Am I The Only One Who Has No Trouble Using My SPG Platinum Suite Night Awards?

Both Pizza in Motion and View From The Wing have written in the past couple of days about their struggles using Starwood Platinum Suite Night Awards (SNAs). While SPG Platinum members get unlimited suite upgrades based on arrival at check-in, SNAs can be used to confirm upgrades up to five days in advance, pending availability. Essentially it puts you at the front of the queue for an upgrade.

For those of you not familiar, those who earn at least 50 elite qualifying nights with SPG in a calendar year have the option of selecting SNAs as a gift. There are actually several options you can choose from when you surpass that threshold. These choices include the following:

  • 10 Suite Night Awards
  • Gift Gold status to a friend or family member
  • SPG donation to UNICEF
  • Free rental up to 5 days with Silvercar – unlock a silver Audi A4 using your smartphone
  • Free Night Award – enjoy a night on us, at any Category 1-5 hotel or resort
  • 5 Elite Qualifying Nights – get an extra boost toward re-earning elite status
  • 40% off your favorite hotel bed, including the iconic Westin Heavenly® Bed

Many will find some of the other options more compelling, like five elite qualifying nights towards status, a five day Silvercar rental, a free night award valid at up to a Category 5 property, etc. While I think selecting one of those over the SNAs can make a lot of sense, I’m also a bit surprised to hear that others have virtually all of their SNAs expiring unused this year.

When I read those posts I went back and looked at my SNA requests, and noticed that they had all cleared. It’s entirely possible that those upgrades would have cleared anyway, but I value the peace of mind of having those confirmed in advance. I’d like to think that I go in with very reasonable expectations:

  • I try to redeem my Suite Night Awards at properties where I have a chance, so I’m not trying to redeem them for a stay in Hawaii over Christmas
  • Instead of applying them based on when I think I otherwise have the lowest shot of getting an upgrade, I apply them based on the stays where having a suite would add the most value; this typically includes trips where I’m traveling with others (Ford, my parents, etc.), or stays where the difference between a standard room and the confirmed suite is biggest

That hasn’t failed me once so far this year.

I most recently used two SNAs at the Sheraton London Park Lane, where we got a lovely suite.

sheraton-grand-london-park-lane-10

Prior to that I used two at the St. Regis Rome.

St-Regis-Rome - 11

Then I used one at the St. Regis San Francisco.

St-Regis-San-Francisco - 14

Prior to that I used two at the St. Regis Moscow.

St-Regis-Moscow - 17

And then prior to that I used four at the St. Regis Bali.

St-Regis-Bali-Pool-Suite - 12

Funny enough, the last time an SNA didn’t clear for me was at the Park Tower Knightsbridge, where they weren’t selling any suites in the week leading up to the stay. However, I guess there was a cancelation last minute, because we still got a suite and didn’t have to use SNAs — score!

Park-Tower-Hotel-Knightsbridge-London - 32

I’m not sure if I’m just lucky, or if I’m just largely traveling places during off peak periods (which could very well be the case). The one difference in approach I take to View from the Wing is that I don’t think of SNAs in the context of how likely I am to otherwise get the upgrade (which he references in regards to stays at the W Doha and St. Regis Abu Dhabi, which often upgrade Platinum members to suites anyway).

To me the biggest benefit of an SNA is the peace of mind of knowing you’ll have a suite before you arrive. So that’s why I choose them on the stays that matter most to me, where a suite would make the biggest difference in the quality of my stay.

To fellow 50+ night SPG Platinum members, what has been your success rate applying SNAs, and how do you decide which stays to apply them on?

About lucky

Ben Schlappig (aka Lucky) is a travel consultant, blogger, and avid points collector. He travels about 400,000 miles a year, primarily using miles and points to fund his first class experiences. He chronicles his adventures, along with industry news, here at One Mile At A Time.

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Comments

  1. The issue is the lack of enforceability. Hotels can withhold suites even though the system is supposed to ‘automatically’ search for eligible rooms at T – 5 days, but you are the mercy of the property revenue manager. SPG Corporate has no override power or veto.

    I had a situation recently where Le Meridien Phuket had Jr Suites available at T-5, T-4, T-3 days, but my upgrade wouldn’t cleear. I called the SPG Plat line at T-48 hours, and inquired about upgrade when eligible rooms were available. A supervisor called and emailed the property, which refused to release suite as an upgrade. Reading through FT, there are many people having the same issues.

  2. 2 Comments…

    1) Each time I stay at the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, I put in for the SNA and am told not available – yet when I look at available inventory for the nights in question – they are. I contact the front Desk and they tell me the SPG reservation system inventory is wrong. Odd

    2) St. Regis Moscow – did you check for bugs (not the legged ones!) ?

