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Hi Nigel and Mark,
May I contribute to the Hilton Honors debate, please? As I’ve moaned on here before, the ‘new’ owners of Hilton are somewhat more parsimonious than the previous ones. Having changed the qualification period for tiers to a calendar year “by customer demand” – when, by the way, I can’t see how a calendar year could EVER be in the customer’s interest compared to a rolling 12-month period as it used to be – they have now introduced the concept of e-awards. This gives anyone the option to guarantee to pay for an upgrade, if available at check-in. Gold and Diamond members would get a complementary upgrade to the Exec Floor “if available.”
The cynic in me suggests that as hotels strive to improve revenue per available room, it will be the Gold Members who will miss out in particular, and perhaps also Diamond.
Silver membership of HH is, agreed, pretty pointless. Gold membership has lost its edge now that you can only use the Exec Lounge IF you get upgraded to the Exec Floor. I had a period last year of being demoted to Silver, then back to Gold and, when at the latter tier, I don’t think I got upgraded to the Exec Floor once.
I am now back to Diamond, where I have a right to use the Exec Lounge, whether or not on that floor. Last week I stayed at Hiltons in Brussels (NOT the City Hilton – a total horror of a hotel) and Antwerp. At the former I was upgraded gratis to an Exec Room; at the latter I was also upgraded free to the Exec Floor but opted to pay a modest supplement for a suite. The irony was I came back late at night and the room stunk of sewage, so as there were no other Ambassador Suites available, I was downgraded to a more modest suite. I did not get my supplement taken off the bill, though!
IMHO, HHonors Diamond is still well worth having and worth striving for. However, I’m using Starwood increasingly now and it is tempting to go for Platinum there, which also offers the possibility of free upgrades to suites in their properties.
Having said that, even as a humble Gold SPG member, I have recently been upgraded free to suites at Le Bristol in Warsaw (Meridien), The Kamp in Helsinki and the Sheraton Balkan in Sofia (the latter both Luxury Collection). Fair play to Starwood on all occasions.
The negative side of this largesse of Starwood, was being at the Sheraton Stockholm last year, paying for an Exec Floor room, and not being able to physically get into the Clubroom as it was packed, apparently with SPG Platinums enjoying the freebies, according to the lounge hostess. Can’t win ’em all, I guess, lads!
All the best, Simon