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The St. Regis Shanghai Let An Impostor Reserve & Stay in “My Room”

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St. Regis Shanghai

St. Regis Shanghai Made Me A Reservation For An Impostor

This is another guest post from Eric Gunderson.  He is the one who also shared his experience of Marriott taking away the status he earned and how he got it back.

Back in May of 2018, my wife and I had a wonderful stay at the St. Regis Shanghai Jingan.  This marked a crucial stop along our ongoing quests to stay at every St. Regis hotel and visit every Disney Park in the world.  At that time, SPG had not yet fully merged into Marriott, so an award for 6-nights cost just 60,000 Starpoints. With the 2-way points transfer available before the merger into Bonvoy, this was the equivalent of 30,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.  It was definitely a good value compared to cash rates. While the stay was marvelous, this is the story of the craziness that transpired a few months beforehand.  

Booking the Hotel

Our stay in Shanghai was near the end of a 25-day trip that was a surprise Christmas present for my wife.  However, I waited until just after the New Year to book some of the hotels, including the St. Regis Shanghai.  I made our May 21 reservation a bit over four months in advance. 

St. Regis Shanghai

An Extra Reservation

In early March, when looking at upcoming reservations in my SPG app, I noticed something strange.  While our May 21 reservation was still there, we now also had a reservation for March 29. I did not make this reservation, at least not intentionally.  This was the first time I saw it, and I never received a confirmation email. My assumption was that I’d accidentally “pocket-booked” this hotel when forgetting to lock my iPhone with the app still open.  The greatest worry I had was that it was either prepaid, non-refundable, or past the cancellation window. I accessed the reservation in the app, and I was relieved to discover it was not prepaid and still cancellable without penalty.  


Due to some sort of error, I was unable to complete the cancellation in the app, so I called SPG.  I explained to the rep that I must have made the reservation by mistake and needed to cancel. She apologized for the inconvenience and completed the cancellation without penalty.  Problem solved, or so I thought. When looking at the app the next day, the reservation was still there, so I called again. This time, the rep assumed whatever error I’d been experiencing in the app had also affected the phone cancellation.  With another apology, he completed the cancellation, for the second time. He confirmed it had properly cancelled this time around. I checked back again later that day, and indeed, the reservation no longer displayed under My Stays.

The Reservation Came Back

After a week went by, the reservation was back.  This time, I successfully cancelled it in the app, but just to be sure, I called to confirm.  A few days later, the same thing occurred once again. 

When I called in this time, the rep I spoke with noticed it was a booking made directly by the property itself.  I wondered if this booking was simply a SPG number entry error, but my name was on the reservation. We concluded that this phantom booking was simply a hotel mistake and that an unrelated bug caused the cancellation errors.  Regardless, they checked multiple systems and promised it was no longer an issue.

Finally, after cancellation attempt number 5, the reservation seemed gone for good. I periodically followed up to confirm it hadn’t reappeared.  It was not there whenever I checked over the following weeks. This frustration was finally behind me.

Time to Check In!

Assuming this nonsense was in the past, I had forgotten about this phony reservation entirely.  That is, I’d forgotten until my phone notified me that it was time to check in on March 28. I couldn’t believe it!  Alas, I figured it was just a relic of the reservation that had been. However, when I logged in to the app, there it was again!  After a half hour on the phone, I had it cancelled without penalty, even though it was past the cancellation deadline by that point.  The rep confirmed that I would not incur a penalty should there be any further issues, with yet another apology.

St. Regis Shanghai

Here’s Your Mobile Room Key!

Around lunchtime on March 29th, 12 hours ahead of Shanghai where it was already late into the night, I received a final notification.  “Here’s your room number and mobile room key!” The reservation was back again for the final time, and according to the app I had even checked in to the hotel. 

Immediately, I got on the phone with SPG, who couldn’t cancel it at that point, so they called the hotel. The St. Regis Shanghai confirmed that I had checked in, and they couldn’t cancel the reservation because I was in the room.  I begged to differ! SPG transferred me to the corporate office who told them there must be a mistake. Still, the hotel refused to do anything because “Mr. Gunderson is in the room, and we’re not going to wake him up in the middle of the night to sort this out.” 