  3. YEs is the answer to the question you posed in the headline. Third year trying to use them, clear them not more than 20% of the time. For various excuses.

  4. “I’m not sure if I’m just lucky, or if I’m just largely traveling places during off peak periods”

    Both. And you are also often booking within the window of when a SNA would clear, so can decide whether or not to book at a given property based on the likelihood of getting a suite, which probably helps. I would assume that your SNAs also clear ahead of a non-Ambassador Platinum.

    In theory, I use my SNAs exactly the same way you do — for stays that matter, and where having a suite would make a tremendous difference in the quality of my stay.

    The main problem for me is that the window is too close to the stay to provide actual “peace of mind” for a trip that matters, and there doesn’t seem to be any priority by request date. I’d far prefer fewer nights that could be confirmed further in advance.

    By February of this year I’d technically applied all of my SNAs for the year, and designated them for the “big trips” that meant something to me and my travel companions, some of which were 9 months away. In all cases, when I applied the SNAs there were an assortment of suites available for sale, and the hotels had a ton of rooms in general. By the time the window opened up where my SNA could have cleared, inventory was obviously more limited, and none of the upgrades cleared in advance. What’s more, only one hotel offered any type of upgrade at all, and only then to a slightly better view room.

    So for my three biggest trips of the year, where I would have really appreciated the extra space and perks of a suite, I stayed in standard rooms. And I’ll have 10 SNAs expire this year.

  5. Lucky, I must say you’ve had eponomous success with your SNAs! In past years my SNAs would clear the majority of the time, but recently I’ve had no luck redeeming them. Even if the hotel is still selling suites, they won’t make one available for SNA. The situation has gotten worse since I became Lifetime Platinum. Not only do the SNAs not clear, the platinum upgrades are becoming few and far between. If Starwood/Marriott is trying to get me to switch my loyalty then they’re off to a good start!

  6. Also highly depends on the length of the stay. If it is a 1-night-stay, you are mouch more likely to score an upgrade (which you might have scored depending on Platinum anyways). I rarely had a stay where a 1-night SNA upgrade hasn’t cleared. I also was successful in ~90% of the cases of 2-night-stays. For stays longer than 2 nights it drops significantly.

  7. Ditto what everybody else says. In 3-4 years of attempting to use them on family trips I had one clear exactly once in Mexico. The other times they expired unused, though I think I wasted one for no reason once on a one night business stay just to see if it would work. Everything else failed.

  8. Mine mostly expire, unless I waste them on 1 nighters on work nights where it does not matter to me if I have a suite. For big trips where it matters, they do not clear.
    Tiffany has it right, you are booking close in, whereas most of us are booking the big trip that matters such as family vacation much further out.

  9. I have nearly a 0% success rate when trying to use SNAs on weekend trips. I suspect in part this is because people checking in the day before you always have higher priority than you for SNAs, since they can clear a day before you do — so if you are staying Friday and Saturday nights, someone staying Thursday to Saturday can clear a day before you, and if there are enough such people they can take all the suites. Especially for city properties, since weekday business travelers are unlikely to be requesting SNAs, this can get annoying. And the same problem would apply even if you are staying in a city property for a longer period of time, as long as you are checking in on a Friday or Saturday.

    That said I have had pretty good luck with SNAs this year, but by chance my travel patterns have led me to use them at city properties for stays checking in on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday.

    But yes, Lucky, I strongly suspect you are using them at off-peak times that are not at all representative of when most people want to use them.

  10. I’ve used mine exclusively for family trips in conjunction with point redemptions and it’s been brilliant – unbelievable suites at the Le Meridien Barcelona, St. Regis Florence, Le Meriden Istanbul, The Opera Suite at the Bristol in Vienna. Always got them.

  11. I’ve had it work on St Regis Osaka which made a world of difference. Didn’t work in any of the Hawaii properties (of course) and now I have some that will probably expire. Such a shame. They definitely need a better system. I’m contemplating picking the extra 5 nights applied to this year that will get me closer to 75 nights versus the SNA that has a low probability of success.

  12. @Tiffany

    You need to have a tracker with all this data!

    You said you stayed in standard rooms for your 3 big stays. Were these situations in which higher rooms were available and not offered? Did you ask them explicitly for an upgrade when one wasn’t offered pro-actively?

    @Mankhini

    “A supervisor called and emailed the property, which refused to release suite as an upgrade”

    What did the supervisor do subsequently?

