SPG Hot Escapes is a small list of Starwood hotels this week with only 37 hotels in Americas, 36 in Europe, 23 Asia-America and 11 hotels in Africa/Middle East for 107 hotels. Check this week’s list for SPG Hot Escapes Easter weekend rates April 3-5 holiday discounts, when many hotels anticipate low occupancy and offer low rates.

SPG Hot Escapes are Prepaid Nonrefundable Rates for dates over the next six weeks. These rates are available for reservations made by 11:59pm Saturday, March 28 hotel local time.

Sample Low Easter Weekend Rates

Sheraton Pittsburgh at Station Square drops rates to $121 Easter weekend.

Aloft Nashville Cool Springs $94 compared to regular rates around $140.

Westin Park Central San Francisco $129 is the former Westin Market Street. Hotel rates Easter weekend are about 50% of rates other dates.

Westin Stonebriar Hotel & Golf Club, Frisco Texas $113 next two weekends is $20 less than other weekends and half off weekday rates.

Le Meridien Parkhotel Frankfurt has low rates at $108 for next two weekends.

There are several Element Hotels on this week’s list in the USA. These are residential style hotels with a room kitchen and free breakfast in the morning. These hotels make a good family or couple getaway. There are usually plenty of games in the lobby for guests.

These are just some of the deeper discounts available from this week’s SPG Hot Escapes over the holiday periods in places where Easter weekend reduces hotel occupancy.

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SPG Hot Escapes March 18 edition jumped out at me with USA deals. Boston, Chicago, Denver, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Savannah are some of the cities with some of the lowest rates I recall seeing in quite some time. There are 76 hotels in the USA and 14 in Canada on this week’s list.

Westin Minneapolis $66 Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4. Most dates are in the $200 range. The BANK Restaurant and Bar is definitely a place to check out for Happy Hour.

Element Denver Park Meadows $57 – south of town, but offers a stylish room with kitchen.

W Chicago City Center $98 Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4.

Sheraton Denver Downtown $90 Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4.

I realize April 3 and April 4 with all these low rates are Easter weekend.

There are some low priced airport deals for the weekend.

Le Meridien New Orleans is newly open after ten years since Hurricane Katrina. The hotel used to be the W Hotel. April 1 and 2 are $113 per night.

W Seattle $136 to $151 druing week from March 29-April 4.

Sheraton Vancouver Guildford in British Columbia is $68 to $74 per night for nearly every date in April. That has me thinking about my free Alaska Airlines ticket I need to book for April by March 31.

Check out the deals this week with Starwood Hotels, especially if you need a hotel Easter weekend.

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Westin Hotels has some kind of hotel marketing sensation with their Heavenly Bed. The bed is comfortable, but the real secret to the luxurious feel are all the sheets, pillows, blankets and mattress pad that cover the bed. I find the Westin Heavenly Bed dreamy.

The Westin Store is currently offering the Westin Heavenly Bed 25% off March Sale for consumers in need of a bed.

The email I received today only mentions a March Sale with no dates I can find for when the sale ends.

Westin Bed

$1,800 for a California King mattress and box springs + $225 shipping.

Westin bedding

You are topping $4,000, even with the 25% discount, if you desire the full package with bed and all the best bedding.

My wife and I have a W Hotels California King box springs and mattress we purchased about ten years ago. I think it was around $1,200 all-in during a sale. From our experience, I can estimate that the mattress and box springs is about 50% of the cost for the full Westin Bed experience. These days and even ten years ago, after you added the price for mattress pad, box spring skirt, sheets, pillows, duvet, the final bill nearly always doubles.

A good bed is a big purchase. There are probably comparable quality beds for less, but if you want a Westin Heavenly bed, buying one during the annual periodic sales is the time to make the purchase.

Beds are a long lasting purchase if treated well. Our first major purchase was a King bed about one year after Kelley and I moved in together at Davis, California for university and I landed a good paying dairy laboratory job as a college student in 1985. We abused the shit out of that bed, including shoving it into the back of an Isuzu Trooper for a cross-country move to Maine. And we slept on it another ten years after that. Our first bed had a 20-year warranty and lasted not quite that long, but longer than the California company manufacturer who was gone by the time we used up the bed. We replaced that first bed with our W Hotel bed around ten years ago.

I might get through this life with only one or two more bed purchases. Perhaps I’ll win a Westin Heavenly Bed sweepstakes one day. I have entered plenty of their bed sweepstakes over the years I’ve been staying with Starwood Hotels.

The Westin Store 25% discount this March is happening. A good bed is a terrible thing to be without.

Disclosure: I have no marketing affiliation with Westin Store. I simply write about what I write about. This piece had me reflecting on how I have been impressed by Westin Beds in many of my hotel stays over the past 25 years.

HotelManagement.net published an interesting story today: Is Miami’s Royal Palm the first in a new brand for independents from Starwood?

The article picks up on a statement from Chesapeake Lodging Trust, recent buyers of The Royal Palm Miami Beach for $278 million. The James Royal Palm was a James Hotel until yesterday. