENING HEAT EVENT FOR THOSE AT RISK. A TOTAL OF 17 PEOPLE DIED FROM HEAT-RELATED CAUSES IN THE LAS VEGAS VALLEY FROM JULY 14TH TO 23RD IN 2005…WHEN TEMPERATURES WERE OBSERVED AT OR ABOVE 112 FROM THE 14TH TO 17TH. THE PEAK TEMPERATURE DURING THAT PERIOD WAS 117.

Three weeks ago was record breaking temperatures in Las Vegas during the week I was there. The high temperature in Las Vegas was 112 F on Saturday, June 8.

I have been invited to a Hyatt Hotels and MGM Mlife event for July 17 in Las Vegas. I anticipate a hot time in Vegas again.

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Badwater Road, Death Valley National Park, California. Does it look like 105 F at 7pm?

 

Related Loyalty Traveler posts:

Bottom to Top of California in Six Hours (May 17, 2013) Describing my road trip from Death Valley, the lowest point in California to the highest hotel lodge in California at 9,000 feet in a six hour drive.

Deserted desert hotel at Furnace Creek Inn Death Valley (May 23, 2013) – this is a historic inn built in the 1920s and visited by famous movie stars like Clark Gable and Carole Lombard. The Inn closes May to October since there is no air-conditioning. Furnace Creek Resort is one mile north and open year-round for Death Valley visitors.

TBEX Toronto via Death Valley–part 1 (May 29, 2013) – road trip description of the drive from Bakersfield past Lake Isabella and over Walker Pass in the Sierra Nevada and the western approach to Death Valley National Park.

TBEX Toronto via Death Valley-Part 2 (May 29, 2013) – road trip description of crossing Panamint Mountains into Death Valley and stops at Stovepipe Wells, Sand Dunes, Furnace Creek and Badwater Basin.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

Daily Getaways today and Monday are a lower rate for buying IHG Rewards Club points, but not so low as to be a major discount in the way Choice Privileges points were yesterday with the Daily Getaways sale. Choice points were over 60% off the normal purchase rate while IHG points are less than 15% to 20% lower than using the IHG Points & Cash ‘Trick’.

Staying 20 nights at an InterContinental Hotel in some old city in Central America or Saigon or Athens might be a bucket list fantasy for some travelers that can be made real with the purchase of 100,000 points today at U.S. Travel Association’s Daily Getaways and a new list of PointBreaks hotels for 5,000 points per night until August 31, 2013.

Three weeks at the InterContinental Medellin, Colombia anyone?

My summer plans don’t look so exciting.

A trip to Ireland was the summer vacation wish, but family matters weigh in on this year’s summer travel season and it looks like Holiday Inn Express Carson City, Nevada and Holiday Inn Express Roseburg, Oregon may be the best value I can get out of the current IHG Rewards Club PointBreaks.

Last summer I had a great Oregon vacation at a Holiday Inn Resort for three nights on PointBreaks with a trip to Crater Lake National Park.

Today, June 28 at 1pm ET and Monday, July 1 at 1pm ET there will be discounted IHG Rewards Club points available at Daily Getaways.

15,000 points = $100 ($90 with American Express payment).

  • 2,500 sets available.
  • May purchase up to 5 sets.
  • Rate = $6.00 per 1,000 points (AmEx).

25,000 points = $167 ($150.30 with American Express payment).

  • 2,000 sets available.
  • May purchase up to 4 sets.
  • Rate = $6.01 per 1,000 points (AmEx).

50,000 points = $325 ($292.50 with American Express payment).

  • 1,250 sets available.
  • May purchase up to 4 sets.
  • Rate = $5.85 per 1,000 points (AmEx).

100,000 points = $630 ($567 with American Express payment).

  • 1,000 sets available.
  • May purchase up to 3 sets.
  • Rate = $5.67 per 1,000 points (AmEx).

Analysis:

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Hilton Worldwide announced yesterday it now has 4,000 hotels open around the globe with the 4,000th hotel being Hilton Shijiazhuang in the Hebei province of China. Hilton has remained at least a couple hundred hotels ahead of Marriott International the past few years. And it looks like that lead will continue for some time to come.

Hilton Worldwide has added 1,100 hotels since 2007 and is the fastest growing hotel chain globally. The chain has added 100 hotels in 2013 with more than 100 more to open before the end of the year. Hilton Worldwide has over 1,000 hotels in planning and construction, referred to as the ‘pipeline’ in the hotel industry.

Hilton has properties in 90 countries and more than 60% of the hotels in the pipeline are outside the U.S.

Hilton currently has the most hotel rooms in the U.S. of any hotel chain, although Choice Hotels and Wyndham have more hotels in the U.S. Obviously, Hilton has more rooms on average in its hotels and caters to a more upscale market segment.

Hampton Inn has 1,900 hotels in the upper midscale market segment (source: STR US Chain Scales) and is the lowest market segment hotel for the Hilton chain. These properties are popping up everywhere with over 1,800 hotels in the U.S. and about 60 Hampton Inn properties in other countries like Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Germany and the UK. Hampton Inn Manhattan/United Nations New York was the 1,900th hotel in the brand.

