(EDIT: following a comment below, I have reworked this article because my original merging of Marriott and Starwood benefits may have been confusing.)
If you want to gain status at a number of hotel chains quickly, you have two options. One is to start spending every night of the week in a hotel, changing property every night to maximise your stay count. The easier option is to get an American Express Platinum charge card.
Amex Platinum has an unrivalled list of benefits for the frequent traveller, including
full travel insurance for yourself and up to five supplementary cardholders
car hire insurance
Eurostar lounge access
2 x Priority Pass, allowing up to four people free unlimited access to 1,000 airport lounge globally
exclusive hotel benefits, including a guaranteed 4pm check-out, via Fine Hotels & Resorts
The most comprehensive list of benefits, however, come from Amex’s hotel partners. You can receive status in five hotel chains for free:
Hilton Honors (Gold status)
Club Carlson – Radisson, Park Inn, Park Plaza (Gold status)
Melia Rewards (Gold status)
Starwood Preferred Guest (Gold status)
Shangri-La Golden Circle (Jade status)
In December, this list grew to include:
Marriott Rewards (Gold status)
because, with the acquisition of Starwood by Marriott, you can instantly match your Starwood status to the equivalent Marriott status via the respective websites.
There is now a new status:
Taj Hotels InnerCircle (Gold status)
This has come about due to a new partnership between Shangri-La Hotels and Taj Hotels & Resorts.
Apart from its home market of India, where it is obviously very strong, Taj runs a number of luxury properties across the world. This includes the well known Taj Exotica resort in the Maldives, 51 Buckingham Gate and St James’ Court in London, The Pierre in New York and a fairly new Taj-branded property in Cape Town.
Taj and Shangri-La are now co-operating to allow members the opportunity to earn points at hotels in either chain. A status match is part of the package.
You can match your Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade status to Taj InnerCircle Gold status via this website.
Taj InnerCircle Gold status is not hugely valuable but, at the same time, it is silly not to claim it if you are staying at a Taj property in the near future. Taj InnerCircle Gold benefits are
Late Check Out
Early Check In
2 Upgrade Vouchers
15% discount on room redemption rate
You can also transfer your Shangri-La points to Taj and vice versa. The rates are:
100 Shangri-La = 67 Taj
100 Taj = 38 Golden Circle
You can find out more on this special website here.
The ability to match Shangri-La Jade status to Taj InnerCircle Gold status will only benefit a few American Express Platinum cardholders, but it is always useful to have additional options.
Remember that you keep your Hilton, Marriott, SPG, Carlson, Melia, Shangri-La and Taj hotel statuses irrespective of whether you cancel your American Express Platinum card or not. They will continue until they expire naturally, which is usually early in the following year or the year after depending on the scheme.