SPG took my side and agreed that I was not in Shanghai. They put me on a lengthy hold to see what they could do. Meanwhile, I did some sleuthing on my own.

What Happened?

Who was this mystery individual who checked in as me? They used my account and what I assumed was my credit card, since the last 4 digits matched my SPG AMEX. They even took advantage of my SPG Gold status (a benefit of the AMEX Platinum card) to score an upgrade to a larger corner room, number 6103!  Finally, while still on hold with SPG corporate, I made a breakthrough! 

While I hadn’t seen this before in the app or online, the app now showed a different email address for someone named Sarah on the booking.  All my other information was still the same. Who was Sarah? I did some research, found her LinkedIn profile, and discovered she worked for Mapbox at their Shanghai office, in the same district as the St. Regis. 

Either she had checked herself in as me, or she made the reservation for someone else at the company. I did some further research on their website to find more information, and then it became clear. The CEO of Mapbox is Eric Gundersen.  Sarah called the St. Regis Shanghai to make the reservation on his behalf.  My name, Eric Gunderson, came up in their system due to my existing reservation for two months later.  The front desk basically copied over my details to make a second reservation.

St. Regis Shanghai

Making Things Right

The rep came back on the line from my hold with no solution other than following up with me the next day.  At that point I explained my discovery, which made sense to her. She apologized and promised she would contact the hotel with her findings and have them get back with me as a solution. 

I can’t access my SPG account history any longer, but I recall she offered me 10,000 or 15,000 Starpoints. That’s 30,000 or 45,000 of today’s Bonvoy points. That said, if I’d left it alone I would still have earned a few thousand points from Mr. Gundersen’s stay. 

The SPG rep also asked what I would like from the hotel as compensation. I could have demanded more points, but since we were celebrating an anniversary and birthday, I asked for a better experience. My requests were a confirmed room upgrade and whatever else they could do to make the experience amazing.  The following day, I received confirmation from SPG that they disassociated my account and my AMEX from this reservation. 

The Hotel Experience

In addition to the Caroline Astor Suite, the hotel also offered us club access and free breakfast in the restaurant, a Platinum benefit, even though we only had Gold status at the time.  We tried every single restaurant with personalized and attentive service. Many employees even knew us by name, and our butlers were fantastic! On top of everything else, the front desk manager offered us 8pm checkout on our final day since we had a midnight flight to Frankfurt on Lufthansa that night.   We had an amazing stay, thanks in part to (almost) sharing a name with another guest. We love St. Regis hotels, and this visit exceeded our expectations!

Final Thoughts

This can’t be this first time an error like this occurred.  What I thought was a cancellation error was in fact Mr. Gundersen simply rebooking his reservation each time it was cancelled.  He must’ve been just as confused as I was, having his reservation repeatedly cancelled. Thankfully, I noticed this and was persistent in getting it resolved. 

I rightfully received points and a better hotel experience due to this situation, but I also asked for the compensation I wanted. If something doesn’t go right, be prepared to propose an adequate solution that works for you.  While I often would take more points above most other solutions, sometimes nothing can beat special treatment and phenomenal service. Always be sure to watch your accounts for anything out of the ordinary, and keep good records in case anything goes awry. After this experience, I know I will.

Has anything like this ever happened to any of you?  Let us know in the comments below!

A big thanks to Eric for sharing this crazy story with us.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. We used to have a Marriott timeshare that could be converted to points. Before everything was automated, we used the points for an award trip to Sidney, Australia, including airfare and a standard hotel room for 7 nights. After checking in, I was surprised to smell food cooking on our floor. We had no status, but we were situated on the Executive Floor with a lounge! Our room even had a view of the opera house and bridge! I went downstairs to make sure we were in the correct room and that there would be no upcharge. They told me everything was in order and to enjoy my stay!
    The lounge services were lovely, with hot breakfast, snacks all day, then drinks and dessert in the evening. We hardly ate outside of the lounge since the amenities were so nice
    About half way through our week, I looked at our account in the TV, and they had signed us in with the wrong first name of my husband! When o Googled that name, he was a big land developer in Colorado! They thought we were a high roller when we were just timeshare peasants who hardly traveled.
    We had a wonderful trip!


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