Is Starwood adding confirmed suite upgrades for Platinum members?

It has been rumored for a while now that Starwood would be adding a major benefit for Platinum members this year, and everyone has assumed it would be free breakfast as of March 1. While Starwood hasn’t confirmed or denied that, check out this FlyerTalk thread, which suggests Starwood will be adding confirmed suite upgrades for Platinum members. Basically Starwood posted an FAQ about “Suite Night Awards,” but then promptly yanked it. So while it’s no guarantee they’ll fully introduce this, I do think it’s worth at least mentioning in the meantime.

Basically, the way it would work is that Platinum members that stay 50 nights annually (notice they’re excluding people like me that qualify on 25 stays) would earn 10 “Suite Night Awards.” Each of those can be redeemed for a one-night room upgrade that can be confirmed between one and five days of arrival.

One part of the T&Cs that stands out to me is the following:

Can I request an upgrade to any room in the hotel?

You can request an upgrade to a suite or select premium room as designated by the hotel. Premium rooms include rooms with great views, or larger rooms.

I suspect the hotels that are currently stingy with upgrades would be delighted to upgrade you to “rooms with great views” in lieu of suites. If they are going to introduce this upgrade scheme, I certainly hope they published which rooms at each hotel qualify for a “Suite Night Award,” since I doubt anyone will want to redeem them for a hotel that will only give you a room with a view.

Anyway, this would be a very interesting development. While I probably wouldn’t personally benefit from this (since I doubt I’ll do 50 nights with Starwood per year anytime soon), I don’t see much downside. That being said, these suite upgrades wouldn’t be nearly as useful as Hyatt’s, since they can only be confirmed five days out. With Hyatt you can plan a special trip a year out and confirm a suite upgrade then. With this program, not so much.

And I think it goes without saying that this better not come at the expense of “unlimited suite upgrades” upon availability at check-in.

I’m still crossing my fingers for free breakfast, though after seeing this leaked, I suspect this was the “enhancement.”

To Starwood Platinum members (or non-Platinum members), what do you think of this leaked benefit?

Comments

  1. @ Erik — Platinum status requires either 25 stays (one stay is defined as one check in and one check out) OR 50 nights (each night is defined as, well, a night). Most of my stays are one night in order to make requalifying as easy as possible.

  2. I like breaking up the upgrade certs to individual nights, with Hyatt it’s always a shame to burn a confirmed suite for a single night rather than say for 5. But Hyatt’s 4 confirmed are not only confirmed at booking (so no risk!) versus five days out (how much better REALLY is that than at checkin for planning a family vacation? Except that you could still cancel a stay and rebook elsewhere on a cancellable rate at many properties). Hyatt’s 4 confrimed suite upgrades will support a whole bunch more nights than Starwood’s 10 individual nights.

    Oh well, we’ll know soon enough, presumably a matter of days…

  3. I think for SPG a larger room is a room for disabled people with a larger shower and tub. Wasn’t that your experience?

  4. You “don’t see much downside”? How about this: you already said you won’t qualify. Let’s say someone that does qualify confirms a suite at a property you are staying. You possibly could have gotten that suite if it was available when you checked in. Now it won’t be available. That is your downside, no?

  5. Gary: being able to use on award stays is significant as well. Save your upgrades for vacations and your points for vacations and eventually you run out of time.

  6. I’m a Starwood and Hyatt loyalist, but most resort or big city Starwood properties seem to be pretty stingy with the Plat upgrade benefit. Yes, I can upgraded at the Aloft in Dallas or the Sheraton in Oklahoma City, but my ‘upgraded’ room in Vieques was a handicap accessible room – big deal!

    I’d like to see maybe 5 nights for plats with 25 stays, and 10 for for 50 nights.

    If Starwood implements this and does away with the supposed Plat upgrade policy, there’s bound to be an uproar . . .

  7. @ mark — I’m not approaching this selfishly from my perspective, but rather from the benefits a valuable program would offer. If I miss out on an upgrade because a more valuable Platinum got upgraded in advance, then so be it.

  8. The only time I really care about Platinum is when traveling for leisure, at which point I email ahead to ask for a suite, which usually works out, and then actually benefit from stuff like free internet and breakfast. otherwise i am banging in and out of a city with barely any waking time in the hotel and my company pays for stuff like internet and food.

  9. Given my last few experiences with Starwood I really have written off the program. Their points transfers are great, but their hotels are hit and miss to the extreme. Given that their cash and points awards are harder to find and their points only awards seem inflated I will probably end up going back to Marriott. Of course that my company has an agreement with Marriott does sway that a bit too.

    As to suites. I’ve never seen the draw to them. I don’t want to spend time in my hotel room, I want to spend it in the city. The only exception would be a resort setting, but then I’m usually looking at SLH (Small Luxury Hotels) properties or mobile resorts (aka cruise ships – preferably of the non-sinking variety). Is there something I’m missing with suites that make them so great for a couple night stay in a city?

  10. I don’t like that they’re putting a separate tier into the platinum level, by giving more weight to those who qualify with 50 nights, but I do see this as an incentive for people to stay more with SPG. For example, I qualify for SPG platinum as quickly as I can w/ 1 night stays. Once I hit that level, I stay exclusively at Marriotts for the rest of the year to requalify for platinum there… and work on my lifetime status.

  11. I’m not an SPG guy (but I use the cc for points transfers to AA) but, like Kevin #12, I dislike the idea of them splitting up an elite tier into first-class and second-class. I’ve always thought it silly the difference between qualifying on nights vs. stays (Marriott makes more sense, being pure nights) but once the program has made that decision, they should stick with it. You’re Platinum, you should get Platinum benefits regardless of how you qualified. If they want to make a new Super Platinum level that requires 50 nights, they should go ahead and spell that out, instead of having to distinguish between 2 kinds of Platinum based on how they qualified. Or maybe they should just raise the stays required to 30 or 35, which could even out with the 50 nights requirement so as not to split Platinum like that. 25 stays for top tier is awfully generous IMO.

  12. I qual on stays, not nights. I would see this as lowering plat to a different tier and likely mean the upgrades dry up even if the current policy were to stay in place. I say this not primarily from a room availability standpoint, but from a hotel cop-out stand point. We all know how much arm twisting is already involved frequently to get the current policies followed. Imagine if there were theh built-in excuse / confusion of upgrades only being granted when designated upgrade certs are used. Without regard, this is a downgrade of the program if it is being considered.

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