On Tuesday, March 6, the Sheraton Tel Aviv and the Elma Arts hotel in Zichron Yaakov, Israel, will both climb from category 5 to a category 6 as part of this year’s SPG annual category changes.
The W Tel Aviv is slated to open this June, but a category has not yet been assigned for that hotel.
There are some new bargains that this year’s changes will create in Alaska, Cleveland, Dubai, Miami, NYC, Paris, Rio, Rome, Singapore, and more. But both of Israel’s Starwood hotels get hit hard:
- A category 5 hotel costs 12K points in low season or 16K points on peak dates. Or it costs 6,000 Starpoints+$110/night.
- A category 6 hotel costs 20K points in low season or 25K points on peak dates. Or it costs 10,000 Starpoints+$180/night.
You can use Starpoints until 11:59pm Israel time on 3/5 to book future stays at the current rate.
Unfortunately this category change will take away most of the value from SPG redemptions in Israel. For example on a random date in September the Sheraton Tel Aviv was $328 or 12K Starpoints or 6K point+$110. If you stay for 5 nights then the effective cost per night would go down to 9,600 Starpoints.
Using 12K Starpoints gives a value of 2.73 cents per Starpoint (328/12K). Using 9.6K Starpoints per night on a 5 night stay gives a value of 3.42 cents per Starpoint (328/9.6K). Using 6K Starpoints plus $110 gives a value of 3.63 cents per Starpoint (228/6K).
Those are great point values. Unfortunately the math isn’t pretty with the new rates. Using 20K Starpoints gives a value of 1.64 cents per Starpoint (328/20K). Using 16K Starpoints per night on a 5 night stay gives a value of 2.05 cents per Starpoint (328/16K). Using 10K Starpoints plus $180 gives a value of 1.48 cents per Starpoint (148/10K).
Don’t know when exactly you’ll want to go? If you have enough Starpoints you can book rooms for multiple different dates and just cancel the stays you don’t want. Most dates allow for free cancellations until a day before the stay, just read the terms for the exact cancellation policy.
Note that you won’t be able to change the dates on a reservation after the price goes up, your only options are to use the stay or cancel it and get your points back. You can make one night reservations if you’re not sure how many nights you want to stay, though you won’t be able to take advantage of a free night on a 5 night point stay like that.
The Starwood business card gives free club lounge access when staying at Sheraton hotels. There have been rave reviews of the Sheraton Club lounge in Tel Aviv. If you have a Starwood business card you’ll get free access to it and its free food, beverages, and sweeping view of the Mediterranean Sea.
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For example 20K Starpoints are on sale for $455 instead of $700 or 30K Starpoints are on sale for $682.50 instead of $1,050. That’s a cost of 2.275 cents per Starpoints instead of the regular 3.5 cents per Starpoint.
Of course you also earn miles for the purchase, which makes the real cost even less.
If you have a Starwood AMEX and buy 30K Starpoints for $682.50 you will earn 1,366 Starpoints for the purchase, so effectively you’ll pay $682.50 for 31,366 Starpoints, or 2.175 cents per Starpoint.
If you buy 12,000 Starpoints at a cost of 2.175 cents per Starpoint, you will wind up paying $261 per night. Or you can save even more with 5th night free awards or cash and points awards.
Are you going to make reservations for an Israel trip this year before the Starpoint rates go up?