In part 2 I will look at two of the other major players in the hotel market – Marriott and Starwood. Tomorrow I will look at some of of the smaller hotel groups which may be of interest to the luxury traveller, Langham, Shangri-la and Leading Hotels of the World.
Starwood SPG and Marriott Rewards
Marriott has recently bought Starwood hotels and the loyalty schemes are now linked. The loyalty programs will continue to operate as separate entities for some time. They don’t anticipate combining the programs until 2018. Now that the two companies have merged, you can link your Rewards and SPG accounts and transfer ponts between them.
This brings quite a few benefits for those that had status in one of the schemes. You can now match your status to the other scheme. This is particularly useful if you had SPG Gold through your Amex card which didn’t really get you a huge amount. There was premium internet, a sort of upgrade and late check out if it was available. On my last SPG stay I didn’t get either of the last 2 benefits, unless you count an accessible room in the category I booked that overlooked a car park as an upgrade…
If you status match SPG Gold to Marriott you get Marriott Gold which gives you guaranteed lounge access and breakfast for 2 people. The page you need is here.
Starwood hotels – SPG
If you are a heavy Uber user it is definitely worth joining SPG as you will earn points on your Uber rides once you have completed a qualifying SPG stay. Further details can be found here.
The main benefits of SPG are:
- SPG discounted rate for hotel stays
- Earn two Starpoints for each U.S. dollar spent on eligible stays.
- Complimentary in-room Internet access when you book on spg.com, SPG hotel sites or SPG apps.
- Earn Starpoints and save up to 30% at over 1,000 restaurants and bars located within Starwood hotels and resorts worldwide — even when you’re not staying with us.
- Starpoints never expire as long as you have account activity once a year.
- Earn 1 Starpoint per U.S. dollar spent with Uber every day, and 2 Starpoints per U.S. dollar spent with Uber during your stays with SPG.
- SPG Moments – custom experiences that you can buy with your starpoints
- Brands include Sheraton, Westin, St Regis, The Luxury Collection, W, Le Meridien and Design hotels.
- Earn Avios at a minimum of earn 2 Avios per U.S. $1 spent
SPG Moments is a great scheme if you enjoy going to concerts or want to enjoy a one-off experience. You can spend your starpoints on a range of experiences either close to home or across the world.
SPG has a suite at the O2 and regularly has Moments to see top concerts from the comfort of the suite with food and drink provided. The Moments are either auctions or a fixed price. The prices are generally around 15-25000 Starpoints. They have previously offered concerts by Rod Stewart, Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Justin Bieber. It is worth reading the wording carefully as some experiences that sound a bit dull actually include a lot of extras such as dinner and a night in a 5* hotel.
I managed to get an SPG moment for 2 VIP tickets to Take That at BST in Hyde Park this year. As well as the tickets, it included a glass of champagne and a backstage tour. We were able to stand on the side of the stage whilst Jamie Lawson performed which was an amazing experience.
Starwood Preferred Guest Amex
There is currently a sign-up bonus of 10,000 SPG points when you spend £1,000 within the first three months. You could convert this into 10,000 Avios or other airline schemes. You also get Starwood Preferred Guest Plus status which gets you a couple of benefits: 4pm late check-out and a better room though generally in the same category.
St Regis Princeville, a Starwood property in Kauai, Hawaii where I stayed in 2015
The main benefits of Marriott Rewards are:
- Includes Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Edition, Marriott, Renaissance and Autograph Collection hotels
- Complimentary in-room Internet access when you book direct through Marriott
- Up to 2 Avios per USD spent
- Up to 2 Virgin Flying Club miles per US$ spent on all qualifying charges:
- Discounted rate if booked via Marriott.com
- Earn up to 10 points per $1USD you spend
- With cash+points free nights start at 3000 points +$45
- You can redeem on the spot at a Marriott brand hotel from 2500 points for $5 credit
- You can redeem for gift cards such as Amazon starting at 2500 points for £5