by -
0 Comments

Hyatt, Marriott and now also Starwood has realized that giving out a lifetime status after meeting some pretty tough revenue, number of nights, and number of years in the program could be an important part to make members stick with the chain long term.

I have already independently written about Hyatt, Marriott and Starwood requirements. Currently neither InterContinental Hotels Group (Priority Club/Ambassador) nor Hilton offer a lifetime incentive for their members.

My preference in easiness of achieving the top tier lifetime status in these three programs is as following:

1. Starwood Lifetime Platinum

Requires only 500 nights (now all nights count including cash & points/award) + 10 years of Platinum membership

This is in my opinion the easiest. The night requirement is not onerous. The only “real” requirement is the fact that you need to have Platinum status for 10 years. These years do not need to be continuous, but other years do not count for lifetime Platinum.

2. Marriott Lifetime Platinum

Requires 2 million points, 1000 nights & 12 years as a Marriott Rewards member.

The biggest hurdle is the number of night’s requirement, although all the nights count including the ones from credit card + possible meeting ones.

The 2 million point’s requirement might sound high, but in reality it is not considering how many points you will earn from the stays including all the status based bonuses, Megabonus promotions, and points from the credit card spend.

You need to have been at least ones a Platinum member during your membership of the program.

3. Hyatt Lifetime Diamond

This can be the easiest or hardest depending how much you spend. The requirement is one million base points. These are NOT the lifetime points that you can see in your account, but only points that are from eligible revenue before any additional bonuses. It translates to $200K in Hyatt spend that is credited towards Hyatt points. If you have credited some of the stays to airline miles, none of those count for this lifetime status.

The only other requirement is the requirement of having been a Gold Passport member for 10 years. There is no need to ever have a status with Hyatt.

by -
9 Comments

Last month Starwood announced enhancements to the SPG program. Additional benefits were added to Platinum members starting with 50+ nights, and new program features for Gold members as well. Starwood also launched a way to earn both lifetime Gold and Platinum status. Both Hyatt and Marriott programs had had the lifetime option already for a while.

spg-lifetime-plt

Starwood just rolled out a new website function that not only shows the number of nights you have had since joining the program, but also the number of years you have had  an elite status with them. It does not, however, show the number of years you have had a Platinum status with Starwood.

Requirements for lifetime SPG Gold status

– 250 qualifying nights

– 5 years of elite status (Gold or Platinum)

Requirements for lifetime SPG Platinum status

– 500 qualifying nights

– 10 years of Platinum status

During my four years as a SPG member, I have earned close to 400 nights. I should be lifetime Gold sometime next year. I will probably have the required 500 nights before the end of this year, but need another 5 years of Platinum status to meet the number of years as a Platinum member requirement.

The number of nights required is on the low side, but the requirement of having had the actual Platinum status for 10 years makes it more difficult. Last year Starwood started to count award nights as qualifying too, so basically all the nights count.

by -
0 Comments

It is time for a March hotel promotions update. This is the first time I will include the Choice Privileges in this update as well. In the future you will most likely see Accor and Best Western promotions as well. There are so many different promotions going on that there is, for sure, something for everyone.

I am working on the Two Days of Happy Starwood promotion that is about to end. Will probably have quite a few InterContinental Hotels Group and Hilton stays next. Both have very good promotions going on.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. This promotion is valid until March 16th, 2012. Note that you will receive 2000 bonus points for online bookings.

club-carlson-triple-points

Club Carlson “Triple Points – Faster Nights” Promotion – Triple Gold Points Worldwide

Choice Hotels – Choice Privileges

Choice has a promotion starting on March 8th for 8000 points for every two stays. On some brands you need two nights for a stay.

choise-hotels-march-promo

Choice Hotels Promotion – Stay Two Separate Times & Earn One Free Night

Hilton HHonors

Hilton has the most promotions running that you can combine together. You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

Register Your Visa and Get 1000 Hilton HHonors Points + 4000 Bonus for Spending $100

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders + 40K HHonors Points After Four Stays (For All?

