SPG

Can You Get 70K Bonus Starpoints By Applying For Both The Personal & Business SPG Amex?

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As I first wrote about yesterday, we’re seeing big increased sign-up bonuses on both the personal and business version of the SPG Amex:

— For the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express, earn 25,000 Starpoints after spending $3,000 within three months, plus an additional 10,000 Starpoints after spending another $2,000 within six months; $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95
— For the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, earn 25,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 within three months, plus an additional 10,000 Starpoints after spending another $3,000 within six months; $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95

This is the biggest ever sign-up bonus we’ve seen on these cards, so if you haven’t yet had these cards, it’s a no brainer to apply for them.

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Starwood Luxury Privileges: Latest Updates As Of Feb 2017

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Back when I became a full time travel advisor, I wrote about one of Starwood’s best kept secrets — the Luxury Privileges program. For a quick recap, you can read in detail about the program and how it works here.

Since first writing about the program in June 2016, new hotels have opened and the perks and free night promotions for the program have changed, so I want to post an updated list of the participating hotels and their amenities available through the program as of February 17, 2017. You can also always find an updated list published by Starwood here.

It’s important to note that the Luxury Privileges rate is its own independent rate and while generally the same or close to the flexible rate, it is not always the same. The Luxury Privileges rate must also be booked by an affiliated travel advisor and cannot be booked directly by guests.

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Hong Kong Is Getting A St. Regis!

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I was in Hong Kong a couple of days ago, and for whatever reason I started thinking about the hotel market there. Hong Kong is probably my favorite major city in the world, and has a lot of great hotels, though also a lot of not-so-great hotels. For those of us who are points-obsessed, it can be a tricky market.

Hyatt has two properties in Hong Kong that I really like — the Grand Hyatt and the Hyatt Regency.

Starwood is more of a mixed bag. For example, there’s the Sheraton and the W, and their portfolio is further enhanced now thanks to the number of Design Hotels properties there.

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Review: W Hotel Punta De Mita Mexico

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Prior to this trip I had never visited Mexico as an adult. As a kid we took a couple of cruises there (though 12 hours at a Cozumel cruise port probably doesn’t give you a fair representation of a place), and I remember once vacationing there when I was really young, but that’s about it. I also connected at Mexico City Airport last year, but that doesn’t really count.

Given that I fly halfway around the world to relax at a resort, I figured I might as well try somewhere closer to “home.” The new W Punta de Mita opened just last year, and looked like a fun place for a getaway.

I booked only a few days in advance using the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit. For my stay the hotel had a rate of ~$350 per night, which was brought down to an average of ~$260 per night after applying that benefit. The rate was actually much higher further in advance, but this hotel seems to consistently lower rates closer to the actual stay date.

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IT’S BACK: Biggest Ever Sign-Up Bonus On The SPG Amex

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Yay, it’s back! Last year American Express offered the biggest ever sign-up bonus on the SPG Amex, and it’s back again now, for the second time ever. The normal sign-up bonus on these cards is 25,000 Starpoints upon completing minimum spend. In the past we’ve sometimes seen 30,000 Starpoint sign-up bonuses. And now we’re seeing a 35,000 Starpoint sign-up bonus, which is the biggest sign-up bonus ever. These increased sign-up bonuses are valid through April 5, 2017.

As stated above, at the moment we’re seeing a sign-up bonus of 35,000 Starpoints, which is the highest bonus ever. Here are the details of the sign-up bonus:

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A Hint That Marriott May Be Adopting Starwood’s Ambassador Service

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Last April Marriott Rewards announced three new benefits for members, in anticipation of their takeover of Starwood.

All three of these features are things that Starwood offers, which certainly suggests that this was an attempt to make SPG members feel better about the takeover, while also giving something to Marriott Rewards members. Specifically, at the time Marriott introduced the following three benefits:

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Marriott & Starwood Announce 2017 Hotel Category Changes

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Historically, both Marriott and Starwood have made annual hotel category changes. While they don’t make changes to the number of points required for a free night in a particular category of hotel, they do change which hotels belongs to which category categories.

For some context on the 2016 changes (early last year):

— 797 Marriott hotels changed in price, with 560 going up in price and 237 going down in price
— 282 Starwood hotels changed in price, with 168 going up in price and 114 going down in price

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See If You’re Eligible For Starwood’s New Member Exclusive Promotion

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Every so often Starwood offers “Select Member Exclusives,” where members are targeted for different offers. Typically members will be emailed when they’re targeted for a promotion, though you can also log in with your SPG number on this page to see if you’re eligible. I’ve certainly been targeted for offers in the past without receiving an email about it.

