Over the past eight years Hilton, Hyatt, InterContinental, Marriott and Starwood hotels have been my home. When traveling, I have hard time staying at other brands due to benefits associated with the top tier statuses I have.
Right now, I am here in Bangkok that has great number of very good hotels that are not associated with any of the five chains mentioned above, but I have very hard time trying any of them and here is why.
If I stick to any of the hotels, where I tend to stay here, I am almost always guaranteed a suite upgrade i.e. Renaissance, JW Marriott, InterContinental, Royal Orchid Sheraton, Plaza Athenee, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, St Regis etc. I have learned to bypass the Hilton properties here in Bangkok, where their elite treatment is the minimum required by the Hilton HHonors.
2. Lounge access
When traveling in the United States, I could care less about the lounge access, but here in Asia the lounges are actually worth something; the breakfast spread tend to be quite good, you often have afternoon tea and evening cocktails with some substantial food offerings as well.
I am not normally a breakfast person, but you can easily turn them into an early lunch like I did this morning. Quite a few of the hotels let you choose whether you prefer to have the breakfast in the lounge or in the hotel restaurant.
4. Early Check In/Late Check Out
Most of the chains guarantee you a 4PM check out that comes handy if you have a flight out in the evening. Hotels tend to charge a half day rate for late check outs if you are not an elite member.
5. Problem resolution
Few times a year the hotel stay doesn’t just go as smoothly as one would expect. It is just reassuring to know that the chain will back up their service promise even when the specific hotel has dropped the ball. I end up lodging a complaint four/five times a year and typically have resolution in couple of days if not sooner.
6. Points/Free Nights/Promotions
If you plan your hotel stays around the numerous promotions, it is rather easy to rack up lots of points and/or free night certificates. I essentially consider these as a rebate of the price I pay. For the most part the hotel chains are interchangeable for me. I can stay at a Marriott or Starwood property, but the chain that offers a better value proposition when points/promotions are factored in, gets my business.
When I don’t care about the benefits?
Sometimes I am arriving very late and then leaving very early in the morning. Unless there is a stellar promotion from one of the chains, I could practically care less about the hotel/brand as long as they have working and free wireless internet and the bed is comfortable. I might even use Priceline to get a rock bottom price for the night.
Having a top tier status with one or more of the global hotel chains can make your traveling a smoother if you take advantage of the associated benefits. I would love to try more independent hotels but the benefits package that I receive from the international chains if hard to beat.