Despite the indignities of serving in a conflict-mired country and living in a decaying hotel, U.S. diplomats posted to Yemen have one major perk to look forward to: Starwood points. Troves and troves, entitling them to dozens of free nights at Sheraton, W Hotels and Westin properties worldwide.
Alas, that’s about to come to an end. The hotel chain is expected to yank the Sheraton logo from the heavily-fortified property — home to the diplos since political unrest broke out in Sanaa last year — by Jan. 1.
“They want their name off,” lamented a diplomat, who estimates he has racked up enough points to never again have to pay for a hotel stay. It will henceforth be run by the State Department as a housing complex.
On its Web site, the Sheraton Sana’a boasts its excellent location, a five-star rating and friendly staff. There’s no sign noting it’s now off-limits to the traveling public and guarded by U.S. Marines.
“Make time for a little relaxation as you stroll through our valley of green gardens,” the Web site urges. “Dive into our stunning indoor pool or bask in the sunshine in one of our lounge chairs.”
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, said the diplomat: “It’s a dump. It screams 1959.”
The embassy took over the hotel last year as demonstrations to unseat the then- president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, turned violent. Diplomats are now shuttled from the hotel to the embassy, which is nearby, and otherwise don’t get out much unless they’re on official business.