One of my favorite loyalty programs is the Starwood Preferred Guest program. Over the years I have made it my mission to reach Platinum level in the SPG program no matter how much I torture my family in the process of getting there. This past December, I was in need of three stays to reach my Platinum status. With the clock ticking with just a few days left in the year, I asked my family to give me no gifts for Christmas but instead, to join me on my Platinum journey that would take place in New York City. NYC is one of my favorite destinations in December, and I make sure I go every year to see the Christmas tree, the windows and of course hit the big sales at Saks, Bergdorf Goodman, and Henri Bendel. This short trip I knew, was going to be an adventure, as I had to have 3 totally different hotel stays to reach the necessary 25 stays for continuing my Platinum status. So I booked my trains, packed the suitcases, picked up my daughter from school, and headed to New York.
Reaching Platinum Status by staying at the St. Regis
We arrived at NY Penn Station and took a cab to our hotel in the pouring rain. As our cab arrived at our hotel I could see my daughter’s face light up as we arrived at the St. Regis Hotel on Fifth Ave. and 55th Street. She has been raised on points her whole life so her reacting with a squeal of joy did not surprise me, as I knew she would remember this hotel from a prior stay almost a decade ago. She exclaimed, “This is the hotel that comes with your very own butler!” How did I swing this one? I decided to double-check rates the night before traveling and located the most special gift of all. The St. Regis had a cash and points combo where the room was only $275 with 15,000 SPG points. Yes, December is the most expensive time of the year to book NYC!!! I had to pinch myself when I hit the button to book this deal on the SPG website.
I love this incredible lobby and found all of the Christmas decorations to perfection. At check-in I was asked if I wanted extra points or a free breakfast with my Platinum status. I opted for the free breakfast as I knew it would not be continental. As we proceeded to the elevators, there was hot chocolate, hot cider and other treats waiting for us in the foyer. We then took the elevator to our floor escorted by one of the experts of the St. Regis resorts to make sure we were pleased with our room. Much to my dismay they would only upgrade me to a higher floor, not to a suite. The suites were available online so I sulked for just a minute until the butler arrived, which instantly started to make things better. He let us know that he would be there for us 24/7 with unlimited deliveries of French press coffee and tea or any of our other needs. He brought us toothbrushes and bottles of water. We had a fresh plate of fruit, a candy bowl filled with chocolate, slippers and robes for the two of us. The butler took our wet shoes and said they would be shined free of charge and waiting in the AM by our door.
The breakfast included with my platinum status was incredible. We were able to select whatever we wanted from half of the menu. My bill came and we had enjoyed a $120 breakfast and all I had to leave was the tip. We dined casually and then headed back to our room. We ordered more coffee and tea and enjoyed this free treat until noon. I figure we must have ordered at least $40 worth of coffee, tea and water during our overnight stay. Plus, the shoeshine for 2 pairs of shoes and the breakfast added up to around $180. I figure by the end of this stay we paid $95.
Stepping down in SPG Platinum Status by checking into the Westin at Times Square
We then had to move and get our 24th night’s stay at another SPG hotel. Our next check in was at the Westin Times Square. My husband was going to join us and I picked this location knowing he was driving in from the Lincoln Tunnel. We checked in and requested the upgrade for the junior suite (which they had given to me in my last stay) and I was told it was not available. Of course it was available online but the person at the desk not only was rude he also made me move to another line and would not check me in at the SPG Platinum desk. I knew if I wanted the upgrade I would have to pursue with a manager but it being Christmas Eve, I was not in the mood to haggle after just leaving SPG paradise. This was definitely a step down in stars. He asked if I wanted the breakfast or the points. I knew this hotel served a terrible buffet so I opted for the points. Our room was small and nothing special. Platinum for Christmas was losing its luster.
