This past year I set a goal-visit 25 countries. To date, my travels have taken me to such exciting places as Tasmania and the Antarctic. I’ve ridden the Orient Express from Venice to London, and e-chatted with friends back home from an Internet café in India. Throughout it all, the one thing I’ve found most beneficial is my Starwood Platinum Card. As a platinum veteran of four years, I am still amazed at the benefits of the card. We spend so much time battling for airline upgrades, many of us forget that we actually spend more time in our hotel rooms than in the air.
The Starwood program features more than 700 unique hotels worldwide divided among six individual brands-Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, St. Regis, Luxury Collection and W Hotels. Twenty-five stays or 50 nights per calendar year is the requirement for earning platinum status. That gets you a late checkout at 4 p.m., but the key benefit is the spaceavailable upgrade to a suite. In many cases, the hotels book the upgrade prior to your arrival. That little perk has allowed me the pleasure of experiencing some truly glorious suites in hotels around the world, including the Westin Excelsior in Rome, Sheraton Imperial in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Hotel Goldener Hirsch in Salzburg, Austria, and San Cristobal Tower in Santiago, Chile.
Still, I was happily surprised when I arrived in Sydney, Australia, for the Rugby World Finals. I had redeemed Starwood points to book a four-night stay at the Four Points Sheraton Darling Harbour (formerly the Nikko Hotel). Booking online took less than two minutes and required a relatively low point value for such a grand hotel. I knew the city was completely booked for the rugby finals, so I assumed I’d be assigned the standard twin room I had reserved. Much to my surprise, I was upgraded to a beautiful suite with a terrace overlooking bustling Darling Harbour. Most airlines would never consider offering an upgrade on reward travel.
Although I enjoy flying first- or business-class much as anyone, my stays in first-class accommodations have been highlights of the destinations I’ve visited. Starwood has consistently extended this benefit to me, regardless of the hotel rate I’ve booked. In addition, many Starwood properties I’ve visited have made an effort to have much-appreciated welcome amenities
waiting for platinum members on arrival.
Membership in the Starwood Preferred Guest program is free. For information, visit www.spg.com.
I’ll check in with you next time after my winter ski trip to Davos, Switzerland. Until then, happy trails.
A deadly 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Türkiye and Syria Feb. 6, with more than 11,000 fatalities thus far reported. That number is expected to grow as rescue operations continue.
Copa Airlines is celebrating its 75th anniversary by showcasing a Boeing 737-800 NG in an aircraft livery that harkened back to the airline’s look in the 1990s. During that time, Copa Airlines launched an expansion of their network to become the Hub of the Americas®, changing the way to travel to and connect in our Continent.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s time to start thinking about romantic getaways to spend some quality time with your special someone. Chile has been recognized as one of most romantic destinations in South America, making it an ideal Valentine’s destination. Of course, you don’t need to wait until Valentine’s Day to make a romantic trip to Chile.
Here’s a destination some nature lovers and adventure travelers may still not have on their radars: the northernmost Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. Visitors can explore endless dunes via horseback or camel, then settle into an Al Wadi Desert camp such as Sonara, where experiences include entertainment and dining beneath star-filled skies.
Nashville’s once-modest skyline continues to evolve as its luxury market grows. Lavish hotel properties are added to the landscape while acclaimed chefs stake claim in the robust culinary scene and premier cultural offerings round out the city’s repertoire.
On game day, Super Bowl host cities stand to gain almost as much as the teams competing on the field, if not more. The game can mean hundreds of millions of dollars in the days leading up to, during and immediately after the game, but it can also have an economic impact that lasts for years.
According to Allianz Partners USA’s recent Top Valentine’s Day Destinations report, searches for Valentine’s Day travel plans jumped by 45 percent this year, compared to last year. To conduct the survey, Allianz reviewed more than 700,000 itineraries for round-trip flights departing U.S. airport Feb. 2–6, with a return Feb. 9–13, finding 71 percent of itineraries are for domestic travel and 29 percent are for international trips.
Discover why Global Traveler readers named Cunard® the Best Large-Ship Cruise Line for seven consecutive years. For a limited time, book your voyage during Cunard’s Explore with More promotion and take advantage of lower fares*, up to $1,200 Onboard Credit†, Free Specialty Dining for Two^, 50% Reduced Deposit††, and more. Choose from an array of exciting journeys, including Transatlantic Crossings and voyages to Alaska, the Caribbean and Canada & New England.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, comes to life at night. Translating to “good airs” or “fair winds,” Buenos Aires is an autonomous district filled to the brim with eclectic European architecture and a rich cultural life. The multicultural city, a melting pot of language, history, incredible food and music, comes to life at night. When you travel to Buenos Aires, be prepared to eat late, choose from hundreds of restaurants and thousands of bars and clubs, and dance beyond dawn. The city’s nightlife, as varied as it is intense, allows you to dance to whatever rhythm takes your fancy. A city that oozes sex appeal, it proves dynamic and passionate, and the beauty and rhythm will get under your skin for an amazing trip.