Friday, May 25, 2012

SPG- No That Kind, but the The Starwood Preferred Guest

We had to explain to a rather serious looking CHARLES ABBOTT, Regional Vice President - South East Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc, Managing Director – Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur Hotel the meaning of the acronym SPG with which we grew up. That salacious Singapore girl with long black hair, low cut dress and always draped on the arm of some Caucasian man....yeah, the Sarong Party Girl, now probably deemed highly politically incorrect, but nevertheless, a formative part of our social history.

This SPG is nothing quite so tawdry, it stands for the STARWOOD PREFERRED GUEST card, its function outline in the press release provided at the end of this article. But, to launch the new concept SPG, a lovely lunch for the media, press and bloggers, because everything revolves around food in Malaysia, and how best to launch a program such as this, if not by highlighting the various cuisinal delights that the Starwood hotels in KL have to offer. We were indeed to have the highlights from Westin, Le Meridien and Sheraton Imperial, over a delightful if not over filling lunch.


Delicious hors d'ouvres and canapes from all the three hotels, with such delights as wagyu beef, foie gras dumplings, yam puffs, ...heck, we were full on just the finger food alone. I loved the presentation, in particular the shrimp in a can.


And for the main lunch, we were treated to Starters from Westin, (Chef Garth Welsh, Director of Kitchens at the Westin), an absolutely stunning Prawn, Haloumi, Watermelon & Pomegranate Salad.


The mains, (we were already stuffed with the appetizers and prawn starter), Roasted Beef Tenderloin by my favourite jolly chef, Chef Antoine Rodriguez, Chief Executive Chef of Le Meridien. Read about the awards recently achieved by Antoine at Pure Glutton's Post HERE. The tenderloin was perfect, succulent and moist, and the accompaniments were equally as satisfying.

Poached oyster blade in clear consomme, fresh goats cheese in a beetroot jelly tube, (my favourite), braised beef cheeks in a hollowed carrot trunk. This dish doesn't only look beautiful, but tastes likewise too. It makes the phrase, "how now brown cow" rather redundant. Lots of beefy goodness served in various creative ways.


That's the goatcheese in beetroot jelly roll that is absolutely amazing.

Desserts were a quartet of delicacies from Chef Rajesh Kanna of Sheraton Imperial. The signature tiramisu from Villa Danielli, Chocolate Cake from Essence, Chilled Mango Cream with Pearl Sago from Celestial Court and Black Sesame Macarons from Toastina. I liked the Chilled mango cream the best, as the slight tang was refreshing after such a gloriously heavy meal.



The Chefs equivalent of the three heavenly kings....
Kudos for a fabulous food coma inducing meal.

For more information on the SPG privileges and benefits, Check out their website HERE.


Starwood Preferred Guest Launches Richest Elite Traveler Benefits in History Including 24-Hour Check-in, One-to-One Starwood Ambassador and Lifetime Status

Services Aimed at Small but Powerful Group Who Drive 30% of the Company’s Profit

Stamford, Conn. – February 1, 2012 – Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: HOT) is raising the stakes in the hotel loyalty landscape to win greater share from the world’s most prolific travelers, a powerful and growing group of global mega travelers. The company announced today new benefits that make its award winning loyalty program Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) the richest elite program in the industry. The more SPG Members stay, the more choices are available and the more personalized the benefits become with standouts like lifetime status, first-of-its-kind 24-hour check-in and a dedicated Starwood ambassador who provides one-on-one service to uniquely tailor the guest experience.

“With globalization trends, there are more mega travelers than ever before going to more places around the world,” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO of Starwood. “The opportunity to cultivate what we call ‘loyalty beyond reason’ with the world’s most frequent travelers has never been greater. These are sophisticated consumers who have become jaded by generic points and perks. This is why we’ve invested in distinct new and personal benefits to truly reward those who reward us with a disproportionate amount of their business.”

Three Year Pilot Aimed at Most Profitable Travelers Inspires New Changes
According to van Paasschen, just two percent of travelers drive 30 percent of Starwood’s profits. With that in mind, the company spent the last three years quietly piloting a highly personal one-on-one ambassador service to better understand the needs and desires of these very powerful guests. Across the small, select sample of travelers, Starwood saw a double-digit share shift compared to a control group. Starwood took insights from this pilot to develop new benefits aimed at its elite Members.

“What we heard loud and clear from travelers was that they wanted more choice, more control and more personal service,” said Mark Vondrasek, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Loyalty & Partnership Marketing. “Today, through high touch and high tech, we have a newfound ability to better understand our guests, their preferences and even the nature of each unique trip. By delivering a whole new definition of choice and personal services, we’re moving beyond a purely points arms race to instead build loyalty for life.”

