The Hotel Merger That No One Cares About

I was shocked to find out there was a TWO BILLION DOLLAR hotel merger announced last week. The collective sound from the miles and points blogosphere could could be described as “meh” (with shoulders raised and then lowered for dramatic effect).

Sorry if I seem cynical but IHG’s $430 million purchase of Kimpton caused palpitations from Kimpton loyalists. When Marriott purchased the Starwood hotel brand for $13 billion dollars, you’d have thought the world was going to come to an end because it would be harder for Platinum members to get suite upgrades. Instead of the multitude of articles those mergers created, this one barely got a mention (excepting the ones from One Mile at a Time, Loyalty Traveler and Miles to Memories).

I’m referring to Wyndham’s purchase of La Quinta for $1.95 billion dollars  This will bring the nearly 900 mid-scale, upper mid-scale and economy La Quinta locations into the Wyndham portfolio of hotels. When this merger is complete, Wyndham will have over 9,200 locations worldwide, making it the largest chain if measured by number of hotels and the third largest chain measured by number of hotel rooms, at over 800 thousand.4052682395_df0ce5d7d9_oI’m the first to admit that the La Quinta hotel portfolio isn’t the most aspirational collection of hotels out there. Most La Quinta hotels are located near off ramps of the United States Interstate system. Even if this isn’t the sexiest of mergers, it might make a difference to many travelers who go on road trips throughout the United States and will never see the ocean, not to mention take a trip to the Maldives.

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Wyndham’s hotel portfolio before this purchase wasn’t full of glamorous names, either. Here’s a list of all of the hotel brands that are owned by Wyndham.

  • Wyndham Grand
  • Dolce
  • Wyndham
  • Tryp
  • Esplendor Boutique Hotels
  • Dazzler Hotels
  • Trademark Hotel Collection
  • Wingate
  • Wyndham Garden
  • Ramada
  • Baymont Inn & Suites
  • Microtel
  • Days Inn
  • Super 8
  • Howard Johnson
  • Travelodge
  • Knights Inn

The image that brands like Ramada, Knights Inn, Travelodge, Super 8 and Days Inn conjures in your mind probably looks something like this:

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I think the reason this merger is flying under the radar is because it involves a hotel chain where bloggers don’t stay being bought by another hotel chain where bloggers don’t stay. That doesn’t mean no one stays at these hotels; were that true, the company wouldn’t be worth two billion dollars.

One thing about La Quinta that travelers have loved is they offered a pet friendly policy way before it was mainstream. If you were driving with your dogs or cats (max of two per room), you knew you would be welcome at La Quinta. They don’t even charge an extra fee.

I’ve stayed at at least two La Quinta hotels and they were perfectly fine for our needs. The rooms were large, had in room refrigerators and microwaves, the free breakfast was edible and the coffee was decent (maybe even good). (Note from Sharon: No. It was just decent, at best).

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The La Quinta in New Braunfels, Texas might still have been our go-to hotel for Schlitterbahn trips if we hadn’t found the Candlewood Suites across the street (home of  Tasha, the best hotel front desk agent EVER!).

I earned some La Quinta Returns points from our stays and have been able to keep them active. I’m curious what will happen to them now that the program will be merged into the Wyndham Rewards program, which I’ve always been interested in but never took the time to give a serious look.

Wyndham made a splash in the hotel points world when, in May 2015, they changed their program and let you book a room at any of their hotels for 15,000 points a night. They also have points plus cash reservations that start at just 3,000 points. That means you can book that Days Inn seen above or the Tryp by Wyndham New York City Times Square South for the same 15,000 points.

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The Wyndham Rewards program also has two co-brand credit cards. The no annual fee version gives you 15,000 points for signing up or you can get 30,000 points for the card with a $79 annual fee. However, using a credit card isn’t the only way to earn Wyndham points. Getting enough points for a free night just from hotel stays isn’t hard since you earn 10 points per dollar spent with a minimum of 1000 points per stay. So when you spend $1500, you’ll have enough points for a free room.

Many families travel for out of town baseball/hockey/football/dance competitions and stay at the nearest inexpensive hotel. If those stays at Travelodge, Super 8 or La Quinta hotels can earn enough points for a nice weekend away in Chicago, I think this is a huge win for them.

Wyndham Chicago

All of the news in the points and miles world depends on how relevant the information is to you. This is truly a Your Mileage May Vary situation. If you tend to stay at La Quinta hotels often, this merger will give you a bunch more hotels where you’ll be able to redeem your points. If you’re the type of traveler that wouldn’t ever be seen checking into a Ramada or Days Inn, then this news isn’t important at all.

For us, I’m keeping an eye on this. I’m not going to move all of our hotel stays to Wyndham or La Quinta but with some Wyndham Rewards points to use, I’ll be looking at where I can get the best value.

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