Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel

Hotel Stay Detail 
Hotel: Sheraton Frankfurt Airport
Dates: June 4-5, 2013
Rate Paid: $195 
Regular Room Rate: $254/night 
Upgraded Room Rate: $305/night
Total $ Benefit: $110
Points Earned: 1,865 SPG Points


As I mentioned in an earlier post, we used our miles to get two round trip award tickets to Paris with a stopover in Munich. We wanted to try flying back in business class on Lufthansa Airlines (one of the best airlines in the world), so we routed back through Frankfurt (instead of looking for a direct Paris-New York flight on United).

But since we already used up our free stopover (3 nights in Munich) on the outbound, we could only have a layover on the return. In case you're not familiar with the difference between a Stopover and a Layover, let me explain:
  • Stopover - a longer stop in between flights (from 1 day to up to 1 year)
  • Layover - a shorter connection in between flights (from 30 minutes up to 24 hours)
So on one extreme, we could have taken an early morning flight to Frankfurt and had a 45 minute connection before our morning New York flight. That would have barely been enough time to change my diaper in the airport bathroom before boarding started for the next flight.

Or on the other extreme, we could have taken the late afternoon flight, stayed over for a night, explored Frankfurt the next day, and then taken the afternoon flight to New York. If you know my father at all, you'll know which option we took.

Hotel Selection Thought Process

But now that meant we needed a hotel in Frankfurt. The traditional option would have been to book a hotel in the city center so that we could have woken up in downtown Frankfurt, ready to explore the city. But after checking out expensive city center options, we thought a little out of the box.

So instead of (a) landing at FRA Airport at 7PM, carrying our suitcases onto a train/bus to get downtown, finding a cab from the train/bus station to the hotel, and having to repeat those steps in reverse the next day, we thought we'd be better off (b) easily walking through the airport straight into the connected airport hotel, get a good night's sleep, leave our luggage at the hotel the next morning, head into the city via train and return to the airport to catch our evening flight home.

So when we landed yesterday at 7PM, we just collected our luggage and took the elevator upstairs to Departures (since we were already in the European Union, we didn't have to go through Immigration in Germany). Eventually we found signs for the Sheraton Airport hotel (as well as the Hilton). Full disclosure, the signs weren't easy to find so we had to ask someone who pointed us to the escalators leading to the sky bridge. But after a short walk over to the other building, we were inside the Sheraton.

Beat the Timer

The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel was a Category 4 meaning we could have redeemed 10,000 SPG points for a free night, but it was also a European Starwood hotel which meant there was a strong chance it would be on the list for Beat The Timer.

BTT is Starwood Hotel's internal flash sale website. Various hotels (mostly European and Middle Eastern) who have high near term vacancies will offer blocks of their available rooms for some significant discounts if you book within a short window of time.

The drawbacks are that you (a) reserve only a basic room and (b) the reservation is non-refundable. They claim that your credit card will be charged at time of booking, but in our case, it wasn't charged at all until we checked out. But I'm pretty sure it was non-refundable had we wanted to cancel. But knowing the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport hotel makes frequent appearances on BTT, we got lucky and waited to book our Frankfurt hotel until we saw it on the site.

So now, we secured our hotel room for just €149/night ($195 USD), saving about $50 USD from the regular rate. Of course, my father had to re-run the math to see if it made sense to use 10,000 SPG points instead. He calculated that since it would only save him $195, it meant he was only getting 1.95 cents/point, well below his minimum redemption price of 3.5 cents/point. So a cash booking it was!

The $195 he would pay in cash would earn him 585 points (3x) for having Gold Status, plus another 390 points (2x) for using his reward credit card for a hotel, plus another 390 points (2x) for the Starwood Q2 2013 Double Take Promotion, plus another 500 points for using the SPG iPad app to make the booking. He could have earned another 250 SPG points as his Gold status welcome amenity, but opted for free wifi instead (which would have cost €9/day).

Total haul = 1,865 points, which at 2-4 cents/pt is worth $37-75. So in a way, he only paid something between $120-158 for the night. Not horrible for Europe.

The Room

Per the website, we were booked into a Classic Room (291 sq feet, seen here on the left). That would have suited our needs perfectly, because all we wanted was a clean comfortable bed and a door with a lock!

But when we arrived, we noticed that there was an empty Priority SPG Gold/Platinum check in line next to the regular check in line with about 5 people ahead of us. Apparently, they really recognized loyalty and status here! So my emboldened father walked right up to the SPG Gold/Platinum check in line, drawing multiple confused/angry stares from the regular guests who were waiting patiently for their turn. Hey, membership has its privileges.

For having Starwood Gold status (and an adorable 19 month old baby), they had upgraded us to a Superior Family Room, which went for $305/night. In addition to being 474 sq feet, it had 2 twin beds and two comfortable chairs, as well as the usual king sized bed. Plenty of space and soft surfaces for me to run around and play in. It was like an indoor obstacle course right in our hotel room!

The rest of the room was pretty basic, except that it had a big entry foyer that had plenty of space to store luggage while also filling up an inflatable baby swimming pool since the hotel didn't have a pool for me to splash around in. But as my family often does, we made do with the large bathroom that had a separate shower as well as a bathtub on the other end. When you're as small as I am, a bathtub is plenty big to serve as a swimming pool. Plus fewer people will complain if I have an accident.

1 comment:

  1. One of the best hotels in town I ever encountered when I was in Frankfurt.

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