What does Loyalty get you?

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Old Dec 7, 17, 4:29 am
  #1
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What does Loyalty get you?

I have traveled consistently since I was in my 20's and I am now in my 40's....9 Million lifetime AA miles, Lifetime platinum on them....Diluted with the new level they introduced. Starwood is my program of choice for hotels and I am lifetime platinum and soon to pass the 2000 night mark. I currently rack up about 140-170 nights per year in Starwood hotels. For years friends have said to "diversify" go Top tier in another program.....and I resisted because I am loyal to Starwood. I have a very friendly ambassador, I receive the occasional upgrades and get free water etc. This all said, I see little benefit in staying over 101 nights? Should I start switching it up to Hyatt etc? I recently saw an interview with the head of loyalty for Marriott and he said there were 50+ people who had achieved platinum in both Star/Mar programs and they "knew who they were". What about those of us that have been loyal to Starwood throughout the years? Or perhaps I am no longer the target market as I am now an older demographic? I feel sometimes that I am playing my hand wrong here? any thoughts or advice are welcome.....Every day is a school day. Cheers!
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Old Dec 7, 17, 5:22 am
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I think it's fair to say that you are being "taken for granted" as hotel chains do ever more ridiculous things to attract millenials. That said, Marriott are being extremely careful about retaining SPG elites by not rashly pushing everybody into Marriott Rewards as it now stands.

I do quite nicely with SPG Platinum and Hyatt Globalist (most other chains don't offer enough on the status side) and wouldn't dream of being loyal to just one of them. Although it's not a negotiation in the purest business sense, I am freer to choose which hotel suits me best for specific needs.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 8:55 am
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Originally Posted by NYCtraveler View Post
I recently saw an interview with the head of loyalty for Marriott and he said there were 50+ people who had achieved platinum in both Star/Mar programs and they "knew who they were".
I suspect we could get 50 people with both PLT statuses just here on FT. I'm LT PLT in both - they may know who I am, but I've seen no action resulting from it. (But I guess a 10,000 is technically 50+)

The typical argument against diversifying is that you're giving up the benefits you've earned after you've earned them. But you have enough nights to be top tier in 2 programs and I suspect could get a match to avoid the "no benefits, still earning" phase.

I did the same many years again, matching my MR PLT to SPG, then earning PLT in both for a decade, diversifying but never missing out on benefits.

It's a valid approach - my recommendation would be to avoid diversifying into two programs that then merge and waste the effort .

If you stay where there are Hyatts, they've traditionally had a good program, though limited in coverage. My experience with Hilton has been that they're so bad, I don't know if even top tier would be worth it.

But there's also nothing fundamentally wrong with sticking with SPG. I still think it's the best program . While the earning ratio turns out poorly in some analyses, they never consider all of the additional opportunities top tier elites have, and I think it's at least as good as the others.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by CPRich View Post
I suspect we could get 50 people with both PLT statuses just here on FT. I'm LT PLT in both - they may know who I am, but I've seen no action resulting from it. (But I guess a 10,000 is technically 50+)

The typical argument against diversifying is that you're giving up the benefits you've earned after you've earned them. But you have enough nights to be top tier in 2 programs and I suspect could get a match to avoid the "no benefits, still earning" phase.

I did the same many years again, matching my MR PLT to SPG, then earning PLT in both for a decade, diversifying but never missing out on benefits.

It's a valid approach - my recommendation would be to avoid diversifying into two programs that then merge and waste the effort .

If you stay where there are Hyatts, they've traditionally had a good program, though limited in coverage. My experience with Hilton has been that they're so bad, I don't know if even top tier would be worth it.

But there's also nothing fundamentally wrong with sticking with SPG. I still think it's the best program . While the earning ratio turns out poorly in some analyses, they never consider all of the additional opportunities top tier elites have, and I think it's at least as good as the others.
I agree with a lot of this. I gave up hotel exclusivity a few years ago and am happy that I have. I am top tier in Hyatt, SPG (LT Platinum), Marriott and Hilton. I like having this diversification because I can now choose the property that is best for me in the particular location I am in. This is especially handy in award stays which not only allow flexibility based on location but I can also choose based on price and availability. While having 150+ nights per year might rate you some extra perks if you are a regular at a specific property, I feel that that the freedom of choice is worth more to me and I still generally get good upgrades or treated well.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by neo_781 View Post
I agree with a lot of this. I gave up hotel exclusivity a few years ago and am happy that I have. I am top tier in Hyatt, SPG (LT Platinum), Marriott and Hilton. I like having this diversification because I can now choose the property that is best for me in the particular location I am in. This is especially handy in award stays which not only allow flexibility based on location but I can also choose based on price and availability. While having 150+ nights per year might rate you some extra perks if you are a regular at a specific property, I feel that that the freedom of choice is worth more to me and I still generally get good upgrades or treated well.
I agree with this post I have maintained top status with SPG Marriott Hyatt IHG and Honors even though I avoid Honors as much as possible I maintain Diamond with them. The flexibility I like is not just redemption options it also allows me to chase and maximize promos. Right now SPG until Jan 15 and IHG accelerator Dec 31 gives me highest return per dollar spent. After I maximize a promo I can hit other promos or stay where I happen to like a specific property. On a side note I hope SPG and MR don't merge ever and especially not before March 1 2020.

