How Does SPG AmEx Sheraton Lounge Access Work?

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As I’ve written about a couple of times now, the benefits on both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express have been refreshed.

As far as I’m concerned, the single most exciting new benefit is that those with the SPG Business AmEx will receive complimentary executive lounge access at Sheraton properties worldwide. This is a benefit which is usually reserved for those who pay as well as SPG Platinum members (which requires 25 stays or 50 nights).

I’ve received lots of questions about how this benefit works, so figured I’d compile all the questions I received about this new benefit here:

Do additional cardmembers also qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

No, only the primary/basic card member is eligible for this benefit. In other words, you can add employee cards to the SPG Business AmEx, but those card members wouldn’t be eligible for Sheraton club lounge access. Only the person paying the $95 annual fee (which is waived the first year) would be eligible.

Sheraton-Salzburg-1

How many guests can I bring in a Sheraton club lounge?

This benefit is available to the primary/basic card member as well as up to one guest registered to stay in the same room. So at most two people can use the lounge. In the case of hotels which have different rates depending on single or double occupancy (this isn’t uncommon in Europe), you’d have to pay for double occupancy for two people to be able to use the lounge.

Do Free Night/Points & Cash stays qualify for Sheraton club lounge access?

Absolutely! If you book directly with Starwood you’ll be eligible for this benefit, regardless of whether it’s a paid, corporate, free night, or Points & Cash stay.

What if I booked through Priceline/Hotwire?

Third party bookings technically aren’t eligible for this benefit. So you have to book directly through SPG or an approved travel agent if you want this benefit. In practice some hotels may still honor the benefit, but that would be out of generosity, and not because they have to.

Can I use a Sheraton lounge when not staying at a hotel?

No. You actually have to be staying at the property in order to use the perk.

Does the Sheraton club lounge benefit apply internationally?

Yep! It applies at Sheraton hotels around the world.

How will the hotel know I have the SPG Business American Express?

Your SPG account should automatically be notated for this benefit. As the basic/primary card member with your SPG number linked to the credit card, your account will reflect that you’re eligible for this benefit, and you should automatically be offered club lounge access at check-in. There’s no need to show your card, etc. Instead your actual room key will be programmed to get you lounge access.

What if the front desk isn’t familiar with this benefit?

Hotels belonging to the major chains are for the most part independently owned, and the hotel chain simply has a management contract to run the hotels. That’s why there’s sometimes inconsistency when it comes to the guest experience.

So while I haven’t heard of it happening yet, I suppose it’s possible you could end up at a hotel where not every staff member has been trained on this new benefit.

If that’s the case and you get pushback, I’d probably do the following (in order, as needed):

I can’t imagine this will be an issue, but it also can’t hurt to be prepared.

Does this benefit apply at other SPG brands as well?

No, this benefit only applies at Sheratons. Not Westins or Le Meridiens or any other SPG brand.

What should I expect of a Sheraton club lounge?

Starwood is in the process of rebranding Sheraton, as they sort of realize the brand is tired and lacks an identity.

The Sheraton brand can be pretty inconsistent, and the same is true of the quality of their club lounges.

Generally speaking US Sheraton club lounges are pretty basic. You can expect a continental breakfast with maybe one hot option, then maybe soft drinks and packaged snacks during the day, and then appetizers and an honor bar in the evening (meaning you have to pay for alcohol).

Sheraton-Miami-Airport-303

Outside the US there are some really nice club lounges, on the other hand. For example, you could literally have breakfast in the club lounge at the Sheraton Salzburg, if you were so inclined. They have a hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet, with complimentary drinks (including alcohol) available for most of the day.

Sheraton-Salzburg-2

But beyond that, I find club lounges to be a great place from which to work, so whether you’re between sightseeing or trying to get some work done, they’re a great place to come and relax, grab a drink, and use your laptop.

So yeah, the quality does vary significantly, though there are some nice Sheraton clubs out there.

SPG Business AmEx lounge access terms

Here are the full terms of the Starwood Business American Express Sheraton lounge access perk:

Available at select Sheraton Hotels® & Resorts for the duration of a Card Member’s stay. Visit www.sheratonclubroom.com/find for a full listing of Sheraton® Club properties. This benefit is for Basic Card Members only on Starpoint Eligible Rate reservations. Exclusions of Starpoint Eligible Rate reservations might include rooms booked through a group rate as part of an event and the SPG Member does not directly pay the SPG Participating Hotel for such room; tour operator; or online travel channel or third party channel, such as expedia.com, hotwire.com, priceline.com, orbitz.com, booking.com, Travelocity.com, ctrip.com, or elong.com. A full description of Starpoint Eligible Rates can be found at www.spg.com/terms. Sheraton Club lounge access is limited to the eligible Card Member and a guest staying in the same room for the duration of the stay, regardless of how many rooms have been reserved.

