This may be the last chance to honor Starwood as best hotel group. The company -- whose brands include St. Regis, Westin, Sheraton and Aloft -- has long been beloved among business travelers for its service. Its award-winning Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program is often lauded as the finest in the business, with generous rewards, user-friendly policies and strong partnerships with Delta Airlines and American Express. Starwood has won praise, too, for an aggressive slate of openings through 2020, with an emerging-markets emphasis; it plans 127 new hotels in China, 27 in India and properties in a constellation of cities from Paro, Bhutan, to Dakar, Senegal. But its proposed merger with Marriott -- which would create the world’s largest hotel chain, with 5,500 locations -- led Starwood loyalists to clutch their do not disturb signs, thanks to Marriott's stingier loyalty program and lesser customer-service reputation. All the more reason to check in (and spend those Starpoints) now.

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