You can choose one of these airline promotions as your double dip earnings partner. My personal favorite still is BMI that would earn 1k per night and up to three nights regardless of the Hilton brand. Please note that all these airline related bonuses are scheduled to end on March 31st.

hilton-hhonors-emirates-promo

Triple ANA and Double Emirates Miles for Hilton Stays Until March 31st

Airline Promotions for Air Canada Aeroplan, US Airways Dividend Miles, Lufthansa Miles & More and American Airlines AAdvantage

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

The British Airways promotion shows 1500 bonus Avios, but what has been posting to members is 1000. If you don’t get the correct amount,  I would suggest that you write to Hilton and reference their own promotional page for this offer.

hilton-hhonors-avios-campaign

Hilton HHonors With British Airways Offering 1500 Bonus Avios Per Stay Until March 31st, 2012

These are the two main promotions for the time. More Points promotion for extra points for each nights and more for weekend stays, and free night certificates for longer resort stays.

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

‘Resort Escapes’ Promotion – Free Night Certificate After Five Nights and Two After Ten Nights

Hyatt Gold Passport

You can earn up to 44K extra points for 16 stays during the promotional period. That is extra 2750 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

Hyatt Announced Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

The first promotion for double points starting from your second stay and the 5/7/15 stays for 5K/10K/15K bonus points are combinable. The first one runs until the end of April and the second until the end of March. Note that you need to choose the bonus after 5, 7, or 15 stays. If you don’t meet the threshold, you won’t get the associate bonus.

Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

Remember that you can have only Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. You cannot have both. You can, however, switch between accounts as often as you wish just by calling the rewards customer service.

ritz-carlton-rewards

Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Earn Free Night Certificate After Two Stays Promotion

Note that you can only register for the MegaBonus or MegaMiles promotion. There are number of different MegaBonus thresholds. Pick up the ones that fits you best, and call the Marriott Rewards customer service if you need to switch your targeted promotion to something else.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood has two different promotions that are both exclusive. The Better By the Night is valid in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The list of non-participating properties is rather long. Note that this is NOT valid in the Asia-Pacific region that has their own promotion. The Two Days of Happy end of March 15th.

Starwood Preferred Guest 1st Quarter 2012 “Better by the Night”–promotion

‘Two Days of Happy’ – Stay 5 Nights Get One Free Night Certificate – Stay 9 Nights Get Two Free Night Certificates – 4MCFN

There is a promotion of 1000 extra Starpoints for booking a Club accommodation at Sheraton hotels and paying using an American Express card.

spg-1000-bonus-points-sheraton-club

Starwood Offering 1000 Bonus Starpoints for Sheraton Club Floor Bookings

by -
3 Comments

Sheraton Fiji resort is located on the Denarau Island that is a basically a huge resort area. There are two other Starwood properties in the same complex; Sheraton Denarau Villas and a Westin hotel. Right next to Sheraton is also a Radisson Blu hotel, where I stayed the previous night before moving to Sheraton. Close by is also a Wyndham timeshare property, Sofitel hotel, and a Hilton resort where I spent one night also.

Getting to/from hotel

Easiest way from the airport is to take one of the taxis that are waiting outside. Although they are bit more expensive than the regular ones, the fare shouldn’t be more than 20 to 25 FJD. The ride takes about 20 minutes.

There really isn’t much in the Denarau island besides these hotels and a “harbor”. There are quite a few restaurants in the harbor including a Hard Rock Café.  You can catch a boat to one of the island excursions from there as well. There is a hotel hoppa style bus that can transport you from any of the hotels to this entertainment venue for a daily flat free.

Check in

Was a borderline disaster. Only one person working who was checking someone out that was taking forever. Didn’t see a Platinum check in area anywhere. Finally a front desk manager was able to sort out the check in and escorted me to the Ocean Studio.