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Old Dec 7, 17, 11:47 am
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Originally Posted by NYCtraveler View Post
I have a very friendly ambassador, I receive the occasional upgrades and get free water etc. This all said, I see little benefit in staying over 101 nights?
You've answered the question of what loyalty gets you at Starwood.

Too often across FlyerTalk, somebody with x+1 nights argues - usually poorly - for a new elite level at x nights. You haven't addressed what you'll give up while earning status at another chain, nor how SPG will benefit by giving you more (unspecified) benefits across all of your stays versus the cost of losing x-100 nights. If the platform of SPG + Marriott + Ritz-Carlton serves you poorly, it was time to move on long ago when your sole course of earning was with SPG properties.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 12:04 pm
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What do I get...a high% of upgrades at vacation properties.
On my own I just want a quiet room, good HIS and a lounge.
Travelling with Marge however, getting a suite with an epic view, or an included breakfast that has a champagne service (ok usually sparkling wine), or a downtown location that means we can walk to many of the tourist haunts we want to visit, means a great vacation.
Starwood does an excellent job at their aspirational properties with their LT Plats.
That for me is what I get.
There is not frequent user program I talk up more than Starwood, as it has allowed my wife and I to stay at some truly remarkable places.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 12:27 pm
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Originally Posted by HomerJ View Post
What do I get...a high% of upgrades at vacation properties.
On my own I just want a quiet room, good HIS and a lounge.
Travelling with Marge however, getting a suite with an epic view, or an included breakfast that has a champagne service (ok usually sparkling wine), or a downtown location that means we can walk to many of the tourist haunts we want to visit, means a great vacation.
Starwood does an excellent job at their aspirational properties with their LT Plats.
That for me is what I get.
There is not frequent user program I talk up more than Starwood, as it has allowed my wife and I to stay at some truly remarkable places.
Homer J you are a perfect candidate to start a "SPG Forever" thread in the Marriott Rewards forum.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 4:23 pm
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I'm with @HomerJ!

As an SPG Platinum 100 Ambassador level guest, I've been able to enjoy a massive number of exceptional suite upgrades, even on mostly award stays, at some of the best and most aspirational hotels in the world. I've also enjoyed particularly good service at most SPG hotels at which I stay, even at those brands that aren't as known for offering particularly high level service.

I find it extremely useful to qualify for the Ambassador level service...and then continue staying with SPG hotels, especially whenever at SPG luxury level hotels like St Regis, Luxury Collection, and sometimes W, to enjoy the amazing Ambassador benefits. I see good recognition for my status at Le Meridien, Westin, and Sheraton, but they rarely treat me as well as the luxury level hotels--understandably!

My most recent examples:

St Regis San Francisco--heading in another week for 3 night paid entry level room stay, already upgraded to Metropolitan Suite (no SNA), allowed to bring 110 lb dog despite 35 lb weight limit

St Regis Houston--Dec 2017 just returned from 3 night paid entry level room stay, upgraded to Astor Suite (no SNA), allowed to take Plat breakfast with room service, called by name by valets and some front desk staff. truly wonderful service

St Regis San Francisco--Nov 2017 for 2 night paid entry level stay, upgraded to Metropolitan Suite (no SNA)

Prince de Galles Paris--Oct 2017 for 4 night award stay for husband's bday, upgraded to Makassar Suite (SNA), provided exemplary service for us and bday party guests

Hotel Imperial Vienna--Oct 2017 for 3 night paid and award stays with mother, upgraded to Imperial Suite (SNA), mother upgraded to Elisabeth Suite, VIP piano concert comp'd tickets, truly outstanding service

St Regis Rome--Oct 2017 for 4 night award stay in junior suite, shown excellent service

St Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico--Feb 2017 for 3 night paid stay, upgraded to St Regis Suite (no SNA), comp'd Plat breakfast for room service

The Nines Portland--Aug 2017 for 1 night for paid stay, upgrade to the Nines Suite (no SNA), best in hotel suite

SLS Beverly Hills--June 2017 for 1 night for paid stay, upgraded to suite (no SNA), given f&b credit after disappointment with suite, unbelievable service, allowed to bring 110 lb dog despite 35 lb weight limit

St Regis San Francisco--Oct-Dec 2016 multiple paid stays and 1 award stay, always upgraded to Astor or Metropolitan Suites (no SNA), Aman like service and treatment

Excelsior Gallia Milan--Oct 2016 for 3 nights award stay, upgraded to Atelier Suite (no SNA)

Gritti Palace Venice--Oct 2016 for 4 night award stay, upgraded to Sestiere Suite (well above SNA), given comp'd Riva Excursion, truly world class Aman like service and treatment

St Regis Bora Bora--May 2016 for 6 night paid 3rd party stay, upgraded to Royal Overwater Villa (no SNA), given personal butler for entire stay, allowed f&B credit for unused 1 night non-refundable stay missed due to canceled flight saving me $2000, truly amazing service and treatment

St Regis Punta Mita--Nov 2015 for 5 night award stay, upgraded to deluxe suite (no SNA), amazing service and treatment

SPG obviously has been extremely good to us. We are very loyal to SPG and SPG is very loyal to us. We also occasionally have stayed at other top luxury hotels when appropriate (Amanbagh, Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodphur, The Lodhi Delhi, Oberoi Udaivilas, Amangiri, etc), usually when the SPG luxury option isn't available or isn't comparably luxurious, so we have a very good perspective on what top luxury and extraordinary service really mean.

For 2018 we have coming up:

St Regis Punta Mita--Jan 2018 for 5 nights in villa for my birthday, combo of points and paid upgrade

St Regis New York--Mar 2018 for 2 nights paid, SNA applied

St Regis Atlanta--Mar 2018 for 2 nights paid

Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho--May 2018 for 3 nights award stay, SNAs applied

Suiran Kyoto--May 2018 for 5 nights award stay, comp upgrade to Premier Room already confirmed

St Regis Osaka--May 2018 for 3 nights award stay, SNAs applied

(also Ritz Carlton Kyoto for 2 nights)
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Last edited by bhrubin; Dec 7, 17 at 6:04 pm
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Old Dec 7, 17, 6:24 pm
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Originally Posted by bhrubin View Post
I'm with @HomerJ!

As an SPG Platinum 100 Ambassador level guest, I've been able to enjoy a massive number of exceptional suite upgrades, even on mostly award stays, at some of the best and most aspirational hotels in the world. I've also enjoyed particularly good service at most SPG hotels at which I stay, even at those brands that aren't as known for offering particularly high level service.

I find it extremely useful to qualify for the Ambassador level service...and then continue staying with SPG hotels, especially whenever at SPG luxury level hotels like St Regis, Luxury Collection, and sometimes W, to enjoy the amazing Ambassador benefits. I see good recognition for my status at Le Meridien, Westin, and Sheraton, but they rarely treat me as well as the luxury level hotels--understandably!

My most recent examples:

St Regis San Francisco--heading in another week for 3 night paid entry level room stay, already upgraded to Metropolitan Suite (no SNA), allowed to bring 110 lb dog despite 35 lb weight limit

St Regis Houston--Dec 2017 just returned from 3 night paid entry level room stay, upgraded to Astor Suite (no SNA), allowed to take Plat breakfast with room service, called by name by valets and some front desk staff. truly wonderful service

St Regis San Francisco--Nov 2017 for 2 night paid entry level stay, upgraded to Metropolitan Suite (no SNA)

Prince de Galles Paris--Oct 2017 for 4 night award stay for husband's bday, upgraded to Makassar Suite (SNA), provided exemplary service for us and bday party guests

Hotel Imperial Vienna--Oct 2017 for 3 night paid and award stays with mother, upgraded to Imperial Suite (SNA), mother upgraded to Elisabeth Suite, VIP piano concert comp'd tickets, truly outstanding service

St Regis Rome--Oct 2017 for 4 night award stay in junior suite, shown excellent service

St Regis Bahia Beach Puerto Rico--Feb 2017 for 3 night paid stay, upgraded to St Regis Suite (no SNA), comp'd Plat breakfast for room service

