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Looking for second elite program recommendations

Looking for second elite program recommendations

Old Aug 30, 11, 11:37 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2001
Programs: Marriott LT Tit; Hyatt Explorist; Hilton CC Gold; IHG CC Plt; Hertz (MR) 5 star
Posts: 5,536
Looking for second elite program recommendations

Since I will now be able to coast to LT plat status, I'm starting to think about working on getting elite status with a second hotel program. I'm not happy with Marriott's stingy upgrade policy and would like to check out other programs.
Criteria in order of importance:
1) A large number of mid/upscale hotels in Europe (Italy, Spain, Greece), South America, Caribbean, and Australia
-Comparable to Ritz, JW Marriott, Marriott, Renaissance, St Regis, Starwood Luxury Collection, Westin, W, Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza
2) Status match or challenge to top tier status
3) Free worldwide internet access for top tier elites.
4) Generous room/suite upgrades for top tier elites. (THIS IS BIG - first three criteria should be no-brainers)
5) Lounge access for top tier elites
6) Free breakfast for top tier elites
7) Amenity gift for top tier elites
8) Path to lifetime status
Note that points/miles don't matter to me.

To provide a bit more information, I retired from the military last fall and expect to be recalled to United/Continental next spring (pilot). As such, I will have to pay for a hotel room 4-6 one night stays/month in whichever hub city that I get based in - right now it'll probably be either Newark or Houston but am hoping to get to LA in fairly short order. We live in Tucson. I don't care if the hotels in those cities are on the low end of the hotel's offerings but I want the option of staying at upscale places when I vacation overseas with my wife.
Potential status match/challenge problem: I will only have ~20 nights for 2011. I will have ~285 nights this year but most of those are rollover nights. I will be looking for a status challenge/match approximately mid-2012. Yes, I know I'm early on this but I'd like to hear comments from fellow Marriott road warriors.

Going through the 10 largest worldwide chains (numbered largest to smallest).
Ones I've ruled out unless convinced otherwise:
1) Intercontinental - I like them but there doesn't seem to be many Intercontinental/Crowne Plaza locations in places that I can't find Marriott. A lot of their European hotels where no Marriotts are available are Holiday Inns. I don't see much benefit in having Holiday Inns available when I want something upscale. Ruling them out unless someone can make a decent case for Intercontinental.
2) Wyndham - Their loyalty program is a joke; no elite tiers to speak of so I doubt that there'd be many suite upgrades. Ruling them out.
5) Accor Group - Very little US penetration except Motel6/Studio6. Motel6/Studio6 do not participate in their loyalty program. Ruling them out.
6) Choice Hotels - Very thin upscale offerings. Ruling them out.
7) Best Western - I was surprised; it looks like they've got decent overseas offerings and they now have Best Western Premier domestically. Since they automatically match elite status (no questions asked), no need to 'work' on obtaining status so I've ruled them out as my next elite program. https://goldcrownclub.bestwestern.co...tatusmatch.asp I can get the status match if I need to stay at one of their properties in the future.
8) Starwood - Love 'em. I used to be plat with them (375 nights in 3 years) before going to Marriott and they don't offer a status match/challenge to former SPG plats. I'm not willing to slog it out from zero status. Ruling them out if they don't status challenge.
9) Carlson -Sounds like they're tight on the upgrades. Ruling them out unless convinced otherwise.

4) Hilton - Definitely a player. Anyone want to comment on upgrade percentages compared to Marriott?
10) Hyatt - I'd go with Hyatt hands down if they had more worldwide locations. Sounds like they upgrade diamonds frequently.

Any other program recommendations for mid/upscale overseas travel?

So what say ye, fellow FTers? I don't care about upgrades unless we're traveling on vacation. Looking at future vacations in Australia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Caribbean, South America. I want to have upscale properties available where Marriott does not cover.

