Just like Pizza in Motion who is letting all 10 of his Starwood Suite Night Awards expire unused I have to make a selection for my Starwood Preferred Guest 50 night Platinum benefits in the next month — and I don’t know what to choose.
- Starwood Platinum status is achieved after 25 stays or 50 nights in a year. There are additional benefits for those who stay with Starwood 50 nights versus just 25 stays.
- This began in 2012 when Starwood introduced ‘Suite Night Awards’ for Platinums who stay 50 nights or more in a year. For 10 nights they allow you to express first-preference for an upgrade, and perhaps more importantly Starwood centrally manages the process between 1 and 5 days prior to check-in rather than relying on the hotel to process upgrades.
Member frustration with using their advance upgrades led Starwood to introduce more choices early in 2015. But those choices were weak. Suite Night Awards seemed like the no brainer. But I really haven’t gotten much use out of mine.
- I burned 2 at the W Doha, a property that tends to give Platinums suites whether use use a Suite Night Award or not.
Living Room of Suite at the W Doha
- I used 1 for what was effectively an airport overnight at the St. Regis Abu Dhabi, another property that tends to give Platinums suites either way.
View from the St. Regis Abu Dhabi
- With 7 left I burned 3 at the Westin Arlington, for a solo stay where I didn’t much care about the suite and where a suite isn’t even really better than a standard room.
Living Room at the Westin Arlington
For 2015 the choices Platinums could select from were:
To me the choices – aside from Suite Night Awards – just weren’t that compelling.
For 2016 you still had:
- 10 Suite Night Awards
- Gift Gold status to a friend or family member
- SPG® donation to UNICEF
And they added 4 new selections:
- Free rental up to 5 days with Silvercar
- Free Night Award at a property up to category 5
- 5 Elite Qualifying Nights
- 40% off your favorite hotel bed (including Westin Heavenly Bed)
You make your selection on the 50 Nights Benefit page. If you don’t make a choice by January 15, they choose 10 Suite Night Awards for you.
A category 5 free night is worth 12,000 – 16,000 Starpoints, perhaps $250 to $350 in value. It has to be used by December 31, 2017.
5 Silvercar rental days are worth ~ $250 – $350 as well (they actually also come with waived $5 fuel refilling fee, though they have to be used in a single rental reservation). The reservation must be consumed by December 31, 2017. I like Silvercar but the problem here is I pretty much never make a 5-day car rental.
If you’re going to buy a heavenly bed the discount is worth even more, since Westin beds are rarely discounted (though W beds are often discounted). The 40% discount on mattress and box spring is valid at Westinstore.com,Whotelsthestore.com, Stregisboutique.com, Luxurycollectionstore.com, or Sheratonstore.com.
Elite qualifying nights will be useful to some that are going for 75 or 100 night elite status (these are 5 elite nights that are credited in 2016 — not help towards requalifying in 2017). Coupled with the two Starwood American Express cards (personal and business) that would total 15 nights towards status in a year.
I love suites, but the Suite Night Awards can be challenging to use for four reasons:
- Hotels are full these days
- Everyone wants suite upgrades at the same hotels at the same times. No one wants them on solo one night business stays. They want them at resorts at peak times.
- Suite upgrades have to be available every night of a stay.
- There are hotels that play games with inventory, though my sense is this factor is less important and less prevalent than commonly believed.
If you want Suite Night Awards over the holidays at the Westin Maui, good luck. If you want them at the Sheraton Denver Tech Center you’ve got a shot. I think my choice is between a free night, and a proactive plan to burn them at middling Sheratons. What do you think I should do?