The Phoenician: A Beautiful Property With Some Things To Learn About Starwood Preferred Guest

The Phoenician is a lovely property, and in short worth of both its Starwood “Luxury Collection” branding and its recent fifth diamond. The facilities are beautiful and well-maintained. The service is prompt and courteous. And, for a property of this caliber, I didn’t even find the food offerings to be especially overpriced. Not cheap, mind you, but not really more expensive than better Westin properties.

If there was a short-coming, it was in this property’s understanding and recognition of Starwood Preferred Guest program benefits.

My status didn’t appear to be properly reflected in my reservation, and I asked the hotel to correct that which they told me they did.

In advance of my arrival, I received a concierge email that contained someone else’s reservation — but that showed my Starwood Preferred Guest number with the incorrect status. (I then received a copy of my own reservation, again with the wrong status showing.) I replied to the email asking that the reservation be updated with my correct status, but didn’t get a reply.

When I checked into the hotel, I appeared to them as a Gold. I handed them my Platinum card. Since I was pre-blocked into a room based on how they perceived my status, I asked whether a further room upgrade might be available as a Platinum.

The check-in agent told me that “Gold and Platinum benefits are the same here at the Phoenician” so he didn’t look for other room options. Whether or not better rooms would have been available, he didn’t decline a Platinum upgrade as a result of lack of availability — but rather because a Platinum wasn’t entitled to a better upgrade than a Gold.

I asked him whether the same benefits for Golds and Platinums applied to the program’s welcome amenity as well, and he said that it did — Platinums did not receive a separate amenity, and there was already something in my room that the hotel provides to all guests (4 pieces of fruit).

I asked if there were any differences between Platinums and Golds, and he said that “As a Platinum you earn more points than Golds for your spending here at the hotel.” That is, of course, incorrect (both Platinums and Golds earn a 50% bonus on in-hotel spend).

Now, this is an absolutely lovely hotel. We had a nice, spacious room overlooking the pool and the city with a large blacony. The grounds are beautiful, the staff is friendly, and the bath amenities are top-notch. Both a shower and a tub, with a separate toilet cabin, dual sinks, and full-sized spa-style bath amenities made me a happy guest.

Room service was prompt and of consistently high quality. I ordered coffee in the morning, and for a small additional cost there’s an option for a french press. The coffee was just outstanding. I ordered a cheeseburger, and they let me know I could have almost any cheese I could think of. I picked provolone. And they always managed to be clear about how long it would take them to deliver, and they managed to bring my order within the promised time, Sure, it wasn’t inexpensive. A cheeseburger with fries was $15 plus service, tax and delivery charge. If you’re looking to scrimp on room service costs, try the children’s cheese pizza for $9++ — it’s the size of a large personal pizza.

The lobby, the lobby terrace, the pool, and the 5th floor terrace restaurant are all beautiful spaces. The only thing that struck me about the pool is that it seemed small for a resort of this size. But the limited number of pool chairs weren’t fully occupied whenever I looked off my balcony. Others who have stayed in the past will be able to report whether this is a problem at other times. (One of my pet peeves is hotels where guests get up at 6 or 8am to reserve chairs.)

Despite the lack of clarity on Platinum benefits, I’ve decided that I prefer this property overwhelmingly compared to the Westin Kierland where I stayed in November — even though the Kierland provided me with a Casita Suite and has a lounge which Platinums can access for breakfast and other snacks.

Undoubtedly I will return to the Phoenician as my preferred property in Phoenix. But on a weekend where the top executives of Starwood Preferred Guest were actually all staying at the hotel, I would have expected the staff to be more familiar with the SPG program! Naturally, I’ve sent a note to Starwood to let them know about the training opportunities that exist here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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