Starwood Preferred Guest has enhanced its Night After Night promotional offer with an additional 500 points per night for stays at select hotels in the US and Canada, French Polynesia, and Asia.

Now, SPG members will receive 1,000 bonus points per night at about 30% of Starwood Hotels.  Stay 10 nights by April 30 and the bonus comes out to 1,500 points per night.

The first quarter SPG promotion, Night after Night, offers 500 points per night and a 5,000 points bonus after 10 nights for stays through April 30, 2009. Registration is required by April 15, 2009.

This promotion had value before, but not enough to make my stay.

Now SPG has my attention.

Two weeks ago I stayed at the Westin Market Street in San Francisco on a $99 rate.  I earned the 500 points for the Night after Night bonus.  As a SPG Platinum elite, I also received a 500 Starpoints amenity gift for the stay.  The $99 stay earned 297 base points + 1,000 bonus points = 1,297 points.

For SPG members without elite status the points earned for Westin Market Street with this additional 500 points per night bonus will be 1,198 points on a $99 stay.  The points work out to about a $42 rebate if you get a redemption value of 3.5 cents on a future stay.

I regularly receive 3.5 cents per point when I redeem points.  The past couple of years I have used most of my Starpoints for Cash & Points awards. Last year at the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale I stayed for 4,800 points and $90 for a night when the lowest available rate for the hotel was something like $420 per night after tax.  Spending 4,800 points instead of $330 cash is nearly 7 cents per point redemption value.

Even better, the Westin Kierland upgraded me to a full suite.

Points Math for SPG

I am looking to rack up hotel points for our trip to Australia this summer.  My wife and I would like to return to the Sheraton Noosa for a five night stay.  Noosa is dropping from a Category 5 to a Category 4 hotel in the 2009 SPG Category realignment going into effect next week.  This hotel was a category 3 when we stayed there in 2003.

I need 40,000 points for a five night stay at the Category 4 Sheraton Noosa using the 5th Night Free award stay option. The hotel is currently offering rooms for around $200US per night.

I tend to approach hotel promotions with a points earning target and a hotel redemption goal in mind. I have a summer vacation in Australia and I want to estimate how many Starwood nights I need to earn 40,000 points with a projected redemption value of $1,000.  That is only 2.5 cents per point and below my average redemption rate, but then again spending $1,000 is more money out-of-pocket this summer.  I will go with a Cash & Points rate, available now, rather than free nights if I have that option later in the year.

In the San Francisco area there are at least five hotels with weekend rates in the $80 to $120 range over the past month on the select hotels list offering the additional 500 points per night.  Category 5 Le Meridien San Francisco ($119) and Sheraton SFO and Four Points SFO are frequently around $80 per night on weekends.

Assume I get 10 nights with SPG during the promotion at an average $100 per night.

10 nights  x 1,000 points per night = 10,000 points for Night after Night + 5,000 points for 10-nights bonus = 15,000 Night after Night bonus points.

$1,000 x 2 points per $1 = 2,000 base points

1,000 elite bonus points (Gold and Platinum members)

If I have 10 separate one night stays x 500 platinum amenity points per stay = 5,000 points.

10 nights could earn 23,000 points for $1,000 as a platinum elite.  A Gold member could have one 10-night stay and earn 18,000 points and a non-elite would earn 17,000 points.  I am well short of the 40,000 points for five free nights, however, SPG is offering Cash & Points for my projected hotel stay dates.

Category 4 Cash & Points = $60 + 4,000 points per night.  In this instance, I would spend $300 + 20,000 points for 5 nights.  My 20,000 points would save $700 on the current room cost of $1,000 for 5 nights and my redemption value increases to 3.5 cents per point.

Value of points earned with 10 nights at the select hotels offering 1,000 bonus points per night in the Night After Night SPG promotion (based on $100 average room rate).

Non-elite = 17,000 points x 3.5 cents = $595 in SPG future hotel value.

Gold elite = 18,000 points x 3.5 cents = $630 in SPG future hotel value.

Platinum elite (earning 500 points per stay and all 1 night stays) = 23,000 points =$805 in future hotel value.

Your hotel choice and stay pattern is often dictated by necessity, but even for a discretionary investment, there is high rebate value in this offer.

I see SPG potential for my hotel stays over the next two months.  My analysis here shows me I can spend $1,000 and with the right combination of hotels and low rates I will see a potential of receiving nearly $2,000 in room value for about $1,150 after taxes expenditure. And I am not even factoring likely room upgrades for most of the hotel stays.

Or from another viewpoint, I can spend 10 nights in hotels here in the USA ($1,150 assuming $100 average room rate + 15% tax) and I will earn sufficient points to effectively receive a 70% rebate on my spending now that I can apply to my summer vacation hotel stays.

The rebate value drops if your average daily room rate is higher, however, even a $200 per night spender with no elite status could see a 30%+ rebate value through this promotion.  Spend $2,000 and receive points good for about $600 in future hotel stays.

The amended SPG Night after Night promotion offer has got my attention now.  This promotion has gone from just average in SPG historical terms to a recommended investment in my opinion.

sheraton-noosa-australia

Fountain Glass Sculpture at Sheraton Noosa, Queensland, Australia

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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.

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