I started my first job almost one month to the day after graduating college. I took a position with a large consulting firm and did not fully understand the quantity of travel involved. One of the women I started with mentioned off-hand “Starwood properties are the best”, and after spending a lifetime of not traveling, I hadn’t even heard of Starwood. But based on her advice, I signed up.
If you are not familiar, Starwood properties are comprised of the St. Regis, Le Meridien, Westin, Sheraton, W, Aloft, Four Points, Element, and a luxury collection, think the Chatwal in NYC. I had heard of the Sheraton when I first signed up, but I guess at the time the big name to me was Marriott, talk about the power of word of mouth, no?
So become a Starwood member involved also signing up for the American Express SPG card, and taking what they call the platinum challenge. If you spend 18 paid nights in a period of 90 days, you get platinum status. Now you can only do this once, and for the past few years, I have enjoyed the perks of being platinum.
Now that you know why I signed up, here are the true benefits and main reason why I stick with Starwood. As a new traveler, I was unaware of the benefits of points and their respective value, and Starwood properties have the greatest redemption values of any hotel chain. One star point = 2.5 cents. And while that doesn’t sound like a lot, in point value terms, it’s fabulous. But you need to be sure to the do math. Before we book on points, we do the math, if a hotel in say London is going for $600-$700 a night with a redemption value of 16,000 – 20,000/night, you are getting a great value.
While the points redemption is a fabulous perk, the hotels, and the staff are what keep me coming back. I personally love the Westins, Sheratons, and Le Meridiens (I’ve never stayed in a St. Regis), and even the W hotels aren’t that bad. But they don’t have any storage (think no dresser or drawers), so you can’t really unpack! But it’s such a fun trendy line of hotels that sometimes it is totally worth the splurge.
Now I’ve written about the staff before, they hustle. They work hard, and they are incredibly kind. During my time as a consultant, the staff begin to know you and become a bit of an extended family. But even traveling on vacation, I have always found the staff to work incredibly hard to ensure you have an incredibly stay. I don’t think I have ever had an experience where I felt that the staff in a Starwood property wasn’t friendly, kind, and helpful. While I’m sure you could say similar things about the other hotel chains out there, Starwood has had my loyalty for years, and between the value of their points, staff, and properties, I don’t see that loyalty changing anytime soon.