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Archive for the category “Starwood Hotels”

W Thinks 1+1=3 … OR Stay 2 Nights, Get One Free

Starwood has launched a new promotion for their W brand of hotels, which they  have dubbed “One Plus One Equals Three.”  It’s a relativistic math!

In all seriousness, this is actually decent good promotion.  Between now and the end of this year, whenever you stay at a W property and pay with ANY American Express card, the third night is free.

The Terms and Conditions specifically state that this offer is valid for a three-night stay only, and advance purchase is required.

This is still a decent offer, especially if you have two stays at a W hotel coming up or will be mattress running to maintain status.  So essentially, this offer gives one a 33% rebate.

And I suppose since it is for pre-paid rates, if you don’t have an American Express card, you could have someone else front your rate, and then simply reimburse them.

Personally though, I think Marriott’s MegaBonus offer is a better promotion, as even the Category 1-4 restriction is less exclusive than limiting the 3rd night award to only ONE SPECIFIC brand.  But the kicker for me is that MegaBonus redemption can be at a later time, at another property.

Again though, if you have some upcoming stays at W hotels, this deal could be ideal.


Georgia On My Mind: Westin Atlanta Airport

Pasco, WA (PSC) to Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
Salt Lake City (SLC) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Hotel Review:  Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta
Hotel Review: Westin Atlanta Airport

Considering how busy Labor Day weekend in Atlanta was, I fortunate to book my Friday night stay at the Westin Atlanta Airport–despite the stigma of being an airport hotel, for 3,000 Starwood points, before the rate went up to 4,000 closing in.  Added to this, I was able to secure a confirmed suite upgrade for only 1,500 more points, making it the best 4,500 Starwood points I ever spent.

Keep in my that Starwood awards stay credit AND elite bonus points for award stays, so I even got a small return on my investment! 🙂  Also, I do try my best to stay hydrated when traveling, so I appreciate that Starwood places at least one ~20 ounce water bottle in each room, FREE of charge, unlike some hotels/brands that make you pay for the water, or only provide you with a mini bottle.  I’m still a Marriott loyalist, but Starwood is slowly growing on me.

Anyway, after waiting a few moments, I was able to check-in.  It’s not a huge deal for me, but I had to do some negotiation about my amenities.  As a Starwood Gold, they wanted my amenity to be free late check-out, which would have been worthless to me–I was planning on leaving well before noon.  Thus, I asked about complimentary internet, and after specifying that I needed it, my request was granted.  A little teeth pulling, but it probably wounds worse than it was.  I suppose I am a good negotiator, because in the end I talked my way into the Governor’s suite, versus the Junior suite I was booked into.

I was warned it might be loud on the 10th (top) floor, but the irony in retrospect is that I returned after the “noise” had subsided.  And generally, once asleep, I can sleep soundly through even thunderstorms–“What Storm?”

I schlepped my luggage up to my room on the 10th floor, which was right across from the elevator and had a scenic, yet a slightly scary view of the atrium:

Atrium View

This was the first time I had ever stayed in a hotel room with two seperate doors, side by side, as the Governor’s Suite is really two interconnected rooms, as I will describe.

Westin Atlanta Airport Governor’s Suite

Directly to the right when you enter the room was a small kitchen with a fridge and a sink.

Kitchen Area

Past the hallway was the main living area of the suite with a couch, chairs, coffee table and a TV.

Living Room

The connecting part between the separate rooms was a glass door, toward the back and to the left of the main entrance.

A peculiar arrangement I suppose, and maybe a bit much for a single person–but I wasn’t complaining!

Through the door was the bedroom area, with desk and TV, and another fridge, in addition to the ones in the kitchen and the living room.  Maybe a bit much?


One issue I had was that the closet, (at the back of the picture above) which did not have much room for Bertha, my suitcase, due to the rather inconvenient placement of a safe.  As a result, I had to place the suitcase rack on top of the safe, which made the entire arrangement a bit tipsy.