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Best Western Rewards is giving members 1,000 points per stay for every stay through September 30, 2013 booked through their iPhone or Android mobile app. You can download the apps from the link.

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It is like 1999 again when there were frequent hotel points bonuses for web bookings and newsletter sign-up.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

The new list of PointBreaks hotels from IHG Rewards Club will be available for booking later today. Priority Club Community forum published the list this morning, but the hotels are not yet posted on the PointBreaks web pages. All PointBreaks hotels are reduced to 5,000 points until August 31. There appear to be more hotels on this new PointBreaks list than anytime in the past year. Many of these hotels are 20,000 to 40,000 points normally.

You will recognize the new hotels when the header on the PointBreaks pages changes from “valid for booking through June 30, 2013” to read August 31.

Daily Getaways tomorrow June 28 at 1:00pm ET will offer IHG Rewards Club points at the rate of $100 for 15,000 points. $90 with American Express payment and there are 2,500 sets of points for sale.

Effectively this means PointBreaks hotel nights are $30 to $33.33 per night. There are about a dozen InterContinental Hotels on the new PointBreaks list.

Here are the properties as posted on Priority Club Community forum.

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I will try to buy Choice Hotel points today during the 1pm ET Daily Getaways sale. I prefer to buy points rather than earn them more slowly the traditional way during Choice Privileges promotion for 8,000 points after two stays.

There are four packages available.

20,000 points = $102 ($91.80 with American Express payment). Purchase price is $4.59 or $5.10 per 1,000 points. 190 sets of points are available and there is a limit of 2 sets per member. This means as few as 95 people in the U.S. may end up buying all these points.

32,000 points = $134 ($120.60 with American Express payment). Purchase price is $3.77 or $4.19 per 1,000 points. 660 sets of points are available and there is a limit of 2 sets per member.

36,000 points = $156 ($140.40 with American Express payment). Purchase price is $3.90 or $4.33 per 1,000 points. 795 sets of points are available and there is a limit of 2 sets per member.

40,000 points = $166 ($149.40 with American Express payment). Purchase price is $3.74 or $4.15 per 1,000 points. 325 sets of points are available and there is a limit of 2 sets per member.

Buy Choice Points Deal Analysis

Last week I posted an analysis of the Daily Getaways Choice Privileges offers.

In April and May I stayed two times at Choice Hotels brands on a trip to Disneyland and when I roadtripped from Monterey to Colorado Springs. I earned 8,000 points with two separate hotel one-night stays.

I should find myself in Europe in fall 2013 and winter 2014 where there are generally dozens of hotels at 8,000 points per night. Choice Privileges is fond of advertising its promotion for 8,000 points after two stays as being a free night at over 1,500 hotels. The aspect of that claim that goes unmentioned is most hotels in the USA at 6,000 and 8,000 points per night are economy level hotels with low rates most of the year.

The real value of Choice Privileges points is for international hotels that regularly drop from 20,000 and 25,000 points per night in peak season to 8,000 points per night in the off-season. In Europe there are more than 400 Choice Hotels. Several countries in Europe and in some other international countries seasonal hotel reward rates generally offer dozens of hotels two seasons per year when reward nights drop to 8,000 points at otherwise 3-star and 4-star hotels with regular room rates over $200 per night.

The other value of Choice Hotels points is for road travel when you are passing through rural areas with few hotel options. Choice Hotels with 5,000+ hotels in the USA has far more hotels that any of the other major hotel brands, except Wyndham. There are hundreds of towns where Choice Hotels and Wyndham Hotels and perhaps one other brand are located. Road trips are why I always try to have a balance of Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards points for last minute hotel bookings. I tend to save $50 per night or so compared to the price to buy points when I pick up a last minute midscale hotel in a place on the back roads of Oregon, Utah and Colorado.

Here is the link to Choice Privileges hotels for 6,000 or 8,000 points. This list does not include many of the hotels that are currently at 8,000 points in cities like Paris and London and rising to 20,000 or 25,000 points beginning July 1 for the summer season.

Choice Privileges Reward Nights

  • There are no blackout dates!
  • There are over 1,500 Choice hotels with reward nights at 8,000 points or less.    Click here to see the list.
  • Reward nights at Choice hotels worldwide are available from 6,000 to 35,000 points (excluding Australasia where points required are up to 75,000)
  • Point requirements for some hotels may vary based on time of year
  • Book up to 30 days in advance for hotels in the U.S. or Canada or 60 days in advance for hotels outside of the U.S. and Canada
  • Reward nights can be booked 50 days in advance for Elite Gold members staying in the U.S. and Canada or 60 days in advance for hotels outside of the U.S. and Canada.
  • Reward nights can be booked 75 days in advance for Elite Platinum members and 100 days for Elite Diamond members.

Redeem Points Link

The other main caveat to Choice Privileges is points expire after December 31 two years following the date points were earned. Buy points today and they will expire December 31, 2015 if you have not used them.

My advice is do not buy Choice Privileges points today if you do not have a plan to use them over the next 30 months.