Thanks in advance.
iflyjetz is offline  
Old Aug 30, 11, 12:25 pm
Moderator, Marriott Bonvoy & FlyerTalk Evangelist
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: McKinney, TX, USA
Programs: SouthWest A-List; AA Plat/2MM; Marriott LT Titanium; IHG Plat; Hilton Diamond; Hyatt Discoverist
Posts: 11,627
I was in a similar boat about 4 years ago when I got my Marriott LT Plat status. I went with Starwood as my 2nd choice (and Priority Club as my 3rd choice which I'll talk to in a moment.)

If I were making the choice today AND Hyatt has hotels where you will be mostly staying, I would probably go with them. Their program is basically the best of Marriott's, Hilton's, and Starwood's all rolled together. As you note, though, in terms of hotel locations, they need to percolate a bit more. But they probably offer more than the others due to their limited number of locations. (I think Starwood has gone through the exact same cycle. As they have grown, their benefits get closer to their main competitor's.) So if there are Hyatt's around, I suspect they will meet more of your requirements than the others.

Personally, I didn't really focus much on Hilton as they are the closest program in terms of hotels and benefits to Marriott. I wanted to try something a bit different and thus Starwood was my choice. Note that I had never been Plat with them before, so I was able to get a Plat status match. You stated that you didn't really think much of IC hotels due to there being a Marriott close by. Well, I don't think there is a hotel chain more like Marriott than Hilton. Yes, there are differences, but overall in terms of locations and the program itself, Hilton has a lot in common with Marriott.

The Ambassador program with ICH may be a good option as well. If you travel enough (and stay at ICs enough) to get RA status, you may find that is the best top level out there in terms of pure elite benefits. You'll get your upgrades, you'll get free access to the room mini-bar, you'll get your lounge access, etc. But, their hotels outside of ICs can quite often leave something to be desired and your elite recognition will more often than not be minimal (though I have received lounge access at every CP I've stayed at that has one.)

Now with that said, I would (and do) use Priority Club as a 3rd choice for some easy points and stays at out of the way places that can be hard to find the other hotel chains. It is very easy to maintain Plat status (i.e. just get 60K points/yr.) And if you need one night at a small airport somewhere, or some small town, you'll most likely be able to find a hotel there where you can use points. I plan a group's stay at a conference in January of each year (20 rooms for 2 nights) and that gets me my 60K points by itself. You could also churn the PC branded CC yearly (it has a 60K sign-up bonus).

If Hyatt's locations don't work for you, I think even though you might have to "suffer" a bit at Starwood hotels until you get Plat status, it may still be one of your better options. There are probably some ways you can get at least Gold with Starwood and you can stack up to 2 CCs for the nights/stay credit. Since you have mostly one-night stays, if you have get the 4 stay credits from the CCs, you will only need 21 more stays (nights) to get Plat. And by the time you are ready to take one of those vacations, you should have your Plat status wrapped up and be able to stay in luxury all over Europe.
hhoope01 is offline  
Old Aug 30, 11, 1:16 pm
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2001
Programs: Marriott LT Tit; Hyatt Explorist; Hilton CC Gold; IHG CC Plt; Hertz (MR) 5 star
Posts: 5,536
Thank you very much for the excellent response.
I saw that you can get PC plat by simply getting the branded credit card so I'll look at that as a backup plan.
I've looked into RA. You can get one off of ebay for ~$500 plus $200 Ambassador membership. Not a bad deal if you're planning on a number of nights in an Intercontinental. I like/hate the free minibar concept - my liver can only take so much damage. I've filed that strategy away for future use.

You were reading my mind on a non-match/challenge strategy for Starwood. I could easily bag 25 stays over a 6 month block of time.
But that's the same number of nights to achieve Hyatt Diamond without a status challenge.

