Widely blogged about, but I didn’t want to let the day end without saying something. Today’s announcement of several enhancements to the Starwood Preferred Guest program starting March 1, is welcome news indeed. Platinum members of the SPG program will now receive complimentary continental breakfast as one of their amenities. This is one area where SPG has lagged behind in benefits for top tier members. Further, SPG is adding enhanced benefits for continued loyalty beyond the 50 night minimum for Platinum status. At 50 nights, you receive 10 confirmable suite upgrades. At 75 nights, you start earning 4 SPG points per dollar spent, and access to what Starwood calls a “Your24” benefit – check in at 9pm and you don’t need to check out until 9pm the next day.

These are all great enhancements for top tier elites, but I think the changes for SPG Gold members are just as great, especially for entry level status. SPG Gold will now receive a check-in amenity and can choose from 250 bonus points (125 at aLoft, Element, and Sheraton Four Points), complimentary high-speed internet, or a complimentary beverage at the hotel bar. That represents a pretty nice enhancement at the Gold level if you ask me.

Starwood has also introduced a lifetime status benefit. Your loyalty will be rewarded with lifetime Gold status after 250 nights and any 5 years of elite status in the program. With 500 nights and any 10 years of Platinum elite status you will receive lifetime Platinum status. Great news for loyal guests. You can read all about these changes and others here.

In summary, I think these are really terrific enhancements to a perennial favorite hotel loyalty program. I’m especially impressed that Gold members can now have access to complimentary high-speed internet. These changes are a great development for the SPG program. Will these changes finally spur Marriott Rewards to turn things up a notch with their elite program? I certainly hope so.