Westin Warsaw $40 is one hot deal on this week’s SPG Hot Escapes January 21, 2015 edition. As is often the case with SPG Hot Escapes advertised rates, the Westin $40 rate is for one date only on Sunday, February 8. A cheap long 3-night weekend in Warsaw is still an incredible deal at $137 for Friday check-in and Monday checkout February 6-8. Westin Warsaw is available for $53 per night or less for 13 weekend dates over the next six weeks.

Westin Warsaw

You can hotel hop for elite status in Warsaw with Sheraton Warsaw $60 every weekend. You can even go upscale by staying at Hotel Bristol, Luxury Collection for $77 per night Fridays to Sundays.

I noticed several Instagram photos posted by Seth of The Wandering Aramean this past week from his travels in Warsaw and Poland. I need to get to Poland one of these days so my wife can’t have bragging rights that she has been in a country I have not visited.

There are three other SPG Hot Escapes Starwood Hotels in Poland on this week’s list. Europe is on sale with 80 hotels and 42 in Asia Pacific region with only 41 in the USA.

Starwood Hotels in Asia Pacific region have a 7-day sale for up to 50% off hotel rates for stays to April 19, 2015. Promotion code DAILY50 or DAILYRB (including breakfast). Rates are prepaid and nonrefundable.

Booking Period: January 12-18

Stay Period: January 12 to April 19, 2015

  • Australia
  • Bangladesh
  • Bhutan
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Fiji
  • Guam
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Macau
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • New Caledonia
  • Samoa
  • Singapore
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

There are hundreds of hotels in this sale. I checked a few hotels and there was nothing that really jumped out at me as a great deal, but I do not follow Asia Pacific hotel rates.

An example rate is Le Meridien Angkor Wat in Cambodia with a Best Flexible Rate of $160 per night and Daily50 rate $115. That is a 28% discount.

Starwood Asia Pacific Jan sale

Starwood Hotels highlights growth in 2014 and anticipated growth for 2015 in a press release this week. There are some interesting data points.

Starwood Hotels opened 74 hotels in 26 countries in 2014.

Starwood Hotels signed 175 new management and franchise agreements in 2014. This is the most new deals since 2007.

2014 Milestones Starwood Hotels

  • Starwood Hotels reached 1,200 hotels globally.
  • 300th hotel in Asia Pacific and China
  • 150th hotel in China (with all nine brands represented)
  • 90th hotel in Africa and the Middle East
  • 175th Luxury hotel
  • 750th Upper Upscale hotel
  • 300th Mid-Market hotel
  • 12 new Starwood luxury hotels debuted in 2014. Starwood expects to open 25 more luxury hotels in 2015 and 2016.
  • Westin opened 200th hotel.
  • Aloft, Element and Four Points, mid-market Starwood Hotels brands opened 35 hotels in 2014.
  • Element Frankfurt, Germany is first hotel outside USA for this brand. Hotels are in pipeline for Amsterdam and London.

Projected 2015/2016 milestones for Starwood Hotels

  • Sheraton expected to open 500th hotel in 2016.
  • Sheraton brand accounts for 40% Starwood Hotels new growth in Asia Pacific.
  • Sheraton will open hotels in Iraq, Romania and Samoa in 2015.
  • Le Meridien brand will grow more in 2015 than any year since 2005 acquisition. Most new hotels in Le Meridien brand will be hotel conversions.
  • Le Meridien Dhaka, Bangladesh on March 1, 2015.
  • Le Meridien Paro Riverfront, Bhutan May 1, 2015.
  • Le Méridien Mahabaleshwar Resort & Spa – Opening March 1, 2015
  • Westin Doha, Qatar, October 2015, will be fourth Westin brand hotel in Middle East.
  • Four Points, Aloft and Element mid-market segment account for 40% of Starwood’s global pipeline of new hotels and these brands will comprise 50% of Starwood hotel openings in 2015.
  • Four Points will reach 200 hotels in 2015.
  • Aloft will reach 100 open hotels in 2015. Aloft will expand in China and Germany.

