On Thursday night the Starwood representative on FlyerTalk and MilePoint posted that Starwood would stop outright status matching as of April 1, 2011. It’s kind of funny that they said they wanted to give “advance notice” of the change, which I don’t really consider about seven hours of notice to be.
Anyway, now instead of status matching to Platinum, they’re offering a fast track challenge. In order to complete the challenge, you have to stay 15 nights in 90 days. The bad part is that you only get the Platinum status once you complete the challenge (as opposed to getting it and losing it within 90 days if you don’t complete it).
Based on Gary’s post on the subject on Thursday night, I went ahead and status matched while I still could.
One of the nice things about Starwood status matches has been that if you status match in March of any given year or later, your status is good for the entire year and the entire following year. In other words, my Starwood Platinum status is valid through February 2013, so I figure I’ll get some good use out of it.
Historically Starwood has been one of the chains that takes a couple of weeks to process status matches because they apparently verify status with the other program before matching. I was quite surprised when they emailed me back to confirm that I had been matched to Platinum within a couple of hours.
My hotel situation right now is pretty interesting. I probably spend around 100 nights per year in hotels, but that includes award stays, which last year added up to quite a few nights. I have every intention of maintaining my Hyatt Diamond status, given that they really are the most consistent chain, so now I just have to figure out what to do with InterContinental. Yes, I love Royal Ambassador, but there are a few things that frustrate me about them. For one, the qualification tier is unpublished, which makes it quite difficult to purposefully requalify. Furthermore, the lack of InterContinental properties makes things tough. There aren’t that many of them in the world, and there’s not much middle ground in the rest of the Priority Club chain. Lastly, as someone that’s all about award redemptions, I’m still frustrated by their policy of not technically honoring elite benefits on award stays.
Still, I’m not totally sold on Starwood. On the plus side they have lots of properties. Unfortunately, it seems like they over promise and under deliver. Being promised suite upgrades upon availability is great, though many Platinum members rarely get suite upgrades, being told by the front desk that all suites are occupied. Yes, Platinums get free club lounge access, though so many Starwood properties don’t have club lounges. And while the promotions are decent, they’re by no means great. I think Starwood is all about choosing the right properties, as some properties treat Platinum members like royalty, while others couldn’t care less. That’s probably why I’ll get some use out of the program.
Anyway, in this case it seemed like the only smart decision, and I look forward to getting some firsthand experience with them. I’ll report back.