The Westin Palace – Madrid

The contrast between the two hotels I used for this trip in Madrid could not be more dramatic.  From the hostal, La Perla Asturiano (below), to one of the grand dames of Madrid, The Westin Palace.  As previously commented, I had a great stay at La Perla but wanted to use some points for my last three nights in Madrid and experience a different location.

La Perla Asturina, Madrid

La Perla Asturina, Madrid

View from my balcony

View from my balcony

The Westin Palace is a Starwood property and I was redeeming 12,000 points per night in lieu of the cash rate of 389 euros a night – a price I could never imagine paying for a stay.  Commissioned by King Alfonso XIII in 1912, it is located across the street from the Museo del Prado, Museo de Thyssen-Bomemisza, the Congress buidling, and short walking distance to Plaza Cibeles, the Reina Sofia, Atocha Rail Station, and the Puerta del Sol.

The Westin Palace

The Westin Palace

While the location is great, the neighborhood – not surprisingly, I guess – feels a bit stuffy.  When looking for a restaurant or tapas bar, I inevitably ended walking back up by the Puerta del Sol and Plaza de Santa Ana areas.  I did not try the restaurant but did have a 13+ euro beer in their bar, if that gives you any idea of prices.

All in all, it was a very nice stay, as one would expect, but I would have to hit the lottery before I stayed here for cash and, even then, I’m not so sure..

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Sheraton Meadowlands – Seacaucus, NJ

Hotel Review

The Frequent Traveler University (FTU) event brought me to this property located just off the NJ Turnpike and Rte. 3 by the Meadowlands.  Check-in was fine and I receieved a pretty standard room.  As a SPG Gold member, there is no access to the Club level or lounge.  Instead, you get a choice of free internet or a free drink or some other amenity.

I took the internet option but have to say that the wireless internet in this hotel was the slowest I’ve had for a while.

The meeting facilities themselves were very good.  Their is a Starbucks in the lobby and the restaurant and bar was nice.  There are several nearby restaurant and shopping options but make sure you have clear directions on how to get back to the hotel because it can be tricky.

Incidentally, had dinner at Minado, a Japanese seafood buffet in nearby Little Ferry.  It was outstanding!

I’m not sure I would stay here on next visit as there are plenty of options in the area, but wouldn’t go out of my way to avoid it, either.

Final Grade: B

Points and Dollars

My total spend for my two nights was $351.

For this, I earned 626 base points SPG Elite 50% bonus of 313 points.  Since I charged it to my SPG American Express Card, I will also receive another 702 points (2 points per dollar) for a total of 1,641 points.

Travel Executive Summit Recap

This morning’s Travel Executive Summit was well-attended and featured a couple of high powered panels moderated by Randy Petersen.  The morning session was a robust debate about the role of loyalty points and whether they will evolve into something like currency.  I tend to side with the folks who think this movement would significantly degrade their role in program loyalty.

The second panel featured senior level reps from several hotel loyalty programs including upscale Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest.  It was clear in listening to them, that the decisions they make and the motivation behind their plans are to reward and show value to their loyal customers.  That may sound a more than a bit obvious (after all, they are called loyalty programs) but if you read enough flaming posts on the internet about these program you might need to be reminded.

Tonight, it is the opening reception of Frequent Traveler University with two jam-packed days of information ahead.