For a suite the bathroom wasn’t all that large, but serviceable.

Bathroom Sink

Of course, I shared my issues with the room’s shower at the time, which was the “double” Heavenly showerheads:  EPIC FAIL, WESTIN!


Shower Head Fine Print

I apologize about the blurriness of my superb (camera) phone and in case you have trouble reading it says:

“One of your Heavenly Shower heads has been turned off in an effort to minimize water usage and protect one our most important resources.
To experience the most out of your Heavenly Shower, you can turn the second shower head on by pushing the small button behind the lower head.”

I tweeted my issue to SPG, and they were prompt in saying that while no compensation could be provided (I still had a working shower head) they would flag this as an issue.

Overall, I wouldn’t call the hotel schwank– it’s a bed and a shower, and without a club lounge.  But if you are in need of an affordable hotel to stay at in Atlanta, it’s certainly a reasonable option.

Suite Benefits of Staying with Starwood

Update: Added “unofficial” Starwood Ambassador benefits for SPG members that stay 100 nights.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is truly a trendsetter when it comes to benefits for elite members.  Last year Starwood announced that ALL stays, including Points & Cash and award stays, count toward elite status.  And with the new promotion that they are rolling out, Starwood appears set to maintain its position amongst the loyalty program elite.

Starwood Preferred Guest has just announced their new elite benefits to Gold and Platinum members, effective March 1st.

SPG Elite Amenities

SPG Gold members (usually 10 stays/25 nights) receive a choice of one of the following welcome amenities:

  • Bonus Starpoints. 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.
  • Complimentary In-Room Internet Access. Surf, stream and stay connected in the convenience of your guest room with free.
    Complimentary Beverage. Sit back and relax with your favorite cocktail in the hotel’s restaurant or bar. (Up to a $15 value, or the House Cocktail.

This past fall I visited a couple of Starwood properties to try out my newly-minted SPG Gold Status, thanks to American Express.  At one of the hotels I visited, the service seemed to be stingy at best.  When the manager was reluctant to give me a “Preferred” room upgrade as a Gold Member, I should have known more drama was to ensue.

I went up to the room and was able to use the internet on my laptop to get some work done.  To my horror, the next evening upon return to my room I found I had no longer had internet access!  The system suddenly blocked out me out!  I went down to the front desk and informed them that I was disappointed about not having internet access, especially as a valued elite member.  To my disgust, they even denied that I ever had internet access.

I share this doom and gloom story about sudden divorce of a network connection and my computer, because with the new SPG Gold internet benefits, it appears it is now a thing of the past.  Well, theoretically, assuming I don’t run into another stingy Sheraton hotel staff.

Internet access appears to thebe the amenity of choice if you are going to use the internet access as a Gold member, especially on multi-night stays.

SPG Platinum (25 stays/50 nights) members have a choice of one of the following:

Starwood has also announced benefits for those who stay an extreme number of nights.

SPG Nights-Based Benefits

  • “Suite Life”- Suite life. Stay with us at least 50 eligible nights in a calendar year and receive 10 Suite Night Awards™ to be used for confirmable room upgrades to a suite or premium room.
  • “SPG 75 Nights” – Complete 75 eligible nights in a calendar year and earn four Starpoints® for every eligible U.S. dollar spent. That’s the richest elite benefit in the industry — and a 100% bonus over Preferred membership.
  • 100 Nights – Receive a Designated Starwood Ambassador.  This benefit, which is not supposed to be public knowledge, is a dedicated concierge to handle all of your Starwood travel needs as well as concierge service throughout your stay.  In addition they will track your preferences, and arrange them in advance for better on-property service.

