Here’s What Starwood Does for You When You Stay 100 Nights in a Year

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I’m done with my travels for the year. I’ve requalified as an American Airlines Executive Platinum member (100,000+ miles, I actually hit this back in mid-June) and I hit United Silver but not quite Gold. I’ve flown paid trips on Delta, Southwest, and Virgin America as well (not to mention China Eastern, flydubai, and Maldivian).

For my hotel stays I spent:

  • 51 nights with Hyatt
  • 6 nights with Marriott
  • 3 nights with Hilton
  • A handful of nights at unaffiliated properties
  • And 100 nights with Starwood


W Doha

My Hyatt nights don’t count at least half a dozen award nights, since award nights (full points redemptions and the annual credit card free night) don’t count towards elite status. They do include 10 nights from credit card spend.

My Starwood nights include 10 nights from having both the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card co-brands. And during the summer I was targeted for double elite nights.

Without the double elite qualifying promotion I wouldn’t have seen myself as being close enough to make 100 nights possible. I would have stopped at 75 nights, which gets you an extra Starpoint per dollar spent at SPG hotels and gets you access to ‘Your24’ check-in, the ability to check in any time, 24 hours a day and check out 24 hours later (subject to availability).


Al Maha Desert Resort

But 100 nights gets you a designated “Ambassador” — an individual designated to handle all Starwood issues, “gets to know you over time” and “provide the personal touches that make each trip special.”

Within moments of my 100th night posting to my account, I received an email welcoming me to the program:

You take travel to a whole new level. Reaching 100 eligible nights in a calendar year is a momentous occasion — one that deserves a fitting reward: the SPG® ambassador service. It’s the most individualized benefit available through the SPG program, and it can be what you want it to be. You’ll have 24/7 access to the ambassador team, including a personal SPG ambassador — your primary point of contact no matter where you are in the world.

Just tell us what you need — from preferences to restaurant reservations and car transfers — we’ll work to make it happen.

Start using the SPG ambassador service immediately by contacting our global support team at […] or visit spg.com/ambassador. Over the next week, your personal SPG ambassador will be assigned and will reach out to you directly. We’re always here to help you, around the clock and around the world.

I think I know what to expect because I’ve had a Hyatt ‘Private Line Agent’ for several years. Hyatt used to assign one to any Diamond member that requested on. I’ve had several different ones over the years. They leave the company, in one case get fired (for proactively sharing information that wound up posted on an online forum), or move around elsewhere in Hyatt. Some have been better than others (the one who was fired was by far the best).

It’s one point of contact for all things Hyatt. They follow up on missing points and get me bills from past stays. They process suite upgrades for me and make bookings by email. And they’ve arranged things with hotels at times, like specific room requests.

Within 24 hours of my 100th night posting to my Starwood account, I received an email from the person designated as my Ambassador.

Hello Mr. Leff,

Congratulations on hitting 100 nights and earning SPG ambassador service!

My name is [..] and I will be your ambassador.

As your ambassador, I am here for whatever you may need whether it be reservations, concierge services, keeping an eye on your SPG account, etc.

Please do not ever hesitate to contact me for anything that you may need.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

My Ambassador’s details were also visible in the SPG app as well:

I assume my experience with Starwood’s Ambassador program is going to be similar to working with a Private Line agent at Hyatt. There are reports of excellent Ambassador treatment, and reports of Ambassadors who don’t follow up or really do anything more than make reservations and fetch folios.

Starwood makes it seem really special:

The biggest draw for me was experiencing it myself. I get questions from readers all the time, often beyond the scope of what I write about here on the block, and I want to have had as many varied experiences as possible to draw on in providing advice. So why not see what the Ambassador program is like first-hand and not just from reading others’ reports?

Ben Schlappig loves his Starwood Ambassador. But I think you have to set your expectations appropriately. They don’t necessarily get a hotel to break rules for you, but should get to know your preferences and communicate them to a hotel so that any amenity is customized to things you actually like for instance.

Hyatt is introducing a program that may wind up similar with their new top elite tier launching in March. Those who have participated in a test of the program over the past two years seem to be reasonably happy with it, and it’s achieved after 60 nights rather than 100.

Meanwhile Marriott, which has acquired Starwood, is testing an Ambassador program as well.

At the end of the day I may not get as much use out of my Ambassador in the coming year as I would have this last year. That’s because as of now I don’t expect to do 100 Starwood nights again.

  • I’m going to push to do 60 Hyatt nights (including meeting $40,000 co-brand credit card spend before the end of February to earn 10 nights) to requalify top tier.

  • I intend to do fewer nights on the road in 2017.

That’s why I intend to use the Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card to earn Platinum status with Starwood in 2017.

  • $75,000 in spend on the card in a year earns Platinum status. Ritz-Carlton and Marriott Platinum status are effectively the same. I have access to the 5000+ hotel footprint and with status.


    Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Credit: Ritz-Carlton

  • This status matches to Starwood Platinum.

    I’ve confirmed that status earned via credit card is eligible for the status match. It’ll keep me Starwood Platinum without having to worry about my stays.