Thanks for the Hilton assessment; I am now leaning hard toward a Diamond challenge from Hyatt. My one problem is that they will probably require me to have x number of nights in my recent history prior to giving me a Diamond challenge. I wouldn't 'burn' the branded credit card just to get Hyatt platinum, as the credit card gives 2 free nights BUT gives 2 free nights in suites if you're already a Diamond. I can't find the suites for Diamonds listed anywhere anymore so that may have expired.
iflyjetz is offline  
Old Aug 30, 11, 7:46 pm
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Programs: UALifetimePremierGold, Marriott LifetimeTitanium
Posts: 69,316
I used to have Hilton as my 'back-up', but just burned the last of my Hilton points. Given the changes to Hilton's program & the bennies, Hilton's off my list for #2. Also worth noting, Marriott granted me Lifetime Platinum (I would have gotten there anyway, but got there early) at a big anniversary of their program. On the same anniversary of Hilton's program, they sent me a paperweight with my original card enclosed. Guess who got my bizness after that.

My travel's off due to clients/economy, so I'm sticking with Marriott as main program & no need to change at this moment. But looking at 2nd, I'll probably go w/ Priority Club. For one thing their points don't expire (or I'm grandfathered in or something).

I really like Hyatt, but their lack of properties kills that as a second choice. Starwood similar. Half of my travel is overseas & those 2 def don't have as many properties as Marriott or Priority Club, and domestic is similar (although more domestic).

BTW - just to point out the obvious you're probably not going to get all of your points 1-8.

SkiAdcock is offline  
Old Aug 30, 11, 8:35 pm
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: New York, NY, USA
Programs: BAGold; AA3MMPlat; UA1MMGold; FBGold; MarriottAmb; AccorPlat; HHGold; ICPlatAmb; HyattDiscoverist
Posts: 4,378
I can't think of a single program that meets all your criteria, so I think you will have to determine what's most important to you. What I can do is furnish some details on some of the programs you're considering:

No question that Hyatt has limited coverage, particularly in Europe (but it ain't exactly great in South America, either). They are relatively good at consistency (most of the really bad FS props are gone now), and Diamond benefits generally do get extended everywhere, including on award and 3d party non-qualifying (eg Priceline) stays. Those include free breakfast (in the RC if there is one and it's open or if not, then full breakfast in the restaurant, though some may insist you are limited to the buffet), Club access if there is one and it's open, best available non-suite room (it's here that I think hotels are not uniform in their approach), and a few confirmable suite upgrades/year on paid stays. Amenity in the US at FS Hyatts is a choice of 1K points or another amenity (eg fruit plate, cheese, wine, etc.); outside the US it's up to the hotel--some of them are pretty poor, some are not. Recent announcement of guaranteed late checkout but not at resorts. Some of us have noted a less customer-oriented approach since the company's gone public; others are happy still.
Priority Club is almost the antithesis--very wide coverage, and very wide inconsistency, both in quality and in extension of benefits. I never know what I'll get unless I've stayed in the hotel previously. It's a widespread complaint among Platinums, though I've noted that Crowne Plazas generally tend to upgrade the room more frequently than HIs. The Ambassador/ Royal Ambassador program at ICs doesn't fit so well within PC, but I consider RA to be one of the best 2 top tier programs out there, suffering primarily only from the relative lack of ICs. Guaranteed 2-level UG or UG to Executive room (and often better than that), free minibar (as you know), guaranteed late checkout and (my personal favorite coming off a redeye) checkin as early as 8 am.
Hilton's lost a lot of fans with their devaluations, and I've never been much of a fan of their hotels or their service, though I can think of a couple I quite like. Their wide coverage is probably their best point. I'd also say their gold level is perhaps the bests mid-tier level of any hotel program.
SPG seems to be having consistency issues in their treatment of Plats. Their props also seem wildly inconsistent, but they have some wonderful iconic hotels in Europe, and I have friends who've been treated VERY well at them.

Hope this helps. I'd suggest you spend some time on the various forums, which should give you a better idea of what's going on.
rfrost is offline  
Old Aug 30, 11, 8:50 pm
Join Date: Jan 2007
Programs: AA Gold (4 life), Delta Platinum, Starwood Gold, IC RA
Posts: 146
Next best thing

IC Royal Ambassador is great. 2 level upgrade, free internet, free mini bar (drinks only), free health club access, BOGO weekend certificate and ease of earning bonus points for free nights. Issue is limited number of ICs around the world. New policy is reducing the value of stays at crowne plaza's etc in order to maintain RA status. They used to include non IC hotel towards maintaining status.
Hyatt diamond is a good program, but also has limited hotels.

