How Much Is Hotel Status Really Worth?
Is having top status at a hotel worth it? You usually hear it discussed in connection with crazy amazing upgrades and shorter check in lines, but elite status can save you real money.
I’m a Starwood platinum, largely through award stays, and this summer I made the decision to essentially buy Hyatt Diamond status by doing their status challenge, 12 stays in 60 days, many of which were mattress runs.
I did the math – I had 3 stays planned, which left 9 “made up” stays which would cost me about $800-$1000 at my local Hyatts and would net me Diamond Status through early 2015.
When entry level hotel status is easily obtained through credit card spend and in many cases, just having a credit card, is spending $1000 for pointless stays to hit top status worth it in the long run? Is even making 1 or 2 extra stays worth it?
Yes! Particularly if you’re planning international vacation travel.
Savings on Drinks & Meals
Most hotels offer their top elites the option of free breakfast. Depending on the property, many also offer complimentary access to a club lounge with free evening drinks and heavy hors d’oeuvres and complimentary soda, coffee, and bottled water throughout the day. If you’re not eating out every dinner and never for breakfast, that savings can quickly add up.
Taking my 9 night trip to Asia with a friend as an example, I figured out how much the hotel would have charged if we’d paid menu prices for each benefit and separately tallied how much I would have spent if it wasn’t provided, i.e I probably wouldn’t spend $30+ on a buffet breakfast, but would go to the Starbucks downstairs and grab a pastry and coffee.
So perhaps I didn’t value all my food & beverage benefits at $1,168, but I definitely valued them at $700. In one trip I almost completely recouped the cost of my Hyatt Diamond Status challenge and I still have more than a year left to enjoy it.
Elite status also comes with free internet. On this trip I spent at least an hour or two each day answering work email and pushing projects forward so skipping internet was not an option. And unfortunately, internet is one of the things that isn’t cheap in Asia, with rates typically starting at $15 a day or more. 9 days of complimentary internet as an elite saved me at least $135.
And then there’s the welcome amenity which often comes in the form of points or vouchers. In Pattaya I chose the 30 minute spa treatment, which had a value of $50. At the other hotels I picked the points, netting 5,000 in Starwood and Hyatt.
I’ll be honest, I’m never going to plunk down an extra $1000 a night to stay in an amazing suite. I can’t reasonably claim the difference between the room I booked and my upgrade at the Grand Hyatt Erawan as a “savings.” But there are times on big and/or special trips when you would spend a little more on the margin for a second bathroom or better view, like a view of the Hong Kong Harbor.
In fact we did spend a little extra in Macau to get a larger room with a larger bathroom so we had more space to relax.
I did a quick tally of how much I would have spent for slightly better rooms at the relevant properties, though not as much as the rooms I actually wound up in. 6 of my 9 nights we had complimentary upgrades to rooms we would have actually paid marginally more for, a value of $1010 for us.
Total Value of my Starwood Platinum/Hyatt Diamond Status on the trip = $1895
In one international trip, my elite status gave me $1895 worth of benefits. I’d say that was definitely worth the $1000 investment this summer.
Should you try to qualify for elite status through mattress runs?
Think about where you’re likely to travel. If you’ll be staying primarily in the continental US where drinks and nice breakfasts are much cheaper (outside the hotel) and lounges aren’t as extravagant, it may not be worth it at all unless you really love upgrades!
But if you’re traveling internationally, the savings can add up quickly. I saved $700+ in one trip on 2 people, I can only imagine what a family of 4 could save, especially when having larger/better rooms is probably worth a lot more.
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Heels First’s Travel Advice–Sophisticated Travel, Uncomplicated Advice. The travels and tribulations of two frequent flyers jumping into the world of travel, sharing their travel advice. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.