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)




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


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 or 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 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.

2013 Platinum Challenge Followup

After our writeup of how we obtained Platinum status for about $500, we would like to update you about the challenge’s status.

The final stay was on January 21, 2013, and just last night, this email popped into the inbox:


With the Challenge now complete and Platinum status obtained, I’m looking forward to these perks during my upcoming trip through Europe and Southeast Asia.

So You Are Going to Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans?

After two exciting games today, Super Bowl XLVII is set. You’ve got your tickets, right? Well with the San Francisco 49ers vs. the Baltimore Ravens a mere two weeks away, where are you going to stay in the Big Easy during Super Bowl Week? Trying to stay in the same hotel as one of the Harbaugh brothers?

Fortunately, Starwood has a strong grasp of the New Orleans market, and there are many options.


Here’s a few of the top options:


1. Sheraton New Orleans Hotel (Cat 3: 7,000 a Night, Rates are…..


OH WAIT, it is Super Bowl week, and as a result all availability looks like this…

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In the true city that never sleeps, maybe you could just hop from party to party (or bar to bar) for the whole weekend.


Starwood Options in Accra, Ghana

The #4 place to visit in 2013 suffers the same fate as its earlier brethren. No Starwood options in this beautiful coastal city. This might be a tip for Starwood to expand into some of these hot markets. If you plan to use your SPG Starpoints in Ghana, you will be shutout yet again as no Starwood properties exist in this waterfront hotspot.

Despite this, Accra is still a place to visit, so why don’t we learn a little about it?

First off, where is Accra, Ghana?

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How about I zoom in…

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Now that you know about its location, how’s the weather in Accra?

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As you can see, it gets quite toasty in Accra. Don’t forget to wear proper clothing/suntan lotion so you don’t get too sunburned. Also don’t forget to have fun on the capital of Ghana’s beaches.

New Starwood Cash & Points Redemptions

Starwood just announced new Cash & Points Redemption options. Unfortunately, it looks like rates are going up, but they have also added options to redeem for suites and upgraded rooms.

The switchover occurs on March 5, 2013, so redeem wisely.


Rate Changes

Category 1: +$5 & 300pts

Category 2: +$5 & 400pts

Category 3: +$10 & 700pts

Category 4: +$15 & 1,000pts

Category 5: +$20 & 1,200pts

Category 6: +$30 & 2,000pts

Category 7:  No Change



New Cash & Points Rates/Redemption:



Old Redemption Options:


Starwood Options in Nicaragua

Unfortunately, Starwood is absent in the third place to see in 2013. Nicaragua by all accounts is a beautiful place to visit, but if your goal is to stay at a Starwood property, you will be sorely dissapointed.

The lack of Starwood properties is not a Nicaragua specific issue. Starwood only offers two properties in the non-American owned territories in the Caribbean. The first property is The Westin Resort & Casino located  in Aruba. The second property is located in Nassau, Bahamas, and it is named the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino.

To counter this lack of properties in the Caribbean, Starwood offers many properties in Puerto Rico. At present, Starwood offers five properties in Puerto Rico, with many of them receiving high accolades.

Starwood Options in Marseille

The #2 city to visit this year is Marseille, France. Sadly, this wonderful culture capital of Europe is shutout from Starwood options. The closest Starwood option is about 200km away in Nice:

Nice to Mareseille

As you can see from the map, this is quite an adventure, and it would never be an option to stay in Nice to commute into Marseille. In fact, upon further review it appears that Starwood, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt are not present in this major city. Of the big hotel providers, only Intercontinental is present.



Starwood Powerup Promotion (Jan. 15 – Apr. 15) – Earn 18,000 Points

Today marks the kickoff of the Starwood Powerup Promotion. This is Starwood’s spring promotion, and if you play it right, you could walk away with a bonus of 900 additional points per night. While not as lucrative as previous promotions that award Free Nights, free Starpoints are free Starpoints and should never be thrown away.

Here are the Benefits:


Here are the Terms and Conditions:

SPU Terms

You’ll notice very quickly that you can maximize this deal with 18,000 bonus points if you hit the 20-night threshold. This would create a 900 pt/night bonus. This is not a bad deal for some free extra points. My recommendation is to combine this promotion with a Starwood American Express card (for 2x points per dollar spend at Starwood properties). Moreover, if you can do your Starwood Platinum Challenge (as discussed here) during this period, you can extract even more value.

In addition, it is possible to combine this promotion with the Le Méridien promotion that runs through February 28, 2013. It can be quite lucrative if you target your stays at Le Méridien properties.

The terms:

Unlock limitless earnings with Le Méridien Hotels and Resorts across North America and French Polynesia

Register now to discover your earning potential with Le Méridien in North America and French Polynesia and earn more Starpoints® the more you stay.

  • 1,000 Starpoints on 1st eligible stay
  • 2,000 Starpoints on each following stay

Register between December 3, 2012 and January 15, 2013 and stay through February 28, 2013, to earn unlimited Starpoints at Le Méridien Hotels and Resorts throughout North America and French Polynesia.



Now that we’ve discussed the various promotions, let’s run through a hypothetical that combines the Le Méridien promotion with the Powerup promotion.

Assumptions are as follows (conservative and not maximized):

  1. You stay at a Le Méridien property for all 20 nights.
  2. These 20 nights are spread across 5 stays.

With these assumptions, we can conservatively net 27,000 Starpoints:

Stay Cumulative Nights Powerup Bonus Le Méridien Bonus Total Bonus Points Cumulative Bonus Points
1 4 2,000 1,000 3,000 3,000
2 8 2,000 2,000 4,000 7,000
3 12 2,000 2,000 4,000 11,000
4 16 2,000 2,000 4,000 15,000
5 20 10,000 2,000 12,000 27,000
27,000 27,000


Quick Points

-Earn 2,000 bonus Starpoints for every four eligible nights you stay (up to 8,000 bonus points over 16 nights).

-When you hit the 20th Night, you will be awarded a 10,000 Starpoint bonus.

-Note: These are accumulated per four-night period, and that each stay does not have to be four nights to earn the bonus.

-Note: You must be registered at and registration is free.


Don’t forget to sign up today!