Based on the above, Starwood is probably the best bet due to the large number of hotels they have worldwide, although I feel the other 2 offer better benefits for top tier customers. The last devaluation of points made me leave the program. Good hotels are available, but earning potential for free nights is limited in comparison to the other 2.
kleinms is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 3:30 am
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: PEK & MKE
Programs: Amex-gold, Hainan-gold, Mrt-LT Titanium
Posts: 1,239
You might check out the new basic Amex-plat, It's possible to start with gold status at SPG & Hyatt with it, & then watch for the targeted promos...
-also, you can roll the Amex points to about any travel program.
- Amex does a nice year end vendor spend printout also.
Jiatong is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 7:36 am
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2001
Programs: Marriott LT Tit; Hyatt Explorist; Hilton CC Gold; IHG CC Plt; Hertz (MR) 5 star
Posts: 5,536
Guys, thanks for all of the inputs. I know I'm not going to get everything on my list. The only one with lifetime is Hyatt and they are the smallest chain of the 9 choices that I have listed.
I'm at the point where I could stick with Marriott or I could build status with another program. Since Marriott is difficult to keep status - 75 nights/yr - and I have that status locked, I thought it was time to try something else.

I've spent a lot of time reading the various boards to come up with Hilton and Hyatt as the final two, although I'd go back to Starwood if they gave me a challenge. I may even opt to nail Hyatt Diamond and then work on Starwood status, as I will be doing a lot of one night stays. That will pretty much eliminate me making lifetime Diamond status, as amount of spend required to make lifetime there almost means that you have to direct all of your stays at Hyatts.
iflyjetz is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 9:00 am
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Join Date: Aug 2002
Programs: UALifetimePremierGold, Marriott LifetimeTitanium
Posts: 69,316
Not directed at the OP, but I've never quite understood the 'I've got Lifetime status, now time to stay/fly somewhere/someone else' thought process. If I've got Lifetime I'm sticking with the Lifetime program/airline to enjoy the bennies.

Having said that I usually kept midtier at a 2nd chain in case there weren't any Marriott properties around & I needed a back-up & wanted some elite bennies.

FWIW - Hilton's gutted their program in a myriad of ways, so I'd steer jetz away from that as his 2nd choice.

SkiAdcock is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 12:10 pm
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Programs: Marriott LT Tit; Hyatt Explorist; Hilton CC Gold; IHG CC Plt; Hertz (MR) 5 star
Posts: 5,536
Sharon, I'll respectfully give my answer to the 'I've got Lifetime status, now time to stay/fly somewhere/someone else' question. I didn't get into hotel programs until 2003. And that was by accident. Prior to that, I'd register for a program, stay there once or twice, and then forget about it.

2003-2005, I logged 375 nights in Starwoods and got a taste for Plat status and generous upgrades. Staying New Years Eve on points at the Sheraton on the corner of 7th and 53rd. Getting the Presidential suite in Chicago. Beautiful suite upgrades in Florence and Venice. Etc, etc.

I had one stay at a Marriott in 2002 (probably several before that but that was the only membership that Marriott could find when I switched). After reading about lifetime status, I chose to make the leap over to Marriott in 2005. I didn't ask for status match or challenge. I slogged it out and got to Plat. So from 2005-2010, I've logged more than 1000 nights' credit. Keep in mind that I went out of my way to pretty much only stay at Marriott properties during that entire time. Maintaining Marriott Plat's tough work and it requires almost complete loyalty to the program. Making enough night credits for LT status in six years has meant that I've been completely loyal to Marriott. It's like I've only eaten vanilla ice cream for six years.

Would I stick with Marriott after hitting LT Plat? Sure, if I saw anywhere near the same high percentage of upgrades that I got as an SPG Plat. But that hasn't been the case. Marriott has offered a reliable product at all times, unlike SPG. I've stayed in some really bad 4 Points and even some Sheratons have been spotty. I think the only questionable properties that I've hit in the Marriott system were a Courtyard (I think it was Little Rock) and the Hunt Valley Marriott which doesn't deserve to carry the FS Marriott flag. I'm probably forgetting a few others but you get the point.

