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As I reported yesterday, I spent the first four days of my South of France holiday at the Four Seasons Terre Blanche in Provence. I had never been outside Paris before, though, and I had one more day to kill before my flight back to Miami, so I decided to spend my last night in one of the area’s best-known destinations, Monaco, where I stayed at Le Meridien Beach Plaza.
I had just passed my Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum 75 threshold (uber-elite!) at the Four Points by Sheraton Chelsea, so this was a good opportunity to test out the new benefits, which include:
–4 Starpoints per dollar spent (2 base points that all SPG members get, plus 1 for being a Platinum, and another bonus 1 for hitting 75 nights). This means I actually get 6 Starpoints per dollar I spend now since I’ve got both the SPG Amex and the SPG Business Amex.
–Your 24 – the ability to check in any time I want and check out 24 hours later (if you check in after 9am, you still get guaranteed 4pm late check out. Just a note on this, though: If your room type isn’t available for early check-in, you can downgrade/change it- you will just have to work with the Platinum line to work it all out since they won’t automatically downgrade you and you have to confirm 48 hours in advance.
Those are in addition to my Platinum welcome amenity of:
–Continental breakfast for the entire length of stay.
–500 Starpoints welcome amenity (250 at aloft, Four Points and Element)
–Local gift (like wine, crafts, etc.)
As well as my Platinum 50 Night benefit of 10 Suite Night Awards that I can use to confirm certain suites and premium rooms beginning 5 nights prior to arrival, subject to availability.
For this stay, I decided to use a combination of my 75 Night benefits:
I wanted early check-in since I wanted to get to Monaco in the morning, so I asked for and was confirmed for a 10am check-in without a problem.
I also haven’t used many of my Suite Night Awards, so I decided to put in a request for a suite and it was confirmed one day ahead of my stay.
One decision I did have to make was how to pay. For the night I wanted to stay, the hotel’s Deluxe Room category was going for 425 EUR ($550) a night. The hotel is a Starwood Category 6 property, so I was really hoping there would be a Cash & Points option that would have cost 8,000 points + $150 – still a fair amount of cash, but I’d be getting 5 cents in value out of each of my Starpoints. Unfortunately, the C&P rate wasn’t available, so I had to settle for a regular redemption for the Deluxe Room.
Based on their inventory and the fact that it was a Thursday night, the redemption rate I got was 21,500 points – so my per-point value was 2.55 cents. However, because I was able to redeem one of my Suite Night Awards, I had been upgraded four categories to a Junior Suite. The suite was going for 1,054 EUR ($1,360), so my Suite Night Award upgrade was worth $810! Not bad (even though I would have never paid that).
As for the suite itself, I wouldn’t say it was worth that price – even for a night in September’s high season – but it was nice. The hotel’s suites were all redecorated in 2010, so everything was in pretty good shape, but I wasn’t crazy about the color scheme of gray, blue and really bright green meant to evoke the sea, but which I found sort of loud. I loved the fact that my room had a full Mediterranean Sea view with a private balcony and lounge chairs, though.
The interior was well over 500 square feet and had a king-size bed, a small sitting area with armchairs and a couch around a coffee table, a small work desk, and a 32-inch flatscreen TV.
The bathroom was also pretty spacious with a big sink area, separate shower and tub, and Cinq Mondes toiletries.
Apart from the room amenities, the hotel has a few unique features. It’s the only hotel in Monaco with its own private beach, so guests don’t have to fight for chairs on the public beach, and a private pier for watersports. It’s also got a beautiful pool terrace with two saltwater pools surrounded by lounge chairs. Guests can also use a small fitness center called Le Sea Club Spa, and a variety of spa treatments are available in-room or on the beach.
The resort also has three bars and restaurants. The Alang Bar is a cute outdoor bar on the beach open from mid-morning to night, L’Intempo Restaurant is the hotel’s all-day dining outlet and serves modern Mediterranean-French cuisine, and Muse serves light snacks and bites on an outdoor deck near the sea – it’s kind of like lunching on a yacht…as you do in Monaco – and is only open from June-September.
I only had breakfast at the hotel before my flight, so I didn’t get to try out much of the food, but I did relax at the pool and on the beach before rehearsing my best James Bond impression and exploring the tiny city and stopping by the Casino on my one evening in town.
All in all, I definitely want to go back, especially if I get as good a value from my Starwood points as I did this time. Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.
Even after the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is still a fantastic choice if you want to avoid the Reserve’s $450 annual fee, earn 2x on all travel & dining and earn a 50,000 point sign up bonus.