As a whole, I love Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). Their points are incredibly valuable, and I generally find their properties to be quite nice. However, one of the biggest benefits of being a Platinum member is also one of the biggest annoyances. Starwood is generally considered to have the best upgrade policy of the major hotel chains (Hilton, Marriott, Hyatt, etc). If you’re a Platinum guest, you’re entitled to the following:
Upgrades to best available room at check-in, including Standard Suites.1
1. Subject to availability at check-in for the length of the stay, provided the room was not booked through a pre-paid third-party channel. Specialty Suites such as, but not limited to, premium view, Presidential, Honeymoon, and multiple bedroom suites are excluded. This benefit does not apply to all-suite hotels. Best rooms are identified by each property and may not include upgraded Towers level accommodations unless Towers level accommodations are booked originally. The upgrade benefit is available for one room for the personal use of the Member only, regardless of the number of additional rooms purchased by the Member. This benefit is not offered at Aloft and Element properties.
Great! That means that when you check in, if a suite is available, you’ll get it! Unfortunately, it rarely ever works that way.
A couple months ago, I had an experience at two SPG properties back to back in South America where they didn’t give me the upgrade, even though I showed them it was available.
I just checked into the W Mexico City an hour or so ago, and in the cab, I made sure to check the SPG app to see what rooms were available. A standard suite was available. When I checked in, the man at the front desk told me how much they appreciated my loyalty and blah blah blah. I asked him if any suites were available, and he said no. I then showed him the app on my iPhone and asked if the inventory on the phone didn’t properly match up in the system. He looked confused. He then said, “Oh we have one for tonight, but not for the duration of your stay.” Then I said, “Really? Because the app is showing that it is available for all four nights.” He didn’t have an explanation, and he gave me my room key. After I got to the room, I checked online, and look what I got:
Starwood, fix this. Just change the language to say the upgrades are at the hotel’s discretion. I know I’m not the only elite member who is constantly frustrated by this inconsistency. Either change the language in the program or make the hotels follow it. Makes sense… right? Change the rules or play by them.