Well, it looks like Starwood has just come out with some new Select Member Exclusives, where some members have been targeted for offers. Again, keep in mind this is targeted, so some members will have offers, while others won’t.

You’ll want to log-in and see if you’re targeted. Unfortunately in this case I don’t seem to be eligible, though I know plenty of others are. It seems like some people are getting a double elite qualifying nights offer, while others are getting a tiered points bonus based on how many stays they complete.

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What’s The Future Of The SPG Amex?

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Reader Nick asked the following question on a recent post about my American Express card strategy:

“I know it’s speculation, but what do you think happens to the Starwood AMEX card post-merger? In the meantime, I’ve had the card once and can’t qualify for a bonus again. But wouldn’t you agree others should apply, especially since even the minimum 25K SPG point signup bonus equals 75K Marriott Rewards with no first-year fee?”

While I’ve addressed this topic in passing, I figured it would make sense to dedicate a post specifically to this:

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Dubai Is Already Getting A Second St. Regis!

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Other than New York, Dubai is the city with the most Starwood properties in the world. Their footprint there continues to expand quickly. I just recently reviewed the new W Al Habtoor City, and the St. Regis, both of which were great.

Well, what I hadn’t realized is that a second St. Regis is about to open in Dubai. Personally this interests me for a couple of reasons:

— I go to Dubai quite often, so am very familiar with the hotel market and the city as a whole
— This will make Dubai the second city in the world to have two St. Regis properties — the other city is Abu Dhabi, which has the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, as well as the St. Regis Saadiyat Island

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Review: St. Regis Dubai

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After spending a night at the W Dubai, I decided to check out the St. Regis Dubai next, which is just a short walk away. As I wrote about a bit over a year ago, the St. Regis Dubai is a Category 7 SPG property, which is Starwood’s highest category. That means a free night here costs 35,000 Starpoints, which is insanely overpriced. That’s not a reflection of the quality of the hotel, but rather it’s just totally off base for Dubai as a hotel market.

As I expected, paid rates at the St. Regis have dropped significantly since the hotel opened, though. Much like with my stay at the W, I booked the St. Regis through Starwood Luxury Privileges. The cost for booking through Luxury Privileges is the same as the flexible rate, and it comes with the following perks:

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Review: W Dubai Al Habtoor City

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I was arriving in Dubai at around 2AM, and was departing back to the U.S. about 37 hours later, at 3PM. So I needed hotels for two nights. In the past my “go to” hotel in Dubai has been the Park Hyatt, given how close it is to the airport.

However, Starwood is developing a new complex in Al Habtoor City, where we’re seeing three Starwood hotels connected to one another — there’s a W, St. Regis and Westin.

I was most excited about the St. Regis, so figured I’d save that for my second day, so I’d have more time to enjoy it. For the first night I decided to book the W Al Habtoor City. I had Ford book this for me through Starwood Luxury Privileges (which costs the same as the best available rate), and it came with the following perks:

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Review: St. Regis Kuala Lumpur

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I had a quick one night layover in Kuala Lumpur. My flight from Amman was arriving at around 4:30PM, while I was departing the next day at around 12PM. I’ve reviewed quite a few hotels in Kuala Lumpur over the years, including the Mandarin Oriental, Grand Hyatt, Le Meridien, and InterContinental.

In this case there wasn’t even a question about which hotel I wanted to stay at. The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur opened recently, and since I’m a huge fan of the St. Regis brand, I wanted to check it out. Best of all, the St. Regis is near the KLIA Express station, which is the best way to get between the airport and the city (it only takes 30 minutes).

The hotel contacted me before my stay to send me the shuttle schedule between the station and the hotel. This confused me a bit, since it looked like the St. Regis was just a short walk from the station, and I always prefer walking rather than taking a shuttle. However, it quickly became apparent what the problem was. While the St. Regis is close to the station, the roads are quite tough to cross. So with carry-ons you probably could walk there if you’re willing to jaywalk across five lane streets, but I can certainly see the merit to taking the shuttle.

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The 7 Best Hotel Perks Offered By Credit Cards

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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:

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