Hotels

The biggest problem with the SPG elite program – is this a deal breaker for you?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


my spg stays

As you can see I am only 1 night away from re-qualifying for my SPG Platinum status for another year. There are a bunch of reasons I have chosen to spend about a month of my travels with Starwood hotels.

First off I can earn my status on “just” 25 nights. I can pick up 2 stay credits from holding the SPG personal AMEX card (that I do have) as well as the SPG business AMEX card (that I did have).

The SPG program also integrates very well with Delta Skymiles with Crossover Rewards and, considering the Skymiles2015 changes, getting a nice chunk of SPG points for my Delta spending as well as the other way around is a nice way to make more points that will be harder to get next year. This is a factor for me to consider where to stay.

Next, the cost for rooms on points can be very reasonable for Westins and Sheratons as well as their lower cost brands like Four Points by Sheraton and other brands. If I don’t want to save money by spending points for rooms I can get a 5,000 bonus bump for cashing in 20,000 SPG points then sending them to Delta (you get 25k for sending 20k btw).

Then I just really like SPG hotels. I like the SPG phone APP (I am less impressed with the SPG.com web site changes). I like the Westin beds that are soft and that is important to me. SPG hotels have been, for the most part, near where I travel and need to stay. So SPG has been a good fit. But there is one big issue across the brand. Breakfast – or the lack of breakfast I should say.

spg on twitter confirms few breakfast choices

My fellow BA blogger Scott from Travel Codex was tweeting to SPG trying to get a straight answer about breakfast choices as a Platinum and I tongue-in-cheek responded that it is simply whatever the hotel wants to provide a.k.a. there is no real set of minimum breakfast choices that “must” be provided to top level elite with SPG. A bit later, as you can see from the tweet above, SPGassist confirmed what I had been saying!

I just got back from a long full week Delta mileage run and it included two stays at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel by the Galleria. I have a full review on the way but I stayed a day then was gone a night then was back. I talked to the staff the first night that I was REALLY disappointed with the sad club choices for breakfast and was considering canceling my next stay and moving to the Westin by the airport for my next night. I was told I could have breakfast at the buffet downstairs. Really? I did come back to the hotel and it was a much better choice. But this goes to the essence of the issue.

Since it really is up to the hotel to choose whatever they want, your breakfast experience can go from WOW to MEH. What SPG does require for a location is very minimal in the clubs I have been told (this included both breakfast and the evening snack options). Also, as happened to me, the hotel may have better options for you but the staff may not inform you of all the choices you could get. So, it really is up to you to ask or even push for a better breakfast choice if you are not impressed with what the club has to offer you (if there is a club in the hotel that is).

There are other issues that don’t make the SPG elite program perfect, but this seems to be one that other hotels like Hyatt offers much better “standard” choices for top elites across the program and one SPG could fix if they really wanted to.

I guess my question for you today is what I opened with. If you are an SPG elite, or even if not an elite, knowing now just what is officially offered, is this a deal breaker for you? Is a good breakfast choice important to you or is the points program more important (along with upgrades and such)? I would love your feedback especially if you have personal experience as a top elite with other chains! – René
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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.

18 Comments

  1. Travel in Asia as a Starwood Platinum and you will think you have died and gone to hotel heaven. I can hardly remember a time when I wasn’t given a free suite upgrade and the breakfast buffets there are over the top.

    Travel strictly in the USA and the program is just ok.

    I hope to get to 500 nights eventually and then claim lifetime Platinum but I have quite a ways to go.

  2. MSPDeltaDude Reply

    Had top tier about Hyatt, Hilton and Marriott over the last few years.

    Marriott Plat- Lots of clubs at FS with good hours and options. Great FD throughout program. Rare room upgrades

    Hilton Plat- Few and far between clubs. Received some amazing upgrades on points stays. FD is weak. Breakfest so-so

    Hyatt- Diamond AMAZING breakfast almost everywhere. Upgrades so-so, but have 4 DSU each year if I REALLY want them. Less locations.

    That being said…..I think Marriot Gold and Hyatt Diamond is the best combo to have so your covered in every city. SPG I have gold status, but doesn’t due much for me.

  3. I agree this is perhaps the weakest part of the program. My other major gripe is what bad value cash and points has become. Who cares what the benefits are in Asia, most of us don’t travel there on any sort of regular basis. In Europe and the US the breakfasts are flaky.

  4. at four square niagara falls, buffalo, NY, i did not get fre breakfast at all. at cancun mexico, westin and aloft hotels, i was told i do not have free breakfast (to stay in dec), though i am a plat member. this made me extremely unhapppy. i would not quit spg plat status but 1. i would not stay at spg that often (i spent 100+ night a year but would not choose spg whenever i can). 2. to maintain my status, i would skip year. that means, spend 21 stays by feb end and did not return the year after that.

