My Night with SPG/Marriott Moments
Being a member of the media has its perks—as does being a member of the Marriott/Starwood Preferred Guest Rewards program. In mid-March I was invited to my first ever Moments event, featuring a Masterclass Cook Off between Toronto Maple Leafs alumni Shayne Corson and Darcy Tucker. It’s one of an ongoing series of unique experiences that Marriott/SPG Rewards offers to its members (and sometimes a small number of lucky journalists).
Haute Hockey Cuisine
The evening kicked off at the ritzy Sheraton Centre Hotel in downtown Toronto, opening with wine tasting and a meet-and-greet with the Maple Leaf icons. Both players were approachable and happy to take photos with attendees. The Stanley Cup and a representative from the Hockey Hall of Fame were also in attendance—as a diehard hockey fan growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the history of Lord Stanley’s Cup and geeked out at the chance to snap some photos with it.
The socializing eventually came to a halt, and it was time to get down to our prime puck drop: the two hockey players donned their aprons in a bout to determine who was the better chef. Both were far more skilled in the kitchen than they’d let on and ended up making culinary delicacies—scrumptious pasta and stir fry—resulting in a tie (and no, we didn’t make them go into overtime).
Once the cook off finished up the hockey players were on hand to take more photos and sign autographs. The event was well organized, and Marriott built on the crowd’s hockey mania by providing a bus to shuttle everyone over to the Toronto Maple Leafs game that evening.
I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything quite like this before. That mix of socializing with hockey heroes, tasting great food and sharing sports interest with fellow fans is not something you come across very often, and this is just one of the many unique experiences Moments members can partake in.
The SPG and Marriott Rewards Programs
The Moments series elevates SPG and Marriott Rewards beyond the flight/hotel offerings of standard Canadian travel rewards programs. Like most programs, members earn rewards points just for signing up and continue to earn points as they spend. But having access to the Moments series allows members to redeem points toward rare and special experiences that suit their individual interests, and that’s where the true value of the program lies. Marriott’s partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs is just one example of the many ways members can participate in niche events.
Much as I relished the wine tasting-culinary adventure-hockey elements of the evening, it was also a chance for journalists to interview Laura Pallotta, Vice President, Sales and Marketing for Marriott Hotels of Canada. As this was my first Moments experience, I wanted to learn more about the program and what it offers Canadian consumers.
“We kicked off the Moments program last fall and we’re very excited to be bringing it here to Canada. It really allows our SPG Rewards members and Marriott Rewards members to redeem their points to have exclusive access to events like what we’re doing tonight with a Masterclass Cook Off,” said Laura Pallotta.
Whether your passion is travel, sports, music or the arts, there are plenty of Moments to choose from. You might opt to redeem your points toward seeing one of the hottest shows on Broadway, or toward hanging out with players on your favourite team. And the series is expanding. Marriott plans to offer a whopping 100,000 new experiences in 800 destinations worldwide—and that’s just in 2018 alone. And you don’t have to be a high-rolling jet-setter to take advantage. Even if you’re just planning to travel domestically, there are lucrative rewards for everyone.
“We are interested even if you only travel a few times a year or if you travel very frequently. That’s the reason we have 30 brands now in our portfolio of hotels. We want to make sure that we have a hotel and a brand for every type of travel, so if you were a business person who was on the road very often, that we have a whole number of brands that hopefully resonate with you,” said Pallotta.
What’s Next for Marriott Rewards in Canada?
Beyond learning more about Moments, the big question on everyone’s mind (or at least, certainly mine) is whether or not another credit card will partner with Marriott to fill the void left by the cancellation of the Chase credit card. I tried to pry out some details from Marriott, but Pallotta was tight-lipped. Something appears to be in the works, but Marriott isn’t willing to spill the beans on it just yet.
“We are working very closely on that and we should be able to share information very soon,” was all she would reveal.
We’ll be sure to share any further developments on this story as they arise. Meanwhile, former cardholders of the Chase Marriott are encouraged to check out the Starwood Preferred Guest card. The SPG card racks up Starpoints, which, like the Chase Marriott card, can be used to get free nights at hotels in the broad Marriott network, or transferred to frequent flyer programs with a variety of airlines. Plus the Starpoints can be used for truly unique experiences like this.