Starwood’s annual hotel award category shift

Starwood’s 2006 hotel category changes for award redemption are up at Flyertalk. 133 hotels are going up in category (which means it will take more points to redeem at them) and 29 hotels are going down in category (so fewer points required).


Starwood categorizes in groupings numbered one to six based on the average room rates that a hotel achieves during the prior year. While there are occasional changes during the year, these lists are mostly stable throughout the year with major changes loaded each late December or early January.

It’s important to remember that these categorizations are based on room rate and not a reflection of a hotel’s quality. There are some real gems in Category 1 and 2, and some really awful Category 4 hotels. This past year Princes de Galles in Paris was a Category 6 property. Few would confuse it with luxury! But it has an enviable location in Paris, and high room rates.

Fortunately I booked my Sheraton Pattaya reservation for April as a Category 2, anticipating that it would go up. I locked in the lower point price. While the new list is up, if you have plans for 2006 stays at any of these hotels it’s worth checking whether the change has been made online yet. Last year after Starwood Lurker posted the new list on Flyertalk I was still able to make a reservation at the Westin Melbourne at the lower award price. I squeaked in just under the wire. So if you have any upcoming plans, you might well not be too late, but act quickly. Remember that award bookings can be changed or cancelled without penalty as long as you comply with the hotel’s cancellation policy. So speculative bookings make sense here!

I’m disappointed to see both the Westin and Sheraton in Seattle bumped up to category 4. They’re probably both at the low end of category 4 room rates. They’re also two of my most frequent redemption properties, or at least they were. Both have participated in cash and points awards in the past, and that’s the only way I’ll redeem with them in 2006. Otherwise my Seattle redemption will be at the W, and even that’s a stretch for spending 10,000 points as a category 4 when the hotel is often available at under $200 a night.

I’m also disappointed — though not surprised — to see The Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale move up to category 5, I figured I’d plan an award stay there sometime soon.

Shocking is Mardavall and the Hotel President Wilson moving up to the exhaulted (and ever growing) category 6, requiring 20,000 points a night during off-season!

And the Sheraton Maui a category 5? Might as well stay at the Westin there in the same category, though personally I’ll avoid them both.

On the upside, sanity returns with the Hotel Danieli and Princes de Galles back to Category 5. And Grande Bretagne moving down to category 4 is a real treat.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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