I just made my first booking, so I thought I'd do a post about the booking process now and follow up with info on the actual stay later.
The merger and linking of accounts happened just in time for me. I have an upcoming trip to Helsinki where there are no Marriott properties and was going to resort to the Hilton since I still have the matched Diamond status there.
So, when the announcement came through I went to SPG and did a search and found the Klaus K Design Hotel listed there. It looks like a really cool hotel and I just saw it featured on the last episode of Travel Man. Some of the "Art rooms" are really cool looking but I'm guessing I won't have one of those. I didn't even see them listed on SPG as a possibility. I did see an option to upgrade to a "Sky Loft" which looks pretty cool. Essentially, it's a bigger room with the bed on a lofted area at one end of the room. Not quite a suite, but it does create a pseudo-separation. One of the big points of the Sky Lofts is that they have private entrances. That was slightly above per diem and I didn't want to pay out of pocket, so I chose the King room just below it.
When you click Reserve on a rate on SPG.com it seems to always give you an opportunity to upgrade to the next level. This kind of annoys me because I just consciously chose a different level room so it's kind of second guessing me since it's not like it's offering me a discount or anything. I guess it may be a good sales tactic as it shows only the per night price difference. That probably catches some people with "Well, since it's only an extra $30/night..."
I didn't go for the upgrade since I want to avoid out of pocket and stay within per diem. Besides, this will give them a chance to upgrade me.
Since it is a Design Hotel they are only limited partners with SPG and you only get partial benefits. All the rates include breakfast, so no benefit there. I think it's basically just free wifi, points, elite-qualifying nights, and a theoretical possibility for an upgrade.
After I completed the reservation it took longer to get the confirmation e-mail than I'm used to with Marriott. It seemed to be 10 minutes or more. Not a huge deal, but just thought I'd let people know what to expect.