Room 1370

This was on a second floor of the beach front building. From the patio was an ocean/garden view. The studio was fairly good sized with a work area.

sheraton-fiji-ocean-studio-1370-view-of-the-room

Pool/Beach

The beach in all of the hotels in the Denarau area is unremarkable. The key is just to spend time by the pool. There are number of them in the entire resort area.

sheraton-fiji-beach-2

Fitness Center

This hotel doesn’t have one. You can use the one at the Westin apparently.

Platinum Benefits

Beyond the studio upgrade? None. No welcome letter, no fruit or any other kind of amenity.

Check out

Was equally as disastrous as check in. Took about half an hour.

Conclusion

This was very average/below average Sheraton hotel. Most of the clientele is from package tourists from Australia and New Zealand. This hotel is fine if you are only looking for a getaway that is not too far from where you live. This is NOT a place to experience anything Fiji related, however.

by -
4 Comments

Starwood started their Sheraton club initiative about a year ago that required all the Sheraton’s to have a club lounge that is open 7 days a week. They (Starwood) have had a mixed success getting hotels to sign up/comply with the brand requirements, however.

spg-1000-bonus-points-sheraton-club

Now, Starwood is offering extra 1000 Starpoints per stay booked using American Express for Sheraton Club accommodations for stays until May 31st, 2012. You need to make the booking using the following link or book either using DAILYFS or SICLUB rate codes.

Expect to pay the full Club rate in order to get the 1000 extra Starwood Starpoints. If you are a Platinum member, there is really no need to pay and book a Club rate in order to have the “club” access. Domestic clubs in the United States are rarely if ever worth the price premium they command. Internationally club access can make sense depending of the price and how much of the club you are planning to take advantage off. For the most part, I call rate promotions like this “screw your employer” one.

Here’s one example from Sheraton Garden Grove. Their lowest public rate is $111.

sheraton-garden-grove-aaa-rate

The AAA club rate is $143.

sheraton-garden-grove-aaa-club-rate

And the Club rate that is eligible for this promotion $152.

sheraton-garden-grove-club-rate

Here are the Terms and conditions of this offer that you can also find at here: [click to continue…]

by -
4 Comments

It is the time of the year again when Starwood adjusts its hotel award categories. The list of properties moving up and down was just announced earlier today. 13% are moving down and 17% are  moving up.

spg-requirement-per-category

Note that the award category only reflects the ADR (average daily rate) of the hotel and is not indicative of its quality. There are great category 1 properties that are far better and nicer than some category 5 or 6 ones.

The average decrease for all the of 141 properties that went down is 2900 Starpoints per night, and for the 180 properties that went up 3194 Starpoints. Please note that these were calculated using non-peak rewards and for a weeknight.

You can book using old rates until March 1st. If you have booked a property that is going down in category, just give SPG a call after the March 1st and they can adjust the redemption. For those desiring to book at old levels? Better get your reservations done rather sooner than later.

Here’s the breakdown of hotels moving down:

number-of-spg-properties-moving-down

There are total of 141 properties that have seen their award categories lowered. Categories 3 and 4 saw the largest number of properties going down. On the higher end only the Le Meridien Bora Bora, W Koh Samui, and St Regis Punta Mita saw their category drop from 7 to 6.

Probably due to the flooding in Thailand last year, there are number of very good redemption values currently in Thailand. Le Meridien Chiang Mai and Le Meridien Chiang Rai are now both category 1 hotels requiring only 3000 points during the week and 2000 points on Friday and Saturday. These are two fine hotels, although I prefer the one in Chiang Mai.

In Bangkok the Royal Orchid Sheraton drops to category 2 requiring 3000 points during the weekend and 4000 during the week. The newly opened Aloft is down to category 1 and justifiably so.

