January 5, 2014

To Florence with Starwood

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I’m off to Florence. Despite many a trip to Italy, Florence is one city I’ve yet to visit. So with a winter weekend away to play with it seemed an ideal opportunity to visit, via the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card.

The flight timings mean I’m flying into Rome and have a train booked from Rome Centrale up to Florence. A train from Rome takes you through to the central station, while the train up to Florence takes under 2 hours. I plan to spend the weekend hunting out various wine bars and wine-focused restaurants with my good friend Robbin (who, at the moment, lives in the city). I dare say a fair few photographs will be taken during the weekend.

I’ve redeemed 100,000 Starpoints given to me by the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card. This scheme allows SPG/American Express card holders to turn ‘everyday purchases’ into amazing getaways, offering what we all want – luxury and fantastic destinations. The hotel I’ve selected – the Westin Excelsior right on the banks of the Arno – certainly looks to provide the luxury angle with an art deco bar that will be my very first stop for a cocktail and a roof top restaurant with 360 degree view of the city! And just talking to Robbin, Florence certainly sounds like an amazing city to explore. True the weather in January may not be suitable for an outside table; but I’m hoping they’ll have a table for brunch!

Starwood Westin Excelsior
The excelsior excels with its marble floors and columns, grand staircases, stained-glass windows, statues and period paintings. The rooms are equally as opulent, while the staff add warmth to it all… Its restaurant, Il Cestello, is celebrated for its cuisine. DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Florence & Tuscany.

westin excelsior

I spent a great time, having been given the points required, exploring various destinations and hotels in the Starwood Guest scheme. All rather easy to browse, if rather trickier in finally selecting when and where to go for the choice is broad. I thought of Albania, of Tallinn and of Copenhagen. All places I’d love to visit and explore but finally the city of Florence was settled on due to its wine-country capital credentials. While the train trip from Rome to Florence isn’t included in the Starwood scheme (easy enough to book via the Trenitalia website) the flights are; because of timings I’m able to fly back to Heathrow from Florence airport itself. I had enough points to redeem against a return flight plus 3 nights in the hotel.

I’m off in a couple of weeks. I’ll be tweeting and snapping away while there. Onward To Florence with Starwood!

[title_box title=”Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express”]

Representative example: Representative 36.2% APR variable. Based on annual fee of £75 and assumed credit limit of £1200. Interest rate for purchases: 19.9% p.a. variable.

• Welcome bonus of 10,000 Starpoints, enough for up to three nights (depending on category), when you spend £1,000 in your first three months
• Earn 1 Starpoint for virtually every full £1 spent on your Card
• Explore more than 1,000 hotel and resorts in 100 countries with your Starpoints – no blackout dates
• Redeem Starpoints for flights on over 150 airlines with no blackout dates
• Transfer your Starpoints to over 30 major airline frequent flyer programmes
• Travel and shopping protection
• Total peace of mind with the security of booking through American Express
• Global Assist® provides help when you travel outside the UK, in your own language, 24/7
• Automatic enrolment in the Starwood Preferred Guest programme, upgraded to gold status when you spend £15,000 on your Card in your first 12 months

Starwood Preferred Guest® (SPG):

• Preferred Guest members earn two Starpoints for virtually every eligible £1 spent, including restaurant and room service charges, in-room movies and more but earn is accelerated with the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Card
• Starpoints redemption options including Free Night Awards without blackout dates, Award Flights and much more – starting at just 2,000 Starpoints
• Members-only offers so you can save on luxurious getaways and quickly earn bonus Starpoints for your stays
• Rewards you can count on – your Starpoints never expire as long as you show account activity once a year
• Take advantage of Starwood Moments, an exclusive program for members of SPG® in which hard-earned Starpoints® can be transformed into one-of-a-kind experiences

Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card.

Applicants must be 18 years old or over. Approval is subject to status and terms and conditions apply. The information relating to the financial information of the Card is the responsibility of American Express Services Europe Limited and SPG accepts no responsibility for inaccuracies. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc, registered in England and Wales is an introducer appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited. The American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card is offered by American Express Services Europe Limited registered office: Belgrave House, 76 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1W 9AX, United Kingdom registered in England and Wales, Company Number 1833139, and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority under the Payment Services Regulations 2009 (reference number 415532) for the provision of payment services. American Express Services Europe Limited is an appointed representative for insurance mediation activities only, of American Express Insurance Services Europe Limited (reference number 311684) who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services Register. American Express Services Europe Limited also subscribes to the Lending Code which is monitored and enforced by the Lending Standards Board and is licensed by the Office of Fair Trading for the provision of credit products and related services.


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