  13. My SNA’s have cleared at roughly 80% and have used all mine from the past year and working already on the ones I received when my status renewed. I am also very picky when I use my SNAs, usually only European/Asian cities and Resorts. For Large American cities I find a friendly but monetary persuasion with the front desk is much more efficient (100%) than an SNA, and even when the monetary persuasion is returned I have 100% return on them still giving me a suite anyway. 🙂

  14. These posts are all very informative because I’m debating what to choose as my Platinum 50 benefit. I was leaning toward 10 SNA because I have a 4-night stay and then a 3-night stay in February with family where the suite would be huge. On the other hand, what a waste it would be to get the SNA and not use them.

    I’ve actually been proactively upgraded into suites several times — but always on business trips where I didn’t care. (Not always one-day stays; once a weeklong stay at the W “West Hollywood”.)

    I have also had instances where I book a room, a standard suite is available, the hotel says no suite is available at check-in, I show them on my phone that in fact it is, and then I get upgraded at check-in. I don’t like that.

  15. I have 10 expiring this year after a few tries of using them on trips where I cared and nothing really worked. It did work for me last year in Maui which was awesome at the Westin but I would say it is as posted – its about if/when/how the hotel wants to give you the suite. A couple of years ago I also did suite nights at the ITC Gardenia in Bangalore India which was nifty too but YMMV.

  16. I had mixed results this year. 3 nights cleared for a beautiful Junior Suite at the Westin in Paris with a beautiful balcony and view to the Eiffel tower. 2 more cleared for a Junior suite in Salzburgh at the Schlosz Fuschl (mid week in the fall). Requested 3 nights at Le Meridien in Panama, and even though multiple suites were available to sell, the upgrade did not clear. More puzzling was, that even though the SNA upgrade did not clear, when I checked in into the hotel, I was “platinum upgraded” to a Gold suite, and talking to the front desk, the upgraded me even further to a platinum suite. Also requested 3 nights in Vienna at the Bristol, and it did not clear, but the hotel was full.
    This benefit is frustrating. Creates expectations and is rarely delivered when wanted. I usually have extra nights not used every year. I have been delaying the decision of what to do this year. Probably will chose the suites again, hoping they will be delivered.

    When ypu asked in the other post, I mentioned this as something I would change from SPG.

  17. @ Vineet — On one occasion the app showed a confirmed suite (after the window for SNAs had passed), but at check-in I was given keys to a standard room with a view. I asked about the upgrade that had been showing in the app, they said I had been upgraded already. I pressed, no dice.

    I always ask (sweetly) what upgrades might be available for Platinums. I don’t fight if I’m not offered a suite when inventory displays availability, as that’s just not my style, and it’s particularly awkward when traveling with others.

  18. Never had them accepted. Ever. I go for another option now because of how useless they are.

    Attempted at:
    US Grant
    The Nines
    W Seattle
    Westin LAX
    Westin Long Beach
    Westin South Coast Plaza
    Westin Gaslamp
    Westin Downtown San Diego
    Aloft Brooklyn
    and a number of lower end Sheratons and Four Points

    I’ve received regular suite upgrades at checkins a handful of times, but that’s it(once at an Aloft of all places)

    This is with 4 years of platinum to go off.

  19. Never had one expire…not to say every one has always cleared, but can’t remember the last time one didn’t.

    In the past two years, have had success at:
    – SGS Bangkok
    – Park Tower Knightsbridge
    – Westin Palace Madrid
    – Westin Georgetown
    – St. Regis Bal Harbour
    – Sheraton Brooklyn
    – SLS Beverly Hills
    – Hotel Grande Bretagne
    – Blue Palace
    – Sheraton Stockholm

    …and plenty more than that since the start of the program.

    Despite the braying of a select few, IMO it’s been a very successful program and a brilliant move by Starwood to keep Plats staying after they qualify (if fewer than 50 nights via stays).

  20. This is first time I use SNA and I’ve used all my 10. But I have to pick places that are not during peak season or they are 1 night stay. My success rate is 90% or higher.

    I’ve able to applied successfully on the following:
    – W Retreat Bali (3 nights in May)
    – W San Francisco (1 night in August)
    – St Regis Mauritius (2 nights in September)
    – St Regis Kauai (3 nights in November)
    – The Westin Abu Dhabi (1 night in November)

  21. Lucky, I have one question about the 5 Elite Qualifying Nights. Current I am at 44 nights and definitely I can reach 50 by the end of 2016. I can reach 50th nights on Dec 31 (check out day will be Dec 30). I am interesting of getting the 5 Elite Qualifying Nights instead of SNA or one free night. But will that 5 Elite Qualifying Nights count for 2016 or 2017? Sound like useless if that count for 2016 since I won’t and not able to reach to 75th nights in 2016. Any idea? Thanks.

  22. Counts for 2017 Ivo. The only thing you can do for qualifying nights this year would be to open an SPG Amex before 12/31

  23. I’m a first-time SPG50 and I’ve been undecided about which option to choose since October. But based on online chatter and having no luck with Hyatt SNAs, I don’t think I’ll pick the SPG SNA.

