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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.
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):
- Pull up the application to the SPG Business AmEx credit card, which clearly states the benefit (specifically, section eight of the T&Cs)
- Ask for the front office manager
- If that fails, Tweet @spgassist
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).
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.
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.
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?