It seems like there’s a mad dash for hotel chains to partner up with Las Vegas resorts, an area where most brands don’t have a strong presence. The latest announcement is between Starwood Preferred Guest and Caesars Total Rewards, which will offer the chance to earn points and credit toward elite status for one program by staying at the other beginning January 9, 2014.
Earn Starpoints at Caesars Resorts
SPG members who have their accounts set to earn points (not miles) will be able to earn 2 points per dollar at participating Caesars resorts, up to a maximum of 100,000 Starpoints per year. Members will also be able to double dip and earn points through the Caesars Total Rewards program, as well, though I’m not going to spend too much time discussing a casino rewards program in this post. Just know there is some value in transferring Total Rewards points out to a program like Hawaiian Airlines.
Earn SPG Elite Status at Caesars Resorts
You also have the opportunity to earn up to ten nights toward SPG Gold or Platinum status each year. It is not possible to earn elite qualifying stays. These two limits are probably to prevent you from getting super cheap elite status with Las Vegas mattress runs — and I’m surprised Hyatt is any more lenient on the matter.
Although you can earn points (see above) for up to three rooms booked under your name, you can only earn elite qualifying nights with the room you personally stay in. This is a bit of step down from SPG’s normal rules, which permit earning points and status from up to three rooms. However, you can still earn elite qualifying nights if you choose to redeem points for an award stay at a Caesars hotel. I don’t recommend this as most Las Vegas hotels have pretty good rates if you plan in advance.
Many More Participating Hotels
I don’t particularly mind the limit on 10 elite qualifying nights per year because I’m only in Las Vegas for one or two weekends. Maybe I’ll bump that up to three with all the partnerships, but it’s unlikely I will earn my status just through such partner stays.
Instead, the most exciting thing about SPG and Caesars’ new partnership is that it includes many hotels outside of Las Vegas — unlike the Hyatt/MGM partnership. These include:
- Bally’s Atlantic City, NJ
- Bally’s Las Vegas, NV
- Caesars Atlantic City, NJ
- Caesars Palace Las Vegas, NV
- Flamingo Las Vegas, NV
- Harrah’s Atlantic City, NJ
- Harrah’s Lake Tahoe, NV
- Harrah’s Las Vegas, NV
- Harrah’s New Orleans, LA
- Harrah’s Reno, NV
- Harvey’s Lake Tahoe, NV
- Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace, NV
- Paris Las Vegas, NV
- Planet Hollywood Las Vegas, NV
- The Quad Las Vegas, NV
- Rio Las Vegas, NV
- Showboat Atlantic City, NJ
My eye is on Harrah’s and Harvey’s in Lake Tahoe, which are adjacent to the Heavenly ski resort. Ordinarily there are not many options to make use of my elite status when I go to South Lake Tahoe other than a very expensive Marriott time share property. But the two casinos are pretty good and much cheaper.
Benefits for Total Rewards Members
As I said, I’m not going to go into detail on a casino rewards program in this post because they tend to be more complicated. But Total Rewards members will have the chance to earn some Starpoints and some Total Rewards members will be getting SPG Gold status, which is already easily obtained with an American Express Platinum card or a few other benefits. Similarly, many MGM elites get only Platinum status with Hyatt, which is offered through a credit card with an even lower annual fee.
It seems both hotel chains want to avoid an influx of gamblers to their top elite tiers. I’m not sure I understand the point of that. One employee at MGM’s Hakkasan club was surprised when he saw my NOIR card and said I must spend a million dollars a year, and a friend was talking about the program with me and suggested that there were only 100 NOIR members before the partnership. I think both of those comments are extreme, but it does seem to me that the casinos are more selective in their earning criteria and that these guests would be reasonable additions to Hyatt and Starwood’s top tiers.
Recap of Competing Hyatt/MGM Partnership
To provide comparison, earlier this year Hyatt Gold Passport teamed up with MGM Resorts’ Mlife program, offering similar earning power but also reciprocal elite status. I can stay at any of MGM’s Las Vegas properties and earn qualifying nights and stays as well as Gold Passport points.
My Hyatt Diamond status was matched temporarily to Mlife’s NOIR tier, but otherwise I’ll get Platinum status in future years. Such status makes it possible for me to get priority reservations and entry to most of MGM’s restaurants, shows, and clubs even though I’m not a big gambler. Many Mlife elites got Hyatt Platinum status — though there are reports that a few were given limited-time Diamond status.
The SPG/Total Rewards partnership is not nearly as lucrative in terms of status as the Hyatt/MLife partnership, but it does offer another way to boost your progress during the year. It is most valuable to those who are trying to qualify for SPG Platinum status with nights, probably for the suite night awards you earn at 50 nights per year or some of the other benefits at 75 and 100 nights. If you normally qualify with 25 stays, you’ll see less value.