Oct062008

Hotel Points Exchange Analysis – SPG-Thai Airways Case Study

Hotel Points Exchange Analysis – Starwood Preferred Guest

One of the benefits of SPG membership is the ability to transfer SPG hotel points, Starpoints, into a variety of airline frequent flier miles.  The ability to transfer Starpoints into airline miles and the multitude of partner awards available through airlines offers lots of little known value opportunities.

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus and Starwood Preferred Guest Partnership

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus is a frequent flier program that is not particularly well known in the USA.  Thai Airways is a Star Alliance member and airline partner with United Airlines and US Airways.  Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) is a popular hotel frequent guest loyalty program in the USA.  Thai Airways is an airline exchange partner with SPG on a 1:1 rate meaning 20,000 Starpoints can be exchanged into 20,000 Thai Airways miles and SPG throws in an extra 25% bonus on 20,000 Starpoints transfers for a total 25,000 Thai Royal Orchid Plus miles.

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus frequent flier program offers hotel awards for air miles redemption.  There are two kinds of hotel awards:  Asia Pacific and International Hotel Awards. 

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Asia Pacific Hotel Awards

1 night = 12,000 miles

2 consecutive nights = 22,000 miles

3 consecutive nights = 32,000 miles.

There are over 100 hotels in Thailand and the Asia Pacific region available for these awards.  Click here for a list of participating hotels.

Inside the Numbers for Thai AIrways Asia Pacific Hotel Awards:

Sheraton Noosa Beach, Queensland, Australia is a basic beach resort hotel in an exceptional beach location.  My wife and I loved this place when we vacationed there in 2003.  The beautiful beach across from the hotel was a great place to swim even in the middle of Australia winter.  And I have never been to another beach where so many children were learning to surf.

Noosa Beach Australia children surfers

Child surfers, Noosa Beach, Queensland, Australia

In 2003, during our stay, the Sheraton Noosa was designated SPG Category 3 meaning a free night was 7,000 points.  Currently, the Sheraton Noosa is a Category 5 hotel in 2008 meaning a free night is 12,000 points in low season; 16,000 points in peak season for a free night.

Sheraton Noosa, river view, Australia

Sheraton Noosa river view room, Queensland, Australia

Two nights at the Sheraton Noosa will cost 24,000 Starpoints through SPG award redemption. 

Two nights at the Sheraton Noosa will cost 22,000 miles through Thai Airways. 

Exchange rate favors 20,000 Starpoints exchanged into 25,000 Royal Orchid Plus miles and the SPG/Royal Orchid member will save 4,000 Starpoints by booking the Sheraton Noosa with Thai Airway miles and still have 3,000 Thai Airways miles left over.

A 3-night stay at Sheraton Noosa will be 36,000 Starpoints through the Starwood Preferred Guest regular award redemption process. 

Noosa Prawns $1USD each 2003

Prawns were $1USD each in the Noosa fish market.  A cheap seafood feast.  Seafood was inexpensive in Australia and outrageously expensive in New Zealand.

As an alternative, the SPG member could exchange 27,000 Starpoints for 32,000 Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus miles and redeem the miles for a 3-night stay at Sheraton Noosa and save 9,000 Starpoints.  (Remember 20,000 Starpoints = 25,000 Thai miles + 7,000 Starpoints = 7,000 Thai miles; 27,000 Starpoints exchanges into 32,000 Thai Airways miles).

Sheraton Noosa pool view room, Queensland, Australia

 Sheraton Noosa, pool view room, Queensland, Australia

Rasa Sentosa Resort, Singapore is located at the Sentosa beach and resort recreational area of Singapore.   A sample date I checked showed hotel rates around $200USD per night.

Sentosa Island, Singapore (photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board)

Sentosa Island Resort, Singapore

December 7-10, 2008

Rasa Sentosa = $280 SGD/night (+ 17.7% tax) ($191USD +17.7%)

Sheraton Towers, SPG Category 4 = $320 SGD/night or 10,000 points/night (no SPG Cash & Points option shown for this date).

St. Regis, Singapore, SPG Category 6 = $480 SGD/night or 25,000 points/night (no SPG Cash & Points option shown for this date).

Starwood had two Le Meridien properties in Singapore and both have rebranded in past two years.

Sheraton Towers Singapore, lobby

Sheraton Towers lobby, Singapore

Sheraton Towers is a great business hotel near Orchard Road shopping district in Singapore, however the Rasa Sentosa is a beach resort hotel.

3 nights = 30,000 points or about $780 cash for Sheraton Towers.

27,000 Starpoints will exchange for a 3-night stay at Rasa Sentosa and provide a great alternative to travelers wanting a stay at Singapore’s beach resort park rather than in the downtown shopping district.

