Re: Having both the CSR and Amex Platinum for $300 AF total
For me, there are two ways to ruin a lounge system:
1. Limited availability (centurion suffers from this)
2. Overcrowding. Far and away nothing makes me hate a lounge more than it being full of people. Particularly if many of those people don't know etiquette (I'm looking at you mister use-4-outlets-to-charge-your-crap and mister my-bag-also-gets-a-seat. United suffers from this in some locations now too, such as ORD and LAX before the new lounge was opened. This problem tends to be rampant in systems where the threshold for entry is low (there are a lot of plat card holders and a lot of kettles with their two explorer club passes). This same phenomena was discussed on another thread relating to fall in quality of pre-check as the glut of casual travelers sign up since it's free with their card.
Delta Skyclub is fine if you fly delta a lot and if you do the platinum makes sense. Someone who isn't delta loyal though won't get nearly the use out of it.
As for hotel collection promotions, the rates tend to be inflated and theres often similar or better hotels for similar or lower prices at the locations, even if the "bonuses" are tossed in. I have researched using a hotel from Chase's hotel collection on several occasions (Great Barrier Reef in Australia most recently) and every time went with a different hotel. Maybe some locations are better than others, but my experience has been their properties are marginal upgrades or sidegrades for higher prices. Dining credits are horrible values when they give you a $50 credit then charge you $9 for a liter of water or $40 for an entree you can get at a local place down the street for $8. Last week in Madrid the hotel wanted 150 Euros for a 60 minute massage per person when a 4.5 star TripAdvisor spa walking distance away had a couples 90 minute massage for 170 Euros.
Sorry for the ramble, but my point is that hotel credits and upgrades are not as valuable as they seem when you consider they're just creating the illusion of value by marking services up 100% or more.
Well I'm sure that over inflating prices does occur but if you have a particular hotel that you want to stay in like I did with the Ritz then the Amex deal was far superior to anything offered by Marriott. You can always find cheaper places to stay, things to do, places to eat, etc. That's not what those deals are intended to compete with. Amex is making an attempt to deal with the overcrowding by limiting number of guests so we will see what happens. The seven times that I have used the Centurion lounge in Vegas, one of their busiest, there was plenty of space though they were busy.