March 3rd, 2013
Just as a reminder, 03/04 local hotel time is the last chance to book at the old rates. For example if you want to book the W Taipei which is moving from category 5 to 6 you would have to do so before 10:59am EST which is 11:59pm there.
Originally posted on 02/20:
Book stays by 03/04 to lock in current rates for future stays. Almost all hotel stays are cancellable for free until a certain amount of time before the stay (read the fine print).
For now, somehow, someway, the Le Meridian Dead Sea Israel remains a category 1 hotel even with its $500 paid rates. Go figure?
Hotels that are not on the list are still subject to change without any warning on 03/05.
All in all these changes are worse than Hyatt, but far better than the massive devaluations going on with Hilton, Marriott, and Priority Club as point rates catch up to hotel prices that continue to creep up.
Most hotels chains reorganize their categories yearly to keep them current with the average rates that they charge. The beauty of hotel points is that there are no blackout dates or capacity controls, if there is a room you can use points for it. So even if a major event is in town and rates are quadruple what they normally are you can still use the regular amount of points as long as the hotel is not sold out of standard rooms.
Sample hotels going more expensive:
-The great SLS Beverly Hills (reviewed here) goes from category 5 to 6. This leaves the Andaz West Hollywood at LA’s best points bargain as a Hyatt category 4 property.
-The Westin Kierland Villas, Scottsdale goes from category 5 to 6.
-The St. Regis Princeville Resort Kauai (which I didn’t particularly care for) goes from category 6 to 7. All the more reason to opt for the GHK.
-The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Westin Moana Surfrider Honolulu (which we loved) goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Westin Ka’anapali Maui Ocean Resort Villas goes from category 6 to an insane category 7.
-The Westin Southfield Detroit near the jewish community there goes from category 2 to 3.
-The Aloft Brooklyn goes from category 3 to a whopping category 5.
-The Sheraton Brooklyn goes from category 4 to 5.
-The Danieli Venice goes from category 6 to 7, leaving the Westin (reviewed here) as the only affordable SPG property in that stunning city.
-The St. Regis Beijing goes from category 5 to 6.
-The W Taipei goes from category 5 to 6.
-The Le Méridien Khao Lak Beach & Spa Resort (so good and yet so bad) goes from category 3 to 4.
-Sheraton Denarau Villas Fiji goes from category 4 to 6.
Sample hotels getting cheaper:
-The Westin Aruba goes from category 5 to 4.
-The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek goes from category 6 to 5
-The Luxury Collection’s Hotel Ivy Minneapolis goes from category 5 to 4
Starwood’s standard award chart will not change:
If you stay 5 nights with points the 5th night is free.
Category 1 = 2,000 (weekend), 3,000 (weekday).
Category 2 = 3,000 (weekend), 4,000 (weekday).
Category 3 = 7,000
Category 4 = 10,000
Category 5 = 12,000 (Low Season), 16,000 (High Season).
Category 6 = 20,000 (Low Season), 25,000 (High Season).
Category 7 = 30,000 (Low Season), 35,000 (High Season).
Cash and Points Changes:
While all hotels must offer standard points rates at all times, they don’t have to ever offer cash and points availability. The cash and points award chart is getting more expensive in an effort to get more hotels to open up additional cash and points availability.
The current chart is bookable until March 4th for future stays:
Category 1 = 1,200+$25
Category 2 = 1,600+$30
Category 3 = 2,800+$45
Category 4 = 4,000+$60
Category 5 = 4,800+$90
Category 6 = 8,000+$150
Category 7 = 15,000+$275
Point transfers to airlines with a 25% bonus for 20K transfers remains blissfully unchanged.