Bad News? 2013 Starwood Hotel Category Changes

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The new category changes are hot off the presses. The timing comes off the additional terrible news that the Dom Hotel in Cologne will now be leaving the Starwood family. This is an amazing property with a location that cannot be beat. I had the opportunity to stay there during the Christmas season of 2009, and the views of the Dom (with the Christmas markets below) were unbeatable. Starwood will need to work some deals to build a bigger presence in this area of Germany as it has now lost a marquee property.

What changes does Starwood have in mind for 2013?

The link to the new changes: category_changes_2013_SPG.

 

Relevant Changes for Hotels On My Upcoming Trip through Europe and Southeast Asia:

Surprisingly only one Starwood hotel will be changing categories. On my upcoming trip I will be staying at the Sheraton Malpensa (Milan, Italy), Hotel Eden (Rome, Italy), Royal Orchid Sheraton (Bangkok, Thailand), Le Meridien Bangkok, and the Le Méridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort (Khao Lak, Thailand).

 

1. Le Méridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort (Thailand) [Cat 3 –> Cat 4]

  • I’ll be staying there 6 nights on my upcoming venture to Thailand. Staying on Cash &Points it is a steal.
  • With the changes in Category and the C&P increased rates, not as big as a steal, but still looks like a great property

 

 

Big Droppers (2+ Categories)

Only one hotel made the cut.

  1. Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel (Maryland) [ Cat 3 —> Cat 1] (Good Mattress Run Potential)

 

Big Risers (2+ Categories)

  1. Aloft New York Brooklyn [Cat 3 –> Cat 5]
  2. Sheraton Denarau Villas (Fiji) [Cat 4 –> Cat 6]

 

Movement At The Top (Category 7)

Hawaii is getting a little more difficult as multiple properties have moved into the elite Category 7. No Category 7 property fell.

  1. Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach (Hawaii)
  2. The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas (Hawaii)
  3. The St. Regis Deer Valley (Utah)
  4. Santa Marina Resort & Villas, Mykonos (Greece)
  5. Vedema Resort, Santorini (Greece)
  6. Hotel Danieli, Venice (Italy)

The Great Maze: Use Your American Express Platinum to Get Delta Perks

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If you were one of the lucky people to grab the 100k point American Express Platinum offer, you might be missing out on some hidden Delta perks via Starwood.

As discussed earlier on this website, Delta and Starwood have united to offer perks to each others elite members. This, combined with American Express Platinum’s free SPG Gold status, can yield some nice little perks on Delta (if you don’t have the requisite Delta status or credit card).

First, what can you get on Delta if you are a SPG Gold member?

  1. Unfortunately, you will only get the extra Starpoints for your Delta flights.
  2. If you were a Starwood Platinum, you would get a free checked bag, priority boarding, and priority check-in

It never hurts to get extra Starpoints, so if you have an AMEX Platinum, follow the below listed steps:

  1. Register for an SPG account (if you don’t already have one).
  2. Call the phone number on the back of your Platinum card (1-800-525-3355).
  3. Tell them that you would like to get your Starwood account upgraded to Gold Status.
  4. At this point, they will ask for your Starwood account number and then place you on hold while they connect to Starwood.
  5. About 5-10 minutes later, you will be upgraded to complementary SPG Gold status.

 

 

Starwood Platinum Challenge Followup Part Deux: Nitty Gritty Details

Bangkok Dog

There’s been a lot of speculation about my 2013 Starwood Platinum Challenge. Some are disputing its validity. To remove some of these doubts, I have taken some screenshots and photos of my receipts.

In addition, I did not broker any deal with the hotel in question. The rate was found using simply the Starwood official website and checking hotels in relatively close proximity to my home. Also, there was no Best Rate Guarantee acquired for this rate.

 

Email Screenshots

Platinum Challenge Stay 1: Jan 1 – Jan 15

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Platinum Challenge Stay 2: Jan 17 – Jan 21

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Folio Shot

Page 1 of Stay 1 (lost Stay 2’s folio)

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Platinum Challenge Hotel Information

Four Points By Sheraton Pittsburgh North (Mars, PA) [Category 2]

910 Sheraton Drive, Mars, PA 16046

While the hotel was not on par with many Starwood properties, it was perfect for a mattress run for a Platinum Challenge. The staff was amazingly friendly and more than made up for the hotel’s age. In good news, it is currently going through a renovation, and if the new facility can match the staff’s attentiveness, it could be a nice rest stop for an I-79 roadtrip.

 

 

Starwood Teams Up With Delta Airlines: Use Your Starwood Status for Delta Perks

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Starwood is about to announce a big partnership with Delta Airlines. With the new program, called Crossover Rewards,  you can use your Starwood Gold and Platinum status to get perks reserved for Delta elite members.
The official terms are listed below. If you travel to a Delta hub like Atlanta and Minneapolis a lot, this could be extra motivation to switch your business to Delta over a rival airline.

