Elite Status

How Much Is Hotel Status Really Worth?

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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

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit free drinks at happy hourMost 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.

Hotel Status savings

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.

Other Savings

Pattaya Treatment RoomElite 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.

Room Value

Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Executive Suite Dining Room ViewI’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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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

7 Comments

  1. smitty06

    September 16, 2013 at 1:19 am

    I’m in the middle of a Diamond Challenge. On a recent trip to China and Japan, we ate all breakfasts at the hotel and a few nights when we were to tired to go out to dinner, we would go the lounge for some food and drink and call it a night. The cost savings were substantial.

  2. Todd

    September 16, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Do you find it necessary to ask for a room upgrade? I have yet to be offered one by Marriott

  3. Levy Flight

    September 16, 2013 at 3:38 am

    Seems to me that if you travel a ton then getting High status is worth it for the upgraded rooms. Your breakfast and internet is probably covered anyway. For those more cost concious, who travel less, there are nicer boutique hotels than chains that likely throw in very nice breakfast and internet at a lower total price. It seems really hard to put a value on status – seems rather non linear and contingency dependant.

  4. TM

    September 16, 2013 at 6:25 am

    I did a Hyatt Diamond Challenge last year. I already had 10 stays in this year with 7 planned stays to come and decided last minute to do additional mattress runs with hotel hopping, and use the Hyatt CC ($20K spend give me 2 stays) to requalify with 25 stays. I had to do some mental calculations to determine whether all this effort was worth it.

    As you noted, I almost always travel with my husband and 2 young kids, so suites are critical for me. They go to sleep at 9pm and I’m working on the computer until 2am. We have trips to Paris (PH Vendome), China, and Vienna coming up, in addition to long trips in California where suites will be critical. I’m also crazy about the Park Hyatt DC where I was upgraded to the stunning Park Executive Suite 2 out of 2 times. Hands down, my favorite Hyatt suite in the US.

    I like to do mattress runs at a nearby HR when the regency club is closed. I pay $70-90 and net 4K points each stay, in addition to the current promotion and breakfast for 4 in the restaurant.

  5. RedHat

    September 16, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    You mentioned “A family of 4 could save…”. As far as I know, as a SPG Platinum, true for internet access and occasionally lounge access (if available). For breakfast, only myself and one other guest can benefit it.

  6. Joey

    September 16, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I’ve always been mixed about earning elite status at hotels. Most of my travels are visiting friends working or studying abroad so I mainly stay with them (I’m still in my 20s so this may change as I have a family later in life or when my friends have families of their own later in life.)
    You make a good point about special trips though. When I do go to my honeymoon someday, I’m 99% sure I’ll try to earn elite status at one of the hotels the year prior to take advantage of a likely suite upgrade 🙂

  7. VG

    September 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    Elite often has the value of one being treated like a customer should be treated. Treatment of non-elites continues to go downhill at both hotels and airlines. However, this doesn’t require top-tier status, mid-tier will usually suffice.

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