Starwood Luxury Hotels

2014 Openings

W Bogota

Luxury Collection – La Posada de Santa Fe, New Mexico

Luxury Collection – Excelsior Hotel Gallia Milan, Italy

Luxury Collection – The Castle Hotel, Dalian, China

2015 openings 

St. Regis Istanbul (March 1, 2015)

St. Regis Macau, Cotai Central (August 1, 2015)

St. Regis Dubai (October 1, 2015)

St. Regis Mumbai (no webpage or date. Some info on luxurylaunches.com)

Luxury Collection – The Grand Mansion, Nanjing, China (March 1, 2015)

Luxury Collection – The St. Anthony, San Antonio, Texas (March 19, 2015)

Luxury Collection – Grand Hills, Broumana, Lebanon

W Amsterdam, Netherlands Sep 2015 (Hotel News Resource )

W Goa, India (November 1, 2015)

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Starwood Hotels joins Marriott and Hilton in setting a global cancellation policy. Starwood Hotels global cancellation policy is 6pm day before arrival hotel local time effective January 15, 2015.

Starwood Lurker on FlyerTalk states the change will impact about 35% of hotels worldwide that currently offer day of arrival cancellation without penalty.

Updates to the Starwood Cancellation Policy

Effective January 15, 2015, Starwood will implement a change to our room cancellation policy, which will be implemented at all Starwood hotels globally that currently offers a same-day-cancellation policy. After this change takes effect, guests must cancel a reservation as of 6:00 pm local time the day before arrival. This change will impact about 35% of our hotels, which currently allow for same day cancellation without penalty. The majority of Starwood hotels already have a cancellation policy of at least one day prior to arrival or greater.

The minimum room cancellation policy will apply to all new reservations made after January 15, 2015.

Starwood will be honoring any negotiated contractual rates. Reservations made under contracts will be governed by their negotiated terms.

If you have any questions about this change, please reach out to us.
Best regards,
Christopher Carman
Social Media Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

FlyerTalk – January 8, 2015

The cancellation penalty amount is still a hotel decision at the local level. Some hotels charge one night’s room and tax and others may even charge the entire stay cost as a penalty for late cancellation.

Marriott International announced their cancellation without penalty policy change in October, making the time uniform at 11:59pm day before arrival for hotels in U.S, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America effective January 1, 2015.

Hilton Worldwide announced its global cancellation policy in November, setting 11:59pm day before arrival as the latest time for cancellation without penalty effective January 1, 2015.

Loyalty Traveler – New Hilton Cancellation Policy starts January 2015 (Nov 10, 2014).

Elevator Summary of Hotel Cancellation Policies

This is the biggest move yet by hotels to move toward the airline model of nonrefundable fees. Of course, most guests will know to cancel day before arrival, but in case of travel mishaps you are pleading on a case-by-case basis for leniency in cancellation fees if travel woes keep you from reaching your hotel on the planned day of arrival. As frequent flyers know all too well, weather is the dominant factor in keeping you away from the city where you plan to stay in a hotel.

Cancellation fees in 2015 should help pay for those global free internet policies for 2015.

There are 218 hotels on SPG Hot Escapes January 7, 2015 version for stays through February 18. That is almost 20% of Starwood Hotels globally and the distribution this week is proportioned in global style.

SPG Hot Escapes are prepaid and nonrefundable rates, usually offering around a 20% discount on average rates for the specific hotel, and available for stays over the next six weeks. The low advertised rates are sometimes only available for one or two nights during the six weeks. Must book these rates by 11:59pm Saturday local hotel time. This means hotels regionally in Asia Pacific and other places must be booked earlier in the day on Saturday when making reservations from the USA.

USA 53 hotels and Canada 6 hotels – USA hotels are listed last on the SPG Hot Escapes site. The list is alphabetical by region, but they call it Latin America so North America comes last.

  • Africa Middle East is 30 hotels
  • Asia Pacific 45 hotels
  • Europe 77 hotels
  • Latin America 6 hotels
  • North America 60 hotels

I looked at the Pulitzer Amsterdam this morning before seeing SPG Hot Escapes. The $242 rate in mid-February is a reasonable rate for this hotel and substantially lower than the 269 EUR shown for a late-February date I searched.

SPG Hot Escapes 2-16-15-AMS

Even more reasonable is finding Cash & Points availability for $110 and 6,000 points when the rate was $325 for the dates I checked outside of SPG Hot Escapes booking dates available through February 18.

Le Meridien Istanbul Etiler

There are two SPG Hot Escapes hotels for those of you who booked an Istanbul sub-$500 fare this week from the USA.

SPG Istanbul

Le Meridien Istanbul Etiler at $104 receives a high 4.6/5 stars and 93% recommendation rating. $104 to $108 Friday to Sunday only in January.

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In case you had not noticed, Starwood and Hyatt mirror each other’s policies similarly to Hilton and Marriott. Starwood Hotels has had an increasingly uncompetitive best rate guarantee policy the past couple of years with a 10% discount option being far less of a discount compared to other major hotel chains.

