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Old Apr 13, 10, 1:52 pm   #1
 
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Why Choose SPG over Marriott, Hilton?

I apologize if this has been discussed ad nauseum on the SPG thread, but seriously, why do you choose SPG over Hilton Honors or Marriott Rewards? I am a SPG Platinum member, I have stayed 32 nights in SPG hotels around the world in the last 12 months alone, and I am starting to really question my loyalty.

To me, SPG Rewards is inferior to other hotel programs. I would be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the following:

1. I stayed at a Westin for two nights. My total expenditure was $623.24. For that, I received 623 base points, plus a 50% elite bonus, and since I am enrolled in the double points promo, another 623. Grand total = 1,557 points. What can I use 1,557 points for with Starwood? Not much. To stay in a Four Points by Sheraton costs at the VERY MINIMAL 3,000 points on average. Had I stayed with Marriott Rewards, I would have earned 6,224 points and been very close to a free room at a decent hotel, if not earned a stay at a Courtyard, etc. (Yes, I know points are handed out at different "exchange rates" but my point is Marriott Rewards gives you more for the dollar spent in terms of reward redemption.)

2. Starwood Platinum really means nothing and Starwood Gold is absolutely worthless and seems to be handed out like water. Platinum members receive the same bonus as Gold, so what is the incentive to earn Platinum? Check cashing privileges of $300/hotel? Does anyone even use a check anymore, much less need to cash one? Free internet access as a Platinum? To me this is a joke. I can stay at any Holiday Inn Express in America and have free internet access, if I spend to stay in a premium luxury hotel, it just enrages me when they try to charge you for internet access if you're paying $400+/night.

3. SPG promotes dishonesty in my opinion; The road to elite status is quicker obtained through stays not total nights. So what do I do? If I am staying two nights at a hotel for work, I will make two separate reservations.

4. Disparity between level of hotel stayed in; I hardly ever stay in a Sheraton much less their lower-tiered hotels. Since I travel internationally, I tend to be in Le Meridien, W Hotels, or a high-priced Westin. Why should someone who spends $70/night at Four Points get elite status (for total stays) quicker than someone who has easily spent $15,000 on hotels around the world? Starwood doesn't reward total expenditures in my opinion.

5. Upgrades as a Gold tend to suck (if at all) and as a Platinum are hardly anything. Yes, occasionally I have received an awesome upgrade (thank you Le Meridien Vienna, Austria) but I have come to realize that "upgrade" means different things in many countries and there is no universal standard. When staying recently at the W Mexico City, I was given a higher floor as an "upgrade" (which really is no favor). To me an upgrade means a higher-priced room not a better view, higher floor, or being away from the elevator. SPG needs to set this in concrete.

If it weren't for the Starwood AMEX points and good will SPG points given to me by various hotels to right a wrong, I would literally have only about 22,000 points this past year for about $15,000 spent at SPG properties--enough for ONE free night at a St. Regis or maybe two free nights at an average Westin.

I am debating my loyalty. Does anyone else generally feel the same about SPG?

Last edited by andrewpartyman; Apr 13, 10 at 1:58 pm.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:05 pm   #2
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Not every program fits everyone. To be honest, if you feel the other programs are better, you should move.

Though you should understand the program before you rag on it.
  1. A 2-night $623 expenditure gets you, as a Platinum, 3,615 points under the current promo (or more if you signed up for the April promo). 1,246 base points, 1,246 for the double points, 623 for the elite bonus, and 500 for being Platinum. The April promo would have given you another 1,000 for a total of 4,615.
  2. You must not have heard that Platinum gets you free Internet access.
  3. What's dishonest? The rules are the rules, and you just use them to your advantage.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:14 pm   #3
 
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My point with free internet access was that it is no benefit. The fact that I can stay in any $50 Holiday Inn Express in America and get FREE internet access just shows how absurd SPG Platinum is--that it is even a "benefit" at all (or rather has to be a benefit). If you are dishing out hundreds for a hotel room, it should be included and is of course already baked in.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:23 pm   #4
 
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I am far from a Starwood apologist, (as someone who recently became a Hyatt Diamond member to help offset *wood stays) but feel as though I should clear up some misconceptions you have...

1. Marriott may be the best points-to-hotel award program out there but I think we can immediately throw out Hilton as being better than Starwood, with their recent massive devaluation (even with Starwood's rather shameful 'phantom' devaluation). Also, for $623 spent at a Westin, you'd get a minimum 1,246 points (before a gold/plat bonus). And, to be fair, with your 500 plat. amenity points, (and additional 623 gold/plat bonus) you'd have almost 2,500 points from that stay...close to a weekend night at a cat. 2 hotel.

