100 Night Starwood Platinum Status Worth It?

I’ve requalified for top tier status with both Hyatt and Starwood this year (Diamond and Platinum, respectively), and am in the process of planning my stays for the rest of the year.

Back in 2012 Starwood introduced a suite of new benefits to their SPG program, which drastically improved the program. Not only did they add continental breakfast as a Platinum amenity and give Platinum members earning at least 50 elite qualifying nights 10 suite night upgrade awards, but they also added incremental benefits for exceeding 50 nights per year.

The next threshold after 50 night is 75 nights. For staying 75 nights, Starwood offers pretty concrete perks:

SPG 75 Nights Benefit

  • 4 Starpoints for every eligible US dollar spent – a 100% bonus over the Preferred level, and the richest earning bonus in the hotel industry.
  • Your24™ – have the flexibility of choosing your check-in. For example, check in at 9 p.m. and check out 9 p.m. day of departure.

There’s no doubt those are some nice benefits, though at the same time probably not worth totally going out of your way for. An extra Starpoint per dollar spent is nice, but it’s not a huge difference; the earnings rate of Starpoints for hotel stays has always been a weak point of the SPG program. If you spend $10,000 per year at Starwood properties, that’s an extra 10,000 Starpoints.

Meanwhile, the Your24 benefit has the potential to be really valuable. It’s nice not to be restricted to traditional check-in and check-out times. Admittedly the benefit is also based on availability, so won’t be available all the time. And for that matter I’ve had pretty good luck getting early check-in when available, so I’m not sure how often it would actually prove useful.

Still, it’s a nice benefit to have.

Most interesting to me, however, are the benefits that Starwood offers for staying 100 nights:

SPG 100 Nights Benefit

Our highest level of service. Imagine having a single point of contact who can help make everything fall into place when you travel. That’s exactly the kind of personalized service SPG ambassadors provide. They handle everything from room preferences to restaurant reservations to special occasions. Just tell them what you need, and they’ll work to make it happen any day of the year.

While that might sound nice to some, it’s of limited use to me, at least on the surface. I call Starwood maybe a handful of times a year, and ultimately would rather handle everything online than having to call anyway. I just don’t have that many requests that can’t automatically be processed.

But I think the question is whether treatment is actually different for Starwood 100 night Platinum members. In other words, do 100 night Platinum members get better treatment at hotels, and if so, is it because they have a great contact point at Starwood, or just because their profile shows that they’re a 100 night Platinum?

Starwood-Hotel-Suite
Do 100 night Starwood Platinum members receive better upgrades?

Anecdotally I’ve actually been told at the Sheraton Gateway LAX that they keep the corner suites for 100 night Platinum members, so it does seem to at least make a difference at some properties.

To those of you that are 100 night Platinum members with Starwood, what has been your experience? Have your stays gotten better, and if so, is it because of the intervention of your “agent,” or just because the hotels see the frequency with which you stay?

I’ll be going for it either way. Starwood awards elite night and stay credits for award stays, so I’ll reach it regardless without much additional spend with them, and will certainly report back.

But I’d love to hear experiences from those of you that have already put in 100 nights!

Comments

  1. Carl says

    The ambassador program was great when it was a pilot program, but once it went mainstream, it lost all value and just seemed to diminish over time. I got some marginal benefit out of it i suppose, but I would not go out of my way for 100 nights for this program. I have found the Platinum Concierge to be just as effective.

  2. Lauren says

    Was part of it back in like 2010-2011 time period. I don’t think I got any extra perks/better rooms through them than I got when I just emailed the hotel GM myself.

    One nice benefit though is if you live in NYC (or maybe other major cities) they do invite you to Starwood events every now and then. My ambassador invited me to one NYC event that was a fancy dinner, open bar, celebs came for one of the new hotel renovations.

  3. Ed says

    I haven’t had any contact with my SPG Ambassador other than the introductory email she sent at the beginning of the year. I haven’t requested any assistance nor have I noticed any difference in the treatment that I receive from hotels during normal stays. I could only think of using this service for the few times of year that I’d stay in an SPG property on vacation – maybe to request a specific room location at a resort in the hopes that the Ambassador might carry more clout with hotel management than I could. (I tried did try this using the Platinum concierge and the request was not followed up.)

