I recently needed to stay in the Denver Tech Center area, and settled on staying at the Sheraton. I actually burned 3 Platinum ‘Suite Night Awards’ at the property and was pleasantly surprised.
There are two principles that were at play:
- Sheratons in the U.S. are hugely inconsistent. That’s not an especially controversial claim.
Starwood has a major initiative to do something about that. Although it’s been a nagging problem for awhile. They tried to address inconsistency at Sheraton back in 2008 by kicking out 38 properties and requiring club lounges.
There are some basic expectations of a Sheraton in the U.S. You can expect a very comfortable bed (I think I actually prefer Sheraton beds over Westin and W beds) and a mediocre club lounge.
- Starwood’s Suite Night Awards, which confirm an upgrade up to 5 days in advance of a stay, are tough to use. While there are enough empty suites in the Starwood system to satisfy all the Suite Night Awards given out, people tend to want to use them at the same popular city and resort properties and during peak times.
Since they’re tough to use, Starwood introduced choices in lieu of Suite Night Awards for Platinums who stay 50 nights a year. None come close to the value of Suite Night Awards, though, if you can make use of a few upgrades. Here’s how to use Suite Night Awards successfully.
We’re in the last quarter of the year and I had all 10 of my Suite Night Awards left. I’ve had a few upgrades without them — like to the Chairman’s Suite at the Westin Stonebriar Resort (outside Dallas… in June.. upgrades are easy) and at the Westin Arlington (where I am a frequent guest) — but mostly haven’t tried to use them. I was unsuccessful at the Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas though still had a great stay. Mostly I’ve had short city stays on my own with Starwood this year and so always ‘saved them for later’.
Without much chance of using them, and they are ‘use it or lose it’, I decided I might as well request them on this three night stay. The suite upgrade cleared 5 days out.
On check-in day I drove out from the airport and found copious amounts of free parking. Check-in took awhile because there was only one agent at the desk and the people checking into two rooms ahead of me had a difficult reservation, multiple bookings and different credit cards, needing to add guests to their rooms, and lots of questions about things to do in the area.
After about 10 minutes someone came out from inside the office behind the desk and checked me in.
I was given room keys and sent upstairs to my room. The upgrade is to a suite on the club floor, which requires key access in the elevator. Put the key in the slot, the elevator lights up to the top floor automatically.
This wasn’t the most aspirational of stays, or of suites, but it was a surprisingly quirky and nice room. I already like Sheraton beds. And I found a comfortable and clean room with great windows.
I also liked the art in the room.
Still, it was your standard double-sized room with bedroom and bathroom on one side and living room with desk on the other. Here’s the living room, indeed the highlight was windows.
The bedroom wasn’t large. It featured a bed and two chairs. And those same windows.
There was plenty of room in the bathroom.
The bedroom had a closet with safe.
The suite was conveniently on the club floor, and there was a refrigerator you could take drinks from at any time. There’s no access controls on the club lounge area, since there’s key access to the floor. So it’s a very open space although decorated a bit drably in my opinion.
The espresso machine wasn’t working — but I have to give them credit, they arrange for complimentary coffee drinks in the lobby coffee shop instead.
Here’s the stated club lounge hours for service. Interestingly it suggests the lounge is only providing breakfast and evening appetizers during the week, when in fact it was provided seven days.
(Click to enlarge)
Breakfast in the lounge was fruit, breads, yogurt, eggs, bacon, and cereal. Perfectly fine, as expected not great quality bacon of course.
The lobby features seating and a bar area. There’s the same menu from room service, the bar, and the restaurant.
The ground floor has a gym and an outdoor pool. I was surprised to see guests using the pool since it wasn’t at all warm out.
It was a perfectly good stay for needing to be in the area, and I’ll return soon when I need to be there again in the coming months.
And I was happy enough having used my Suite Night Awards since I had 10 left and wouldn’t have used them otherwise.
I’m beginning to attenuate my expectations for those, using the one simple insight to help time your upgrades and increase your success rate: baseball Hall of Fame hitter Wee Willie Keeler’s advice to “Keep your eye clear, and hit ’em where they ain’t.”