I love Starwood, no secret there. Even though I’ve had a few unfortunate experiences in the last two weeks, 99.9% of my stays are great. There’s no way I’m switching loyalty, but, there is one benefit that I think is useless and I’d like to see Starwood do away with in favor of something that is an actual benefit.
About 2 years ago Starwood introduced the concept of “Suite Night Awards” which can be redeemed for upgrades to suites and select premium rooms. The awards are confirmed starting 5 days prior to arrival and subject to availability. The problem is, they almost never clear. You can read the travel forums and find thread after thread with people sharing their experience with the suite upgrade awards – or should I say, lack of experience.
I’ve received 30 suite night since the program was launched in March 2012 (10 in March of 2012, 10 in August 2013 when I requalified for 2013 status and 10 in July 2013 when I requalified for 2014 Platinum Status.)
I have used 10 successfully, I have 15 in my account and 5 nights “pending” upgrades. I suspect the request for upgrade during this Christmas won’t be approved (since it’s only two days away and I just received the automated “We’re still working on your request” which is typical followed by the “Despite our efforts, we were unable to confirm an upgrade” email.
For this current vacation in Hawaii, I tried to use 20 suite nights. Three have been approved so far. That’s not a great batting average. In fact, Starwood ran into so much trouble with the Suite Night Award program that they’ve extended the expiration date of some award nights because they have been so hard to use. If the 5 nights I have “pending” are not approved, I’ll be back up to 20 nights – with 10 more added in 2014 and I have no idea how I’ll use them.
The only place I’ve really been successful using them is the St. Regis Bangkok. I used 5 of the 10 successful upgrades there and the ones that cleared were all on reservations of 1 or 2 nights. I’ve never had an upgrade request for a reservation of more than 3 nights clear – and this vacation is a reminder of that.
So, what I’d like to see if a new platinum benefit in place of the Suite Night Awards. I’d prefer something that actually provided some benefit more reliably and just take my chances on space available upgrades. Some of the benefits that I would love to see Starwood consider are: the ability to carry over a certain number of nights toward status the next year, free breakfast for platinum members – and not just cold, continental breakfasts.
What do you think? Are the Suite Night Awards a good benefit or would you like to see another benefit?