SPG

The 7 Best Hotel Perks Offered By Credit Cards

St-Regis-Bali-Lagoon-Villa - 17

There are many reasons to pick up a credit card — some are worth picking up for the sign-up bonus, some are worth picking up for the return they offer on everyday spend, and some are worth picking up for the long-term perks they offer.

While there are all kinds of perks offered on cards, in this post I figured I’d look at the best hotel perks you can get with credit cards. Here are my favorites, roughly in order:

The Citi Prestige® Card has my single favorite perk offered by any credit card. While a lot of credit cards offer some type of “free night” hotel benefit, there are usually major strings attached. Citi Prestige’s fourth night free benefit is the most straightforward out there. To sum up the basics:

Continue Reading »

Which Hotel Programs Let You Earn Points & Elite Nights For Multiple Rooms?

park-hyatt-vienna-suite-12

Different hotel loyalty programs have different policies as to how many points, elite qualifying stays, and elite qualifying nights you can earn if booking multiple rooms. In other words, if you often travel with family and book two rooms, can you receive elite credits and points for each of the rooms?

The rules vary by program, so in this post I figured I’d look at the policies of the major hotel loyalty programs, as they impact earning points and elite qualifying credit for multiple rooms (in the title of each section I’ve added a link to the terms & conditions):

Club Carlson lets you earn points for up to three rooms booked on the same reservation. However, you don’t earn elite qualifying nights for multiple rooms.

Continue Reading »

Changes Are Coming To The Starwood & Uber Partnership

SPG-Uber

Starwood Preferred Guest has been a leader among hotel loyalty programs it comes to their partnerships with other travel providers, whether it’s airline or ridesharing apps.

One of my favorite partnerships is between Starwood and Uber. The partnership was launched in February 2015, and has allowed SPG members to earn bonus Starpoints for Uber rides.

While the partnership has remained unchanged for almost two years, there will finally be some changes coming as of next month. I’m not sure if this is influenced by Marriott’s takeover of Starwood or not. I suspect it isn’t, and that this is simply the natural progression of any partnership, where companies renegotiate after being able to analyze the performance of a partnership.

Continue Reading »

The Starwood Amex 2017 Annual Elite Credits Have Posted!

st-regis-shenzhen-13

One of the reasons I hold onto both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express is because they help me requalify for Starwood status.

One of the perks of the cards is that they offer two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status annually. Each of the cards offers that benefit, meaning that if you have both cards, you start the year with four elite qualifying stays and 10 elite qualifying nights.

Platinum status ordinarily requires 25 stays or 50 nights, meaning that you really only need 21 stays or 40 nights to qualify if you have both of these cards.

Continue Reading »

Review: Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport

sheraton-toronto-airport-13

By the time I got through immigration in Toronto it was around 1AM, and my flight the next day was scheduled to depart at around 1PM. So I decided to book the only hotel connected directly to the airport, which is the Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport.

The price for the one night stay was 230CAD (~175USD), which isn’t cheap, but seemed worth it for the convenience. As a point of reference this is a Category 4 SPG property, meaning that a free night costs 10,000 Starpoints. Since I value Starpoints at ~2.2 cents each, paying cash was the better option.

I was arriving on Air Canada and departing on EgyptAir, and they both operate out of Terminal 1. Meanwhile the Sheraton is connected to Terminal 3, which is the terminal used by most non-Star Alliance airlines.

Continue Reading »

Introduction: Flying With Royalty (Or Not)

royal-brunei-business-class-787-2

In 2016 my goal was to review as many new airlines as possible, and that’s something I want to continue into 2017. So I figured I might as well get my year off to a good start, and plan a heck of a trip for the first week of the year.

The primary motivation of this trip was to review as many new airlines as quickly as possible, though I was also excited about having stopovers that allowed me to briefly visit two countries — Jordan and Brunei — for the first time.

I only planned this trip in late December, about a week before I was due to takeoff. Let’s briefly look at the planning process.

Continue Reading »

No, The SPG Amex Annual Credits Haven’t Yet Posted. It’s Not Just You.

St-Regis-Doha - 64

One of the reasons I hold onto both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Card from American Express is because they help me requalify for Starwood status.

One of the perks of the cards is that they offer two elite qualifying stays and five elite qualifying nights towards status annually. Each of the cards offers that benefit, meaning that if you have both cards, you start the year with four elite qualifying stays and 10 elite qualifying nights.

Platinum status ordinarily requires 25 stays or 50 nights, meaning that you really only need 21 stays or 40 nights to qualify if you have both of these cards.

Continue Reading »

Checking Out The New St. Regis Dubai

st-regis-dubai-1

Earlier I wrote about my stay at the new W Dubai, which is part of the new Al Habtoor City development in Dubai. Attached to the W is a St. Regis and also a Westin. After one night at the W I figured I’d switch to the St. Regis so I could check it out — after all, it’s just a short walk between the two hotels.