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Daily Getaways Choice Privileges 40,000 points = $166. Pay with American Express and the price is 10% less.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

The U.S. Supreme Court decisions today on DOMA and California Prop 8 moves the country to better states of equality for gay couples. In California, probably the worst act by voters in the past decade, even worse than electing Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor in 2003, was banning gay marriage.

In 2008 I was shocked to learn voters in California narrowly approved Proposition 8 restricting marriage to a man and a woman.

What does gay rights have to do with hotels?

Most hotel chains spend time and money developing marketing campaigns to attract gay guests. Here is an Examiner.com article from Dec 30, 2010 on the Top Gay-Friendly US Hotel Chains of 2011.

A couple of weeks ago I saw this large tourism company booth at the IPW conference for selling travel to international visitors.

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German-based travel company tomontour.com offers gay friendly USA travel packages.

In Berlin at the ITB conference, the annual global travel trade convention, booth space for Gay and Lesbian Travel was provided this year for the first time.

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Here is an article I wrote in March about Gay and Lesbian friendly World Rainbow Hotels, an organization that markets gay-friendly hotels around the world.

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World Rainbow Hotels

I am not gay, never have been, but I am certainly gay-friendly. My wife and I have participated in gay pride parades and events in Amsterdam, Long Beach and San Francisco over the past three decades.

We vacationed in St. Croix at a gay resort for part of our honeymoon. I did not intentionally plan for us to be in a gay beach resort, but in 1989 I did not have the internet to study my hotel options and I happened to book us for a week in a gay resort.

The most common question we were asked by other guests during our stay was “Why did you book this hotel?”

We had one wild week partying day and night with gay men and women staying at the hotel. It was all good. We were honorary gays for the week.

In 1992 Kelley and I moved to Northampton, Massachusetts. Our first night at a hotel in Northampton I went to fill the ice container and came back to the room all excited telling Kelley the hotel was loaded with attractive women. She said, “You know they are gay, don’t you?”

I didn’t know.

1992 was the same year Northampton was dubbed Lesbianville, U.S.A.’ by the National Enquirer.

In graduate school several of my close friends at UMass Amherst were lesbians and social activists. Many of our California friends were gay guys and social activists. We worked on political issues together. We traveled to many hotels together.

One thing I learned with time around my gay and lesbian friends was love is real, heartache happens and relationships come and go in similar ways heterosexual couples experience life.

San Francisco is going to be a party tonight. At the corner of Castro Street and Market Street, a large rainbow flag flies as a historical reminder of the struggle.

Love one another, get married and fly your flag. Make a statement.

This is a good day for California and the USA.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

KT Tunstall acoustic performance and cocktail reception at St. Regis Bangkok for two people at a fixed price of 5,000 Starwood points.

Now that is a deal and something to look forward to if you can be in Bangkok for the Thursday, December 5, 2013 performance.

St. Regis Bangkok room rates are around $240 per night on that date or 20,000 Starpoints.

The acoustic concert event at 5,000 points is a better value for Starpoints redemption, in my opinion, than booking an award night at the St. Regis for 20,000 points when rates are that low.

There are currently 17 packages for the fixed price of 5,000 points available through July 11, 2013 4am EST.

KT Tunstall Suddenly I See YouTube video.

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SPG Moments

Periodically I check SPG Moments for events I might like to attend. There are a few music events happening, golf and car races. Lately I have been getting regular emails about SPG Moments.

There are fixed price events and auctions.

Another fixed price event is 20,000 points for the final day of the PGA Championship on Sunday, August 11 at Oak Hill Country Club in Rochester New York. 20,000 points buys two passes to the golf tournament and access to the 6th Hole SPG Hospitality Chalet for food and drink.

There are six packages available for purchase through July 2013.

Got Starpoints? Check out SPG Moments for an event opportunity that might surpass the momentary value of a free Starwood Hotel room night with your points.

 

Ric Garrido, writer and content owner of Loyalty Traveler, shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

You can follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter on the upper left side of this page.

Today’s Daily Getaways is 835 sets of 10,000 points from Best Western at $67 per set or $60.30 with American Express payment.

Is this a deal or not?

Here is my quick analysis of the value of points for hotel reward nights.

Best Western hotel reward nights range from 8,000 points to 36,000 points. Buying points you will pay $48 for an 8,000 points room. You will spend $217 to get a 36,000 points reward night. That is one expensive room.  But, you will only know the value of points by comparing the reward night cost to the published rate. There are many Best Western hotels with rates over $200 per night. I know. $200+ room rates are all around my  California beach town.

Best Western Reward Night Cost Buying Daily Getaway points

  • 8,000 points = $53.60 or $48.24 (AmEx)
  • 12,000 points = $80.40 or $72.36 (AmEx)
  • 16,000 points = $107.20 or $96.48 (AmEx)
  • 20,000 points = $134.00 or $120.60 (AmEx)
  • 24,000 points = $160.80 or $144.72 (AmEx)
  • 28,000 points = $187.60 or $168.84 (AmEx)
  • 32,000 points = $214.40 or $192.96 (AmEx)
  • 36,000 points = $241.20 or $217.08 (AmEx) Read More…

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