2. Whether plats actually get much (in terms of in-hotel perks & upgrades, beyond the check-in amenity) is regularly discussed. I'd agree that it does seem *wood makes it a little too easy to be plat, but that's why I also become Hyatt Diamond (rather than giving *wood my normal 75+ stays a year). I also agree with you on the internet, however my biggest pet peeve is that most *wood hotels have unbelievably slow internet--which bothered me enough to create a topic on it). And you're right that *wood was late to the game of free internet for plats (aka not nickel & diming them on a service that costs the hotel about $.25 per guest but is normally charged $10-18)

3. All chains do the nights/stay tango. I agree, it's not a good formula, but they all do it.

4. Also agree that while 25 nights at cheap 4 points gets you to plat, I'm not really sure how much that impacts the high-roller plats, seeing as someone spending $90 a night wouldn't ever pay $400+ for a night at a W or St. Regis (short of a free night promo). Again, all chains (to an extent) allow members to reach top-tier status on their cheaper brands, though.

Last edited by moulder3; Apr 13, 10 at 5:11 pm.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:29 pm   #5
 
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Do you think a lot of SPG Points' devaluation comes from teaming up with AMEX? Delta SkyPesos are so devalued that they have become worthless (60,000 miles for a r/t to Vegas--2 years ago it took 60k to go r/t to Tokyo). Seems to be a common theme when partnering with AMEX, however, Hilton issues an AMEX card too and I never hear too many complaints.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:38 pm   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
Do you think a lot of SPG Points' devaluation comes from teaming up with AMEX?
The first question should be - do you believe there's been a devaluation? My answer is no, making your question moot.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
The fact that I can stay in any $50 Holiday Inn Express in America and get FREE internet access just shows how absurd SPG Platinum is
But stay in any high-end or many/most mid-range hotels - Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Fairmont, or pretty much any boutique hotel - an you'll have to pay. It's an industry-wide issue - the cheap hotels give it away, while the expensive hotels make you pay. So by your argument, all those other prograns are just as absurd.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 2:52 pm   #7
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
Do you think a lot of SPG Points' devaluation comes from teaming up with AMEX? Delta SkyPesos are so devalued that they have become worthless (60,000 miles for a r/t to Vegas--2 years ago it took 60k to go r/t to Tokyo). Seems to be a common theme when partnering with AMEX, however, Hilton issues an AMEX card too and I never hear too many complaints.
A bit off-topic, but I've found that using miles on any legacy airline sucks doubly because many have canceled non-stops while increasing flights through their hubs, which reduces both the overall number of flights & restricts open seats (because now someone who could've taken a non-stop now needs two seats, on two flights, to get to their destination). As a result, redemption rates go up since you have lots of people connecting.

To be sure, having an affiliated credit card hurts the travelers (who don't use it) because it adds LOTS of points to members while still maintaining the finite amount of rooms (or flights) available. Plus, it gives the company an excuse to jack up redemption rates (like Hilton & Starwood just did).

Last edited by moulder3; Apr 13, 10 at 2:58 pm.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 3:34 pm   #8
 
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As current *wood Plat, Marriott Plat and Hilton Diamond I'd argue they're different, but not superior to one another, with a couple clear exceptions.
Hilton always gives free breakfasts, neither of the others always does.
*wood always free internet, Hilton only with MyWay, Marriott inconsistent.

For points redemption I must admit I don't get as worked up as everyone seems to on these fora.

Overall I'd rather be in Westins, on average, in the upper midrange.
I'd rather be in St Regis, Luxury Collection than others, on average.

So what to do? For me I'll probably continue to lean to *wood. I am irritated with recent drops in Hilton quality and recent decline in Marriott service, but those have little to do with the programs.

Are we confusing the programs with the properties? I know I do.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 3:56 pm   #9
 
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I'm not a Starwood apoligist either (being a Lifetime Marriott Plat means I've spent way too many nights in Marriotts over the years, and I'm also a Plat with Priority Club.) With that, lets look at your comments:

1. Marriott points can definitely add up and in reality, I would tend to agree that on a straight up basis, I can probably earn more free hotel nights at Marriott than with SPG. But outside of Marriott's Megabonus promos, they just don't have a lot of good bonus point promos. Take last year's SPG free weekend night promo for every 2 stays. Marriott just doesn't have anything close to that. I was able to get a bunch of free nights that were usable at upto cat 6 properties. Its these extra bonus promos that can not only level the free night playground, but maybe even give Starwood a leg up.

