Sunday, November 23, 2014

Starwood Obsessed?

Apparently, my father is the exact kind of customer that hotel chains like Starwood want. Actively traveling and somewhat compulsively drawn to a single brand where they concentrate their travel spend.

He drank the Kool-Aid and bought into the hotel loyalty program that many consider the best in the industry, Starwood Preferred Guest.

For calendar 2013, my father hit Platinum status for the first time by spending over 50 nights in Starwood hotels. For the rest of 2013 and 2014, he enjoyed Platinum benefits, including (a) complimentary suite upgrades, (b) free breakfasts and (c) generally higher levels of service.

Now that he's been tasting the good life, he's having a hard time contemplating a future off the Loyalty Hamster Wheel. We haven't yet done a pure Mattress Run (where you stay at a hotel for no other reason than to earn credit for elite status), but we're about to as my father just booked a night at the Le Meridien Philadelphia for the Friday after Christmas.

But this upcoming mattress run isn't really for earning Platinum status (since we already locked that up in September). This Dec 26th mattress run is for completing a self-imposed challenge of staying at each of Starwood's 9 hotel brands in a single calendar year. So far this year, we've hit up 8 of them and are missing just the Le Meriden brand.

1. Aloft - Chicago, IL
2. Element - Ewing, NJ
3. Four Points - San Antonio, TX
4. Luxury Collection - Athens, Greece
5. Sheraton - Salt Lake City, UT
6. St Regis - Rome, Italy
7. W - New Orleans, LA
8. Westin - Austin, TX

So to complete his little mini-goal, we booked a one night stay in nearby Philadelphia and hit Brand #9 before December 31st.

I suppose that we could have also booked a night at the Parker Meridien in New York City and taken a subway instead of driving 2.5 hours, but we opted to use the long weekend to take a trip to a different city (and get some amazing cheesesteaks) instead of doing another Manhattan staycation. Besides, the Parker Meriden in NYC was going for $423/night or 20,000 SPG points (versus the $170/night at the LM Philadelphia). Still a bit pricey for a hotel we didn't really need, but hey, it's Christmas!

So what does my father get for hitting all 9 brands in a year? Most likely nothing at all.

Starwood did surprise people who accomplished this feat in 2012 with an award for 3 free nights. However, people reported that no such surprise gift was awarded in 2013, so this year is uncertain at best.

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