Also, finally there are some new lifetime status benefits:

SPG Lifetime Status

  • SPG Lifetime Gold – Enjoy Gold membership status for life when you achieve 250 eligible nights total and any five years of elite SPG status since joining the program.
  • SPG Lifetime Platinum – Enjoy Platinum membership status for life when you achieve 500 eligible nights total and any 10 years of Platinum SPG status since joining the program.

I am not sure how valuable either the nights benefits or the lifetime status will be to me.

Due to the extreme nature of the 50-night and 75-night thresholds, I probably won’t be taking advantage of those.  Given the effort required to gain these benefits for me, I just don’t think it is worth it.  However, if you a road warrior that stays at a lot of Starwood properties, these benefits would be INCREDIBLY valuable to you.

As for the lifetime status, I already receive SPG Gold status as a benefit of my American Express Platinum card, for as long as I am a card member.

The kicker for me though, is SPG Platinum status.  Due to less-stringent requirements for top-tier status (25 stays for SPG  and Hyatt vs. 75 nights for Marriott) I plan on switching over my loyalty.  So, if I were to manage 500 nights with SPG and 10 years of Platinum, it would allow me to hedge my bets with other programs, while still keeping top-tier status.

250 Free SPG Points…But Hurry!

Who can say no to free points from Starwood Preferred Guest?

The Westin Charlotte Facebook

Right now SPG is giving away 250 Starpoints.  Simply head to the Facebook page for The Westin Charlotte, then sign up to receive the Charlotte Insider eClub newsletter.  To go directly to the email sign-up, you can click here.

Charlotte Insider eClub Sign-Up

This deal ends February 1, 2012 so hurry!  In the last year or so Starwood Hotels has run a number of similar promotions for Starpoints on Facebook.  More often than not with these deals, Starwood has received a much greater response than anticipated, and is soon no longer able to honor their promotions.  So get in on this before FREEbie while you still can!

As a footnote, I should mention that Staproints are generally considered one of the more valuable points currencies out there, due to their flexibility (such as Cash & Points awards) and ability to transfer points to several airlines at a generally favorable ratios.

I conservatively value Starpoints at about 3 cents each.  So essentially SPG is giving away $8 to anyone who signs up for this newsletter.  Certainly not the most valuable deal, but still a decent value and every bit helps!


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Starwood Pay Rates Equal to Your Birth Year Promotion

If only I was born in the year 2000…..

While I believe it has been around for some time, Starwood is again advertising their “Pay your Birth Year” promotion for multiple-night stays.  Your rate will the first night will vary by property, then the second and third nights of your stay this promotion will kick in.

Terms & Conditions:

*Some exceptions may apply. Length of stay requirements may vary by participating hotel. Please see participating hotel for details. **Second (and third) night rates will be confirmed at check-in with valid date of birth identification.
***Hotels that charge $100 + your birth year for your second and third night include: Hotel Ivy, Minneapolis, Sheraton LaGuardia East Hotel, The Equinox Golf Resort & Spa, Vermont, The Fairfax at Embassy Row, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Washington, D.C., The Liberty Hotel, Boston, The Manhattan at Times Square Hotel, The New York Helmsley Hotel, The Westin Diplomat Resort & Spa, Hollywood, Florida, The Westin Kierland Resort & Spa, The Westin Resort & Spa, Tremblant, W Atlanta – Midtown, W Atlanta – Buckhead, W Chicago – City Center, W Chicago – Lakeshore, W Dallas – Victory, W Fort Lauderdale, W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island

Basically, some of Starwood’s properties will require $100 plus your birth year. ($186 for me, since I was born in 1986)  Which is steal I very good deal, especially for properties like the W Chicago.

I have seen this promotion before as I mentioned, but I have never gotten in on it.  I am able to  me to receive government rates, so it usually saves me more than having to pay the full rate for the first night.  Still, I am sure this could prove very valuable at some of their more upscale properties and large urban areas, where even the government rate is sometimes steep.

Happy 2012 and Year In Review

Happy New Year to you!  If you believe in the Mayan calendar, spend all of your miles by the end of the year–they will expire during the apocalypse.  Just Kidding!

