2016 Review: Marriott & Starwood

Not all of us wanted to see the names Marriott & Starwood together.

So far the two have made all the right moves for customers. Reciprocal elite status and instant points transfers appeared much sooner than anyone expected. Not cuts have yet appeared and rather than folding SPG into Marriott Rewards, we may see a totally new program for both in 2018.

2017 looks stable while much is unknown for 2018. Just taking the area of co-brand credit cards, the Amex SPG is a road warrior mainstay that offers 3x the base level earning of the Chase Marriott cards. I might even get some SPG cards just to have ’em for any merger-related offers that may appear or position for what may come in 2018.

I don’t stay much in either chain. I don’t find them price competitive for my stays and only have a few niche uses (Marriott low category awards in small-town America, Starwood for occasional international cash & points). I have Gold in both and neither gets me breakfast. Breakfast or not is the difference for me between caring about hotel status or not. Lounge access requires a lounge to exist. Scheming and battling for upgrades is too much hassle for me to undertake.

In 2017 I need to seriously look at Marriott Flight and Hotel Packages if there is a new United bonus or SPG airline transfers. Those come in handy when an airline stupidly hands out 75,000 point bonuses. Hopefully we will get advance notice if either is to change.

We have gotten such notice for the January 6, 2017 deadline for SPG->Virgin America->Alaska arbitrage. I did my homework and decided to pass. It would be a shame if Crossover Rewards with Delta were to go away.

The combination year is the honeymoon time with airlines and hotels shower us with goodies. Even Delta was generous when it combined with Northwest, and has been an ogre ever since. Hotels face so much more competition that Marriott and Starwood are not in the same position as Delta is to grind down customers.

Both hotels have combined in 2017 to offer coordinated, uninspiring 2017 first quarter promotions.

Marriott Stays:

I actively avoid Marriotts because of their awful pillows. I like a firm pillow. At a Marriott I cannot even be sure there is a sofa cushion to put in a pillowcase.

In Lagos, Nigeria I stayed at the Protea Hotel Ikeja Select. Of the two Protea’s by the airport, is the one no taxi knows how to find. Beaming staff and generators to keep the juice flowing.Protea Hotel Ikeja Select

When stuck overnight last week in Atlanta, Delta gave me Marriott, Marriott gave me a Bic razor, I almost took my face off.

Maine is tough for accommodation. We had roadside stays at:

Starwood Stays:

I started the year heading to Colombia’s Caribbean territory, San Andres & Providencia. A dark-horse Caribbean delight ill-served from the US by poor flight schedules. I had an overnight transit at the Aloft Bogota Airport. See my review. Excellent property. Surprisingly good breakfast. When the airport shuttle was stuck in traffic they hired a taxi to get me to the terminal.

Aloft Bogota Airport Hotel

State-side we had two Jacksonsville stays:

Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beach

I had a migraine in Gabon that drove me from the construction noises of the Radisson Blu to Le Méridien Re-Ndama on a cash & points rate that quoted US$1,000/night city tax. Glad it was intended to be 1,000 in local currency. First room I got had sealed windows and no working AC, which they knew when they assigned the room, then forgot to send the repairman.

Le Meridien Libreville

We love Sheraton Parkway Toronto North, which has a new executive lounge and an on-site hawker food centre. This is not a downtown hotel. You come here to eat incredible Chinese food. See my Shhh…NYT Frugal Traveler Didn’t Find Our Favorite Toronto Chinese Restaurants. Here They Are.Sheraton Parkway Toronto NorthReaders, what are your 2016 Marriott & Starwood memories?

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