Here’s the breakdown of hotels moving up:

number-of-spg-properties-moving-up

There are 180 hotels moving up in award categories. Only three hotels move more than one category. Two goes from category 3 to 5 and one from 2 to 4.

More than half of the hotels that are going up are in the category 4. These will become award category 5 hotels. With category 5, 6, and 7 the point requirements are becoming ugly. Category 5 moving to category 6 will go up from 12-16K to 20K per night during the non-peak season.

Conclusion

It always pays carefully to check, whether paying using cash, points, cash + points, or staying entirely at a different chain/independent property makes sense.

Moving up from categories 1 to 3 by a notch up to category 4 is quite sensible point requirement wise. Personally, I don’t see a reason to redeem at category 6 or 7 where the point requirements per night are rather obscene.

You can download the PDF list of properties that are changing their categories at https://lacek.hs.llnwd.net/e1/starwood/2012categorychange/SPG_CategoryChanges2012.pdf.

by -
0 Comments

Starwood offers number of options to pay for a room. You can book a revenue stay, use points, or use cash & points option. I rarely book anything else than full revenue stays. Points and cash & points stays are not qualifying stays for any promotions that Starwood might be running. They do qualify for stay and night credit, however.

The other day I was faced with a dilemma. I could book the Sheraton Fiji resort for 342 FJD (including the taxes of 20%), pay 7000 Starpoints, or use cash & points for 45 USD + 2800 Starpoints.

sheraton-fiji-cash-points

I chose the 342 FJD that ($195) and why I should have chosen the Cash & Points option:

– I value Starpoints around 2 cents each. The pure points option would have been $140

– Using the same 2 cents per Starpoint the cash & points option would have cost $101

– The paid stays earns me maybe 500 points based on the revenue which is $10 but it would be a stay credit for the Asia-Pacific promotion of Two Days of Happy for a free night certificate after five nights and/or two after nine nights.

The credit towards the Two Days of Happy wouldn’t have justified of paying the pure cash rate. I made a mistake here and left maybe $60 to $70 on the table if I value the partial credit towards the free night certificate at $20.

by -
5 Comments

Starwood has used a lot of money in the past few years trying to bring the Sheraton hotels up to the brand standards or force them to leave the chain. Still the Sheraton brand is probably the most inconsistent of them all. You have Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit in Bangkok that is a wonderful Luxury Collection property, but yet Sheraton branded. Then you have this Sheraton hotel in Heathrow that should be Four Points.

Getting to the hotel from the airport

Getting from the airport to the hotel you have really two choices; either use the Hotel Hoppa bus that cost 4.5 GBP per person and goes every 20 minutes or to take a taxi, which I took, that costs around 13 GBP.

Checking in

The hotel outside doesn’t look inviting at all. It looks like any generic, non-branded, and 2 to 3 star property. There were renovations going on in the lobby area. Couldn’t find a SPG Platinum/Gold member check in desk. There were some irregular operations in Heathrow that day and there was quite a few air crews checking out to make their flights. I asked one lady where their Platinum check in desk was (apparently they don’t have any) and she promised to help me next which she for sure did.

There is only one suite at this property. To my understanding all the other rooms are basically the same. I was put on the 3rd floor quite close to the club. There was something wrong with the fire doors as they were extremely heavy. It was difficult trying to carry your stuff and open these doors. Apparently they have some problems with the magnets (?).

Room 3351

Where should I start? It was fairly functional and ok for a night sleep. That’s about it. It was definitely in need of some sort of renovations. In the bathroom the shower head was coming off from the wall and the temperature panel was very loose as well. My TV suddenly turned itself on in the middle of the night. There was no wireless internet access but luckily the cable was just about long enough that I could use the internet from the bed.

Club Lounge

sheraton-heathrow-club-lounge-hot-items

Visited the lounge only during the evening cocktail hour. They had some white and red wine available. Didn’t see any beers but there might have been some in the fridge. They had couple of hot items and stuff that you could dip – not a very good spread.