I'm now older and can afford to shell out more bux for a hotel room. As such, I expect a reasonable number of upgrades in exchange for my loyalty. I don't consider seeing less than 5% suite upgrades as a PP to be enough value added to make Marriott my #1 and only hotel chain anymore.

Just as I gave Marriott a chance in 2005, I am now ready to give Hyatt a chance to snag a bunch of my stays. I can always return to Marriott if I'm not happy with Hyatt. And frankly, I'm sure that there will be some issues that I'm not pleased about; no hotel program's perfect. I don't like Hyatt's minimal presence in Italy, Greece and Spain.

On the other hand, I can get top tier at Best Western by simply sending them a no questions asked elite matching form. And I can get Priority Club Plat by simply getting a credit card. If I want Royal Ambassador, I can shell out $500 on fleabay plus $200 for Ambassador and voila - instant RA. So those paths to top elite are so easy that they require 0 advance stays on my part.

It's not that I'm leaving Marriott. I'm just ready to try some chocolate or strawberry ice cream. Vanilla will still be in the rotation. Think of it this way. Instead of Marriott being my #1 and only, it will go to #2. Since Hyatt doesn't require as many nights to maintain Diamond, I'll probably still spend some time at Marriotts.

... I forgot to mention. My wife's traveling a lot now. I steered her to Marriott and she'll be hitting Plat this year. So if we end up booking Marriott, it'll probably be on her account as she needs to keep hitting 75 nights for plat.

Edit: Just to drive home the point about upgrades, I stayed at the Denver Marriott City Center on 5-10 May. The hotel was a complete ghost town the entire time - the front desk told me that they had 26% occupancy. I would've guessed lower. The hotel has 599 rooms; 14 suites. And I wasn't upgraded to a suite as a PP? Sorry, that's a fail in my book. And no, I didn't ask for a suite. I never asked for a suite at SPG properties either; they simply rewarded me for my loyalty.

Last edited by iflyjetz; Aug 31, 11 at 3:03 pm
iflyjetz is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 12:32 pm
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Join Date: Jul 2002
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Programs: AA Gold 1MM, AS MVP, UA Silver, WN A-List, Marriott LT Titanium, HH Diamond
Posts: 51,162
I've typically held Gold/Plat with all of Marriott, SPG, and HHonors.

Starwood does, I believe, now offer a challenge. One advantage for it is that it's well-suited for your one-night stays. (See their board for more details - I think it's a sticky.)

My HHonors upgrade rate was a little better than Marriott but nowhere near Starwood, where I'm in a true suite more often than not. For your priorities, including strong properties internationally, I think SPG is a very good choice.

Only place HH beats it (IMHO) is that they seem to prioritize lounges in general higher across their main brand. Only Sheraton (of Starwood's primary brands) is highly likely to have a lounge, and frankly some of those lounges are poor - a cut below the typical MR or HH lounge. Honestly, I've grown to like my regular Le Meridien: they have no lounge and give Plats a full buffet breakfast.

It sounds like hitting 21 to 25 stays per year (even if they're all one-nighters) shouldn't be too hard for you, meaning you can easily requal Plat even if you continue to enjoy your Marriott LT Plat a large percentage of the time.

So I'd probably lean SPG but wouldn't think of HH as an awful choice either. I like having access to all three at at least a mid-tier level. With your travels, you could probably even do 21-25 SPG stays, use the HH Amex as your primary spend card, and wind up with THREE top-tiers...but that might be overkill.

And I agree with Sharon, don't stretch yourself so thin chasing statuses that you forget you still have a nice Marriott lifetime Plat to enjoy.
pinniped is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 1:00 pm
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Programs: Marriott LT Tit; Hyatt Explorist; Hilton CC Gold; IHG CC Plt; Hertz (MR) 5 star
Posts: 5,536
Pinniped, I'd like to start by saying that I have a great deal of respect for you, Sharon, Socrates, and a few others on this board. I always enjoy reading your collective insights.

