The number of hotel nights that I have stayed at the hotels yearly hasn’t really fluctuated for close to ten years (as I have been living out of them). The hotel chains that I have frequented, however, has changed from year to year.
At the top tier level, the hotel chains are interchangeable. What matters to me most, are the quality of the promotions that the hotel chain is offering i.e. if someone is running an unlimited free night promotions, I will move all of my stays for the promotional period there.
1. InterContinental Royal Ambassador (Priority Club Platinum)
It is very difficult to beat paid nights to free nights ratio with Priority Club IF you are able to take advantage of the Point Breaks promotions.
For the most part, I do enjoy the status related benefits that come with the Royal Ambassador status as well.
2. Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum
I would say that if you are purely interested in free nights the Starwood’s program is likely not for you. They do sometimes have very good promotions.
I am currently four years short of lifetime Platinum status with SPG and my goal is to get it done.
3. Marriott Rewards Gold/Platinum
My lifetime Gold with Marriott is fulfilled from the number of required nights but need to work on the points side. I can relatively painlessly qualify for the lifetime Platinum as well.
I like the Marriott’s promos for free night certificate for every two stays, although these are usually capped at 6 stays per promo.
Also, I am planning to do a Taste of Platinum promo in the late 2nd quarter for the newly acquired Platinum status to be valid until 2015.
Not so sure list
Hyatt Gold Passport
Last year was the first time since qualifying for Diamond in the early 2000’s that I didn’t requalify. The promotions that Hyatt had and the lack of properties combined with no Diamond amenity internationally, made this an easy decision. I have no problems jumping back IF there is a good promo(s).
I have qualified and will be Diamond until sometime in 2014. I have never had Hilton as my main chain, but they tend to have worthwhile promotions throughout the year and there are some Hilton hotels that I really like.
I have really liked the promotions that the Club Carlson has had in the past two years, but I have really not liked the properties and Club Carlson Gold benefits that much.
Fairmont President’s Club Platinum
I purchased couple of years ago a package that came with the lifetime Platinum status with their program. I stay only few times per year at their properties, although some of them are stunning.
There is really no one solution that would fit anyone when it comes to hotel programs. You can read the article that I wrote about pros and cons of number of hotel programs here.
It makes sense for me to continue with Starwood, although the promotions have mostly sucked (I am sure that there WILL be some good ones in the future) for the past 18 months until I hit the lifetime Platinum status.
I am on the path to lifetime Platinum with Marriott as well and they free night certificate promos have worked for me.
Priority Club and Royal Ambassador status have worked very well for me. I don’t care too much about non-InterContinental hotels of the chain, although there ARE some good ones. The Point Breaks discounted awards have worked very well for me.