As far as travel goes, 2011 was a pretty good year for me.  While I did not do any international travel, I did travel a fair amount of domestic travel, which was nearly all for leisure.  Due to some upgrade savvy, most of this travel was in First Class.  In the coming weeks I will highlight some of these experiences in the form of trip reports.

At the start of the year, even before becoming a miles and points junkie, I made it a goal to obtain Medallion status on Delta for the first time.  Originally I thought I just might be able to make Silver Medallion.  (25,000 Medallion Qualifying Miles or MQMs)  As it turned out, I ended up exceeding my goal and making Gold Medallion (50,000 MQMs despite flying only about 25,000 “Butt-In-Seat” miles.  HOW SO??

Thanks to The Points Guy, I got in on the 100,000 Membership Rewards bonus for new cardmembers, after spending $1,000 on the card in the first 3 months.  I then immediately turned around and transferred all of those points to Delta.  Concurrent to this, Delta had a 50% bonus all AMEX Membership Rewards points transferred to Delta.  In addition, transfers of 100,000 or more AMEX points would earn 25,000 MQMs.  Because of these two promotions, I literally went from zero status to elite status overnight.  I will quickly mention here that I have enjoyed numerous other perks of the card–including elite-level rental car benefits, rental damage insurance, SPG Gold Status, and especially airport lounge access!

Another big promotion for me this past year was the Radisson Big Night Giveaway.  As I mentioned already, a phantom stay netted me 50,000 Club Carlson Gold Points–good for at least one night at any Radisson hotel in the world.  High off of my success, I tried it again with a new Club Carlson account.  I have not seen the points post just yet since the “stay” was only a few days ago, but they did charge my credit card for the stay which gives me some hope.  We will see if I can get 50,000 more points.

The final big points haul for me of 2011 was actually a little bit of a surprise.  Back in November I applied for and was accepted for a Chase Sapphire Preferred card.  For spending $3,000 on the card in the first 3 months there is a 50,000 point bonus–which is still active. In addition, there is a 7% bonus on all earned points during a calendar year.

However, due to some confusion about my address I waited and waited for the card to arrive, but it never did.  Finally at the beginning of December I got a hold of them (I am always amazed at the immediate response once receives when calling them….listening AMEX???) and everything was straightened out.  When I called to activate the card, I was informed I had until mid-February to meet the spend requirement.  I quickly pointed out that due to their error I had only just received the card, and should get an extension.  They obliged, and I received the card just in time to do my Christmas shopping.

After only about two weeks of use I am roughly halfway to meeting the $3,000 spend threshold.  But here is this crazy part.  Via AwardWallet I was informed that my Chase Ultimate Rewards Account had changed to 50,000 points.  I wondered if this was a mistake and logged, to see it listed as “an” adjustment. I have made a couple of payments already, but most of it is not yet paid off.  I know this will earn me 3,500 based on the card’s 7% annual points bonus, but maybe I still have a chance to get in on 50,000 more points.

Also, I bought US Airways 90,000 miles (for around $1,300) this past summer.  I plan to top off my account to 120,000 and then redeem for a First Class ticket to Asia (Tokyo) with a stopover in Europe (Rome) either this year or next year.

Thus, 2011 has been a decent points haul for me.  With some points still pending, I am looking at about 400,000 – 500,000 points and miles earned this past year.  I know of many points junkies like Frugal Travel Guy and One Mile At a Time who gain 900,000 miles and points constantly churning credit cards, but I am pretty satisfied.  When it comes to miles and points I am pretty soft core–I don’t do a ton of Credit card churns (the two I have gotten I intend to keep for a while) and don’t do many mileage runs.

I think of the miles and points I have earned, as a real asset.  I am currently unemployed and really appreciate knowing that I can still have some aspirational travel ahead of me in 2012 and beyond.

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