Singapore’s 17.7% tax and service fee for hotel stays will likely be charged on the Rasa Sentosa stay and add about $100USD to the bill, whereas the SPG award stay for the Sheraton Towers will not incur the high taxes and fees, but that is a tradeoff for the flexibility of being able to use your Starpoints for different hotel brands with the Thai Airways hotel award.

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Hotel Awards International Collection

The second type of hotel award available through Thai Royal Orchid Plus is the International Collection hotel award.  The International Collection hotel awards cost more miles per night and there are 3 hotel levels for these awards.  Many of the 35 or so hotels participating in this award option fall in the luxury hotel segment with numerous properties in the Sofitel and Langham Hotel brands.

Level 1 Hotel for 1 Night = 14,000 miles

Level 2 Hotel for 1 Night = 24,000 miles

Level 3 Hotel for 1 Night = 43,000 miles

 

Inside the Numbers:

The Langham Melbourne is a Level 2 International Collection hotel award option costing 24,000 Thai miles per night.  This will require 20,000 Starpoints for 25,000 Thai Royal Orchid Plus miles.

Sheraton Towers Melbourne 2003, now Langham Melbourne

Langham Hotel Melbourne was the Sheraton Towers Southgate when I stayed there in 2003

December 9-11, 2008 for two nights at the Langham Hotel Melbourne, Australia will run $340AUD/night or about $245USD/night.  As an aside note, the Langham Melbourne was the Sheraton Towers Southgate, part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection brand, when I stayed there in 2003.  The full corner suite I received there is still one of the nicest hotel rooms I have ever had.

20,000 Starpoints for a $250 per night room is not a good deal in my opinion.  The Westin Melbourne, a block from the Langham Melbourne Hotel, is a SPG Category 5 hotel costing 12,000 points per night or 16,000 points in peak season.  Using your starpoints for The Langham Melbourne could be an alternative to the Westin Melbourne if for some reason the Westin was unavailable.

Sheraton Towers Southgate corner suite 2003, Melbourne, Australia

Suite at Sheraton Towers Southgate 2003, now The Langham Hotel, Melbourne, Australia

Most of the hotels available as International Collection hotel awards are in the Level 2 category. 

Exchanging 20,000 Starpoints for 25,000 Thai Royal Orchid Plus miles would only be a good exchange if the hotel you want is running rates of $400+ per night. 

 

Changes are Coming to Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Hotel Awards

Sofitel is the luxury brand of European based Accor hotels.  The Sofitel properties comprise the bulk of the International Collection Hotel awards participating hotels.  Reservations are only being accepted for Sofitel Hotels until May 31, 2009.

Starwood Hotel bookings using Royal Orchid Asia Pacific Hotel Awards are only being accepted through December 31, 2008.

Loyalty traveler suggests taking advantage of these awards now if you plan to be in Asia before the end of 2008.  This hotel award option may not be renewed or be as lucrative in 2009. 

Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus Hotel Award Certificates are valid for one year and can be booked with any hotel in the certificate category you purchase and reservations are relatively easy to make with the hotels.

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Loyalty Traveler Background on Hotel Points Exchange Analysis

I got into loyalty program exchange rate analysis when I realized back in 1999 that I could exchange 20,000 TWA miles earned from flying to London in the summers of 1997 and 1998 into 40,000 Hilton HHonors points.  In 1999 the cost for a 3-night HHonors award stay was 35,000 points for most upscale HHonors hotels. 

I had spent all my money in late 1999 to plan air trips on the OneWorld Alliance airlines to fly five partner airlines and earn a 100,000 mile bonus with British Airways.  I didn’t like the thought of charging another $1,000+ on credit cards for hotels in Europe and Canada. 

I booked free night awards for the Hilton Barcelona and the Rotterdam Hilton in the Netherlands, and I used Starpoints for a great hotel stay at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre.  I had about $2,000 in free hotel stays while flying to Canada, England, the Netherlands, and Spain to earn what ultimately came up to 320,000 airline miles with American Airlines and British Airways. 

These miles allowed Ms. LT and me to fly British Airways First Class from San Francisco to London.  I remember that First Class first trip fondly.  The flight attendant came over to me late in the evening somewhere near the Arctic Circle and told me I should take a seat on the other side of the plane.  For the next hour I watched the sky, my face pressed against the cold window, witnessing the most incredible display of the aurora borealis that I have ever seen. 

Back when British Airways flew the Concorde airliner a ticket was 125,000 miles.  There was an exchange scheme using Starpoints where people were able to book Concorde flights at incredibly low overall prices.  Here is a 2002 FlyerTalk thread about this Concorde award scheme.  My thought at the time was “I don’t want to cross the Atlantic in 4 hours when I can spend fewer miles and spend 11 hours in First Class on British Airways.”

British Airways 747

British Airways 747, First Class seating are front windows of plane below cockpit

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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