    • @Andy & All – txs for input so far. Seems like breakfast IS driving stay choices!

  5. Rem Purushothaman Reply

    The breakfast is not a big deal for me. All the other benefits of SPG far outweigh the breakfast option for me. It’s nice when they do have free breakfast but it’s not a big deal for me if they don’t. I’ll typically hit up a Starbucks and some other place for breakfast.

  6. traderprofit Reply

    I have 99 nights this year so i feel qualified on the subject.
    You really have to just take a shot as the same brand (like Westin) could be a ‘1″ or a “5” St Regis is the only consistent brand, and the remark about Asia is so very true.
    It’s great to be Platinum in Asia.

    If it weren’t for the fact I can use SPG points at 7 to 9 cents per point over the New Year’s holidays, I’d be gone. I probably should be anyway. i can run up spend on the credit card anyway.
    There have been so many times I have not been upgraded when a suite is available, that the first thing I do upon checking in is check for suite space.
    Stayed at Le meridien Philly. If you want a BS response, read my TA review and the hotel’s lengthy response that they have 50 to 80 plats per night–in a hotel of 208 rooms….really? Does that make sense.
    breakfast can be good or a total joke.
    My friend who booked St Regis puerto Rico through FHR got the same points I got and full breakfast–even though he has no status, while I got enough credit for an omelette.
    if it were not for the footprint…….

  7. Delta segment flyer Reply

    MSP Delta Dude pretty much sums it up for me. I decided to give SPG a full trial this year and for me just did not meet my expectations. I know am doing Marriot, Hyatt and more and more IHG(which really has surprised me)

  8. I agree with Mark that the breakfast benefit in Asia (except Four Points and Aloft) is outta sight. Africa and the Middle East, too. The Sheraton Pretoria even includes room service breakfast as part of the complimentary platinum benefit. Also some locations in Europe are terrific. Platinums at the Sheraton Stockholm are treated pretty good. I was there during the Hunt for Red October. They included a decent breakfast buffet but also gave me a ticket to their suite for the Stockholm Open tennis tournament final! (Btw, Sweden is upping its ASW game after that Russian-sub scare. It is a little bit harder than raising the Vassa.) In short, as a SPG 75 who spends more nights abroad, the Platinum-breakfast benefit in the US is not a deal breaker.

  9. FNT Platinum Reply

    No love for Marriott? I’ve done 100 nights with them in the last year. I’m done. Too much brand inconsistently in terms of quality and value. I thought about switching to SPG, but the club-thing concerns me. What about Hyatt? How about a post comparing options.

  10. As an CURRENT elite with Marriott, SPG, Hyatt and Hilton, the best BY FAR is Hilton as a Diamond.

    The rest are just not as substantial as Hilton EVERYTIME! It drives my purchases when I book my own business travel.

  11. Don in ATL Reply

    Thanks for this discussion. I am Gold on SPG by virtue of being DM on DL. I am Gold with Marriott by virtue of being Gold for life on UA (thru CO). In Dec I’m going to stay at my first SPG property (the Sheraton in Edinburgh, Scotland) using points. We’ll see what happens. Gold at SPG gives me free wifi (they claim), but not free breakfast. Gold at Marriott gives me free wifi and free breakfast — ideal in my mind. So we’ll see what happens in EDI, but in my limited experience, Gold at Marriott seems like a better choice for me than Gold at SPG.

  12. FNT Platinum Reply

    Don: Here’s the thing. Marriott is now giving free internet to all of its Rewards members, regardless of status. They have, as of yet, failed to announce a replacement for the free internet for elites. That’s a big devaluation, but necessary because all hotels give free internet now.

    I’ve had free breakfast as an IHG platinum elite (I just have the credit card) at all three Holiday Inn hotels I’ve stayed at this year as well as the one Crown Plaza.

  13. you can always go to the Sky Club or Centurion. Lounge making a big deal over free breakfast is really LAME!!

    • @Rick – uh, there are not Centurion Lounges everywhere, $KyGrub is not a great breakfast by any stretch, and when places like Hyatt provides AMAZING breakfast for top elites then SPG needs to at least match if they want to keep us as a top elite. Clear?

  14. I am gold with Hilton, Marriott and SPG. Hilton and Marriott provide breakfast for gold (most of the time). SPG does not. This certainly influences me when I select properties, especially if I am not getting reimbursed for meals and/or my wife comes along.

  15. The annoying part is the consistency between properties. I would give you that. The thing is if you are at a hotel with a lounge, you can always opt our of points for the breakfast. Just like with airlines, you need to be choosing with your money/points and only stay at properties that have proven to treat plats with respect and honoring or going beyond the SPG criteria. The ones that don’t, stay at your own risk. Most properties have full reviews with Platinum members experiences right on flyertalk forums. I could see that entire program revamped and mirrored after Delta soon, as there are way too many platinums. Watch it become spend based pretty soon.

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