Ever since Starwood Preferred Guest introduced Suite Night Awards a few years back they’ve been largely underwhelming.
When first announced, they were a new benefit for Platinum members who stay at least 50 nights per year. It was a way for SPG to start differentiating between customers who stayed just 25 nights (and 25 stays) versus 50 nights or more without adding another elite tier. The theory was that SPG would be controlling the inventory to some degree, thus increasing the chance that Platinum members got an upgrade.
After there were many reports from Platinum members that Suite Night Awards weren’t actually clearing, SPG implicitly acknowledged this by extending the expiration date of Suite Night Awards. Even after the extension, I had a number of Suite Night Awards that expired. That was a common refrain amongst other frequent travelers I keep in contact with.
SPG went back to the drawing board and earlier this year came up with alternatives to Suite Night Awards for customers who preferred something else. The choices weren’t great, but they were better than nothing if you really weren’t into Suite Night Awards. But, given that the value of the alternatives was no more than $100, if you had any chance at all to clear a suite upgrade with one of the awards, you pretty much had to take it.
I’m happy to report that SPG has gone back to the drawing board again and come back with a much more compelling proposition for 50-night Platinums. As was just reported by View From The Wing, if you stay at least 50 nights in 2016, here’s what you get to choose from if you don’t want Suite Night Awards:
- A free night at any SPG property (up to category 5).
- 5 Elite Qualifying Nights-a shortcut to elite status.
- A free 5-day car rental with Silvercar.
- 40% off a hotel bed (Westin Heavenly Bed, and hopefully a new one!).
As before, you can still choose 10 Suite Night Awards. And, you can still gift gold status or make a donation to UNICEF.
I view these as real alternatives to Suite Night Awards. A free night in a category 5 property can easily be worth a few hundred dollars. Elite qualifying nights can save someone from having to mattress run to qualify for/retain status. And, a 5-day rental from Silvercar is worth way more than $100. The bed….you’re on your own there.
I’ll likely still choose Suite Night Awards for a few reasons:
- As I mentioned in my end-of-year recap, I’m trying to qualify early in the year to lock up lifetime status before the Marriott merger. So, elite qualifying nights aren’t likely something I’ll need.
- The car rental and hotel bed don’t hold enough value for me personally.
- While I might consider a free night, I’ll hope that more appealing choices might result in fewer people choosing Suite Night Awards, thus increasing the chances I might actually clear at a higher rate. But, if I end up with a family vacation at a category 5 property it’ll be tempting to take sure thing.
We’ll see how the year plays out, but this is definitely an improvement for SPG Platinum members who plan to hit 50 nights.
What choice will you make when you hit 50 nights with SPG in 2016?
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