 

Registering for Crossover Rewards: To receive Crossover Rewards Benefits, members must be a member in good standing with both the Delta SkyMiles program and Starwood Preferred Guest to be eligible for benefits and link their accounts. If not an existing member of both programs, member must join both programs before opting-in. To opt-in to Crossover Rewards, members must register and link their Delta SkyMiles® and Starwood Preferred Guest accounts via delta.com or spg.com/crossover rewards. The first and last names on both accounts must match. Members should expect a delay of 24 hours between opt-in and qualification for benefits. Members qualify for benefits based on status at check-in, not at ticketing.

Benefits Eligibility:  Members that are both SPG Platinum and Delta Medallion will not receive first bag free, Priority Boarding, priority check-in, and Complimentary Upgrades as part of Crossover Rewards but will continue to receive these benefits as a Medallion member. SPG Platinum members that are Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholders will not receive additional checked bags or priority boarding benefits through Crossover Rewards but will continue to receive benefits as a Delta SkyMiles American Express cardholder. Starpoints on Flights and Complimentary Upgrades are eligible on paid tickets only.

Starpoints on Flights: SPG Platinum, and Gold Members will receive 1 Starpoint per dollar spent on tickets (excluding taxes and fees) on flights that are both Delta marketed and operated flights. All legs of the ticket must be both Delta marketed and operated for the ticket to qualify for Starpoints. If one leg of the ticket is flown with one of Delta’s partner airlines, the full itinerary will not be eligible for Starpoints. Special fares often referred to as unpublished fares including, but not limited to, consolidator fares, tour, groups, merchant marine and cruise packages will earn 500 Starpoints per leg rather than 1 Starpoint per dollar spent. Corporate Sales, Military, and Government fares are eligible for Starpoints but will earn either 1 Starpoint per dollar OR 500 Starpoints per leg dependent on the organization’s contract with Delta. Tickets booked with Online Travel Agencies including but not limited to Orbitz, Cheaptickets, Expedia, Priceline, Travelocity, Hotwire, or their subsidiaries will not be eligible for Starpoints. All tickets must be eligible for mileage accrual with the SkyMiles program based on SkyMiles program rules in order to be eligible to earn Starpoints. Starpoints will be posted to your SPG account within 4 to 6 weeks after the activity date.

First Bag Free: Benefit is limited to SPG Platinum members who are not also Delta Medallion members. Reservation must include the SPG member’s SkyMiles number. Fee waiver also available for passengers traveling in the same reservation as the SPG member. Maximum four waivers per reservation. Waiver is only for normal first checked bag fee, if any fee applies, for a bag that is not overweight and not oversize under Delta’s applicable rules as set forth in Delta’s contract of carriage. Additional checked bags will be subject to the applicable baggage fees as outlined by Delta’s rules and the purchased fare as set forth in Delta’s contract of carriage. The first checked bag fee waiver will only be applied on flight segments which originate on a Delta or Delta Connection® carrier when you  check-in with Delta for both a Delta marketed and Delta operated flight. Les vols en partage de code ne sont pas éligibles. The first bag fee waiver will be applied to the reservation at check-in when checking-in with Delta.  Please refer to delta.com/baggage for more details.  Modalités de l’offre soumises à des changements. D’autres restrictions peuvent être en vigueur.

Priority Boarding: SPG Platinum Members will receive Zone 1 Priority Boarding on Delta flights. Reservation must include the SPG Member’s SkyMiles number. Priority Boarding is also available for passengers traveling in the same reservation as the SPG Member. Maximum nine passengers per reservation receive Priority Boarding. Priority Boarding will only be available on Delta and Delta Connection® carrier operated flights. Delta does not offer Priority Boarding on Delta Shuttle® flights.

Priority Check-In: SPG Platinum members should show their SPG card to gain access to designated Silver Medallion and SkyTeam elite check-in areas where Delta offers this service which currently includes Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, New York City – JFK, New York City – LGA, Salt Lake City , and Tokyo –Narita. In airports where Delta doesn’t offer designated check-in for Silver Medallion and Sky Team elite customers, the Sky Priority check-in lanes should be used.

Complimentary Upgrades: SPG VIP or Platinum members are eligible for day of departure upgrades on Delta or Delta Connection flights within the United States. Free upgrades are subject to availability and conditions may not be available on all flights or in all markets. Free upgrades are not available on flights affected by our product BusinessElite ®, with the exception of flights between New York / JFK and Los Angeles or San Francisco. Upgrades are not eligible on Award or Pay with Miles tickets. Medallion members may request an SPG VIP or Platinum member as their companion upgrade which would allow clearance at the Companion level up to 24 hours prior to departure.