We’ve been going to NYC during December for about 10 years. First we were Marriott people after getting a gazillion points from buying a Marriott timeshare. Back then, we would reserve five nights at the late Righa Royal Hotel. Every room was a suite, the location was perfect for us (near the Theater district while far enough away to not be in the middle of the insanity). Sadly, Marriott sold it to the Blackstone Group and it is now the London/NYC - a wonderful hotel but not part of a chain so only reservable by cash - not really great for people on these sites! That was enough for us to buy a timeshare - the Manhattan Club - that was about two blocks from the Righa Royal. We had a few good years there in our one bedroom, two bathroom suite until management started messing around. Annual fees skyrocketed at the same time it became virtually impossible to reserve time there. As much as we had enjoyed it, our frustration led us to dump it and I’m grateful we did - people who held on have trouble GIVING it away! So we were back to trying to use points for our December NYC getaway and having been Starwood Platinum for a number of years and using the Starwood AMEX for many purchases, it was the obvious choice. For a number of years, we stayed at the Parker Meridien. As Platinums it was pretty automatic to be upgraded to the Junior Suite. The location was great, we appreciated the extra room over a regular hotel room and at only 12,000 points per night (and only 48,000 for 5 nights) it was a bargain. That bargain made up for the fact that the rooms were getting pretty dated, the bathrooms were pretty old and unimpressive and it was really the only hotel we stayed at that still had CRT tube televisions. We could overlook it since it was such a reasonable deal. Then last year they moved the hotel up a category and now those five nights would have cost us 80,000 points! It simply did not seem to be worth it - so we decided to spend a lot more! We made a reservation this year for the St Regis at 120,000 for the five nights. We just checked out and it was our best week ever in NYC tho to be fair, there were certainly other things - like family -that contributed to that! Checked in on the 19th. I had seen online that they were still selling Madison Suites and I knew that it was included in the Platinum upgrade pool. Upon check-in, we were informed that we had been upgraded to a Grand Deluxe - according to the website, it’s a very large room - sounded like a Junior Suite from the description altho it is not called that. I let the agent know that the hotel was still advertising Madison Suites and that I would really be grateful if they could find a way to move us into one. She must have taken a full 5 minutes on the computer, finally telling us that there was one such suite, that the occupants were just checking out (it was about 3 PM) and that if we did not mind waiting, they would clean it and contact us when it was ready. She also informed me that it was on the smoking floor! I figured we would go for it and if the smell in the room was bad, we could alway opt for the other room. Went shopping and got the call about 75 minutes later. The room was magnificent and there was no smell of smoke. Full suite with two complete marble bathrooms. As a Platinum, we obviously took the Continental breakfast as our amenity and I can tell you that with taxes and tips (all covered and no out-of-pocket) that alone was $130 per day for the two of us. The suite itself sells on the website for about $2500 per night. The location of the hotel is in the middle of Fantasyland and NYC in the days before Christmas is nothing short of electric. We have been fortunate to also be able to stay at the Ritz Carlton Central Park over the years and it was natural for us to compare these two hotels. The physical facilities are pretty similar and are elegant and magnificent. It is hard for the St Regis to compare in every way since they do not have a Club Level and having 5 food presentations throughout the day is an amazing treat at the Ritzes we have stayed at. A significant difference is the staff and I want to be vey careful about how I say this. The people at the St Regis were nice and they were most certainly professional. I think they truly believe that it is so upscale that they should not talk to anyone unless they are first spoken to. Anyone who has studied the Ritz culture (and there is a book about it called Ritz Carlton: The New Gold Standard) knows that they are just the opposite. Every employee who comes within 15 feet of a guest is expected to greet them, whenever possible by name. So at the St Regis, when you return to the hotel you can walk past the doorman, the people at the Front Desk, etc and never get as much as a nod or a “hello”. That’s just not my style. The Ritz is a much warmer experience where you are truly made to feel as a valued guest on a daily basis. They always go out of their way to let you know how happy they are that you are there! When you look at the hard costs of maintaining and upgrading a top level hotel, it amazes me that warmth and friendliness, things that are, basically, free, aren’t standard, encouraged and expected. I say these things not to dissuade anyone from staying there but really just to make the picture more complete and, hopefully, provide some feedback to the hotel. Again, don’t get me wrong. This was an amazing stay at an amazing property and we are still blown away by our suite upgrade. And I told my wife to throw out the other credit cards so we can load up on Starpoints to come back to the St Regis next December. Not sure I would feel it was worth all those points if we had not gotten a significant upgrade but for me, it’s one year at a time!