New Starwood Platinum Elite Benefits Choices Coming in March

Feb 2, 2015

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Starwood Preferred Guest is getting ready to announce new elite benefits for its 50-night Platinum elites starting in March. Per this promotional page:

“Platinum Members with 50 eligible nights can choose their rewards benefit.

Coming soon: We will be unveiling a selection of rewards that will allow eligible members to pick the reward that suits them best.

What comes next?
The new reward options will be ready in March 2015. In the meantime, keep booking and staying. We’ll send all eligible members an email with the details as soon as the selection of rewards is available.”

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This is the first major new in Starwood’s elite program since its 2012 revamp of benefits. As a reminder, here is what 50-Night Platinums now get.

  • Earn 3 Starpoints for every US dollar spent on eligible stays.
  • Upgrade to the best available room at check-in, including a Standard Suite.
  • Complimentary in-room high-speed internet access.
  • Complimentary health-club, Club-level and Executive-level access.
  • Guaranteed room availability when your room is booked by 3pm, 72+ hours prior to arrival.
  • A choice of welcome amenity where they can choose one from the following list: Continental breakfast; 500 Starpoints (250 at aloft, Four Points and Element); Local gift (For ex. wine, olive oil, artisan piece).

Platinum members who surpass the 50-night mark earn 10 Suite Night Awards. You can use them to confirm certain suites and premium rooms beginning 5 nights prior to arrival, subject to availability. For more information on these awards and how to maximize them, check out this post.

According to the announcement page, though, Starwood is planning to introduce an alternative to those Suite Night Awards for those Platinums who would prefer to choose something else.

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As far as I see it, that’s good news for Platinums. While Suite Night Awards can be worth a tremendous value depending on how strategically you deploy them, there are some complications to actually redeeming them. Some issues that SPG members face when deciding whether to use their Suite Night Awards include:

  • Not all suites at a hotel are eligible
  • The number of rooms and suites can vary greatly property to property
  • You might just want to take your chances getting a complimentary elite upgrade instead
  • Some hotels only offer junior suites or even just larger regular rooms for Suite Night Award redemptions
  • They are by night rather than by stay, so that could complicate staying in a single room or suite for a stay depending on availability

No word yet on what the new choices will be, but if you have not already started using your 2015 Suite Night Awards yet, you should be able to elect from among them once they go into place in March.

These also sound like the new version of the requalification gifts Starwood used to offer elites. For instance, back in 2013, when I requalified for 50-Night Platinum status, I got a choice of a 35% discount off one award stay, or double points for a month of my choosing. So if I had to guess, I would think that these new benefits might include things like bonus points earning on stays or even components of stays like non-room purchases such as F&B or spa treatments; perhaps elite discount rates on paid stays like Hyatt offered briefly, or perhaps even discounted awards.

While I am always skeptical (in a healthy way!) when a loyalty program touts rewarding new choices, in the end, having choices is a good thing…especially if Starwood does not plan to do away or reduce the number of Suite Night Awards Platinums now earn as one of those choices.

What new benefits would you like to see SPG introduce? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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