2. If we are comparing with Marriott, I could ask the same thing of Marriott. What is the benefit of staying those extra 25 nights (75 needed to reach Plat) beyond getting Gold? There isn't a whole lot of extra benefits that Marriott has between Gold and Plat. Both get upgrades and lounge access which tends to be the two most desired elite benefits. (Yeah, Marriott will give you some extra bonus points as a Plat and that is nice.) As for free internet access, up until just a few weeks ago, Marriott charged everyone for internet access at their FS hotels. In fact, while Marriott is now offering free i-net for Plats, it is only for US hotels. Plats STILL have to pay for i-net outside of the US. At least Starwood is now offering free i-net to Plats worldwide, not just in the US.

3. I can tell you right now, don't bring up the D word in the Marriott forum. They have a big time rep for doing the super spin-job on their devals and trying to hide things. Marriott very rarely will give advance warning on hotel category changes. And they still haven't given us a compiled list of their recent category changes even after the fact. (We had to go out and make/find our own list.)

4. Why should someone stay at a Fairfield Inn and get Plat status just the same as someone who stays at JW Marriotts? All the big hotel programs have this same issue.

5. Upgrades for both Golds and Plats suck for Marriott. Suite rooms are expressly excluded by Marriott. So if you want a suite room, SPG or Hyatt is probably your better bet. I will say that many more FS Marriotts have lounges than do Starwoods. And that is a definite plus for Marriott as far as I'm concerned. It is very nice on a trip with the family to not have to worry about paying more than $100 just to get some breakfast for everyone.

Basically, it boils down to this: Each program has its own strengths and weaknesses. I decide what my priorities are and based on my expected travel patterns and where/how I want to use my points, I then pick the program that best meets my needs. Marriott is a good program. SPG is a good program. Hyatt is a good program. Hilton, it is an OK program. Look at each one and then choose the one that best suits you.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 4:10 pm   #10
 
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I thoroughly enjoyed the stay two nights/get one night free promo of last year. However, was that just a result of the dire economy/lack of business travel or is that something SPG does with some level of frequency? That promo alone can make things better.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 4:50 pm   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
I thoroughly enjoyed the stay two nights/get one night free promo of last year. However, was that just a result of the dire economy/lack of business travel or is that something SPG does with some level of frequency?
While I don't have a crystal ball to tell me the future, based on the "hints" going around in the Q2 Promotion thread, you may have a chance to get more enjoyment.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 5:08 pm   #12
 
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If you stay at Westin a lot don't forget the amazon promo too.

http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starw...-may-13-a.html
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Old Apr 13, 10, 5:17 pm   #13
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OP there are very few MRs that cost 7500 pts and not many at 10k either. and believe me these arent going to be a JW,Ren or FS MR

Theres pros and cons to all 3. for an upcoming night in Bruges .BE I had to trade since theres only a CP there

*Ws failing is once I leave Parsippany NJ I can drive 6 hrs+ before getting to Akron Oh and find another *W to stay at, along the way I would have passed numerous Hamptons and Farifields. Although there were and still are some 4Ps that arent as nice as those I dont think *W will ever go after that Lower mkt. and this is repeated throughout the US.

But as a program I find SPG to be way out in front of the others. walk into an ice cream store and you are sure to find numerous flavors, 1 isnt better then the other. People have different tastes and needs

Being based in NY if non-stops is my main concern Id be Nuts to fly UA or US, if going Intl then it should be DL or CO, Domestic JetBlue,Dl,CO = each person needs to take an accting of what is most important to them as benefits in a program and then find that program that best fills it.

So yes its possible that Choce or Wyndham might be the best thing out there for someone to met their needs.

As I said before if non-stops was important then DL or Co is where I should go, but if its impossible to cash in for tkts and AA usually has something then if cashing in is really Important then I might say CO has a better program but AA actually works for me so Id go with AA

eg a friend has a dz FFNs to use up with Hyatt.We decided to hit Europe only problem no place to stay unless London or Paris is where 1 wants to go and then not much of a selection. Even here in the US once youve been to the main Hyatts (only a few) what do you do. So yes everyone Loves the FFNs but thats good as long as you dont mind always going back to the same place. for those that dont mind it works, for others like me Id rather not simply go to London or Paris and no interest in the Former USSR outside of Moscow or St Pete = no Hyatt membership for me