Sheraton-Skyline-London-Heathrow-Hotel-29

Bottom line

While I think the card refreshes and increased sign-up bonuses are great in general, the SPG Business American Express lounge access perk is especially compelling. The card has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year), and that can more than pay for itself after just one stay with this perk.

The benefit is straightforward and has very few asterisks, so there’s lots of value to be had with this perk.

Will you be getting value out of the Sheraton club lounge access being offered by the business version of the SPG AmEx?

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Comments

  1. I’ve got a booking at a Sheraton in Tirana in a couple weeks. The booking is under my name but my partner is the one who has the business credit card. Do you think we just present it upon check in?

  2. I think that the lounge benefit is huge. SPG gold doesn’t even get access, so like a SPG platinum in many ways.

    I think that its pretty weak, like the SPG program that it doesn’t apply to all members booked in a room. I mean a family of 4 only gets 2 people lounge access.

    That’s the reason I switched my loyalty from SPG platinum to Hyatt Diamond.

  3. @ Laurel Pagel — Technically the benefit wouldn’t apply since the reservation has to be in the same name as the card member, but it can’t hurt to ask.

  4. @ Simon Ng — I suppose it’s possible at some point, but wouldn’t count on it, to be honest. The Canadian credit card space isn’t as competitive as in the US.

  5. A bit confused. Does the lounge benefit apply even if you’re using Starpoints to pay for the room?

  6. @ Lauren Pagel — Technically the primary guest has to match the primary card member, so if you can rebook, that would be the only way to be sure you’re getting the benefits.

  7. Looks like the price for the hotel is still the same, so I might as well go ahead and rebook. I guess we will be throwing the SPG nights to his account from now on!

  8. Can/will hotels opt out from providing this benefit? The terms say “select” Sheratons. Does that mean it will not be a universal benefit? Or does that mean that some Sheratons don’t have lounges to access?

  9. Great promotion, but only available to Residents and Companies in USA.
    We Aussies are denied!

  10. @ Jay — I believe it means some Sheratons don’t have lounges. I haven’t heard of any hotels opting out of this, or that this is even an option.

  11. This would be a game changer if it were club/lounge access to all Starwood properties. As it is now, I’d probably stay at an Aloft before I stayed at a Sheraton even if the prices were the same (in fact, I did just that in May. The Sheraton and Aloft in Brooklyn actually share a building and prices at the time were exactly the same). Yes, I know Alofts don’t have lounges but my point is that the Sheraton brand just seems old and stuffy to me and given similar prices or awards category levels I’d stay somewhere else in the Starwood chain. The kind of place my father would stay on a business trip in the 80s and 90s. I’ll take the Aloft at the same price for the modern look and the Bliss brand bathroom products.

    Maybe the Sheraton rebranding will be able to reverse this.

  12. Stayed at two Sheraton properties so far since the Aug 11 benefits were supposed to kick in – neither had any idea about the benefits, nor could they see any note on my account (as multiple sources have reported should be the case).

    Anyone hoping to use this benefit should print out a few copies of their “Transform Your International Travels” email from Amex (showing name *and* new benefits) and have one handy for the staff at checkin. Handing over a printed email that is addressed to you personally will go *much* more smoothly then pulling up a credit card application on your iphone and having the checkin staff carry it off to show their superiors so I recommend not going that route 😀

  13. What about the clubs at Four Points? I see them listed on the sheratonclub website, but the AMEX page made no mention of them

  14. @lucky I have had the Starwood personal Amex card for a few years now. With this new increase in fees and only adding the lounge perk to the Starwood business card could I call Amex and have them convert my personal card into a business card? Doesn’t seem fare that the the annual fee is the same but business card gets complimentary extras.

  15. @ Eric — There’s no way you could convert the card to a business card, but you could apply for the business version of the card and then cancel the personal version of the card if you’re not getting value out of it.

  16. @Eric If you do get the business card and cancel your personal, as Ben suggested, make sure you have them move your credit line over to your business card first. You don’t want to lose that available line of credit even if you won’t ever use it.

    My advice would be to keep both though. Unless you’re an infrequent Starwood guest $190 for credit 4 stays/10 nights is well worth it. If you make Gold or Platinum elite based on nights rather than stays that’s like paying $19 a night towards your status.

  17. This might be cool except for the fact that I’ve never been in a Sheraton lounge that seemed to be remotely worthwhile. Lounges aren’t what they used to be back in the 90s when you could expect a buffet at a Hilton.

  18. I already have the personal SPG card and earn 1 free night plus 5 nights credited toward my status each year when I renew it. If I apply for the business card version will I get additional 5 nights toward my status and an additional free night for a total of 2 free stays and 10 nights credited toward my status? Or they don’t add up given that it’s the same account?