Starwood BRG

Lucky has an image on his blog showing 20% discount. All the links I see at time of this post still show 10%, although the Terms & Conditions text states 20% discount. So, I punked the page to 20%.

Starwood Best Rate Guarantee now cuts 20% off lower rate for approved claims.

What is the Best Rate Guarantee?

Starwood makes available the best room rates on its branded Websites (www.sheraton.com, www.fourpoints.com,www.whotels.com, www.alofthotels.com, www.luxurycollection.com, www.lemeridien.com, www.elementhotels.com,www.westin.com, www.stregis.com, www.spg.com, www.starwoodhotels.com). In the unlikely event that a lower rate at a Starwood Hotel is made available on a non-Starwood website or mobile application (the “Competing Rate”), upon its receipt of a claim that satisfies Best Rate Guarantee terms and conditions, Starwood will honor that Competing Rate and provide the individual that submitted the valid claim one of the following rewards: (1) an additional 20% discount off the Competing Rate per room per night; or (2) 2000 Starwood Preferred Guest® Starpoints® per room per stay

Current Best Rate Guarantee discounts from major hotel chains

Marriott = 25% off lower rate from an online competitor

Club Carlson = 25% off lower rate from an online competitor

Hyatt = 20% off lower rate from an online competitor

Hilton = $50 American Express card

Best Western = $100 Best Western Travel card

IHG = first night free

Choice Hotels = first night free

Starwood = 20% off lower rate or 2,000 bonus Starpoints. (Effective January 5, 2015 the discount increased to 20% from 10%).

In the past decade I have had dozens of Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claims approved. Only once do I recall taking the 10% discount rather than 2,000 bonus points.  That was on a four room nights stay where the 10% discount saved around $60.

Starwood Lurker confirmed on FlyerTalk that effective January 5, 2015 the approved Best Rate Guarantee claim offers a choice of 20% off the competing rate or 2,000 bonus points.

The weakness I found in Starwood Hotels Best Rate Guarantee was at hotels around $150 where 2,000 points starts to become negligible in value.

Old Starwood BRG 10% Discount Policy:

Assume I find a hotel for $150 on Expedia and $179 on Starwood.

I had a choice of 10% off $150 rate or 2,000 points.

2,000 points are definitely worth more than $15, but the hotel is still $135 per night + tax. This is a higher rate than I would pay with a Best Rate Guarantee approved in another hotel chain.

Approved BRG claim for $150 lower rate across different chains:

  • Marriott $112.50 (25% discount)
  • Club Carlson $112.50 (25% discount)
  • Hyatt $120 (20% discount)
  • Starwood $135 (10% discount) or $150 rate and 2,000 points.
  • IHG = first night free and $150 per night for additional nights.
  • Choice Hotels = free

On a one-night stay I am paying $150 and getting 2,000 points with Starwood Preferred Guest. But, if I had seen the same rate on other chains, my discounted rate for an approved BRG would be less than Starwood Hotels discount. Essentially the same rate discrepancy at a Marriott Hotel and a Starwood Hotel will have me paying $40 more per night for 2,000 points. Any stay more than one night makes Starwood BRG even more uncompetitive with other hotel chains.

3-night stay rate for approved BRG based on $150 rate found on Expedia

  • IHG = $300 for second and third nights.
  • Choice Hotels = $300 for second and third nights.
  • Marriott $337.50 (25% discount)
  • Club Carlson $337.50 (25% discount)
  • Hyatt $360 (20% discount)
  • Starwood $405 (10% discount) or $450 rate with 2,000 points. Effective Jan 5, 2015, Starwood’s 20% discount drops the rate to $120 per night and $360 for three nights, so no reason to bother giving up $90 in rate savings for 2,000 bonus points.

NEW Starwood Best Rate Guarantee 20% discount makes Starwood BRG more competitive with Hyatt. This makes taking 2,000 points really only a BRG value choice when spending less than $150 for a one night stay at a Starwood Hotel, in my opinion.

SPG Double Play January 5 to April 15, 2015 is a double weak promotion. First, you need to stay two nights or more to earn double points. Then, you also receive 1,000 bonus points for every five nights for stays of any length.

  • 2-night stay earns 2 bonus points per dollar.
  • Earn 1,000 bonus points every 5 nights, up to 4,000 points maximum during promotion after 20 nights.

SPG Double Play terms are posted, but the promotion page is not open yet at time of publishing this post. There is a list of nonparticipating hotels, but that is not loading either at this point in time.

