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It’s no secret that the two hotel chains I’m primarily loyal to are Hyatt Gold Passport and Starwood Preferred Guest. In my opinion they’re the most rewarding programs out there, which may be in part because they have a limited global footprint compared to Hilton, IHG, and Marriott. But fortunately when you’re loyal to both chains, a good percentage of the places you could want to travel to are covered.
For that matter, as a backup I always have Hilton HHonors Gold status, which gets me free breakfast and room upgrades at Hiltons. This is a perk available through the Citi® Hilton HHonors Reserve Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express, and The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express. I have two of the three cards, so I have Gold status on an ongoing basis.
Despite living in hotels full time, I don’t typically earn more than 100 elite qualifying nights in a program per year. That’s because:
- I spend a good number of nights on planes, which at least saves on the cost of hotels
- I spend a fair number of nights at hotels participating in American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts and Virtuoso, many of which aren’t Hyatt or Starwood properties
- As stated above, many places I travel to don’t have Hyatt or Starwood properties, so I end up having to stay at Hiltons, or even at other brands
- I often redeem Hyatt points for stays, and Hyatt doesn’t credit elite nights/stays when on an outright free night redemption
With the above in mind, I’ve always appreciated that Starwood offers incentives for over-qualifying for Platinum status:
- Platinum status requires 25 stays or 50 nights
- If you earn 50 elite qualifying nights, you get 10 Suite Night Awards, or can choose from several alternatives
- If you earn 75 elite qualifying nights, you get an extra Starpoint per dollar spent, plus Your24
- If you earn 100 elite qualifying nights, you earn Starwood Ambassador status
Last year I earned over 75 elite qualifying nights with Starwood. While it hasn’t been a game changer, it is nice to earn an extra Starpoint per dollar spent, and also in theory to have access to Your24 (though I’ve had some issues with getting hotels to honor the request).
Now for the first time I’ve finally earned 100 elite qualifying nights in a year, which should get me Ambassador status. 10 of those elite qualifying nights are for having the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, each of which gets you two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards SPG status annually.
What’s SPG Ambassador status? I just received an email congratulating me for having earned Ambassador status, which reads as follows:
WE’RE THRILLED TO WELCOME YOU TO AN EXCLUSIVE BENEFIT: SPG AMBASSADOR SERVICE.
You take travel to a whole new level. Reaching 100 eligible nights in a calendar year is a momentous occasion — one that deserves a fitting reward: the SPG® ambassador service. It’s the most individualized benefit available through the SPG program, and it can be what you want it to be. You’ll have 24/7 access to the ambassador team, including a personal SPG ambassador — your primary point of contact no matter where you are in the world.
Just tell us what you need — from preferences to restaurant reservations and car transfers — we’ll work to make it happen.
Start using the SPG ambassador service immediately by contacting our global support team at ambassador.service@
starwoodhotels.com or visit spg.com/ambassador. Over the next week, your personal SPG ambassador will be assigned and will reach out to you directly. We’re always here to help you, around the clock and around the world.
Basically it gives you a single point of contact with Starwood, and I’m very curious to see how it works in practice.
Based on what I’ve heard:
- The value of Ambassador status is highly dependent upon the Ambassador you get. Like any program, there are the good and the not-so-great.
- Hotels are aware of Ambassador status, but what they choose to do with that information is up to them. It shows in their system so you’d think they’d prioritize upgrades based on it, but it really seems to vary by hotel.
- The service is most valuable if you’re someone who values interaction/”service.” I’m a pretty independent traveler, which is to say that I prefer making my own reservations and having as little human contact as possible, at least when it comes to making travel arrangements. I’m not someone who would ask for restaurant recommendations from someone who isn’t an expert on an area. Ambassador status is probably most valuable if you’re the type of person who likes picking up the phone or sending an email to make reservations, ask questions, etc. I generally prefer googling.
- Don’t expect exceptions, but don’t be surprised by surprises. An Ambassador won’t generally break the rules for you (ie, refund a non-refundable reservation), but instead they might surprise you with your favorite amenity at check-in, make sure your room is ready when you arrive, etc.
I’m not expecting anything life-changing, especially since I’m not someone who even wants much in the way of personalized service pre-stay. The less contact it requires for me to book my stay, the better.
That being said, if it helps with an upgrade here or there, or if it results in the occasional cute amenity, I consider it a win.
I would’ve earned 100+ elite qualifying nights with Starwood this year regardless of whether or not this perk was offered, so it’s not really costing me anything.
So, is anyone here an SPG Ambassador member? If so, what has your experience been like?