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4 things to know about the Sonesta Travel Pass program

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Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information.

Until 2020, I had never heard of Sonesta or its Travel Pass loyalty program. Granted, at the start of 2020, Sonesta had only 58 properties. But now that the Red Lion family of hotels has joined Sonesta, the loyalty program has rapidly grown to over 1,100 properties in eight countries.

If your travel is primarily focused in the countries served by Sonesta — the U.S., Canada, Chile, Colombia, Egypt, Peru and Sint Maarten — you might wonder whether you should care about Sonesta and its Travel Pass program.

I’ve mostly ignored the Sonesta Travel Pass program so far. However, the 2023 overhaul of Sonesta Travel Pass and the more recent addition of Red Lion hotels encouraged me to take another look at the program. Here’s what I learned.

Sonesta elite status is easy to earn

Sonesta Travel Pass has four elite status member tiers: Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The requirements to reach each member tier are as follows:

  • Bronze: None
  • Silver: 10 nights or 10,000 points per calendar year
  • Gold: 20 nights or 20,000 points per calendar year
  • Platinum: 40 nights or 40,000 points per calendar year

However, you don’t need to stay 20 nights or earn 20,000 points for Gold status. After all, primary cardholders of the Sonesta Credit Card from Bank of America get automatic Gold status for as long as their card is open.

The information for the Sonesta Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Sonesta also offers elite members in other hotel loyalty programs the opportunity to match their status. To request a status match, enroll in Sonesta Travel Pass and contact Travel Pass customer care with your Travel Pass Member ID and a copy of a current membership card or statement showing your status in another hotel loyalty program.

Related: Comparing the best hotel elite status tiers and how to earn them

Sonesta Travel Pass uses set award night pricing

Sonesta Travel Pass has set award night pricing for each of its properties. While the program previously published an award chart and which hotels were in each award chart tier, now you can only find the award night cost when you search for a stay and click on the property to see the room types.

Sonesta Travel Pass award search

The lack of a published award chart and the fact that you must search for a stay to learn the award cost are huge downsides. Without a published award chart, Sonesta can change award night pricing at any property whenever it wants without the negative press often associated with switching to dynamic award pricing (like Marriott Bonvoy, IHG One Rewards and Hilton Honors) or doing annual category changes (like World of Hyatt).

Related: Maximize your hotel points by getting a fourth or fifth night free on award stays

Sonesta Maho Beach Resort

40,000 Sonesta points for an all-inclusive resort

Sonesta has two all-inclusive resorts located side by side in St. Maarten. However, I could only see award rates for one of these resorts, the Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa, online. Each award night at this resort costs 40,000 points per night.

Sonesta Travel Pass award search

This beachfront resort is an AvGeek favorite since it’s located minutes from Princess Juliana International Airport (SXM) and overlooks Maho Bay in Sint Maarten. The 420-room resort has an oasis pool with a swim-up bar, a kids club, an aqua park and a teens zone.

The other resort, the adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort, was previously bookable for 50,000 points per night. However, Ocean Point Resort no longer appears in search results on the Sonesta website.

Related: 26 best all-inclusive resorts in the world, according to frequent travelers

Sonesta benefits and amenities are poorly defined

While writing this article, I became increasingly frustrated by the lack of information and poorly defined benefits as I looked through Sonesta’s website.

According to the chart of member benefits, Silver, Gold and Platinum members get a welcome gift, early check-in and late checkout. However, despite searching the terms and conditions and the entire Sonesta website, I could find no further mention of a welcome gift, early check-in or late checkout benefits based on member tier. Since these benefits aren’t well defined and may be left up to the whims of each property, they don’t hold much value in my eyes.

Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island
Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. SONESTA

Daily complimentary continental breakfast is a benefit offered to Gold and Platinum members, but it’s only offered at some hotels, and the hotels that don’t offer this member perk aren’t defined. Likewise, all the Sonesta Travel Pass terms and conditions have to say about the breakfast benefit is the following:

“The complimentary continental breakfast benefit entitles the member to receive a voucher or credit for complimentary continental breakfast at participating Sonesta outlets. Complimentary breakfast benefit may vary by brand.”

This statement from the terms and conditions leaves me with many questions. For example, how many vouchers or how much credit do members receive? Is the voucher or credit only for the member, or is a voucher or credit also provided per guest staying with the member?

Finally, complimentary breakfast is usually offered to all guests at Sonesta ES Suites. But, since some properties don’t offer breakfast, the brand page for Sonesta ES Suites states there isn’t a “guarantee of free breakfast at every Sonesta ES Suites,” and guests are instructed to “check with respective hotel for details.” As a guest, I’d much rather know all Sonesta ES Suites properties offer complimentary breakfast instead of having to check with each property.

Related: How and why you should maximize your hotel stays by using multiple loyalty programs

Bottom line

The Sonesta Travel Pass hotel loyalty program has some attractive elements, including easy-to-obtain hotel elite status and an all-inclusive resort bookable for 40,000 points per night. However, poorly defined benefits and the lack of an award chart dissuade me from becoming too interested in the program.

Although I don’t currently have plans to stay with Sonesta, I’ll take advantage of a status match when and if I book a stay at a Sonesta property. At that point, I’ll be interested to see how the on-site experience is with Platinum status, including how much of a breakfast voucher or credit I receive.