$500 Hotel Spend Analysis

The $500 hotel spend evaluation is what I will use to analyze 2015 Q1 hotel loyalty promotions.

$500 for five 1-night Starwood stays earns 1,000 bonus points.

$500 for one 5-night stay earns 2,000 bonus points.

This is a rebate value of less than 10% on hotel spend in the best scenario for the promotion bonus when valuing Starpoints at $25 per 1,000 points.

By that standard, Starwood Preferred Guest continues to underwhelm with its first promotion for 2015 stays. Using the excuse that hotels are full as a reason for lackluster promotions is not a logical argument. With hotels full of paying guests is the time to offer good value promotions to encourage potential guests to cross over to Starwood Hotels with their hotel travel spending.

Assume SPG Gold or Platinum earning 3 points per dollar and AMEX credit card for another 2 points per dollar. Your earning could be 2,500 points after a stay of 5 nights + 2,000 bonus points and perhaps some welcome amenity bonus points.

There is potential for about 5,500 points after 5 nights spending $500. You can be looking at a Category 3 or 4 Cash & Points savings or a free category 2 night.

After 20 nights and $3,000 in spend, you earn 6,000 bonus points for spend if all stays were 2-nights and longer to be eligible for double points and 4,000 bonus points for 20 nights. $3,000 in hotel spend and 20 nights earns 10,000 bonus points.

Looks unlikely for me to reach SPG Platinum for another year if these are the kinds of promotion offers we will see in 2015. There are too many other good deals around for opportunities to earn free hotel nights.

Winter Downscale Plan from Upper Upscale Hotels

Yesterday, my analysis of Choice Privileges triple points showed I can earn 16,000 points for $533 in spend and those points will buy a free hotel night in Norway or Sweden. Loyalty Traveler - Choice Privileges Triple Points Dec 29-February 18, 2015.

Sheraton Stockholm is SPG Category 5 and takes 12,000 points per night or 6,000 points + $110 during the time I will be in Scandinavia next July.

My $500 hotel spend analysis favors working on IHG Set Your Sights over the next two months or staying at Choice Hotels. My wife Kelley can complete her IHG Set Your Sights tasks for 50,000 bonus points with as few as 3 paid hotel nights at Holiday Inn over a weekend. I can earn 50,000 points in 6 nights with two weekend stays at Crowne Plaza. Completing 9 hotel nights between January 1 and April 30 for 100,000 IHG Rewards Club points is a guaranteed two free nights and potentially up to 20 free nights with PointBreaks. Loyalty Traveler - Our IHG Set Your Sights tasks for 50000 points Jan 1-Apr 30, 2015.

Marriott MegaBonus February 1-April 30 offers me 3,000 bonus points every stay, beginning with second stay. I make a lot of one night stays when I road trip. Five 1-night stays with Marriott earns 12,000 bonus points. My $500 hotel spend analysis means a potential 17,000 points. That is about equivalent to SPG, but more favorable than SPG Double Play for travel with one-night stays. Loyalty Traveler - Marriott MegaBonus offers for Feb 1 to April 30, 2015.

Perhaps Hyatt Gold Passport will have a better offer come January 12. If not, looks like this Loyalty Traveler will be downscale the upper upscale hotel stays this winter to lower cost hotel brands and earn the hotel points needed for free luxury hotel nights next summer in Europe.

I should make lifetime SPG Gold in 2015, but I think my Starwood stays will be more reward oriented than pay oriented until a better SPG bonus opportunity comes along.

Hotel Kamp Helsinki

Hotel Kamp, Starwood Luxury Collection, Helsinki, Finland (March 2013 stay)

A couple of blogs mentioned the Four Points Breakfast for a Buck hotel rate this past week. When I read the articles, the pieces simply posted the hotel brand’s public relations advertising. I have analyzed this offer in the past and found it to require a higher rate than otherwise offered. Here is a new analysis of the Four Points Breakfast for a Buck rate.

Four Points Breakfast for a Buck offer: valid for stays booked by March 15 and completed between January 1 and March 31, 2015 using rate FPBKPKG. Book this rate and one person receives:

  • 1 full American breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant for 1 adult. Full American breakfast includes a breakfast entree plus coffee or tea and juice, at a minimum. Breakfast for additional guests may be purchased at regular rate.
  • Hotels not offering full American breakfast may substitute with Continental breakfast.

Four Points Breakfast Buck-2

Rate Analysis

Having stayed in San Diego last week, I decided to check out Four Points San Diego Downtown for this deal next week.

Four Points breakfast buck

Traditional King Bed = $130 per night on Breakfast for a Buck rate. Total rate is $146 after tax.

