Starwood Elite

Starwood Elite

Starwood Preferred Guest is introducing new Gold and Platinum benefits. Gold members can now choose from several welcome gifts for each stay: 250 Starpoints (125 Starpoints for aloft, element, Four Points by Sheraton); or, free in-room Internet; or, a complimentary beverage (typically worth up to $15, depending on hotel brand) at the hotel’s restaurant or bar.

Platinum members can now choose from benefits, including daily continental breakfast with juice, coffee, pastries, cereal and yogurt (varies by hotel and includes your roommate); or, 500 Starpoints; or, local amenity available now at all brands. If the hotel property you’re staying at features the Club level, Platinum members can choose between 500 Starpoints or the local amenity.

If you are a Platinum member who stays 50 nights in a calendar year, you’ll receive 10 suite night upgrade awards that can be used to upgrade to the hotel property’s best room, including suites. Specialty Suites, including but not limited to presidential, honeymoon or multiple bedroom suites, may not be eligible for Suite Night Awards. The suite nights are confirmable beginning five nights prior to arrival, are subject to availability and are available even when spending the night on an award or a Cash & Points stay. If you spent 50 nights at SPG hotels in 2011, you’ll see 10 Suite Night Awards in your account on March 1, 2012.

If you spend 75 nights a calendar year, you’ll get four Starpoints per dollar spent instead of the usual three Starpoints per dollar for Platinum members. And the new “Your24” program lets members check in any time they wish–24 hours a day. A check in at 9am will allow you a 4pm checkout.

If you spend 100 nights in a calendar year, you’ll receive a personal travel ambassador. Starwood ambassadors work one-on-one with guests to learn their preferences and what matters to them on each trip in order to deliver a customized experience at each property. Ambassadors also provide services beyond the hotel and are empowered to assist guests when they’re not traveling. This is an extension of a pilot program.

And for top customers, the big news is that SPG is now offering lifetime status. You will be welcomed into Gold lifetime status at 250 nights spent since becoming a member and you must have been an elite member for at least five years. Achieving one year of elite status earned through spend on a Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express counts as one year of elite status towards obtaining SPG Lifetime Gold status. To be welcomed as a Platinum lifetime member, you’ll need to have stayed 500 nights and been a Platinum member for at least 10 years.

To read all about these new elite benefits, visit http://www.spg.com

Bottom line: Interestingly, some of this information was “leaked” in the FAQ of the SPG website. Members noticed an FAQ about “Suite Night Awards” before any changes had been mentioned by the program and the FAQ was then taken down from the website a few days before the official announcement.

Confirmed suite upgrades from a hotel loyalty program are always welcomed by members. But you have to spend a lot of nights in a year (50) to benefit from the offer and then, you can only confirm the suite up to five days in advance. With a Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond membership, you can confirm four suite upgrades per year whenever you book your room, up to seven consecutive nights. Marriott and Hyatt currently offer lifetime elite status for their members.

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