The Nines Portland--Aug 2017 for 1 night for paid stay, upgrade to the Nines Suite (no SNA), best in hotel suite

SLS Beverly Hills--June 2017 for 1 night for paid stay, upgraded to suite (no SNA), given f&b credit after disappointment with suite, unbelievable service, allowed to bring 110 lb dog despite 35 lb weight limit

St Regis San Francisco--Oct-Dec 2016 multiple paid stays and 1 award stay, always upgraded to Astor or Metropolitan Suites (no SNA), Aman like service and treatment

Excelsior Gallia Milan--Oct 2016 for 3 nights award stay, upgraded to Atelier Suite (no SNA)

Gritti Palace Venice--Oct 2016 for 4 night award stay, upgraded to Sestiere Suite (well above SNA), given comp'd Riva Excursion, truly world class Aman like service and treatment

St Regis Bora Bora--May 2016 for 6 night paid 3rd party stay, upgraded to Royal Overwater Villa (no SNA), given personal butler for entire stay, allowed f&B credit for unused 1 night non-refundable stay missed due to canceled flight saving me $2000, truly amazing service and treatment

St Regis Punta Mita--Nov 2015 for 5 night award stay, upgraded to deluxe suite (no SNA), amazing service and treatment

SPG obviously has been extremely good to us. We are very loyal to SPG and SPG is very loyal to us. We also occasionally have stayed at other top luxury hotels when appropriate (Amanbagh, Taj Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodphur, The Lodhi Delhi, Oberoi Udaivilas, Amangiri, etc), usually when the SPG luxury option isn't available or isn't comparably luxurious, so we have a very good perspective on what top luxury and extraordinary service really mean.

For 2018 we have coming up:

St Regis Punta Mita--Jan 2018 for 5 nights in villa for my birthday, combo of points and paid upgrade

St Regis New York--Mar 2018 for 2 nights paid, SNA applied

St Regis Atlanta--Mar 2018 for 2 nights paid

Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho--May 2018 for 3 nights award stay, SNAs applied

Suiran Kyoto--May 2018 for 5 nights award stay, comp upgrade to Premier Room already confirmed

St Regis Osaka--May 2018 for 3 nights award stay, SNAs applied

(also Ritz Carlton Kyoto for 2 nights)
Excellent post. The new Marriott Preferred Rewards program is not likely able to do all that. I think maybe they should let SPG ride.
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Old Dec 7, 17, 9:24 pm
  #11
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Thank you all, many good points. One thing I should have said is I use 90% of my miles for air travel. I pay for all hotel rooms as F class to HKG or Bali is more important then hotel rooms for me. Also, my upgrades have been few and far between, I have not been so lucky. Though I just read through Outsiders list above and am envious. Again, thank you for giving me something to think about. Perhaps this is my Mid-life FF crisis first world problem.
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Old Dec 8, 17, 10:58 pm
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Loyalty to Starwood gets me a few good things:
1) SPG point redemptions when rates are stupidly high; I can often get 3-5 cents per point. Sometimes higher. Coupled with earning massive points due to promos, SPG amex, etc.
2) Never getting a *bad* room. At minimum I get a "pretty good room", and usually I get a great room, and sometimes a really great room (usually international and at high-end properties during low periods, when I tend to go.)
3) Not having to worry; I've been able to leave luggage full of expensive computer/photo gear at hotels for weeks, have things shipped, meeting space for informal client events, assistance with the Beijing police (Westin went completely above and beyond, there), etc. I don't get hassled when I show up somewhere with 8 pelican cases.
4) 4pm late checkout -- I use this very frequently, as I tend to book an extra day at the end of a trip and work from the hotel room before flying. A 4pm checkout is far more civilized than 11am; I probably would book extra days 20 times a year without this.
5) Generally, check-in is fast/efficient, more so than it would be without.

(A lot of these I could get with any hotel if I stayed there frequently, and I get better service at even SPG properties where I'm a frequent guest (well, survivor bias there too...), but knowing I can get good service at a random hotel I've never visited before is really helpful.)

I get a lot more benefit from SPG in Europe/Asia/ME than in the US, but I've had pretty good luck in NYC, too. I still keep IHG as a secondary program (since it's $49/yr for platinum) and in Vegas I tend to use TR Diamond/CET for $20/night rooms, but the perks over the past 15 years have been worth it.
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Old Dec 9, 17, 2:15 am
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I have been a very loyal Starwood person for nearly 15 years now and was invited to the Ambassador program before it was known as that or became official and got to know quite a few Starwood people and what impressed me was they were as loyal and passionate about the brand as I was. That has over the more recent years from what I can see changed, it happened before the merger to be fair but even more so afterwards. That said there are still some Starwood hotels I love to stay as and would never dream of staying elsewhere and Starwood is still my first choice, hitting 160 plus nights this year! The thing is however I also have done maybe 80 nights elsewhere this year which in the past wouldnt be the case!