Departure Experience

I had the same lady to check me out in the morning who had checked me in the night before. She was great. I told her about the problems I had and apparently she had forwarded my concerns as someone from the property emailed me the day after my stay.

The hotel is offering a private taxi to the airport for a flat free off 10 GBP that is cheaper than a taxi. I chose it over the hotel hoppa bus.

Conclusion

sheraton-heathrow-room-3351-bathroom-shower-head-coming-off

It is an adequate hotel for an overnight stay. It should not, however, be branded as Sheraton on its current condition. It is more like a Four Points, if even that.

by -
0 Comments

The Sheraton Abu Dhabi Hotel & Resort is conveniently located in the front of the Abu Dhabi corniche relatively close to the tourist club area and to the old downtown. I stayed there three or four times between October and December last year.

They had a road construction going in front of the hotel during my stays, but I think that it must have been completed by now. It was bit difficult to get in a taxi because they had to make quite a few turns before finding the right driveway to the hotel’s entrance.

sheraton-abu-dhabi-hotel-resort-beach-view-of-the-hotel

There is a club lounge, but you need to check in at the front desk even if you are a club level or SPG Platinum member. In all occasions, I hadn’t been upgraded to a suite in advance. Few words with the front desk, and at least once a phone call or two, made the suite happen in all of my stays.

Accommodations

Video review of a suite 547

Video review of a suite 318

The suite that I had was different every time but the basic layout was about the same. Please note that the two videos are from different suites as are the photos that I took. You can get a very good idea and feel about the suites that Platinum members can expect to get there.

sheraton-abu-dhabi-hotel-resort-suite-sitting-area

All of the suites had a spacious living room, kitchenette with a full refrigerator, and a bedroom with a bathroom/shower. I did appreciate the fact that the furniture was in the Middle Eastern style.

sheraton-abu-dhabi-hotel-resort-suite-platinum-welcome-amenity

Club Lounge [click to continue…]

by -
0 Comments

Much of the discussion on the past few days have been about the SPG Platinum benefits update. Much less has been devoted to the new benefit of the SPG Gold status.

spg-more-power

Starting March 1st the Gold members will be eligible for Welcome Gift much like PLT members. Gold members can choose from:

•Bonus Starpoints. Get to the points. Receive 250 bonus Starpoints® per eligible stay at St. Regis®, Luxury Collection®, W®, Le Méridien®, Westin® and Sheraton® and 125 Starpoints per stay at AloftSM, ElementSM and Four Points® by Sheraton.
•In-Room Internet Access. Online. On us. Surf, stream and stay connected in the convenience of your guest room with free in-room Internet access for your entire stay.
•Complimentary Beverage. Cheers. Sit back and relax with your favorite cocktail in the hotel’s restaurant or bar.

Internet access is free for all guests at Aloft and Element hotels. There your choice is basically the bonus Starpoints or a complimentary cocktail. Some other hotels are offering free internet access to all hotels so you might want to check before choosing the amenity.

Still, my favorite golf member benefit is the guaranteed 4PM check out at non-conference and resort locations. You just need to let the front desk know that you require late checkout and it is yours.

Gold status normally requires 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year. There are often airline related campaigns where airline elite status holders are comped SPG Gold status.

SPG Gold status after one stay paid using a MasterCard in the Asia-Pacific region

Right now SPG and MasterCard are running a promotion for getting Gold status after one stay paid with a MasterCard in the Asia-Pacific regions. You can read more about the promotion on the Starwood’s website at www.spg.com/WorldMasterCardGoldUpgrade.

by -
3 Comments

It is time for February hotel promotion update. All the hotels have their promotions up and running again and some like Hilton and InterContinental Hotels Group have several concurrent promotions that you can take advantage of.