  19. Hi Ben-I have the SPG Business AMEX and just checked in at the Sheraton Seattle. No mention of lounge access was made, so I asked and was told “this hotel is independently owned and we aren’t participating” and I was also snidely told to pay for a club level room. Too tired from just arriving from Japan, I didn’t argue but I did email SPG (I don’t have Twitter). Am I missing something?

  20. @ Lola — In checking with SPG, there aren’t any excluded properties. If the room was booked under an eligible rate AND is in the same name as the primary cardholder on the SPG Business Amex account, I would ask for the front office manager. Good luck!

  21. Thanks, Tiffany! I went back to the desk and spoke with another agent…who told me the same thing as the earlier agent (she had no idea what I was talking about). I asked to speak with a manager, and she said she would on my behalf…she was gone for about 10 minutes and came back saying essentially that they will provide me with the access as a one time courtesy but that I should have noted when I booked the reservation that I was using this benefit…I pointed out to her that I booked the room on the SPG website so what exactly was I supposed to do that I didn’t? I also had to ask her twice for the manager’s full name. Not impressed!

  22. @ Lola — When I spoke with SPG earlier they recommended you call and open a file. That gives them the resources they need to follow up with the hotel and make sure the staff is trained properly. Good luck!

  23. Was just informed by @spgassist that cash and points is not an eligible rate for Sheraton lounge access.

  24. Do you have to actuLly activate the card to receive the benefit? Because I received the 2 stays + 5 nights credit before I activated the card

  25. @kalboz that is exactly the response I just received. I booked my stay using points, and was told that in order to receive this benefit I must book and pay with this card…

  26. Stayed at Sheraton in Ann Harbor and was offered the benefit without requesting it. Very next day stayed at Sheraton Houston airport and both checkin and on duty manager claimed no such benefit exists and refused to verify. I tweeted @spgassist and within 20 minutes received a call to my room from an apologetic manager granting me access and additional points for the “confusion”.

  27. I stayed at the Sheraton at Station Square in Pittsburgh and the manager told me that they did not participate in the program where SPG business card holders did not receive Club Access. I was very disappointed as I had counted on it.

  28. Would stays booked through the citi prestige concierge hotel program quality for the lounge access?

  29. I’m at the Sheraton Club Lounge at Chicago O’Hare now. My key card wasnt automatically programmed for access so it seems it’s not automatic and you may have to ask for it at checkin.

    Also, I found that if you repeatedly insert your key card and look confused, a nice upper Midwestern couple will just let you in.

  30. I just stayed at Sheraton Burlington Vermont and did not get the access. I booked the room at the hotel, no reservation beforehand. The staff had no idea about this benefit and refused to give me lounge access. I called SPG and it turned out the representative was not familiar with this benefit either. I was told that I need to book the room through sheratonclubroom.com in order to get the benefit. I don’t think that’s the case because it is not mentioned in the fine print. However I would suggest book by phone. This way the representative would make sure you get the access.

  31. I am going to be staying in the Sheraton Hong Kong and the Sheraton Toronto City Centre later this year and hope that I will be able to use my SPG Business card to get me lounge access . I have stayed at the Hong Kong hotel in the past and the club floor, as is true in many Asian cities, was terrific. I am going to carry a copy of your “explanation” with me and on my phone so I will be able to argue my point if I happen to get a check-in person who is not familiar with this great benefit. I have a feeling that if I have to call someone clear around the world to prove my point, it may not be very convincing.
    Can you please give updates during the year if there are any problems with this particular benefit?

  32. “I have researched your reservation at our Sheraton Roma Hotel & Conference Center. While our hotel will honor the Sheraton Club Access for your SPG Business American Express, this cannot be done on a Free Nights reservation. The reservation must be booked on a Starpoint eligible, or earning, reservation. Reservations booked with Starpoints will not earn Starpoints.”

  33. I was no offered access to the lounge. After contacting SPG, this is the response I received, still no go:I do apologize for any confusion regarding the new benefits for SPG American Express OPEN Card Members. While researching the terms of the offer I found the following.
     
    Access to Sheraton Club Lounges for SPG American Express OPEN Card Members. Card Members with a SPG Business Credit Card feel like VIPs with access to Sheraton Club Lounges, which includes a complimentary daily breakfast, evening selection of premium beverages and hors d’oeuvres, and space for hosting a friend or colleague. 
     
    Cash & Points and Starpoint stays do count towards your Elite levels. However, the cash portion of the Cash & Points rate is not eligible for Starpoints. You will receive Starpoints for your incidentals and if you participate in our Make A Green Choice program you will also receive the associate Starpoints for this program.

    Do not know what to do now.

    Du

  34. I was also told by spg customer assistance that stays booked using starpoints are not eligible. Front desk told me I had to physically show them the card as well. Very frustrating.

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