What I have found is that outside the 'loyalty' and the addiction to more nights there are some amazing hotels out there in other chains or not really attached to any chain and some are amazing because they are stunning properties others because actually their location is suited better than Starwood hotels in the same city! My advice is yes its worth having some status in a chain if you do a lot of nights but actually it is false economy chasing all the points all the time and the only loyalty you should show in this game is to yourself as in reality the Loyalty programs are setup in the interest of the hotel corporations and while I knwo that sounds so obvious it can be easy to loose site of!

I now pick by the hotels themselves regardless of who they belong to as I do not feel Starwood is as balanced in giving back as it once was, various things are getting worse and I see very little getting better! So I am not going to let it stress me out I am going to pick hotels where I feel they are run well and staff have a genuine and caring attitude regardless of what brand might be above the door! When I find one I like I will go back lots, if however its not good then I simply wont return! What I can tell you from the last 6 months of doing this is that actually there is actually a lot of hotels out there that have great service and staff and you don't always have to pay a fortune for it, but there is no reason to stay at that old Sheraton or Westin that has seen far better days or a W that while the staff can be great is so obsessed with being a W it forgets its actually a hotel! To put that into context I count my favorite stays this year at two W's!

Someone who has since left Starwood said to a group of people who all did over 200 nights a year on hotels, we knw you stay at Starwood a lot but what I am interested in is why we dont get the extra 50-100 nights we are missing out on, we want them all and want to knwo how to earn them from you! That just doesnt exist in Starwood anymore and to be fair I am unsure it does in any other group either!
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Old Yesterday, 10:16 am
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Join Date: Feb 2012
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I started my extensive travel life in 2013, and that's the year I joined SPG... (achieved Pt through Pt challenge in Aug 13, but I got close to 60 nights recorded in the year anyway). I've banked nearly 170 nights in 2014, and maintained Pt 75 for 2016 and 2017 (and 2018 also).

Honestly I don't find being a Pt 50, Pt 75 and Pt 100 getting much difference (aside from the 4x Starpoints for Pt 75)... Together with the uncertainty posted by the Marriot SPG merger, I've also started to bank some nights with another chain, or even travel website which also have points saved for use with them... While I still put SPG on the top of my list of choices, I value flexibility and choices over blindly sticking with a loyalty program...
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Old Yesterday, 7:43 pm
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Originally Posted by NYCtraveler View Post
I have traveled consistently since I was in my 20's and I am now in my 40's....9 Million lifetime AA miles, Lifetime platinum on them....Diluted with the new level they introduced. Starwood is my program of choice for hotels and I am lifetime platinum and soon to pass the 2000 night mark. I currently rack up about 140-170 nights per year in Starwood hotels. For years friends have said to "diversify" go Top tier in another program.....and I resisted because I am loyal to Starwood. I have a very friendly ambassador, I receive the occasional upgrades and get free water etc. This all said, I see little benefit in staying over 101 nights? Should I start switching it up to Hyatt etc? I recently saw an interview with the head of loyalty for Marriott and he said there were 50+ people who had achieved platinum in both Star/Mar programs and they "knew who they were". What about those of us that have been loyal to Starwood throughout the years? Or perhaps I am no longer the target market as I am now an older demographic? I feel sometimes that I am playing my hand wrong here? any thoughts or advice are welcome.....Every day is a school day. Cheers!
I've often struggled with staying with Starwood past 100 nights especially when the inevitable "insult" of being excluded from targeted promos bites. I've been consistently at between 130-150 nights a year for the past few years (this year will get close to 190 nights). The argument that has won me over time and again has been the "enjoy the fruits of your labor/loyalty" argument. My travel agent has often tried to convince me to try out other chains (Hyatt in particular) but I've probably become too complacent for my own good. Ultimately, I have a choice and I've chosen to stick with Starwood partly because I truly believe that they meet my travel requirements and, more importantly, I appreciate the service/support I receive from my Ambassador.

I am generally a low maintenance guest when I travel alone and really only become a "higher" maintenance guest on the two to three stays a year I travel with my wife and kids.
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