  4. Wilson says

    I’ve had an ambassador for a couple of years now and definitely have noticed more consistent upgrades with the ambassador vs without. My general thoughts on this are: She makes all my reservations with a request to the best possible suite, and – if there is a suite available – i usually get it. I think the only times I have been denied is when there are no standard suites for booking the day I check in (which is how the rules are obviously set up). Before ambassador, it was a lot of back and forth with the front desk on check in and I can only assume they were assigned to other plats. Now, if there’s a standard (or better) suite available the day I check in, it shows up in my SPG account the morning I check in, almost without fail. Makes travel so much easier and less stressful. Additionally, I’ve noticed that at some properties the level of suite has been higher post ambassador. Again, YMMV, and this is purely taking a long look at my stays the past 6+ years as a platinum.

  5. Matt says

    I have the ambassador and it does not seem to make any difference at all. I have to make all of my travel arrangements through corporate travel, so that takes away a big role from the ambassador.

    The other issue is that it is a single person – that means the response times are slower (esp. on weekends) than if you call, book online, or email main customer service.

    In short, nice, but not worth going out of the way for.

  6. sam says

    Unless I am mistaken, are you really spending $150-200 a night on a regular starwood property. Over 100 nights that adds up to whopping $15,000-20,000 a year on hotel stays. I can see someone else spending that much on a company dime….but out of pocket, wow.

    For 20,000 i’d say screw it and rent myself a penthouse suite in SE asia for the whole year.

  7. says

    I reached 100 nights and frankly my experience is the same as Wilson upthread. I remember seeing your vents when you have not been upgraded. Since I am in close contact with my concierge if there is a suite for sale I get it, and I do not have to ask for it. It has happened with 100% of all my past reservations, and yes I have checked to see what was for sale if they did not have a suite available… So in retrospect my upgrades are at 100%. I definitely were not as successful before even with spg75.

    Also I did send my ambassador a few Starbucks certificates so that may be another hint as to why my upgrades are as good.

  8. Joediver says

    Ivan does not state if he uses his ambassador to make all his reservations. I’ve had this service for a few years and have not noticed any real difference at the properties I’ve stayed. Like others though, I rarely call. It’s just so much easier and quicker to book online. The only time I’ve really used this type of concierge service was around 12-15 years ago when United had a test program going…..that really paid off in upgrades and service.

  9. Neil S. says

    I’m a lowly regular SPG Platinum. I may make 50 nights this year – definitely not much higher than that.

    Roll you eyes if you want, but here’s what I do – and it seems to go a long way…

    I email the hotel manager/guest services lead a few days before I arrive. I tell them how excited I am to be staying with them, etc. Yes, it’s vomit-inducing, but the buttering up seems to work. I almost always get a decent upgrade, there’s usually something in the room for me – fruit and cheese, once in a while a bottle of wine with a note.

    As you’ve noted before, correctly, a lot of this seems to be a fight – so I tried to find a workaround.

  10. Tony says

    I’m a 150 night a year member, of those 75% are at Four Points, which I like. It’s a hotel room it’s comfortable, I’m in a city for work not worrying about getting up my suit upgrade.. But when I go on vacation is when I use my Ambassador and she has been fantastic. When we were in Hawaii, for the whole 14 days, we were in a suit, and free regular breakfast. We are heading to Barcelona, Monaco, Paris, London, and Dublin this fall, and my Ambassador again is taking care of all our reservations, she has informed me we will get suits in all the cities. It’s nice to have a contact person at SPG, who knows you. Making vacation planning much less stressful.

  11. Glenn says

    So, what’s the math here? I hit 75 last year but this year is more complicated as I’m going for multiple programs.

    75 nights means spending say $200 a night for 25 more nights or $5,000 to get to SPG 75. For that you will earn an extra point on base hotel rate (say $180) for the remainder of that year and the following year. Lets assume you don’t have much runway left that year, so lets just think about the following year. Say you spend 75 nights at $200 a night again. Assume you pay with an SPG card, so 2 points per $ there. That’s 30,000 starpoints. Then as an SPG 75 member you’ll get 4X base or 54,000 more points. A total of 84,000. Ignoring green, greeting bonus etc. Of those 13,500 are the SPG 75 bonus. So about 20% more points. Worth around $300. Or a return of 6%.

