Le Méridien Angkor pool
Source: Le Méridien Angkor.

Winner of Free Hotel Night Prize Announced

I won a free night award for a Category 1–5 hotel property as an instant winner of a promotion from the Starwood Preferred Guest frequent guest loyalty program celebrating Design Hotels becoming the newest brand of Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Incorporated; and I had to use the award by Thursday, March 31, 2016 but was unable to do so…

…so I thought I would give it away despite having only one week left to use it — but I wanted to give it away in the fairest way possible; so I decided to use random.org and its random numbering system to choose the winner of this contest.

Winner of Free Hotel Night Prize Announced

Screen shot 2016-03-26 at 12.18.11 AMBernard Binder is a reader of The Gate who originally won the prize. “Would definitely be able to use it!” was the eighteenth comment posted in response to the article at 12:17 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, March 25, 2016.

“Thanks so much for your e-mail!” was the response by him to the announcement I sent to him via e-mail message that he won the prize. “I’m very sorry for the trouble, but my travel plans shifted by a day from when I entered the drawing, so I will be unable to use it — please pass it on to someone else who can make good use of it.”

I can understand and empathize. The schedules of frequent fliers seem to constantly change — yours truly is no exception — and I appreciated his quick response.

“I’m a big fan of The Gate, and I look forward to continuing to read your articles! Again, I apologize for having to cancel.”

No problem at all, Bernard Binder. I personally appreciate you being a reader; and thank you so much.

Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 12.40.06 PMI then had to find another winner; and the reader who successfully responded is traveling in southeastern Asia during the next week. The time difference of eleven hours was particularly daunting on a prize which was rapidly becoming perishable.

“Thank you” was comment number 94 posted by Andrew at 8:56 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, March 25, 2016; and he is the official winner of this contest.

“I am a regular reader of your blog,” wrote Andrew, who will be staying at what he calls his favorite hotel: Le Méridien Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia. I have never been to that hotel property — but it sure looks enticing enough that I would certainly want to consider staying there at some point in the future.

Thank you for reading The Gate, Andrew. Congratulations! Enjoy your prize — and travel safely.


Despite having written articles for The Gate as one of its original authors for almost ten years, I never personally gave away any prizes; so this was a new experience for me. Sure, I have written articles which announced other entities giving away prizes in contests and sweepstakes over the years — and The Gate even participated in a major contest which is no longer active back on Sunday, 

…but I had thought about it many times over the years. Last year — at a gathering prior to the pulling of an airplane of Delta Air Lines for charity — some fellow “bloggers” had picked up a few trinkets which they were planning to give away to their readers. When I asked them about whether or not I should consider giving away prizes, they neither endorsed the idea nor rejected it, as there is quite a bit of work to be done behind the scenes both before and after the prize is offered; readership does not necessarily increase as a result; and rules do have to be put in place to ensure fairness to all.

Regardless of using a random method of choosing a winner, I have read all of the comments. Reader Darlen wrote “I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My son and I are going to Dallas next week so he can play in a junior golf tournament and that would help with his expenses!!!” Reader Elizabeth Haglund posted that she “Would love an anniversary present of a one night stay for me and my husband this weekend. Exciting.” Reader Susie Callahan commented that “My 82 year old Mom is arriving on Easter Sunday for a week’s stay with us. Wouldn’t it be lovely to surprise her with an overnight getaway if I win?!. Thank you for the opportunity!”

There were numerous other comments pertaining to other reasons for wanting the free night at a hotel — such as surprises, “staycations” and moving as three of the many reasons — as well as thanking me for this potential opportunity. As a result of reading all of the comments, I kept thinking to myself that I wished I could give everyone a free night and that I was glad I did not choose a winner based on how I felt. That would have been excruciatingly difficult.

By the way, I received no sponsorship for this contest; nor have any of the selected winners been coerced in any way to promote The Gate. All I did was ask them if there was anything they would like for me to quote them in this article. How they responded was purely voluntary on their parts.

There will possibly be other contests in the future — for example, I have a quirky prize for those of you who enjoy the articles of a certain reporter for the Associated Press and with his consent; but I am trying to think of an article which would be a good fit for that prize — but I have always believed that interesting and informative articles are first and foremost for readership; and I will continue to strive to meet the expectations of readers with that priority in mind.

Thank you for participating in the contest — but more importantly, thank you so much for reading The Gate.

Source: Le Méridien Angkor.

  1. My name is Andrew, and thanks to Brian’s generosity my family and I will be staying at our favourite hotel, le meridien Angkor, later this week.

    Brian offered his own personal certificate — thank you. I am a frequent reader of his blog, and a fan. My appreciation also to the gate groups of blogs as well as their colleagues at flyertalk.

    I have been a regular guest at le meridien Angkor since 2008. My family and I — 8 people when we do not have relatives from the country — live near the temples , in a house not that much bigger than a deluxe room at le meridien — and we take every opportunity that we can to stay at this wonderful hotel.

    I have great appreciation for all the wonderful people doing such a professional job at the hotel — in particular Mr Lao Pisak, the reservations manager who single handedly brought me back to the hotel a couple of years ago when I had moved to a different hotel, Mr Dennis Kam, the sales manager, who makes sure that guests needs are taken care of while they are staying at the hotel, Mr Sengkea Sen, the assistant food and beverages manager who takes care of myself, my family and all of our guests, and the very talented executive chef, just to mention a few.

    Worth mentioning is that this is a category two hotel that is very well reviewed on trip advisor. If you look at the reviews for the last three or four months you may notice that they are progressively better than the pretty good previous reviews. This is due to a new general manager, Mr Mahbubor Rahman, who has made about an improvement every day since he arrived about a hundred days ago. The hotel is now as good as the le meridien and Royal meridien hotels in Thailand — I don’t believe that it was on a par the last few years. For SPG members, this hotel has bounced back and forth between category 2 and 3 a few times — while I hope it remains a 2, it is an excellent value. Elite recognition is excellent , even for preferred plus members (you get that through the us version of the Starwood Amex cards. That is the status I had for my first few stays). For paid stays there often are sales or specials — even on dates that there is no sale, it is an excellent hotel at very good value.

    If any of Brian’s readers are coming this way and have any questions about the temples, Siem reap, etc, please send me a personal message – I am wat on flyertalk.

    Again Thank you Brian!

    1. You are so very welcome, Andrew; and thank you so much for reading The Gate — as well as your generous offer to assist fellow readers with answering any questions.

      Please feel free to relate your experience with your prize, as I hope that you had an enjoyable stay!

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