Should I Redeem Now Before Starwood Makes Me Pay More Points?

Reader David asks

The Royal Hawaiian in Honolulu is currently being renovated, and set to re-open in Jan 2009. The press release stated that it will join the Starwood Luxury Collection, which is Cat 7, correct?

If I make a Jan or Feb 2009 reservation now at 12K/night, will they make me pay more points later, or cancel my reservation?

David wants to know if this hotel is going to require a whole lot more Starwood points to redeem for a free night once it re-opens.

Bottom-line, while the property may go up in points if they expect substantially higher room rates, I’d be very surprised if it turned out to be “Category 7,” the highest redemption level Starwood offers.

  • Luxury Collection is the ‘brand’ (like Sheraton, Westin, etc) used to identify a chain of properties, in this case properties which didn’t necessarily ‘fit’ in with the other brands. It gets a bit more confusing because there are some properties that are branded BOTH a Sheraton (or other) AND Luxury Collection, although they’ve been in the process of cleaning that up a bit.
  • Hotel categories for redemption are determined by the hotel’s average daily room rate in the previous year. This hotel will not have an average daily room rate at the level of the St. Regis New York or St. Regis Rome.

If you make a points reservation now at the current rate, and the rate goes up, your reservation will be honored. And of course the reservation will be cancellable within the hotel’s standard cancellation rules. If the hotel were to go DOWN a category (it DOES occasionally happen…) you can always cancel and rebook at the lower level, provided rooms are available for your dates in question.

Hope that helps!

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 Milepoint.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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