Carlson Hotels – Club Carlson

Club Carlson is offering triple points for all stays. Note that you will receive 2000 bonus points for online bookings.

club-carlson-triple-points

Club Carlson “Triple Points – Faster Nights” Promotion – Triple Gold Points Worldwide

Hilton HHonors

Hilton has the most promotions running that you can combine together. You should sign up for the two promos below. Even if you are Diamond with Hilton, you can still get 40K HH for four Hilton stays.

Register Your Visa and Get 1000 Hilton HHonors Points + 4000 Bonus for Spending $100

Instant Hilton HHonors Gold Status for Visa Infinite Card Holders + 40K HHonors Points After Four Stays (For All?

You can choose one of these airline promotions as your double dip earnings partner. My personal favorite still is BMI that would earn 1k per night and up to three nights regardless of the Hilton brand.

hilton-hhonors-ana-triple-miles

Triple ANA and Double Emirates Miles for Hilton Stays Until March 31st

Airline Promotions for Air Canada Aeroplan, US Airways Dividend Miles, Lufthansa Miles & More and American Airlines AAdvantage

Earn 2012 Bonus Delta SkyMiles per Two Night Hilton Stay

These are the two main promotions for the time. More Points promotion for extra points for each nights and more for weekend stays, and free night certificates for longer resort stays.

Hilton HHonors 1st Quarter 2012 “More Points” Promotion

‘Resort Escapes’ Promotion – Free Night Certificate After Five Nights and Two After Ten Nights

Hyatt Gold Passport

Last month Hyatt didn’t have any promotions running besides the AA one that ended in the middle of the month. Hyatt’s latest promotion just started today. You can earn up to 44K extra points for 16 stays during the promotional period. That is extra 2750 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night.

hyatt-spring-promo-2012

Hyatt Announced Spring 2012 Promo – Earn up to 44000 Bonus Points

InterContinental Hotels Group – Priority Club

The first promotion for double points starting from your second stay and the 5/7/15 stays for 5K/10K/15K bonus points are combinable. The first one runs until the end of April and the second until the end of March. Note that you need to choose the bonus after 5, 7, or 15 stays. If you don’t meet the threshold, you won’t get the associate bonus.

Priority Club 1st Quarter 2012 Promotion Announced – Double Points or Miles – 2X More

Priority Club Bonus Points Promo for 1st Quarter 2012

There is Anniversary bonus that you can combine with these two promotion. It is extra 1000 Priority Club points for every stay for 90 days after you register. Do not register before the date of your first stay to maximize the promotional period. The promotion code is 6102 and you need to register at http://www.priorityclub.com/register. Please note that I cannot guarantee if this specific promotion will work for your Priority Club account. It never hurts to try, right?

Marriott Rewards / Ritz-Carton Rewards

Remember that you can have only Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards account. You cannot have both. You can, however, switch between accounts as often as you wish just by calling the rewards customer service.

ritz-carlton-rewards

Ritz-Carlton Rewards – Earn Free Night Certificate After Two Stays Promotion

Note that you can only register for the MegaBonus or MegaMiles promotion. There are number of different MegaBonus thresholds. Pick up the ones that fits you best, and call the Marriott Rewards customer service if you need to switch your targeted promotion to something else.

Marriott Rewards Spring 2012 MegaBonus Announced – Few Variations of the Offer

Earn Up To 50000 Virgin America Elevate Bonus Points During Marriott’s MegaMiles Promotion

Marriott Rewards MegaMiles Promotion – Earn Up to 50K Bonus Miles

Starwood Preferred Guest

Starwood has two different promotions that are both exclusive. The Better By the Night is valid in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, and Africa. The list of non-participating properties is rather long. Note that this is NOT valid in the Asia-Pacific region that has their own promotion.

Starwood Preferred Guest 1st Quarter 2012 “Better by the Night”–promotion

Starwood Preferred Guest Asia Pacific Promotion

The following promotion is valid in the Asia-Pacific region for two free night certificates after 9 stays. Must use MasterCard to pay.