Christmas Day and my gift to myself was SPG Platinum
It was a more than a sigh of relief to move from the Westin Times Square to Le Parker Meridien. I was greeted with a smile, a welcome to their hotel, a thank you for my loyalty, with recognition of my Platinum status and of course, the much earned Platinum upgrade to a junior suite. This property is my usual go-to when I travel to NYC. I love the location and the consistency of getting upgrades to the junior suite. I don’t opt for the free breakfast at this hotel, as it is a continental breakfast delivered to your room. This hotel does have Norma’s, one of the best breakfasts in NYC in their lobby. The location is all that is associated with the hotel so you can’t count on this as your platinum free breakfast benefit.
I immediately got a confirmation email on Christmas Day letting me know that I hit Platinum status for one more year. My Platinum status with SPG was earned with 25 stays. I did not need to reach the other option of 50 nights. The greatest thing about the SPG loyalty program is that you can add up your 25 stays with points, a points and cash combination, or cash.
Here is what you get with SPG Platinum status:
- 50% point bonus: Starwood Platinum and Gold members both enjoy this bonus
- 4 pm check out for both Gold and Platinum members
- Room upgrades to best available room at check-in at all properties, and this includes standard suites. I have not had the best luck this past year and only received about 25% of my stays with a junior suite upgrade.
- Welcome gift for Platinum: 500 Starpoints, local gift or continental breakfast.
- Complimentary in-room Internet access and in-room bottled water
- 72-hour Guaranteed availability: This was not true for me on two occasions this past year. One was for a Sheraton hotel in Providence, RI. I called 6 months in advance and up until the week of my check-in. They have a very private group that attends the hotel.
- Complimentary club access: Even if you don’t get upgraded to a club-level room, you still have guaranteed access to the lounge, which includes health club access.
- Delta Crossover Rewards: Platinum members also are a part of this program, earning 1 Starpoint for every dollar spent on Delta flights. You can also enjoy Delta Silver Medallions status, including priority check-in.
My gift of Platinum will be enjoyed all year long
I am looking forward to going for my Platinum status again this year. I love the program, it’s easy to follow and the benefits are amazing. Many nights that I stayed at a Starwood hotel in 2015 were paid with free nights that I had earned. I do carry the Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express
The Starwood Preferred Guest® Card from American Express has the highest rewards rate of any hotel credit card, with its Starpoints being the most valuable point or mile there is (at a value of about 2.3 cents per point). Plus, Starwood’s partnership through their Crossover Rewards Program lets you earn both Starpoints and Delta Skymiles when you fly Delta or stay at a Starwood property.
- Our highest Starpoints® offer ever. Get 35,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Offer ends 3/30/2016.
- Terms and limitations apply.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees on international purchases.
- Receive free in-room, premium internet access. Booking requirements apply.
- Enjoy complimentary, unlimited Boingo Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than 1,000,000 Boingo hotspots worldwide. Enrollment required.
- Get free nights at over 1,200 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries with no blackout dates. Some hotels may have mandatory service and resort charges.
- $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
- Visit our credit card partner’s site in order to learn more and securely apply for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Why we like this card
We love the flexibility of Starpoints. In addition to redeeming them for hotel stays, they are quite valuable when you transfer them to airline loyalty programs.
- Award nights start at just 3,000 points per night for a Category 1 property. The low threshold to redeem for free nights can’t be beat. For hotels in Categories 2-4 you need 4,000 to 10,000 points per night. That’s a small amount of points for staying in some pretty nice hotels.
- When you redeem Starpoints for four consecutive nights, you get the fifth night free.
- If you’re short on Starpoints, you can still save money on your stay using Cash & Points. You can stay for as little as $30 and 1,500 Starpoints. For example, if you want to stay at a Category 3 hotel for one night but you don’t have the 7,000 points required, you can redeem 3,500 Starpoints and pay just $55 for the room.
- You can transfer your Starpoints to a large selection of frequent-flier programs. The card has more than 30 airline partners, so no matter where you’re going, chances are you can get there using your Starpoints.
- Each calendar year your account is open, you receive from Starwood a credit for 2 stays and 5 nights towards your Starwood Preferred Guest elite status.