As much as I enjoy being a Platinum Member of Starwood Preferred Guest, I do find the properties to be incredibly inconsistent in honoring benefits. I thought I might share my experience a couple weeks ago at two SPG properties on the South American continent.
I flew into Buenos Aires via Houston, and I had quite an excellent flight on the way down. I had a two-night stay at the Sheraton Libertador in Buenos Aires. The check-in agent was friendly, and she told me my king bed room was available to be checked in to. I asked her if there were any suite upgrades available, and she told me there were not, as the hotel was full. I went up to the room and took a few pictures.
Entering the Room
The room was fine. There was nothing special about it, but it served its purpose. I always describe Sheratons as the "grab-bag" of hotel chains. There is nothing consistent about them at all. Some Sheratons are amazing. Others are total dumps. I went to the hotel gym, as I was feeling a bit restless. I also went to check out the lounge. After going to the gym and the lounge, and not seeing any other guests, it dawned on me that this hotel wasn't that full. And if this hotel wasn't that full, surely there were suites available?
I fired up Starwood.com to check suite availability, and sure enough, just about any room type I wanted was available for the next few nights. I called the front desk to ask about why I hadn't been offered a suite earlier. She told me they didn't have any, but when I mentioned the website availability, she put me on hold, and then she told me that they DID have suites, but that none were ready when I checked in, and that now I could switch if I wanted. Having already showered and only being there for a couple nights, I didn't feel like switching. However, it's just annoying that the hotel won't just follow policy to begin with. The hotel was empty. I'm sure there were suites available earlier in the day.
In a couple days, it was off to Sao Paulo. Hoping for a better experience, I prepared myself in advance.
As the cab approached the Sheraton WTC in Sao Paulo, I pulled up the Starwood iPhone app. I checked first to see if my king bed reservation had been upgraded. When I saw my reservation, I was actually a bit startled. See below.
How generous! Two SINGLE beds! I actually laughed when I read this. I was curious how the front desk agent would deal with this issue, when he saw that a Platinum member who booked a king bed was assigned to a room with two single beds. After checking my own reservation, I decided to check availability for room upgrades. I got the following:
Great news! Looks like pretty much every darn room type in the place is available! I'm sure they'll give me a good room (sarcasm...). When I arrived to the hotel, I gave the front desk agent all of my information. I watched his face as he looked up the reservation, and I was hoping for some sort confused reaction. I got what I was looking for, and he began typing away on his machine in a very fast manner. Then he finished, and he said to me, "We have a very nice room for you. We have upgraded you to a 'business room.'" Having not seen that on the app, I asked what the difference between a 'business room' and a normal room was. He didn't quite know (perhaps it was a language barrier). I then asked him, "Could you see if any suite upgrades are available?" He said there was nothing. I then showed him my iPhone, and I asked him if any of those rooms were available. He looked confused, and he couldn't quite give an answer. I said, "If I book one of these rooms right now on the phone, are you telling me you won't give me the room I book?" He really couldn't give any sort of logical answer, and he told me something about a large group checking in on the next day. As you can see from the iPhone screenshots, it was getting late at night, and clearly my arguing wasn't getting me anywhere.
Once the room discussion was over, he recognized my Platinum status and asked if I would like the points or the internet access. What? All Platinums get internet access... The amenity is either breakfast, points, or some sort of gift. Confused, I responded by telling him I wanted both. He said he wasn't sure if he could do that, but he would try. Okay. Fine. Whatever. I got my key, and I went up my 'business room' to check it out.
My 'business room' was right next to the elevator, wedged in the corner of the building, giving it an odd shape. The funniest part about this room is that the man at the front desk made scuch a big emphasis that this was a room for 'business,' but... there was no desk in there. Here are some pictures of the room.
Entering the room
Actually, the funniest thing about this room was the bathroom shower. If you take a close look at the picture, you'll see that the shower head faces the door completely. It is actually 100% impossible to turn this shower on without immediately spraying water out the door. It's also impossible to turn the shower on without getting sprayed in the face. Pretty annoying, actually.
In any case, neither of these properties was terrible. Neither was that great either, but I guess the point of the post is to show how unpredictable upgrades at Starwood properties can be. While it may be annoying, I feel like right before I check into any SPG property where I'm hoping for an upgrade, I need to check the website and iPhone app to "prove" that suites are available upon check-in. Even then, as we saw in Sao Paulo, we might not get the results we want...