Hotel Loyalty Programs

Hotel loyalty programs are as important as frequent flyer programs because it is easy to rack up points to get free nights. Hotel programs, like airline programs, have groups of hotels that you can earn points at. My personal favorite program is Starwood Preferred Guest and in my opinion it is the best customer loyalty program in the world for any type of travel related service. Starwood is made up of the Sheraton; Westin; W Hotels; Luxury Collection; St. Regis; Four Points; Le Meridien and a couple of boutique hotels as well. They are the most widespread hotels and resorts in the world and you can generally find one just about anywhere.

With Starwood’s recent addition of the Le Meridien brand of hotels, they have expanded their global hotel empire to cover most of Africa and the Middle East. It’s nice to be able to find a place you can trust and know in random and less developed countries as it can really ease your mind and make life easier when deciding where to stay. On my recent trip to East Africa and the Middle East, I stayed at several Starwood Hotels and really racked up the points and certainly the stays year to date.

For Starwood, you can start earning 2 Starpoints immediately per dollar spent when you sign up and after 10 stays or 25 nights in a calendar year you can become a gold member. This enables you to receive 3 starpoints for dollar spent with late checkout, enhanced rooms and generally free hotel services.

After 25 stays per year or 50 nights you can achieve platinum status which gives you the best service and always the best available room in the hotel-even the Presidential suite which I have had a few times. This will happen even when you book a cheap rate online. Additionally, you earn more Starpoints and always receive a complimentary gift when you arrive at the hotel which includes free food or drinks, 500 Starpoints which I usually pick or free movies in your room, etc.

Achieving status always allows you to use your Starpoints to redeem free nights on any date. There are no blackout dates which is fantastic. Also, there are tiers of hotels where you use certain amounts of Starpoints for certain hotels. The best hotels are more points but they are all attainable amounts. I have stayed for a week at some of the worlds nicest hotels and resorts using Starpoints-it is really nice to do that and not have to pay for hotels, especially now with exchange rates being so bad for Americans.

Starwood also offers an American Express card that lets you earn dollar for dollar Stapoints for all of your everyday purchases, much like the airlines offer. I used to have one of these but then decided to use all my credit card points toward miles instead but I am rethinking that decision as the Starpoints are more valuable. You can transfer them dollar for dollar to airline programs and if you transfer 20,000 points, they add in another 5000 which will give you a free flight.

Basically, if you travel a lot and generally stay wherever you can find a place, consider using a loyalty program whether it be Starwood or one of the many others, it really pays off when you have free nights. The best is if you travel for work a lot and then you get to keep all of the points and use them for your vacations. With hotel points and frequent flyer miles, free vacations are not far away.

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  1. Marriott Rewards is my favorite but only because of work. I will have to look into Starwood, sounds like they may offer more.

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