Ever since I got acquainted with The Milelion blog, the concept of miles, points, lounges, air fares, status etc have internalized in me. My spending pattern and the way I use my credit cards (I really need a ‘gu-niang’ long wallet now) have changed dramatically. Gone are the UOB One card and the Citibank Cashback card and welcome in the UOB PPV, UOB PRIVI, Citibank Rewards etc. Sorry I digress but I guess you get the point.
The SPG offers a status challenge and so does Marriott (unpublished). But ever since the Sept 2016 acquisition of SPG by Marriott International and the status matching offered by the two programs, this whole status thingy looks a sweeter deal. In essence, the status challenge allows SPG members to attain Gold or Platinum Preferred status by completing stays within a 3-month period (or 90 days):
- 9 nights to attain Gold status
- 18 nights to attain Platinum status
The terms and conditions are stated right here. You have to contact SPG to inform that you wish to take part in the challenge. The challenge is valid for the whole of 2017 in any 3 consecutive months for the nights to be attained in any SPG participating hotels. With more than 1300 properties worldwide, you can definitely choose your pick. But the key questions lie in; does it make sense to take part in the challenge and whether the benefits of the status outweigh the costs and efforts to spend those nights. Granted that there are tens of thousands of hotels and Airbnbs worldwide that provide accommodations, should I commit the money to one hotel chain? For me, I am already in the Gold status so the next higher will be Platinum which in normal circumstance require 25 stays or 50 nights in a year to attain, something that is difficult for me to get there. Currently this is how far away I am from Platinum going by the usual qualification.
In my personal view if it does not cost me an arm or a leg to spend those 18 nights, I think I should be able to do it. Considering that the SPG Platinum status is able to match to the Marriott Platinum status, I take it roughly as a ‘buy one get one free’. Platinum status is attained a week after successfully completing the last night in the challenge. The Platinum status is valid through Feb 2019.
So 18 nights is quite a few nights of stay in hotels so it is important to do some prior planning before calling up SPG to sign up for the challenge. I have signed up to the challenge from 1 Oct to 31 Dec 2017, in view of the year end holidays. The school holidays are round the corner and it has been traditional for me to bring the family in tow with my parents for a short holiday. For a group of 5 pax, I will naturally require two hotel rooms or a Airbnb house/apartment that can fit everybody in. But since the holiday destination is planned for Hong Kong/Macau, then it probably makes more sense to put up in hotel rooms. SPG ones do not sound too bad, given that most of the hotel rates are comparable in land-scarce Hong Kong. And I have always wanted to visit Penang again (since my last visit almost 30 years ago) which is renowned for its street food and heritage culture. Maybe for this challenge I will bring the fam for two holidays instead of one.
After my application for the challenge and asking a few questions on the T&Cs, I have planned to do the following:
One important factor that you should know and is pivotal for me here is that SPG allows members to earn qualifying stays and nights for up to three rooms. For this challenge I am set for Platinum as long as I:
- book the rooms under eligible paying rate,
- stay in one of the rooms, and
- pay for all the rooms
Planning the travel and hotel stays are the easy part. But how much does it cost me to put up 18 nights in those SPG properties? 3 of the 18 nights are for business travels so they should not count into my budget. But for the purpose of understanding how these 18 nights will theoretically cost:
So that is nearly SGD$4,000 thereabouts for 18 nights in those SPG properties. Is it too much? Not forgetting there are air fares to consider to get to so many people to those destinations. Of course one can argue that you can spend all 18 nights in a local SPG hotel and probably that will cost only SGD$3,600 all in. Sure you can, but for me the challenge is not a means to an end. The holidays have to be done so if I can manage the the stays under the SPG properties that are still within my budget, then I have a win-win situation. In addition I am also registered for the bonus Starpoints so it is a little icing on the cake.
So there you have it. These 18 nights require some planning and some budget nonetheless and cooperation from whoever you are travelling with. I know of people who will never put up at Aloft or Four Point properties so… After I am platinumized, I will be waiting for my suite upgrade. Are you taking up the status challenge too?