One of the best things about Starwood Preferred Guest is that they have many participating properties that are really nice, aspirational places where I really want to spend my points.
I make a lot of business stays at cookie cutter hotels domestically. I like to reward myself with special, unique stays which the points I earn make possible.
One of the frustrating things about Starwood Preferred Guest is that some of their nicest properties cost so many points. Not only did Starwood over the years introduce a category 6 and a more expensive category 7 for redemptions, they said:
- Standard awards are available for standard rooms. Where suites are available, those cost double points.
- Some of our top properties in categories 6 and 7 have only suites. So the basic redemption at those hotels cost double the category 6 or 7 price.
Of course what makes a hotel so special, and pricey, is often the accommodations. The fact that they are ‘all suite’ accommodations may be why they have high enough room rates to be category 6 or 7 in the first place. So members get penalized twice for the same thing. The hotel is all-suite, so expensive, so category 6 or 7. But since they’re all suite they get charged at double the category 6 or 7 price.
Here’s the award chart:
Categories 5, 6, and 7 have ‘ranges’ because some dates at each property are designated as ‘high season’ and cost the higher number of points.
But then there’s a handful of properties that are extortionately priced in points.
- Sheraton Denarau Villas, Nadi, Fiji
- Canyon Suites at The Phoenician; Scottsdale, Arizona
- St. Regis Resort Bora Bora
- Le Méridien Bora Bora
- St. Regis Bali Resort
- W Retreat & Spa – Maldives
- Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, Key West, Florida
- Westin Resort and Spa, Playa Conchal, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica
- Mystique, Santorini, Greece
- Pine Cliff Residences, Albuferia, Portugal
- Cala Di Volpe, Porto Cervo, Italy
- Hotel Pitrizza, Porto Cervo, Italy
- Hotel Romazzino, Porto Cervo, Italy
- W Retreat Koh Samui, Koh Samui, Thailand
- Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai
At a base earning level of 2 points per dollar, 3 points per dollar spent for Golds and 50 night Platinums, that’s a lot of spending at Starwood hotels to redeem for a single night at these properties. I’ve mostly written them off (though I stayed at the St Regis Bali when they were only charging ‘single’ points and was fortunate to stay in an overwater bungalow on Bora Bora prior to the introduction of category 7).
For the past few years they’ve helped to mitigate this somewhat with a 35% discount promotion for some of these resort properties.
They’re offering 35% off the points price at 8 of these hotels for bookings made by February 28, 2017 (and based on past precedent, the offer could well be extended though there could be a hiatus of a few months).
Award prices can still be high even at 35% off, especially when prices are lower during low season, so certainly compare to paid rates.
I took advantage of this offer, however, for a stay at Al Maha Desert Resort this year. I wouldn’t have ever paid 60,000 points per night, it’s a ton of points at 39,000, but for a property going for ~ $1400 per night I was still getting value. And this put the redemption within reach — and it’s exactly the kind of redemption stay I like to make.
And of course even with this discount fifth night on your award remains free. Just bear in mind that not all agents will be familiar with the offer, may have a hard time finding it (reference Paradise is Closer), and may have to consult a supervisor.