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 ‘ranged’ 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.
Free Night Awards at the following locations require higher Starpoint redemption amounts either because the hotel does not have standard rooms or the standard rooms it offers have a mandatory Full Board requirement in peak seasons
- 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
The really odd thing is that Sheraton Denarau Villas is category 3, double points, so 14,000 points per night. Yet there are ‘all suite’ Sheraton Suites hotels that charge the regular price.
And some rooms aren’t double points, the ranges are huge. Pine Cliff Residences and Canyon Suites at The Phoenician are 40,000 to 100,000 points per night. The rest of the hotels on this list range from 60,000 to 140,000 points per night.
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 Bora Bora prior to the introduction of category 7).
For the past couple of years they’ve helped to mitigate this somewhat with a 35% discount promotion for some of these resort properties. The offer came out in Spring 2013, was renewed, but then expired in this spring.
They’re offering 35% off the points price at 7 of these hotels through March 8, 2016 (and based on past precedent, the offer could well be extended).
While the 35% discounts are welcome, they also underscore just how outrageously expensive Starwood prices its top end hotel redemptions to begin with. This promotion makes a handful of outrageously priced redemptions a little bit less (but still) outrageous.
Take a base room at the W Maldives. After the discount, for the first set of random dates I picked (shoulder season — not peak peak dates but not rainy season) you’ll get about two cents a point in value. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it’s hardly a special promotion and points out that without the promotion you do very badly by you points redeeming for hotels like this.
Still, with fifth night free and having stayed at the same resort in the Maldives four times, this is actually tempting.