    St. Regis Abu Dhabi

And of course $75,000 spend on the card then gets me Delta Crossover Rewards benefits and United Silver as well (plus Hertz status).

I’ll stay with Starwood when it makes sense, but I won’t even have to do 50 nights to keep Platinum. Unless I’m truly transformed by Ambassador – hard to imagine – I don’t see myself doing 100 Starwood nights again next year.

Ritz-Carlton Rewards® Credit Card

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 InsideFlyer.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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Comments

  1. Hi Gary – Can you give me some advice. I typically only stay about 10-20 nights annually. Am SPG gold and maybe 80% of my stays are with SPG. I am constantly torn on which card to use between the Reserve, Prestige, and the SPG AX. I’m never really sure if it’s better to diversify with the Reserve and Prestige since I get the base points plus the status points or if its better to go all in on SPG now that we may only have limited time to earn those points. Any help would be great. Thanks!

  2. Prepare to be dissapointed by Marriott Platinum however… My experience with status is the harder it is to qualify the more it’s worth, but I stayed 75 nights to get Marriott Platinum and I dont plan to go out of my way to do that again.

    Do you actually have 75K expenses in a year or will you need/plan to do manufactured spend to reach 75K on RC card?

  3. I wasn’t impressed when I had an Ambassador and he actually screwed up a couple of SNA upgrade requests for me. Will not go out of my way to earn the 100 nights just for the sake of having an Ambassador.

  4. I’m Lifetime SPG Platinum and made Ambassador level for the first time last year. To me Ambassador status was nice but no big deal. It was somewhat disappointing that in 37 SPG stays this year my Ambassador status was only acknowledged three or four times at most. At check in It was almost always just the standard “Thanks for being Platinum.” Although I received a nice bottle of wine and some delicious Christmas cookies and cupcakes at the Westin Cincinnati last year and a great birthday cake and card at the W Bangkok this year, I don’t think I got better rooms than I’ve gotten in the past or consistently better treatment.

    I had two ambassadors this year. Each one was fine, but I think I could get much the same service and results from a good Platinum rep. The deal about working with someone who knows you personally is overblown. Ambassadors only work eight hours a day, five days a week and take vacations, holidays and other time off. So I was often dealing with a rep from the Ambassador pool. A few of my calls were even routed to Ambassador reps in China.

    I’m glad I got to try Ambassador status this year but I didn’t go out of my way to requalify for it. I’ll use my ambassador to make reservations for some stays coming up in the first quarter next year though. Next year, I will be very satisfied with SPG75 and relying on good Platinum reps (HUCB). Your24, fourth Starpoint and enhanced Uber benefits are more valuable than having an ambassador. YMMV.

  5. My first experience with ambassador was disappointing. I called the regular line and the rep noticed I was ambassador and offered to transfer me…..so I reached an ambassador in China who, when I requested The Sheraton Grande in Bangkok said “you mean the Royal Orchid?” after a few more wasted minutes I hung up, called the regular plat line and have never used ambassador again! IMHO I’d rather they not offer a service than offer one that is embarrassing 🙁

  6. Lifetime Gold, requalified for SPG Ambassador service this year. My ambassador is somewhat proactive when reviewing upcoming stays, especially when she knows my wife is traveling with me and I have only registered one person. She also has personally handled upgrade requests and communicated upgrade preferences to various properties on my behalf. This is the minimum of what I’d expect.

    The service has come in handy when we are traveling separately, as I once had a layover in China and my wife was getting jerked around by one of the SPG properties in Bangkok. My ambassador has done full research of options for award stays in Thailand, offering suggestions, sharing feedback from other elites, and getting all of the rates together in one list. She also arranged for birthday greetings at the Aloft Asheville this month along with some wine and a laminated printout congratulating me on 400 lifetime stays with a picture from one of my friends on Twitter! She arranged for a celebratory “welcome to Ambassador” cake in Bangkok last year. All of these are nice touches which help personalize the brand a bit more.

  7. I’ve earned my Ambassador by staying at a crummy, rundown suburban Sheraton, and will continue to do so in 2017. I gain practically nothing from it unfortunately. I’m guessing most 100 night Plats are weekly road warriors like me, not Globetrotters, so the program doesn’t cost SPG much but doesn’t do much either

  8. I loved my ambassador!!!! She got to know all of my preferences and booked accordingly. Unfortunately, of my 271 days on the road this year only 76 of them were stayed at a Starwood. It’s my mission to get my A back immediately.

  9. I have had an ambassador for the past four years and nothing special. I receive the same service when I call the Platinum line. This year I spread my stays and kept below the 100 stays. Unless they make big changes, I won’t be doing a 100 nights any more.

  10. I’d say that, based on what I’ve seen from a couple of colleagues who have Ambassadors, the good ones help ensure hotels comply with SPG policy. And that, right there, is huge at some properties, where the best available room is never more than a regular room for most elites.

  11. Is the best deal on a Ritz Carlton card? If I can find $75k on spend in 2017, is it worth getting? Otherwise, no way for me to get Hyatt Diamond (barely made it this year) and SPG Platinum. Thanks

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