Well, almost. I still have two stays with SPG to post, though I doubt one will post by the end of the year, as I detailed here.
As the year comes to a close, I’m taking time to summarize my year in travel as it relates to earning points and status. I also have an update on lifetime status planned along with my thoughts for next year. A lot of this is just mental housekeeping for me, but some may find it interesting as they plan where and how to earn next year. I hope you’ll share your thoughts on how you plan to approach the miles & points game next year.
My hotel night tally this year is fairly inflated over previous years, though I didn’t specifically travel more than last year. This was due to changes in the Starwood Preferred Guest program that now allow a guest to credit up to 3 rooms per night to their SPG account. In the past, this was a YMMV exercise, as some properties already did this but many did not. It was a bit like finding a $20 bill in your pocket when an extra stay or night would land in your account. With two kids, we virtually always get 2 adjoining rooms when we travel, so this change was a big plus for me this year. Here’s a quick breakdown of my hotel stays:
Hyatt: This is my go-to program, one I’m actively pursuing lifetime status in. I’ve heard rumors they may lower the bar for lifetime status, but I actually hope they don’t. It’s very tough to achieve (essentially $250,000 in spending at Hyatt), so it’s a small group that’s apparently treated very well. This year I had a total of 51 stays and 83 nights in Hyatt hotels this year (an average of 1.6 nights per stay). This is down a bit from last year where I topped out around 100 nights. With various promos I earned about 350,000 points this year with Hyatt, and ended the year about 40% of the way towards lifetime Diamond. While a bulk of my stay was in Denver in business, I also had a few interesting/aspirational stays:
Park Hyatt Zurich: This was part of StarMegaDO4. One of the top hotels I’ve ever stayed at.
Grand Hyatt Seattle: A quick business stay, this hotel was much nicer than I expected it to be. I still haven’t written this one up, mistakenly. So, look for details on it soon.
Andaz 5th Avenue: I’ve been meaning to get to this property for a couple years and finally managed to enjoy a suite there with my wife. It’s between this and Hyatt 48Lex for go-to NYC properties.
Park Hyatt Chicago: My new go-to property in Chicago.
Park Hyatt Tokyo: Wow. It’s going to be hard to top a property as great as this.
Starwood Preferred Guest: Again, because of the changes to the program, I ended up with a lot more stays and nights due to getting credit for multiple rooms during one stay. When everything posts I’ll end up with 52 stays and 104 nights (an average of exactly 2 nights per stay). This is almost entirely leisure stays, as I credited virtually all my paid stays to Hyatt for lifetime status there since they don’t give lifetime credit for award stays. I’ll end the year with 6 years of Platinum status and a total of 354 nights, needing 10 years and 500 nights respectively to qualify for lifetime Platinum status (I’m already lifetime Gold). So, 2 years to get the nights component, then the waiting game. My SPG stays also yielded some new and interesting properties:
Westin Nova Scotian, Halifax: A solid, well-located property in this maritime city.
Sheraton On The Falls, Niagara Falls: There’s a ton of SPG properties at the Falls. This property on the Canadian side is the one to visit.
Sheraton Centre, Toronto: A solid property well-located in downtown Toronto. I’ll probably try the Park Hyatt next time, though.
Sheraton Miyako Hotel, Tokyo: A decent property in Tokyo, though not well located. Would definitely choose the Park Hyatt over this property in the future.
Sheraton Sand Key, Clearwater Beach: Fine enough for an affordable award stay, but savvy travelers will defer to Westin Diplomat.
I was definitely fortunate this year to see a number of new properties, some that will assuredly remain on my top list of hotels for a long time to come. I ended the year with Diamond status in Hyatt Gold Passport and Platinum status (with 100 nights) in Starwood Preferred Guest, both statuses I intend to keep for next year.
As I mentioned above, this is more mental housekeeping, cleaning out the attic if you will, for next year. While some frequent travelers feel you need to have Marriott or Hilton status to get by through a year of travel, I found myself in dozens of cities this year, not needing to stay with either of these chains. Though if you do find yourself needing backup status in something other than Hyatt and SPG, go with View From the Wing’s recommendations on obtaining Hilton status.
I’ll employ mostly the same strategy next year as I did in 2012. Paid stays will be at Hyatt properties, award stays at SPG. This leaves me with a disproportionately large balance of Hyatt Gold Passport points, but I suspect I’ll have my SPG lifetime nights requirement done in the next two years, so I’ll start burning Hyatt GP points until then (or, the occasional giveaway to blog readers, hint, hint). Between these two chains I can almost always find a top-notch property for leisure travel where I want to go, and enough decent properties in the domestic US to handle re-qualification. These two are, IMO, the cream of the hotel crop.
What are your plans for 2013? I’m interested to hear how people are planning to embark on next year’s push for status and points.