AAA rate for same room = $116 and offers same one day before arrival flexible cancellation as the Breakfast for a Buck rate. Total rate is $131 after tax.

Four Points SD 116 AAA rate

Compared to the AAA rate, Breakfast for a Buck costs $15 more.

There is also a prepaid rate for $119 or $12 less than Breakfast for a Buck rate.

If you don’t have AAA and you avoid prepaid rates, then Four Points Breakfast for a Buck can be a reasonable deal for one person.

Strangely though, Breakfast for a Buck only applies to one guest’s meal. A second guest must purchases breakfast at regular price.

AAA Breakfast Rate

Even better is a AAA breakfast rate at $126 per night which offers the same room type and breakfast at a rate $4 less than Four Points Breakfast for a Buck.

Four Points SD AAA breakfast

Perhaps even better terms than Breakfast for a Buck is the AAA rate states breakfast for two.

Rate Description: AAA breakfast package Automobile Association members receive a discounted rate and breakfast for two.

Although, the AAA rate changes from a total $141.95 to $158.92 when two adults are entered on the Starwood booking site.

Four Points SD AAA-2

Still, this is likely a better deal to pay $158.92 for AAA breakfast for two rate than $146.34 for the Four Points Breakfast for a Buck deal and pay full price on the second guest’s breakfast.

Or simply pay the AAA room only rate at $131 and use the $28 savings to go to a downtown San Diego restaurant or the local grocery store.

Bottom Line is Breakfast for a Buck is not necessarily a good deal and the breakfast will likely cost far more than one dollar compared to other rates available.

Another Wednesday and another set of SPG Hot Escapes prepaid and nonrefundable discount rates. Like last week, there are more hotels in Europe (76 hotels) on the list than the USA (32 hotels).

What caught my eye this week is the low recommendation level for several USA hotels featured on the home page.

Sheraton Dallas $75 with 59% recommendation and 3.4 of 5 stars. There is reason to consider your hotel choice when more than 4 of 10 people do not recommend a hotel.

W Chicago Lakeshore $90 with 63% recommendation and 3.7 of 5 stars.

Sheraton Denver Downtown $80 with 64% recommendation and 3.5 of 5 stars.

Westin San Diego $87 with 71% recommendation and 3.9 of 5 stars.

Westin Lake Las Vegas $85 with 75% recommendation and 3.9 of 5 stars.

Westin Boston Waterfront $128 with 82% recommendation and 4.1 of 5 stars.

There are some low rated Starwood hotels out there. W Chicago Lakeshore has nice views of Lake Michigan, if you are in a room with the Lake Michigan view. I stayed there four years ago. The room was tiny as is typical for W Hotels. Loyalty Traveler – W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel.

Sheraton Denver Downtown is a fine location for 16th Street restaurants and bars and convenient for walking to the Colorado State Capitol and downtown museums. Turns out that I stayed in Sheraton Denver Downtown four years ago too when I had a suite upgrade. I know I have stayed there since too, but not sure if I ever did any other hotel reviews of the property.

Loyalty Traveler – Postcard from Denver and the Sheraton Denver Downtown.

After reading my room reviews again from these two hotels, I have the feeling I was someone who did not fully recommend these hotels either.

You might have better hotel choices in Europe and Asia with this week’s SPG Hot Escapes list.

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Starwood Hotels Le Meridien brand has a good offer for 1,000 bonus points on your first stay and 2,000 bonus points for every additional stay from December 11 to March 1, 2015. There is no earnings limit. This offer is only for 21 Le Meridien hotels in North America, Latin America and French Polynesia.

Starwood Preferred Guest members must register by January 25, 2015.

One of the best features of SPG promotions is for members who have eligible stays prior to registering for the promotion. Most hotel loyalty programs will not count stays for a promotion bonus until after registration. SPG tends to allow retroactive credit for promotion bonuses as long as the member registers by the deadline, in this case January 25, 2015. This means if you had eligible Le Meridien stays since December 11 and you register for the promotion after your stays, your earlier stays count for bonus points.

There is no email confirmation for promotion registration. You receive a promotion registration confirmation page at time of registration as seen below for my registration.

Le Meridien 2015Q1 2K bonus

Enriching Destinations, Limitless Earnings with Le Méridien Hotels and Resorts

Participating Properties

Montreal, Quebec

French Polynesia
Bora Bora


Mexico City

United States of America

Santa Monica

Palm Springs

San Francisco





New Orleans



New York
New York

North Carolina

*Coming Soon – January 2015





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