Whine Wednesdays: SPG Platinum Upgrade Shenanigans at Starwood Hotels

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Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Platinum members are entitled to unlimited, space available room upgrades at the time of check-in including select standard suites.

SPG Floor

Not always are these benefits honored properly. Certain properties are notorious for not giving out suite upgrades even if these are available at the time of check in.

Hotels try to hold onto inventory of suites as long as possible in the hopes of selling these expensive rooms last minute, especially if the property is solidly booked.

Nevertheless, the rules of the Preferred Guest are that as long as such a Suite is available at the time of check-in for the duration of your stay you are entitled to receive it as an upgrade. Keep in mind, these ‘Standard Suites’ are a little bit of a grey area because the classification is hard to contradict. Junior Suite, Studio Suite however are always eligible suite categories.

You can find the SPG Platinum Benefits on their website (access here).

One example of hotels playing such a game of declining upgrades saying ‘No suites are available’ was when I recently visited the Sheraton Hotel Brussels Airport. Checking in at 7pm and having checked the availability of rooms the hotel still had on sale that night I knew well that several suites were available. After the usual spiel I showed the availability to the Front Desk agent who then ‘mysteriously’ found a corner suite which turned out to be quite nice.

Just this week then another case at the Le Meridien Stuttgart, a hotel that is notorious for not giving suite upgrades to Platinum members. The Le Meridien sold 3 Junior Suites on their website / mobile app. As expected I was given an Executive Room and was told the ‘one’ available suite has defects and maintenance has to deal with it in the morning. Again I showed the availability and said I’d rather try the aloft hotel that is located not too far from the Le Meridien. After 5 minutes I was told they found another suite that is available. Starwood really is a miracle chain considering how many suites appear from nowhere.

Apart from these space available upgrades upon arrival, SPG also has pre-confirmed Suite Night Awards for members staying 50 nights per year or more.

Regarding this a reader sent us an email last week inquiring about some problems he experienced while staying at the Sheraton Saigon in Vietnam:

I Attempted to use suite night awards at Sheraton Saigon Oct 26-30.  This morning I got an email from SPG saying no suites available, on checkin I was told none available, got an “upgrade” to “studio”. Tonight at 7PM would have been able to purchase 6 suites according to SPG website if I had wanted to. What is happening here?

These SNA’s book into a subset of “select standard suites” and nobody at Starwood or the properties is willing to identify these subsets. Supposedly these suites are processed automatically but I really doubt that. It’s rather more than likely that someone at the property has to clear these Suite Night Awards. Sometimes they do it, sometimes they don’t. Totally irrespective of the actual availability.

Conclusion

I think the Starwood Preferred Guest is a decent program especially when you can use the Best Rate Guarantee with 2000 Points per stay.

As far as these upgrade benefits are concerned I think that it is a problem to have such rogue properties in the chain. If a hotel management doesn’t agree with the SPG Benefits then reflag to another brand that doesn’t force you to provide such things.

Customers should be more willing to confront properties and in the worst case walk away from their reservation if such issues arise. Especially in cities with more than sufficient competition from other hotels.

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