I hope people don't see this as me throwing a tantrum, taking my ball, and going home. That is definitely not the case. I will continue to stay at Marriott properties; my wife and I have several favorites that we would be hard pressed to book elsewhere when we stay in those cities.

The thing with Marriott is that hitting Plat is a very tough slog and requires significant loyalty. Even with 25 or so annual night credits from a MR Visa, you'd still need to hit 50 nights each year. And prior to this year, you never got night stay credit for MR Visa spending so it was 60 nights plus MR Premier Visa. I no longer 'have to' book Marriott in order to keep Plat so this offers me the chance to expand my horizons a bit. Hyatt may not work out. No worries, I've got Marriott Plat.

Originally Posted by pinniped View Post
Starwood does, I believe, now offer a challenge. One advantage for it is that it's well-suited for your one-night stays. (See their board for more details - I think it's a sticky.)
Unfortunately, their policy is NO PRIOR PLATS.
I could go gold with their credit card and am considering that option. Gold would allow me to hit Plat with another 15 stays; I consider that to be a relatively easy path to Plat.

I'll have to see if Hyatt's willing to give me a challenge first. And as usual, I'm overplanning this stuff. I've got time off right now (not working) so I've got time to devote to perfecting a strategy come next summer. When I'm back working, I won't have the time to dig deeply into each program.
iflyjetz is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 2:23 pm
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I've got top status in several programs, and have for sufficient years to have formed an opinion about the program and hotels' desirability. Let me give you some gut reaction to each.

If I read your original post well enough, you can qualify for status based on affordable stays near US airports. You want to spend your points at aspirational properties internationally. My comments keep that stay pattern in mind.
  1. Hyatt - I like their base Hyatt Place brand. Also, some full service domestic Hyatts are surprisingly affordable. I've been a diamond for several years now, and have marched thru many of their aspirational properties. I love the Park Hyatt brand and have had stunning stays at many of them. There are other great properties; I like some of the Andaz properties such as the one in Los Angeles and the NYC Wall Street one. I love my Hyatt treatment, from free breakfast, free internet, confirmable suite upgrades, suites that can be confirmed on award stays for 60% additional points (3 night minimum stay). Lounge access is guaranteed and the international ones are very nice. Park Hyatts have no lounges. Hyatt has a limited portfolio; there's no way around it. I'm running out of new ones to build trips around. It can't be a solo program; there just aren't enough of them. But as one of two, it is awesome.
  2. Hilton
    I've had diamond status for at least 10 years now. I've been letting it lapse the past 3 years or so, but keep getting it back due to coupling of promos/fast tracks. Their properties can be found everywhere thanks to their multiple brands. Hilton has done a good job of penetrating smaller towns in the US with the Hampton and HGI brands. That makes it easier to maintain status. I've had some great stays over the years. Conrad is an excellent brand, and I've most enjoyed Asian properties. Overall, I'm bored with Hilton properties, I don't like NOR1 and what it does to upgrades, and I don't like the current games with the diamond force and the ridiculous number of points wanted for redemptions. In my opinion, hotel quality is a notch below Marriott in the US. Lounges are mediocre in the US, and Hilton hasn't done a good job of maintaining brand standards in some countries. Yet if Hilton launches another "stay 4 times get 1 free night" I'll be right back there.
  3. Priority Club/Intercontinental
    Royal Ambassador status is tough to get. There are lots of Holiday Inn Express properties these days, an excellent brand for well priced stays. It's easy to make platinum status, but that's irrelevant when it comes to the Intercontinental side. Criteria is not published. There are a small number of Intercontinental properties. They generally are what I consider to be aspirational. RA benefits include 2 level upgrades (which can be to a suite if you book the proper room level) and free mini bar. It does not include lounge access. Some hotels will give it; more often hotels charge for it. I was at the IC in Hong Kong recently. There, they charge over $100 per day for lounge access for the first person and another $30 or so for the second. You are not guaranteed the same benefits on award stays as you get for paid. I find this frustrating. Breakfast is not a benefit, unless you have club access.
  4. Starwood
    Starwood has more hotels than Hyatt and less than Hilton or Priority Club (but vastly more than Interconti). It has more affordable brands in Element and aLoft; I confess I have never stayed at either. If I only had two top status chains, I would make them Starwood and Hyatt. I've been treated extremely well in Asia and well in Europe, both better than in the US. Breakfast is not a standard amenity. There are many aspirational properties around the world. I find them to have far more interesting properties than Marriott.