  24. Having been an SPG Platinum 50 for the past 10 years, all of my suite night upgrades have cleared successfully before the end of each year. While only denied twice, it did not matter as they were lesser domestic properties compared to Luxury Collection and St. Regis properties around the world. It’s less about luck and more about the luxury to avoid summer and national holiday weekends and/or weeks.

  25. Lucky, I would say your reputation on your blog might have played a part in getting your SNAs cleared ahead of others, and of course being 100-night level Plat (Ambassador) might have helped.

    Let’s understand the ways of the world – if a Hotel could get free publicity and it is within the rules of Starwood – the hotel can choose who to clear the SNA, and when to do, and can also NOT clear the SNA, when it suits them – the Hotel in question can clear you to get publicity and interest, but not clear other Plats if they liked so.

    It could be indeed strategic decision to clear your SNAs, and get your reviews positively published to millions of audience.

    So the readers can only counter-balance the situation by citing their experiences – if a huge number of complaints of failure to clear SNA is there, then you are indeed having preferred treatment.

    However, from a business point of view, it is not unreasonable to give you preferred treatment, so long as they do not appear to overdo it. The way SPG’s SNA is administered, gives wayyy too much discretion to the property – it is up to Starwood to determine if SNA should be administered in this manner, and they appear to like it so, and place the onus on their members to fight hard to get SNAs approved. And because you are so successful at it, and is a well-read blog, it serves SPG’s publicity that SNA works.

  26. Half of mine are expiring….i have been trying to use them for value properties but they will never clear (even though they have them available up to and after check in).

  27. is it possible to transfer SNA? in that case you might be able to transfer it to someone. (family. 4money and so on) I might be interested 

  28. I can rarely get these things to clear on the stays I would like to use them. This year I have 6 expiring and I think last year it was around the same number.

  29. We had 100% success with our 10 SNA requests this year (surprisingly) but the disconnect between SPG and individual properties is irritating. 4 days before leaving for the Westin Punta Cana SPG notified us of a successful SNA request. We emailed guest services at the property and inquired about the suite but the upgrade did not show up in their system. When checking in we had to show the desk clerk the email from SPG confirming the SNA – a bit awkward. But it worked. I don’t think the customer should be put in the middle like this, having to battle for the upgrade. By the way the suite and property in Punta Cana were excellent.

  30. Don’t have a blog and I’m just a basic Plat50, but roughly 80% of my SNA’s have cleared. That’s across six SPG brands (W, Westin, Luxury Collection, Sheraton, Le Meridien, and Tribute), half in the USA and half spread across South America, the Middle East, and Asia. If I could change one thing, it wouldn’t be the probability of clearing the upgrade, it would be advancing the point at which it clears or not.

  31. I’d have to say the bulk of my SNAs have cleared, but then again I’m a stickler for figuring out how the system works and planning accordingly. I would never expect to apply SNAs months in advance and realistically expect them to clear on that basis.

    @Tiffany: Did you receive an email saying explicitly that the SNAs have cleared? If not, then the SNAs did not clear and the app showing a “Confirmed” suite in advance of your arrival would be the result of the hotel pre-assigning you to a suite. This may not be related to the SNAs at all, a lot of hotels plan ahead for Platinum guests and pre block them into suites.

    These suites are still sold on website (and other channels) by reservations/hotel though. This is part of the reason why a Plat can sometimes miss out on suites despite 10 of them showing available on the app. 4 of them might be “pre-assigned” to heavier plats or plats who explicitly called ahead and requested, these would not be released to a lighter plat despite showing up as “Available”
    A further 2 rooms might have been sold (to a full revenue customer) between when they were assigned and when the previous assignees arrived. So these assignees would have seen a suite on the app before arriving but would “lose” the suite at arrival (usually these would be the lightest of the 10 pre assigned plats or the ones that did not explicitly request).
    A further 4 rooms might simply not be turned over/ready at the time of arrival (because another Plat invoked late checkout, or house keeping is struggling with occupancy or someone paid for late checkout).

    Those are the 3 most common (valid) reasons for seeing plentiful suite availability online and yet not receiving one
    1. Suite got sold by time you arrived
    2. Suite was pre-assigned to a heavier Plat
    3. Suite is available for sale today but not quite ready to check in yet

    Followed by 2 invalid common reasons:
    1. Hotel is lying
    2. The inventory management is sub optimal

  32. Lucky, just a point of clarification to “5 Elite Qualifying Nights – get an extra boost toward re-earning elite status”.

    This applies to 2016 status and not 2017 so it will not help in re-earning elite status for 2017, it’ll just boost your 2016 total.

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