I wrote about the St. Regis back when it first opened and the rates were crazy. Fortunately the rates have dropped significantly since then, as I expected (I didn’t doubt the hotel was nice, but Dubai as a market just can’t sustain $800+ per night rates).

Well, the good news is that the new St. Regis Dubai is gorgeous. It’s absolutely stunning, and easily one of my favorite city St. Regis properties in the world, as it manages to feel incredibly private and secluded. While the nearby hotels are 30+ stories, the St. Regis has just six floors, and feels more like a palace than anything else.

Continue Reading »

The Psychedelic New W Hotel Dubai

w-hotel-dubai-1

Dubai is the city in the world with the second most Starwood hotels (after New York), and their portfolio keeps growing. Starwood is heavily developing the Al Habtoor City area of Dubai, which at the moment is a massive construction pit with three Starwood hotels. This is where the W, Westin, and St. Regis are located, all of which opened in 2016.

I stayed at the W last night, and of course I’ll have a full review soon, but I can’t help but share some pictures right away. This might be the most “authentically” styled, psychedelic W property I’ve ever stayed at.

Here are some pictures of the public facilities:

Continue Reading »

Review: Four Points By Sheraton Havana

four-points-sheraton-havana-cuba-20

Cuba is not a place you visit because you’re looking for a great luxury hotel. Instead you make the best of the hotel situation that you can.

Since this blog is ultimately about miles & points, I decide to book the first & (so far) only U.S. hotel in Cuba that you can redeem points at. That would be the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, which was formerly the Hotel Quinta Avenida.

We were staying for two nights before New Year’s, so the price was high. We paid $335 per night including taxes and fees, and the rate was pre-paid. That’s because American credit cards aren’t accepted in Cuba, so Starwood is able to charge you for the stay in advance, and then you just have to pay for incidentals when you depart.

Continue Reading »

Review: Aloft Boston Seaport

aloft-boston-seaport-30

The reason we flew to Boston was because it’s the closest major airport to where Ford’s mom lives, so this was a good way for us to drop her off before continuing our journey. We arrived from Frankfurt at around 1PM, and had a flight the next morning at 6AM.

We decided to book the Aloft Boston Seaport. This isn’t an airport hotel, and also isn’t even really in the most desirable part of Boston, but the reason we stayed here was because I needed to make one Aloft stay before the end of the year in order to earn 11,000 bonus Starpoints through Starwood’s brand bonus promotion.

The paid rate for our one night stay was ~$140. As a point of comparison, this is a Category 5 SPG property, meaning that a free night redemption would have cost 12,000 Starpoints, so paying cash was definitely the better option.

Continue Reading »

Review: W South Beach

w-south-beach-18

For the past several years I’ve been participating in the SPG Amex Stars program, which has taken me to some pretty awesome places. I love the SPG Amex, and it’s one of the cards I’ve had in my wallet for the longest amount of time. It was one of the very first cards I applied for when I was 18, and I’ve had it ever since.

For the SPG Amex Holiday Challenge, I was given 70,000 Starpoints to redeem for a winter getaway at a Starwood resort in the United States. Now, when most people think “winter getaway” they’re probably thinking about snow, but personally I’m more of a fan of warm weather.

Over the years I’ve stayed at many of the best Starwood properties in the U.S., including the St. Regis Deer Valley, St. Regis Aspen, St. Regis New York, St. Regis Bal Harbour, St. Regis San Francisco, just to name a few.

Continue Reading »

Review: Le Meridien Munich

le-meridien-munich-14

For the second part of our trip, Ford’s mom was joining us to to visit the Christmas markets in Munich and Vienna. While we were arriving from Jakarta by way of Singapore and London, she had landed from Boston earlier in the day.

We were spending two nights in Munich, and in the end we decided to book two rooms at the Le Meridien Munich at the rate of 140EUR per room per night. Munich isn’t a great hotel market, in the sense that there aren’t many centrally located hotels for which you can redeem points. While I’ve stayed at the Sheraton and Westin in Munich in the past, their locations aren’t great, as they’re a bit removed from the center of town.

While some of Munich’s luxury hotels are sometimes reasonably priced, that wasn’t the case for when we were visiting. The Mandarin Oriental, for example, was going for over 600EUR per night.

Continue Reading »

Review: Keraton At The Plaza Jakarta

keraton-at-the-plaza-jakarta-14

As a Hyatt and Starwood loyalist, there are quite a few hotels to choose from in Jakarta. Beyond that, given how cheap luxury hotels are in Jakarta, it’s even tempting to stay at other properties, like the Four Seasons.

However, after much consideration I decided to book the Keraton at the Plaza, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. The rate at the hotel was about ~$220 per night, including the 20%+ taxes and service charge. I chose the Keraton because I heard good things about it, because it seemed to be the nicest Starwood property in the city, and because I was intrigued by the club lounge (more on that later).

The drive from Jakarta Airport to the hotel took only about 30 minutes. I had heard horror stories about traffic in Jakarta, though it seems we really lucked out. I guess that was thanks to our late night arrival.

Continue Reading »