    Is that worth it? If this involves going out of your way? I’d say no. But YMMV.

  12. Bill says

    SPG75 Plat here. I have almost always had a suite upgrade when they are available (I also always check after checking in!). I suppose it depends on when you’re traveling and at which properties you stay. I got a double upgrade from a paid junior suite to a St. Regis Suite for 5 nights at the St. Regis Princeville this May, and I had just requalified for Plat (25 stays). So I don’t expect the 100 night Ambassador benefit to be that big of a deal. If I get it, I’ll report on it on flyertalk…but I could honestly care less.

  13. John says

    Whaaaat!?! Ben, you get Tom Pritzker on the phone and find out what the hell is going on. I literally hit 100 nights today at Hyatt and I demand to be admitted to Hyatt’s Courtesy Awards Level.

    But seriously, Hyatt needs a level above Diamond for folks at the 100-200 nights a year level.

  14. UA-NYC says

    While I lost it for this year (will get it back for next year), as an Ambassador guest in 2013 my single most memorable experience was getting an invite to Prince Henry’s visit to the Greenwich Polo Club event on his US tour…damn swanky.

  15. Jack says

    I have the ambassador for the first time this year and couldn’t be happier.

    My ambassador is most helpful.

    1. Working with hotels to get exceptions made or rates extended.

    2. Taking care of airport transfers. For example on a 5-10 city tour, I can send him one email with all my arrival information and he organizes all of the transfers. Much easier than contacting each hotel.

    3. Special requests like organizing dinner reservations. Or having flowers in the room or ready to take out of the hotel to give to someone.

    4. Contacting hotel to solve billing issues or to request folios.

    Basically I deal with one person. I trust them. They return my calls and emails. Most importantly they get the job done.

  16. justSaying says

    I love Starwood points but just can’t ever imagine using them on a room night…………

  17. Karl says

    I actually really like that I can email my ambassador rather than call. It’s a small benefit but easier than picking up the phone. She is especially helpful when traveling with the kids and making sure that we have special arrangements – e.g. I’d rather have a room with 2 beds for the kids than a fancy suite with a king. She also puts in my arrival times and the hotel usually makes sure my room is ready – even the upgrades. Not sure if it’s worth an incremental 25 nights if the alternative is getting Hyatt status in addition to Starwood.

  18. Jeff says

    GO FOR HYATT COURTESY CARD!!! I’ve always wanted to see the kind of royalty treatment they get. Yeah I know it’s damn near impossible to achieve but if you become good friends with a park hyatt GM or spend your retirement funds… You never know

  19. says

    I wholeheartedly believe this is a YMMV scenario. First, I’m 0-3 on Your24 confirmed requests (1 if those 3 still managed to get us a room by 11am local time).

    Second, I’ve had 2 Ambassadors in just over 2 years. I wasn’t sure what to make of the first one. Then, I found out more information about the program and realized I wasn’t getting some of the treatment promised. Even simple requests like connecting rooms were like pulling teeth.

    My second Ambassador was/is a world of difference. I wouldn’t say I get a ton more upgrades, but he handles all my special requests.

    With very few exceptions all of those requests have been satisfied.

  20. iahphx says

    100 nights a year at Starwoods? The only way that would be possible is if you kept visiting the same big cities, and there was a Starwood property there. I probably spend 100 nights a year in hotels, but it’s unimaginable to me how I could make more than 25 of those nights Starwoods even if I REALLY wanted to. They just don’t have enough locations.

    Folks giving all there business to one chain should really shop around, including staying at independent hotels/inns etc. You’ll pay less and get more. Guaranteed.

  21. Tony says

    @iahphx you really got to be kidding me… I travel the US for work, and never had a problem finding a SPG hotel, I usually stay at Four Points, I also stay about 75 nights at Holiday Inn Express. Having my status at SPG has allowed me to stay in some of the best hotels in the world for nothing, and I have been able to do to both Hyatt and Hilton Status Challenges when traveling and getting the perks, I’m surprised at your comments.

  22. Ivan Y says

    Don’t have an Ambassador but I guess the biggest take-away from reading the responses is that you really want your Ambassador to make the reservations instead of doing it yourself. I remember reading some FT threads on this and people had mixed experience but perhaps they were doing reservations & everything else on their own.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *