Hotel loyalty programs are a great way to earn free trips and other perks if you stay at the same hotel chain frequently. One popular program is the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, which was founded in 1999. SPG members can earn points for eligible stays at Starwood branded hotels including Sheraton, W Hotels, Westin, Aloft, Le Meridien, and St. Regis.
Like many other rewards programs, with more frequent stays, guests can move up to higher levels, including the Gold Preferred Guest and Platinum Preferred Guest programs. These higher levels offer additional perks as well as more points per dollar spent. If you travel frequently, these perks and extra points can make it worthwhile to stay loyal to one hotel brand. Regular Preferred guests earn two Starpoints for every eligible dollar spent, including restaurant and room-service charges and more. Keep in mind, however, that guests cannot earn points for stays booked at certain third-party sites. So, if you are working towards a free stay or reaching a higher level in the program, it may be worthwhile to book your stay directly with the hotel so you can earn points.
If you belong to the standard Starwood Preferred Guest program, and haven’t been upgraded to the Gold or Preferred programs, there aren’t many benefits beyond the point accumulation. Unlike other programs, SPG guests don’t receive free internet or other perks. But, redeeming your points is pretty easy, and you have lots of choices. Free nights can be earned with no blackout dates, and you can typically earn a free weekend night with three eligible stays. But, if you’d rather use your points for some other uses, you have options. For instance, if you’d prefer earn miles for a frequent flier program, you can transfer your points to an airline – one of thirty. This is what I haven chosen to do in the past when I’ve been working towards a free flight. Or, you can use your points to purchase merchandise through retail partners like Amazon and Nordstrom. But, one of the more interesting ways to use your miles – and something entirely exclusive to SPG, is the Moments program.
Earlier this summer, I was invited to learn about the Moments program at Totem by Cirque du Soleil. Guests can use their Starpoints to bid on these once-in-a-lifetime experiences. At Totem, guests with winning bids got to learn juggling and dancing directly from the stars of Totem while lounging in the Tapet Rouge tent (with food and an open bar). Seats during the show were in a VIP seating area. My daughter and I experienced this together, and I definitely plan to start saving up my Starpoints for more of these experiences. Besides the theater Moments, there are also Moments built around concerts, restaurants, and sporting events.
To learn more about the Starwood Preferred Guest program, visit their website.
Article and photos by Jodi Grundig of Family Travel Magazine.