Good-Bye 3 p.m. Check-in – Hello Your24TM
Turning an ancient hotel convention on its head, Starwood is for the first time ever abolishing the industry’s long-standing 3:00 p.m. check-in time and giving its most frequent travelers control of their own arrival and departure time. Your24 lets Members choose their own 24 hour check-in and checkout time. For example, a guest who checks in at 10 p.m. won’t have to check-out until 10 p.m. on their day of departure. The Your24 program is offered to SPG Members who spend 75+ nights at Starwood hotels annually.

Ultimate in Personal Service for Most Prolific Travelers
Building upon its successful pilot program, Starwood is expanding its innovative one-to-one service which matches its best travelers with personal ambassadors. Now, all Members who stay 100 nights annually are invited to participate in this unique service designed to provide the ultimate in tailored experiences across all 1100+ Starwood hotels. What separates this from a traditional travel concierge program is the unique personal relationship between Member and ambassador. Starwood’s ambassadors work one-on-one with guests to understand their preferences and what matters to them on each trip to deliver a customized experience on property. Ambassadors also provide services beyond the hotel and are even empowered to assist guests when they’re not traveling.

Starwood to Reward Loyalty with Lifetime Status
To show its appreciation for its most loyal and enduring travelers, Starwood Preferred Guest is introducing SPG LifetimeTM status. Now Members who have stayed 250 nights total and maintained elite status for at least five years (consecutive or not) are awarded SPG Lifetime Gold status. Members with 500 total nights and 10 years of Platinum SPG status (consecutive or not) will enjoy their top tier status for life.

The Lowdown on Loyalty: Starwood Enhances Benefits for all Elite Members and the More You Stay, the Richer and More Personal it Gets
“Our goal is to make SPG so rich that it’s impossible for mega travelers not to choose Starwood,” said Vondrasek. “We also want to make the program wildly aspirational for all frequent travelers. And because we know that many of our Members are also Members of other hotel loyalty programs, we believe these upgrades give travelers a compelling reason to consolidate their travel with us. With this in mind, we have enriched all of our elite offerings, ratcheting up the proposition as Members stay more.”

o SPG 100 Nights Benefit: After crossing the 100-night threshold, SPG Members are paired with their personal ambassador.

o SPG 75 Nights Benefit: After spending 75 nights with Starwood, Members earn four Starpoints for every eligible U.S. dollar spent. Members also get access to Your24 to control their check-in and checkout time.

o SPG 50 Nights Benefit: At 50 nights, Members will receive 10 Suite Night Awards ™ to use for room upgrades. Suite Night Awards are confirmable five days prior to arrival.

o Platinum Members (25 Stays or 50 Nights Annually): now have the option of complimentary breakfast as part of their welcome gift at check-in. Platinum Members can also choose from bonus Starpoints or a local gift.

o Gold Members (10 Stays or 25 Nights Annually): now receive a welcome gift at check-in and can choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access or a complimentary beverage.

To learn more about these exciting SPG changes that give Members more control over their hotel experience visit All benefits begin March 1, 2012.

SPG Gets a New Look Inspired By Actual Members
To celebrate its new benefits, SPG is updating its brand identity with a new look inspired by the rich personalities of its Members. SPG conducted a casting call for Members to participate in photo shoots with famed portrait photographer Alessandra Petlin. The inspiring photos will be prominently featured in all SPG communications and collateral including more than 90 million member communications a year. The first photo shoot took place in New York and features the Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, W New York - Times Square, W New York – Downtown, Aloft Harlem, The St. Regis New York and Sheraton Tribeca.

Visit to hear personal stories from these Members about their relationship with SPG. Additional casting calls are taking place around the world in 2012. Follow SPG on to learn about the latest locations.

About Starwood Preferred Guest
The SPG program’s breakthrough policy of No Blackout Dates at the world’s most sought after collection of hotels, reinvented the hospitality loyalty program when it launched in 1999. By creating a program centered on its Members, SPG has developed the most passionate and knowledgeable membership base in the hotel loyalty space. Through its use of new technologies and innovative channels such as,, and others, SPG continues to innovate and lead the industry. By offering No Blackouts on standard rooms at over 1,000 hotels and resorts in nearly 100 countries, No Blackouts on hundreds of airlines, and once in a lifetime experiences available through SPG Moments at, the program has proven to be a big draw for the world’s most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage for Starwood. For more information about Starwood Preferred Guest please visit

About Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1071 properties in 100 countries and territories with 145,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood Hotels is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, and the recently launched Aloft®, and Element SM. The company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood Hotels also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., one of the premier developers and operators of high quality vacation interval ownership resorts. For more information, please visit


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