We’re halfway through 2013 so I figured I would check to see if I’ve made the expected progress on elite status for the first 6 months. I’m a big fan of Hyatt and Starwood (in that order) and had hoped to keep top-tier status in both when the year started. Both are smaller than mega-chains like Marriott, Hilton and Priority Club so having both Hyatt and Starwood gives me ample coverage in most cities I travel to.
First up, Hyatt. I got a surprise and delight just about a month ago when Hyatt gave me a free night for staying at 50 different properties over the time I’ve been a member. They’re my primary program for revenue stays for two reasons. First, Hyatt awards lifetime Diamond status (their top tier) based solely on the amount you spend. There’s no night requirement and award stays don’t count. You need to spend $250,000 to achieve lifetime Diamond. That’s a pretty high hurdle that I’m inching towards.
At the midpoint of the year I have 20 stays and 39 nights at Hyatt so far.
That’s a solid number for me for two reasons. Diamond status will be easy to achieve and I’m also a bit behind last year’s pace which means I’m getting more time at home with the family! My wife Mickie might not believe that, but the facts are right there in black and white.
A quick check of Starwood shows me a bit ahead of pace. Starwood gives stay and night credit on award stays and more than half of my stays this year have been award stays. Starwood will also give you credit for up to 3 rooms per night at a property so this is truly an example of a great way to leverage your credit card spend (on the Starwood Preferred Guest AMEX card) to get status with a hotel chain based on award stays. I was at 20 stays and 49 nights at the midpoint of the year. I’ve had one stay since June 30, so I’ve actually already requalified for Platinum.
Starwood awards lifetime status based on total nights stayed and number of years of elite status. I’m currently at 7 years of Platinum status and 394 nights. That means if I qualify for Platinum the next two years I’ll have a year to wait for my lifetime status to kick in. Sweet!
I hit 100 nights at Starwood last year because I wanted to try out their Ambassador program. I’ll save all the details for another post comparing these types of services, but I’m fairly disappointed with the value out of the Ambassador program at the mid-year point. I don’t think the performance will improve in enough time for me to put another 100 nights with Starwood by the end of the year. I’ll certainly work to get to 75 nights. Last year, Starwood added a 75-night Platinum tier that earns a 4th Starpoint per dollar spent and a benefit called Your24 which allows you to check-in very early or very late and adjust your checkout time accordingly. I haven’t used this benefit yet but would appreciate it for European and Asian stays where I’m much more likely to need an ultra early or ultra late check-in or check-out.
I’ll finish up Hyatt Diamond by September. While I could consider adding a lower-tier status in a 3rd program I just don’t see enough value in the other programs for my travel patterns. I’ll continue to book my revenue stays to Hyatt and inch closer to lifetime status. Hilton, Marriott and Priority Club (soon to be renamed IHG) all have positive points to offer for travelers, they’re just not right for me.
Next up I’ll break down my flights for the year.