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In mid-November I wrote about the new marketing partnership between Starwood and Design Hotels. Design Hotels is a group of roughly 300 independent hotels around the world, all of which are selected for their emphasis on style and design.
While Design Hotels is Starwood’s 11th brand, it works a bit differently than the others. Starwood’s 10 other brands are fully integrated into the Starwood Preferred Guest program, while Design Hotels only has a “marketing partnership” with Starwood.
In other words, while you earn points and stay credits at Design Hotels, you don’t receive most other elite benefits. Here’s how it works:
- SPG members receive high-speed internet access and complimentary bottled water in-room
- Gold and Platinum members automatically receive a Starpoints bonus as their welcome gift
- SPG members only earn Starpoints and elite qualifying stays/nights if booking through Starwood channels
- Starpoints can be accrued at the same rate as at other SPG properties:
- 2 Starpoints per dollar spent for base members
- 3 Starpoints per dollar spent for Gold and Platinum members
- 4 Starpoints per dollar spent for 75 night Platinum members
- Those paying with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express will earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent at Design Hotels, just as they would at other Starwood properties
In other words, while you can earn points at these hotels, as an elite member it’s not going to be the same experience you get at other Starwood properties. You don’t technically get room upgrades, you can’t choose breakfast as your Platinum welcome amenity, there’s no guaranteed late check-out, etc. Still, earning points is better than nothing.
There are several Design Hotels properties I’ve been eying and have considered booking. However, in all cases, when push came to shove I decided there were better options out there. On one hand I want to stay at a unique property, while on the other hand I’d value these hotels a lot more if I received SPG Platinum benefits at them.
Well, I’m excited to soon be making my first Design Hotels stay. Specifically, I have an overnight coming up at Incheon Airport in a few weeks on my trip to Kazakhstan.
My initial plan was to just book the Grand Hyatt Incheon, which is a fantastic airport hotel. However, I happened to browse Starwood’s website, and noticed that they have a new Design Hotels property right at Incheon Airport — specifically, the Nest Hotel Incheon.
The hotel looks super funky, so I’m excited to stay at a unique property, rather than a cookie cutter corporate hotel.
This is even working out well for my Starpoints balance, since there’s a brand bonus in 2016, where I can earn 11,000 Starpoints for staying at all Starwood 11 brands. Design Hotels is probably the brand I’d otherwise struggle most to stay at, so this stay will help me earn those 11,000 bonus Starpoints.
I’ve been intrigued by Design Hotels since the marketing partnership with Starwood started, though in practice I do wish this were a fully integrated brand. While it’s nice to earn points and stay credits, as an SPG Platinum member it’s still a lot more valuable to stay at a property with breakfast, late check-out, a room upgrade, etc.
I’m curious to see what happens with Design Hotels when the Marriott and Starwood merger is completed. The combined group will have about 30 brands, so does it really make sense for them to have a single brand that they have a marketing partnership with, but that’s not fully integrated?
Have you stayed at a Design Hotels property since the marketing partnership kicked off? What was your experience like?