‘Two Days of Happy’ – Stay 5 Nights Get One Free Night Certificate – Stay 9 Nights Get Two Free Night Certificates – 4MCFN

by -
5 Comments

When I wrote earlier today about the enhancements that were coming to SPG Platinum program starting March 1st, I only missed the Your24.  The breakfast and suite night awards were as exactly as I described them.

The threshold for lifetime Platinum status is surprisingly low compared to Hyatt or Marriott. With SPG you only need 10 years as a Platinum member and minimum of 500 nights.

Starwood has now introduced another benefit for those that spend more than 75 nights at Starwood properties per year. You will earn 4 Starpoints instead of 3, and you can check in at any time for 24 hours.

This is quite interesting development considering that Starwood is clearly starting to distinguish between Platinum members that stay 25, 50, and 75 nights. There are some additional benefits at 100 level as well.

Here are the new benefits in a nutshell

  • Lifetime SPG Platinum status for 500 Nights and 10 years of Platinum membership
  • Free continental breakfast as welcome gift option
  • Suite Night Awards (10) after 50 nights
  • Your24™ – Checkin at any time for 24 hours + 4 SPG points per dollar (used to be 3) after 75 nights

by -
8 Comments

There has been lot of chatter about the upcoming enhancements to the Starwood Preferred Guest program at the Platinum level. When you deal with close to 1000 properties and need to keep them informed, there are always going to be some leaks even when the corporate tries to control the release of the information. I have already written about the breakfast and the Suite Night Awards. Now I have more clarity of these benefits. I believe that Starwood is releasing the info officially in the next 24 to 48 hours.

spg-program-being-refreshed

Website being partially “refreshed”

1. Breakfast

Now properties like Westin’s, W’s, St Regis’, Luxury Collection, aLoft’s and other brands without lounges don’t have to offer a complimentary breakfast for Platinum members. This has become a competitive disadvantage for Starwood when all the Hyatt’s and Hilton properties (excluding the one in Maldives) are offering this to their Diamond members, and Hilton even for Gold ones.

Apparently the breakfast is going to be an amenity choice in some of the brands/hotels. It is a no brainer to choose the breakfast every day over 500 SPG points per stay, especially if this would also apply for award stays.  Some might say that most of the hotels are already offering a free breakfast for Platinum members. This is really country specific. Good luck getting a breakfast in Bali just for being a Platinum member at W, Westin, Luxury Collection Laguna, or St. Regis.

2. Suite Night Awards

You would get ten Suite Night Awards per year that you could apply for paid, cash + points, or pure award stays. Confirmable 5 days to 1 day before arrival. If the upgrade doesn’t clear in advance, it will be put back into your account. You would be then eligible for space available suite upgrades as of today.

spg-suite-nights-awards

The terms and conditions indicate that this would be benefit of those that stay more than 50 nights yearly. Not sure if this just an oversight, or if Starwood is starting to distinguish between Platinum members that just make it by having 25 stays and those that spend considerably more nights than that.

Overall, I don’t think that this benefit is make or break. I would be eligible for it as I spent more than 110 paid stays with Starwood last year. Ten confirmable suite upgrades would allow me to confirm in advance about 9% of my stays.

Probably the hotels that are already good at upgrading Platinum members would continue to do so under this program. Hotels are already provided a list of incoming Platinum members on a daily basis and preferable upgrade order.

Hyatt has already had complimentary suite upgrade awards for their Diamond members for couple of years. You will get four upgrade certificates per year that are valid up to 7 days each. These are valid on all points eligible paid stays and can be confirmed in advance. Some Park Hyatt’s have unannounced discontinued their participation to this program. These suite night awards are not valid on award stays.

