How/why we booked Le Méridien Resort and Spa Koh Samui:
Continuing from my Thailand Honeymoon – Part 1 post that detailed the first half of our trip…
Full disclosure: the honeymoon was super high on the priority list. To put it in perspective, we booked the tickets four weeks after our engagement and before I put a single wedding dress on my body. Our strategy for flights was a little out there for most people, but since Sean and I like to maintain several different types of elites statuses we wanted to turn it somewhat of a mileage run as well. I have status with oneworld carriers and Sean is Star Alliance Gold originally through Aegean, but now also using Turkish Airlines. That is a whole different blog post altogether, but if you want to learn a little about the details you can read my old post here (it’s outdated since Aegean restructured their loyalty program shortly after). Therefore we knew we wanted to travel on a Star Alliance carrier so we could not only rack up tons of miles for Sean to maintain his elite status, but also for the fabulous lounge access during our connections.
As for the hotels, we decided to split the duties for choosing our lodging. Sean selected the resorts for the first week and I decided on using Starwood (SPG) points to book our second week. The reason why we did this is because Thailand is very inexpensive. Although we could have stayed in Conrad and W hotels the entire time we simply did not wish to spend all of our points because it would not be the best value of redemption. The Starwood property I chose was the Le Méridien Koh Samui Resort and Spa. Sean and I have stayed at several SPG properties and both hold Gold elite status with them. Sean once missed earning Platinum status by 2 nights one year and that’s hopefully a mistake we’ll never overlook again. Our elite status not only gives us extra points each time we stay at a property, but it frequently means free upgrades to suites at check-in. Additionally, the Starwood Preferred Guest program is one of the few travel loyalty programs that allow spouses to transfers points between accounts for free!
After I confirmed the availability of our preferred dates on spg.com, I called Starwood in order to hold our reservation because I did not have enough points in my account to cover the stay. The rate was 12,000 SPG points per night for the standard room and the fifth night was free. When I called the Gold Service Desk and spoke to a customer service representative, he helped me both transfer points from Sean’s account to cover the balance and put the reservation on a 7 day hold until the transfer fully processed. The agent on the phone asked me about the purpose of our trip and after I told him it was a honeymoon he made sure to document that in the reservation. This piqued me interest and I proceeded to ask him about the potential of getting a complimentary upgrade since I noticed that I could not book a suite for that particular week. He gave me a blanket statement that there’s always a possibility when there are special events like honeymoons involved. That’s when I really started to investigate. You see, honeymoons are an incredibly memorable time in people’s lives. Hotels absolutely love going above and beyond for honeymooners in order to establish a brand loyalty. Hotel chains know that if they can make a good first impression on your honeymoon then it is very likely that you will return to either the same property or similar resorts within their portfolios for future trips such as anniversaries.
From there I took it a step further and decided to directly contact the resort’s General Manager. I used a combination of researching on TripAdvisor and LinkedIn to locate her name and contact information. Then I sent the following e-mail:
I recently booked an award booking for my upcoming honeymoon at Le Méridien Koh Samui Resort & Spa in April 2015. We were really looking forward to booking the Plunge Pool suite, but unfortunately it was not an option for an award booking. I am an SPG Gold member and my account number is xxxxxxxxxxxxx and the reservation confirmation number is xxxxxxxxxxxx (15 – 20 April 2015). We are beyond excited to be celebrating our honeymoon at your property. We just wanted to connect with you and see if anything could be done in terms of an upgrade to the plunge pool due to our Gold status and since it is our honeymoon? Please let us know! We absolutely cannot wait to begin our marriage at your beautiful resort.
She responded within a few hours and said that she would be happy to help. She explained that I would need to follow up with her as our check-in date approached because I had contacted her 7 months in advance and did not have enough visibility to predict the capacity of the hotel. Additionally, she also told me how to properly secure the Plunge Pool Suite option using additional points in case we felt more comfortable knowing it was confirmed beforehand. I decided to risk waiting to see what type of complimentary deal SPG could offer instead.
Over the course of the next few months of wedding planning, I periodically kept in contact with the General Manager and was feeling pretty good about the situation. I knew that no matter what happened, we still had an incredible honeymoon planned and an entire week in the Gulf of Thailand and three other resorts to visit!
Final Stop: Le Méridien Resort and Spa Koh Samui
It was hard to believe that our honeymoon was close to complete, but we still had five more nights to enjoy at this gorgeous SPG property! Everything at this resort was calm and serene—even beginning at the check-in process. After taking a short ride from Mantra, we arrived at Le Méridien and were escorted through the breathtaking outdoor lobby to wait in a comfortable lounge area and served mocktails. After a few minutes of decompressing from the hotel transfer, a front desk employee approached and began to inform us about the resort’s amenities while checking us in. Unfortunately, the General Manager was traveling in Bangkok but she made sure to annotate our reservation with a complimentary upgrade to THE PLUNGE POOL SUITE.
We couldn’t believe it actually worked. Here we were with the opportunity to stay five nights in a private, luxury suite for free thanks to the SPG program! Needless to say, it was a spectacular stay. The staff was incredible and they really took time to take care of the details. This included complimentary drinks for our elite status as well as surprise room service desserts to celebrate our new marriage. Since the previous week was non-stop adventure and exploring different resorts, we took the few days to just relax together and enjoy the glorious pool and island of Koh Samui.