Feb282008

SPG Annual Hotel Category Shift: Yearn to Burn

Starwood Luxury Collection Laguna Resort Bali Indonesia

The Laguna Resort and Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

Starwood Preferred Guest has raised the category level of the Luxury Collection hotel, Laguna Resort and Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia by two category levels in four years.

Dec 2003, SPG Category 2, free weekend night = 3,000 Starpoints

March 2008, SPG Category 4, free weekend night =10,000 Starpoints

Gary Leff’s post, February 25, 2008 on View from the Wing, about the SPG annual category shift got me to thinking about my reaction to the coming changes. I understand the rationale for SPG increasing the categories for high demand hotels. Yet, I feel the pain of devalued points.

I have decided to look at it initially from my personal travel perspective.

Maybe later, I’ll tackle a real analysis of the shifts if I can locate charts showing the SPG categories from 2004 and 2006 to help me track the changes. Blondebomber of FlyerTalk has active links to his SPG Hotel Category spreadsheet on the internet. The spreadsheet tracks the SPG hotel category changes from 2005 to the current March 4, 2008 changes.

Hotel Shifts I notice from past stay award rates for a single free night:

Sheraton Noosa, Noosa Heads, Queensland, Australia,
July 2003     Category 3    7,000 points

March 2008     Category 5    12,000-16,000 points

Noosa Beach, Australia

Noosa Beach by Sheraton Noosa, Australia

Four Points Darling Harbour, Sydney, Australia
July 2003     Category 2     3,000 points weekend; 4,000 points weekday

March 2008    Category 4   10,000 points

Westin Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
December 2003    Category 1      2,000 points weekend; 3,000 points weekday

March 2008   Category 3     7,000 points

Westin Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

Westin Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

The Laguna Resort, Luxury Collection, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

December 2003    Category 2    3,000 points weekend; 4,000 points weekday

March 2008    Category 4    10,000 points

Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection Laguna Resort Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia

Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection, Laguna Resort Nusa Dua, Bali

Royal Orchid Sheraton, Bangkok, Thailand
March 2004   Category 1     2,000 points weekend; 3,000 points weekday

March 2008    Category 3     7,000 points

Bangkok Sheraton Royal Orchid

Bangkok, Thailand, Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel

Westin Atlanta Airport
June 2007     Category 2     3,000 points weekend; 4,000 points weekday

March 2008   Category 3    7,000 points

Westin Hotel Atlanta Airport

Westin Hotel Atlanta Airport

Sheraton Newark Airport
June 2007    Category 2      3,000 points weekend; 4,000 points weekday

March 2008    Category 3    7,000 points

Sheraton Hotel Newark Airport, New Jersey, USA

Sheraton Newark Airport, New Jersey

I have made a very rough estimate of the category changes at hotels I’ve visited.

I’ve probably redeemed 150,000 to 200,000 Starpoints for free nights at some of the hotels listed here and other places and locations I’ve stayed over the past five years.

I estimate it would now take about 260,000 points for the same number of nights at hotels where I redeemed points for stays for about 100,000 points.

Next month, 100,000 Starpoints might buy 10 nights at a selection of hotels where I redeemed 100,000 points for 25+ nights.Hotel room rates in most places have not risen anywhere near 150% in the past five years. Starwood point inflation has been devastatingly high on the free night redemption side for many travelers.

In Starwood’s favor, the widespread expansion of available Cash & Points rates in 2007 for hotels in all SPG categories from 1-6 has proved to be a high value use of Starpoints at many hotel properties.

$60 and 4,000 Starpoints for a Category 4 hotel award night can be a great alternative to 10,000 Starpoints or a $250+/night paid room rate. Paying $60 cash is a much higher value than spending 6,000 Starpoints.

$150 and 8,000 Starpoints for a Category 6 hotel night is often a better choice than 20,000 Starpoints or a paid room rate of $500/night.

I am glad I traveled when I did.

How much has your Starpoints earning power increased over the past five years?

My earning power hasn’t increased significantly and nowhere near 150%.

Two options for this traveler:

1. Stay fewer hotel nights or

2. Pay more money to increase the ratio of paid/award nights.

My economy will be the decider.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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