It’s Official: Award Stays Count Towards Stays in Starwood Preferred Guest Effective October 1

Yesterday I blogged that Starwood appeared to be rolling out award stays as qualifying towards elite status beginning October 1. It had been confirmed to me by two sources, but I hadn’t seen it in writing.

However, the following memo was sent out from Starwood Preferred Guest to hotel properties at the end of last week:

Update: In my original posting of the memo sent to Starwood hotel managers, I redacted some information that struck me as internal and proprietary. On reflection, more of the particular memo ought to be kept internal to Starwood, out of respect to them. In publishing the document itself I was looking primarily for confirmation and explanation of the changes. And the changes have now been publicly confirmed. So the memo itself is no longer necessary.

Key details of the changes are: Effective October 1, 2011, and onward, all SPG Award stays and nights will count toward elite status qualification, including Free Night Awards, Cash & Points and promotional awards. This is a permanent change to the program, not a temporary one as had been speculated by some.

All nights on these award rates count, however they will not count towards promotions (whether for bonuses, free nights, or accelerated status qualification).

And when receiving a gifted award stay, the person actually staying in the hotel will receive the stay/nights towards qualification (and not the person doing the gifting).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Award Nächte zählen als Statusnächte Nachdem Thread bei Flyertalk (Is SPG going to count award nights toward elite status? – FlyerTalk Forums) gab es schon seit einigen Tagen Gerüchte, daß ähnlich von Hilton HHonors die Award Nächte für den Statuserhalt zählen. Dies scheint nun mit Beginn für den 01.10.2011 bestätigt zu sein: It’s Official: Award Stays Count Towards Stays in Starwood Preferred Guest Effective October 1… […]


  1. While I’m grateful for this change to the program, I have to say that I’m a little disappointed that you’d post a what is a clearly confidential email on the internet.

    I hope no-one gets fired over sharing that info with you.

  2. @Missy this has been floating around for days and was sent to me by three different people, not employees of Starwood. My general idea is that information wants to be free. That’s, more or less, the idea of the blog. I don’t ever mean to disappoint you!!

  3. The good elite status does in SPG. In all the times I stayed in one of their properties as gold I only got one room upgrade.

  4. That is great news from my point of view! I also like the part in the FAQ about stays counting double. Maybe a promotion like that will come back to visit at some point. 🙂

  5. As mentioned this is certainly going to increase the upgrade challenges for me as a plat. That said, I have seven nights in Whistler booked for January so at least that will kick start 2012 for me.

    Now hopefully the other rumor about free breakfast a la Hyatt will be implemented too, that really would be a nice bene

  6. There goes the neighborhood! This is the equivalent of QE2, the printing of money. We will probably have more platinums, due to platinum inflation, as we go forward. Strategically, its a good time for this benefit, in the fourth quarter, as it wouldn’t cause too much platinum inflation for 2011. SPG can worry about this if the statistics warrant it in 2012 with a new level above plat at that time. I have had some of my most memorable hotel experiences as a result of the upgrades from SPG. It will be interesting to see if the upgrade competition gets stiffer as a result of this change.

  7. Now, what about award stays, certificate stays, or cash & point stays during the platinum challenge which requires 15 nights within a 90 day time period. I wonder if those nights still count towards the challenge?? Guess I will be calling Starwood this week to find out 🙂

  8. As a business owner that spends over $250,000 a year with my starwood Amex, I applaud this!! If not only for the free Internet and occasional upgrades given to platinums!

  9. What is most interesting to me is that the nights on gifted awards counts towards the giftee. My wife has about 60k SPG points, which I haven’t tapped when we were together because I wanted my SPG# to be on there (I’m plat). Now that I know my SPG # will be on there (she can gift them to me even if she’s joining me), I’m more comfortable using those points with the hope of still getting Plat recognition.

    I know some folks who get it the “hard way” will be unhappy. But I wonder how many get it the “hard way” like I do, by doing one night stays just for stay credit. Now I don’t have to hotel hop as much, and frankly, that hotel hopping behavior is sort of gaming the system (like we love to do) – not unethical, but certainly not the behavior SPG wants to incent.

    Overall, I’m happy. Especially since I’m dropping one of my SPG cards (the business one).

  10. I would rather have the good news be on the benefits side rather than on the side of ease of attaining that benefit.

    Instead of award stays counting towards elite status, I’d prefer my elite status give free breakfast… W HOTELS, I’M TALKING TO YOU! When I don’t get any upgrade because the hotel is sold out, I get very little for being Platinum. The lack of free breakfast for Platinums is truly the benefit that prevents SPG from being #1.

  11. Great benefit and it will allow us to use our points more effectively and not have the quandry of paid stay to requalify vs. a goood points redemption

  12. My reading comprehension is barely above 2nd grade level, but the way I’m reading the passage about potential overlap with a “nights/stays count double” promo means that’s a sure thing in Q4… or is there a nuance I’m missing?

  13. @Jeff – I think that clause is just in response to the many SPG Stays Count Double from past years. That has been an annual offer almost every year for many years.

    I really don’t see a reason for SPG to repeat Stays Count Double for 2011 with award stays now counting for elite status qualification.

  14. I am current platinum member and don’t see the benefits. Its creating more platinums competing for the same room upgrades. On the other hand, with the free stays counting towards elite, the benefit may be for me to consider also becoming backup loyal to another brand and earn vip there too. Idea for starwood: make another category above platinum with more benefits so I stay loyal to starwood.

  15. This benefit doesn’t cost properties as much “hard money” as it would cost to give all plats at all properties free breakfast. But breakfast is the benefit that would keep me coming back to Starwood after I requalify each year.

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