Given that you are interested in aspirational redemptions, you should have a look at what Hyatt and Starwood in particular offer in countries where you want to travel. If you want to go to Greece or Italy, you need to choose Starwood. If you want China, Hong Kong or Japan, there are great Hyatt properties. Thailand has a lot of great Starwood choices; Hyatt only has one property. Those are only examples to start you thinking.

I am only aware of Hyatt offering lifetime status of those I've commented on above. It requires a healthy spend over a number of years.
SanDiego1K is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 2:24 pm
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
Join Date: Aug 2002
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I don't think anyone is saying you're having a trantrum or thinks that, jetz.

I was curious about the 'when hitting top tier & thus going for top tier on others' that I read often on the hotel & airline forums. I think to myself, 'you finally have it & now you want to check out something else instead of enjoying the bennies you have?'

I might finish reading your response a few posts above - if you add some paragraph breaks to make it easier to read than one big paragraph

BTW - I think it's good/makes sense to have at least mid-tier on a second chain if travel patterns allow. And if someone can do top tier/finds there are benefits & their travel patterns allow, then go for that instead.

I do think trying to hit top tier in all 3 is a bit more time-consuming than I'd like to do. I know some folk who are continually hotel hopping or flying so they can keep their top tier status in 3 programs. At that point (to me at least) it becomes the tail wagging the dog. 2 I understand; 3, eh not so much.

The reason Hilton was my 2nd for so long is that like Marriott, they have a wide install base worldwide & in the US, a wide variety of brands at dif price points. Those were the 2 most important aspects. But with the change in gold bennies (ie, you don't get lounge access if not on exec level as gold) & with award redemptions going higher & the elimination of Diamond override (for all intent & purposes) for awards, I decided to cash in my points & am now looking for a new 2nd chain. I really like Hyatt, but just not enough of them. Have heard good things about *wood, although still not as many to where I go (but more domestically than Hyatt).

However, my 2nd will be just for accumulating points vs getting status. My travel has lessened due to clients, changes in industry & economy. So when I do travel I try to stick w/ Marriott due to Lifetime Platinum.

PS - sandiego1k was posting while I was & did an excellent summary of the various chains/programs!

SkiAdcock is offline  
Old Aug 31, 11, 3:25 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
I like this descriptor ...and I think it does indeed fit a lot of Starwood properties quite well. ^

re: Aloft and Element. Both are very new brands. As such, you're almost guaranteed a clean, fresh property no matter where you go. Both are priced moderately...about on par with the lowest-end Sheraton in a given city. (But...like I said...cleaner and fresher than a lot of the beat-up Sheratons out there.)

Aloft seems to be grasping for a faux-90's-hipster feel. If they had actually rolled out in the 90's I think I would have loved the brand. Now, I'm okay with it...I just feel a bit silly checking into one at age 38. Especially silly if I'm in the middle of some random suburb where a lot of Alofts are. Thumping techno in the lobby at 6PM on a Tuesday? Mmmkay, just hit me with a room key and I'll be on my way...

I'm a bigger fan of Element. It takes on some of the Westin styling and does it in a pleasant way. (Westin styling ports to a low-cost suburban hotel better than W styling!!) Rooms are larger and there are a lot of studio suites with kitchenettes. Doesn't really approach the Residence Inn space - more of a Hyatt Place or a Spring Hill Suites. Breakfast is included and is a cut above the typical limited-service hotel offering. I think they've developed these near some airports - hopefully they'll expand the brand.
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