I want to beable to stay in PRG,VIE,AMS,ATH,FCO,VIE,BUD,etc etc cant do that with Hyatt
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Old Apr 13, 10, 6:13 pm   #14
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[quote=andrewpartyman;13763085]
Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
1. I stayed at a Westin for two nights. My total expenditure was $623.24. For that, I received 623 base points, plus a 50% elite bonus, and since I am enrolled in the double points promo, another 623. Grand total = 1,557 points. What can I use 1,557 points for with Starwood? Not much. To stay in a Four Points by Sheraton costs at the VERY MINIMAL 3,000 points on average. Had I stayed with Marriott Rewards, I would have earned 6,224 points and been very close to a free room at a decent hotel, if not earned a stay at a Courtyard, etc. (Yes, I know points are handed out at different "exchange rates" but my point is Marriott Rewards gives you more for the dollar spent in terms of reward redemption.)
As other have mentioned, you don't seem to know how the SPG program works. You get 3 points per $ when having SPG status. So for a stay like this I would normally expect to get about 3000 points or even more depending on the promotion. As mahasamatman said, at the moment you would get more than 4500 points. If you booked at the right time you can get another 500 points on top of this. So those two nights can get you very close to getting two free weekend nights at a Cat 2 hotel.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
2. Starwood Platinum really means nothing and Starwood Gold is absolutely worthless and seems to be handed out like water. Platinum members receive the same bonus as Gold, so what is the incentive to earn Platinum? Check cashing privileges of $300/hotel? Does anyone even use a check anymore, much less need to cash one? Free internet access as a Platinum? To me this is a joke. I can stay at any Holiday Inn Express in America and have free internet access, if I spend to stay in a premium luxury hotel, it just enrages me when they try to charge you for internet access if you're paying $400+/night.
I agree with the internet access. But this is not a Starwood specific thing. The rule of thumb seems to be that the more expensive the hotel, the less likely it is that internet is included. And as a Platinum you get internet for free anyway.
But the statement that Platinum means nothing is just not true. Suite upgrades, club access, late check out might be meaningless for you but they are valuable for most of us.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
3. SPG promotes dishonesty in my opinion; The road to elite status is quicker obtained through stays not total nights. So what do I do? If I am staying two nights at a hotel for work, I will make two separate reservations.
This doesn't work. If you make two separate reservations at the same hotel for consecutive nights you will only get one stay credit and two nights. So I am not sure what you are referring to.
Starwood allows qualification based on nights and stays and in this forum you will find people who prefer one or the other but both avenues are fine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
4. Disparity between level of hotel stayed in; I hardly ever stay in a Sheraton much less their lower-tiered hotels. Since I travel internationally, I tend to be in Le Meridien, W Hotels, or a high-priced Westin. Why should someone who spends $70/night at Four Points get elite status (for total stays) quicker than someone who has easily spent $15,000 on hotels around the world? Starwood doesn't reward total expenditures in my opinion.
Actually they do, indirectly. The likelihood of a Platinum getting an upgrade is based on a proprietary formula and we are almost certain that spend goes into the mix.
Also most loyalty programs work this way, not just in the hotel industry.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
5. Upgrades as a Gold tend to suck (if at all) and as a Platinum are hardly anything. Yes, occasionally I have received an awesome upgrade (thank you Le Meridien Vienna, Austria) but I have come to realize that "upgrade" means different things in many countries and there is no universal standard. When staying recently at the W Mexico City, I was given a higher floor as an "upgrade" (which really is no favor). To me an upgrade means a higher-priced room not a better view, higher floor, or being away from the elevator. SPG needs to set this in concrete.
Rooms close to an elevator are often sold as a special feature so you don't have to walk too far. So what you perceive as positive might be negative to others. And if a hotel is full, then it is difficult to upgrade you to anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
If it weren't for the Starwood AMEX points and good will SPG points given to me by various hotels to right a wrong, I would literally have only about 22,000 points this past year for about $15,000 spent at SPG properties--enough for ONE free night at a St. Regis or maybe two free nights at an average Westin.
How can this be? At the very least you will get $3 per point, the platinum 500 points and usually some promotions.
So with 25 stays you will get at least 57500 points plus promotions. So usually you will be north of 70000 points.

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrewpartyman View Post
Does anyone else generally feel the same about SPG?
Actually no.
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Old Apr 13, 10, 8:54 pm   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moulder3 View Post

2. Whether plats actually get much (in terms of in-hotel perks & upgrades, beyond the check-in amenity) is regularly discussed. I'd agree that it does seem *wood makes it a little too easy to be plat, but that's why I also become Hyatt Diamond (rather than giving *wood my normal 75+ stays a year).
My thoughts exactly. Used to Love *wood, but now I'm keeping my Plats but I'm also looking around. Getting the Hyatt Diamond for the first time. It is getting too easy to reach Plat at *wood, and so the recognition of plats has clearly declined the past few years. How many times have I heard the receptionist saying " but there are simply too many plats to accommodate the upgrade.

Without fail, every year there will be a double stay promo. So basically 13 stays get you a plat. The occasional traveler can easily make plat, especially with mattress run. I've been telling my staff and friends, go for diamond and make plats during year end double stay promo.
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