3. SPG Lifetime

Now they are also bringing a more long-term incentive to credit stays to SPG program once you have passed the requalification requirement.

spg-lifetime

Hyatt requires $200000 spent that is credited to Hyatt Gold Passport points to get a lifetime Diamond status. You can call Hyatt and ask how many BASE points you have earned. You need a million base points to qualify. The lifetime points earned on Hyatt.com only shows the points earned with all possible promotions. These are not paid points.

Marriott also has a lifetime Platinum, Gold, or Platinum status up for grabs. It requires 1000 (Platinum), 800 (Gold), and 600 (Silver) nights, and 2000000 (Platinum), 1600000 (Gold), and 1200000 (Silver) Marriott Rewards points earned from ALL sources i.e. hotel stays, credit card, buying points etc. You also need to be a member for 12+ years and have qualified for the status at least once at the lifetime level.

What is going to be the criteria for the lifetime Platinum status with Starwood? I don’t have the answer before this is announced. But, considering what Hyatt and Marriott is requiring, I would imagine it to be in the 1000 nights range. Last year SPG already introduced a lifetime night counter on Starwood’s website. Not sure how closely the have measured the spending aspect, but it would be easy to calculate from the number of points earned before any bonuses.

by -
3 Comments

My friends always think that I would complain a lot about hotels, but that is really not the case. Last year I had more than 300 hotel stays at Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott, and Starwood hotels. Of these 300 stays only three were “disastrous” enough to warrant a written complaint; St Regis, W, and Ritz-Carlton hotel.

ritz-carlton-singapore

I have thought about it few times – the higher the perceived quality of the hotel, the more chances they have not to meet your expectations. Not sure if I have ever complained about the physical condition of the hotel. You can always fix/update the rooms, but getting the soft product (service) right is more complicated than that. Especially, when you are staying at “affordable” luxury hotels, they shouldn’t promise you more than what they can deliver. This is usually the reason for discontent.

Normally, I try to resolve any issues I have on the spot. Calling the operator and asking them to connect you to the Manager on Duty, is most of the time enough to get any stay related issues corrected while you are still at the property.  But, when you have many issues going wrong with your stay, then it might be worthwhile to write-up a letter to let the property and possible the franchisor know about the issues you have had. This is also another chance for them to make it right i.e. offer you compensation (read points).

If I have had a bad stay, I never write the letter immediately. It is better to let the things settle and not to write anything when you are “emotional”. I just write down the issues I have had on a notepad and revisit them a week or two later.

The structure of the complaint

– Your name and address

– The confirmation number

– Your account number with the hotels loyalty program

– The date(s) of your stay

First paragraph: I normally include some information about the number of hotel stays I have had and statuses, if any, I have with the hotel loyalty programs.

Second paragraph: There is always something positive about the stay as well. I always start with the things that I liked about the hotel.

And then the complaint part. I always try to be as short as possible and straight to the facts. I tend to use points to make it clearer. One or maximum two lines per issue or problem.

Third paragraph: If you know what would be your preferred resolution for the complaint, don’t hesitate to communicate it. I normally request points in the hotels loyalty program.

Fourth paragraph: Just closing the letter and thanking them.

Where to send the complaint?

With the chain hotels, like the ones I listed above, there are always two ways. You can send it to the attention of the General Manager of the property in question, or you can send it to the corporate who will delegate it to the property. I tend to send it to the corporate because then it gets to the attention of the person at the property who deals with issues like this.

How to send it?

With Starwood, InterContinental Hotels Group, Hilton, and Marriott you can just send it by email. I don’t like using web forms for issues like these that Hyatt requires, so I just fax it to the Hyatt customer service department.

How long to wait for a reply?

I would say that hotels are typically very fast at resolving any issues raised post stay. You should hear back from the property itself, or the guest relations department of the loyalty program, in just a few days.

Conclusion

I really don’t like the word “complaint” at all. Think of it as giving feedback to the property about the issues that they should be looking more into. Business are generally happy when you give them the opportunity to make things right. Also, there must be quite a few guests that have come across the same issues, but who have never taken the time to give feedback.