With my recent job change, I’m still figuring things out.
Like where to live.
The new job is about 100 miles away from the old job, but it’s not commutable.
Ok, technically, it is physically possible but with weekend call, early morning procedures and the wintery weather – and accompanying icy roads – it doesn’t make sense to drive back and forth each day.
The original (and still current) plan was for me to stay near my job during the week and come home on the weekends. A month into the process, this is working out ok. Not perfect, but ok enough.
I used to love to travel for my old job, typically to medical conferences in nice (read: warm in the winter) places. I loved staying in luxury hotels, decadently ordering room service when it was on the company dime or indulging at local restaurants.
Things are different now.
Without an expense account, I have suddenly found myself becoming much more frugal, especially with where I’m staying. I’m still loyal to Starwood Hotel brands, but I had to swap the W for the Four Points Sheraton. I’m scouring the Starwood Preferred Guest app for upcoming deals and taking advantage of them. Even though there are several Starwood Hotels in the metro area where I’m staying, usually the Four Points Sheraton is the cheapest and most convenient to my new primary office. I’ll mix it up, though: last Sunday night I found a great deal at the Westin – closer to work and much nicer – so I booked one night there.
The upshot: I’m getting a lot of Starwood Hotel points.
Starwood recently merged with Marriott, so it isn’t clear where this will end up, but currently Starwood has a Lifetime Gold program. This requires five years of Gold status and 250 total nights of eligible stays, although they don’t have to be within that five-year frame.
Through savvy hotel swapping and work-related travel, I was able to achieve Gold status for the past six years. Gold requires 10 independent stays or 25 nights in a calendar year. Platinum is much steeper: 25 individual stays or 50 nights. Platinum also comes with some incredible perks, including automatic upgrades to the best available room at check-in. Hello, Presidential Suite!
Previously, though, while achieving Gold was possible with some effort, Platinum was always out of reach.
But it might not be this year.
If I’m doing my math right, I will make Platinum by May, which means I will be Platinum for about half of 2017 and all of 2018. Status earned during one calendar year is good for the next calendar year (since many people probably don’t reach the required number of stays/nights until late in the year), but it kicks in immediately for the current year once you hit it.
By June, I think I will also reach the 250 nights total (this is spread out over about 8 years) to make Lifetime Gold. I came into the year with 188 nights.
Also by June, I am hopeful that Spouse and the kids will be able to move here (we’re waiting for the school year to end), and all of this hotel living will be over.
Since I like getting something extra wherever I can, though, I am making lemonade out of this situation and dreaming about free hotel stays and suite upgrades for family vacations in 2018.
Next up: suitcase living, hotel hacks and dietary considerations