I’m in Shanghai right now, right in the middle of my humongous December trip. Apologies to not having to much content these past few days (thanks to exams), but thankfully I have a brief respite until the next semester starts in January. I decided to take a spontaneous trip to San Francisco and Los Angeles last weekend. In LA, I stayed at the SLS Beverly Hills, a category 6 SPG Luxury Collection property, where I managed to snag a really good rate of $199. My friend, who is SPG Platinum, booked the stay for me. Generally, I stay at Hyatt properties as a Diamond member, so I’m used to properties exceeding standard Diamond benefits. US Starwood properties are known for mediocre treatment of status guests, so I’d was interested in how this stay would compare. Overall, I was impressed by the property, but what stuck with me most of all was the events that occurred at check-in.
My friend and I were right behind a Japanese gentleman checking in. He was acknowledged as an SPG Platinum by the check-in agent, offered 4pm late checkout, and the selection of points or continental breakfast as the Platinum amenity. Then she proactively said she would “check for upgrades.” I was shocked when the check-in agent told the guest that there were “no upgrades available”. What was most hilarious, was that she said that with a straight face, as if that was really the case when that clearly was not true. My friend and I couldn’t help but nervously laugh and re-check the app for available rooms, which still showed a few Studio Suites and Signature Suites, respectively the lowest category base suite, and the third highest suite category (below the equivalents of a Diplomatic/Ambassador and Presidential Suite). Premium regular rooms were also on sale.
Perhaps he was already pre-upgraded to some form of premium room, but it’s quite telling of elite guest treatment when he got absolutely no upgrade at check-in. After he got his key, we were checked in by the same staff member. After pleasantries, she then proceeded to tell us that she was going to “check for upgrades”. Unsurprisingly, we were told too that there were no upgrades. My friend then interrupted saying that he saw suite inventory available on the spg.com site. At first we were offered a Studio Suite with two beds, with the suite with the king bed “being cleaned”. We were able to push for a Signature Suite after I told her I wouldn’t need a 4pm checkout, as the Signature Suite was pre-booked for a guest tomorrow afternoon.
My opinion is that you should be entitled to publicly stated status benefits even if you’re not proactively offered them. This just emphasizes how you need to be a smart traveller by knowing what you’re entitled to (without sounding arrogant or obnoxious) and simply by asking, since there isn’t anything wrong with that. I’m fairly sure had I not checked inventory and asked the agent, I likely wouldn’t have ended up with a very nice room. Don’t forget the power of twitter either – you can reach out to their social media people if you encounter any elite upgrade shenanigans of the hotel kind. Elite status is only good if you’re using the benefits!
Overall, the property was very nice, and I loved my room.
Room rates at the SLS Beverly Hills start at $352 USD in January 2015. I stayed in a 65 sqm Signature Suite which went for $649 USD that night. As a SPG Category 6 property, you can redeem 20,000 points for a free night.