Bits: Starwood / Marriott vs Hilton for luxury, Good To Go – insurance for 65+ and ill travellers

News in brief:

Why the combined Starwood and Marriott should be a focus for upmarket travellers

My main article today draws on a huge analysis of the major hotel loyalty schemes from Travel Expert.

One other interesting nugget from this research work sprang out.

Starwood has 750 hotels in the Luxury / Upper Upscale segments if you define that as St Regis, Luxury Collection, W, Le Meridien, Sheraton Grand (not Sheraton) and Westin.

Marriott has a further 540 such hotels if you define Luxury / Upper Upscale as Ritz Carlton, Edition, JW Marriott (not Marriott), Renaissance and Autograph.

Hilton, shockingly, has just 97 Luxury / Upper Upscale hotels globally.  This assumes you define it as Conrad, Waldorf Astoria and Curio.

This means, once the merger completes, Marriott / Starwood will have 13 times the number of Luxury and Upper Upscale hotels than Hilton.

You can argue about the nuances here – as our recent Hilton Tallinn review showed, there are some exceptionally good Hilton properties that knock the socks off many Westin and Le Meridien hotels – but the trend is startling.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Good to Go travel insurance

Introducing Good to Go, our new insurance partner

I receive regular emails from readers asking about recommended travel insurance for older travellers or those suffering from pre-existing medical conditions.

This became especially acute a couple of years ago when American Express Platinum cut the maximum age on its insurance cover from 80 years to 70 years.  This impacted many people, including myself, who were insuring their parents for free by issuing them free supplementary cards.

I was recently introduced to Good to Go Insurance.  Good to Go is a well regarded (98% Feefo rating) insurer which specialises in cover for anyone who has trouble qualifying for standard travel insurance policies.

For obvious reasons I don’t have any personal experience of using Good to Go, but based on feedback I am happy to promote them on the site.  You may see their ads popping up here and there and I have added a link to the sidebar on the desktop / tablet site.  For clarity, HFP will receive a commission if you make a purchase via the link.

Bits: double Avios at Gate 365 this weekend, 80% bonus when you buy Hilton points
Bits: Lloyds credit card referral madness, possible 5000 free Avios, Amex FX promo
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  1. I’m not sure I’d ever put Renaissance in the luxury box, they are nice but certainly no better than Hilton and as you say, same probably applies for le meridian (don’t have enough experience of them).

  2. ThinkSquare says:

    Or could it be a combined Marriott-Starwood will have too many competing luxury properties and have to off-load?

    I don’t usually have trouble finding a decent Hilton or IHG hotel anywhere I’d choose to go.

    • You can’t surely believe that running 30 different brands is excessive?!

      • Lady London says:

        Well, in a different field, the Estee Lauder company owns at least that many very distinct cosmetic brands. They do such a good job differentiating them in their marketing that I would guess most people don’t know they are all owned by Estee Lauder. They include such diverse brands as MAC, Clinique, Aveda, Origins,Prescriptives Bobbi Brown, Bumble & Bumble (hair), Jo Malone, Creme de la Mer each one of which have very different marketed images of what the brand offers and what type of customer they appeal to. These are all owned by Lauder in mostly pretty silent acquisitions if you were not in the business. LVMH Group is similar in high fashion accessories – it’s really surprising who turns out to be owned by them although their hand behind the brand is not quite so invisible as the Lauder hand behind their brands. Sorry, I’m getting OT.

        So it’s not impossible for a hotel group such as Hilton to manage a large number of front of house brands whilst possibly some synergies in back office – subject to their brand management and marketing expertise..

        • Marriott’s customer isn’t you, though – it is the hotel owner who wants a brand to use. Does he want 30 options? And is he happy with so much potential competition for the loyalty scheme members in the same city?

  3. For balance/ alternative, the Barclays Travel Plus Pack also includes insurance for people under 80 years old at the start of the trip insured. You also get 6 free lounge passes (Dragonpass) and various other benefits. Currently £13.50/ month, increasing to £15.50/ month from September.

    • What’s really interesting is that they’ve deleted the existing exclusions relating to injuriess/fatalities/losses caused by terrorism, riot, civil unrest, radioactivity, government property seizures etc.

      All these are now covered for the first time (and the basic insurance package now extends worldwide rather than Europe only).

      The plus package is a fiver a month extra than basic, but includes 6 free Dragon Pass lounge entries as the only real extra benefit apart from alleged hotel/parking discounts.

      Think I’ll keep the plus package active after the price increase as overall it works for me, and I value the enhanced insurance offer in these difficult times.

      One thing to note is there’s now a 6 month minimum period, so you can no longer sign up, grab the Dragon Passes and cancel straight after, which I think is reasonable, as you were taking the piss, Harry.

      • 6 months @ £15.50 is not so bad. Just think about buying drinks & snacks in the terminal – what would that cost? Insurance on top, included.

  4. Off topic, but I have booked a St Regis property though Trailfinders. Will the property still consider an upgrade on check in as I am SPG Gold?

    • Trailfinders may book it as a normal agency booking which MAY mean you get points and SPG benefits (just as if a corporate travel agent had booked it). It is only the wholesalers like Expedia and they definitely block.

  5. Actually, Hilton in that segment is only 71 (not 94) so its even worse 😛

    I agree with a commentator above that Renaissance and Le Meridien are a stretch, the base figures per brand are given in the source article and the impact of those two is negligible (they have small footprints).

    I had to use some kind of industry scale and I went with the hospitality industry standard of “luxury”) which includes everything down to (and including) Westin, Grand Hyatt, Conrad, JW Marriott. Renaissance and Le Meridien seemed closer to these than to Sheraton, Hyatt Regency, Hilton or Marriott on an average.


  1. us

    Meet – travel insurance for 65+