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.
At FXExpress Publications, Inc., we can’t wait to #ComeBacktoTravel, and we can’t wait for the travel industry and others to #ComeBacktoGT. Join us over the next several weeks as we entice you with photos from some of the places we’re most excited to visit. Take a visual journey through some of the Florida Keys’ most breathtaking sights with us, just in time for the June 1 reopening.
The city took its name from Athena, goddess of wisdom, strategy and war, and protector of the city. The financial, political and administrative center of the country and an all-powerful city-state in antiquity, Athens is a major center of culture. A visit to the first-ever museum dedicated to Byzantium, a stroll around the National Garden and a trip to the Olympeion archaeological site will take you back through time.
People need a “chance to get some well-needed rest, relaxation and fresh air.” This is a sentiment we all likely share, as does the European Commission, the executive branch of the European Union. The EC included that phrase when it released its plan to help reopen Europe following the COVID-19 global pandemic. While most EU borders remain closed to international travel until at least mid-June, the EC’s plan starts with inter-Europe travel, and are non-binding recommendations and guidelines. European countries still have the final decision, so travelers are advised to check the restrictions of the countries they plan to visit. According to the EC, “blanket restrictions of free movement are replaced by targeted measures.”
Since 1970, Goway Travel has been committed to providing customized travel experiences for world travelers. Few things are better evidence of this commitment than being awarded the 2019 Trazees award for Favorite Tour Operator. Goway Travel heartily thanks the readers of Trazee Travel for this honor and for their confidence in Goway’s work in creating travel memories that’ll last a lifetime.
The cruise industry responds to the COVID-19 pandemic with updates on cancellations and rebooking policies. Here’s an update.
Star Clippers offers two complimentary hotel nights in Barbados or St. Maarten for Caribbean sailings December 2020–March 2022. For use before or after the cruise, the hotel deal also includes one breakfast and a ship transfer.
Looking for a truly unique travel experience and considering a new vehicle? The Volvo Overseas Delivery Program is the perfect solution to create your own adventure of a lifetime. Volvo allows you to custom order your new automobile tailored to fit your needs and desires. They will fly you to Sweden to pick up your Volvo so you can drive and explore Scandinavia and Europe on your terms for up to two weeks.
Two Florida hotels boast reopening offers as Florida begins its phased reopening.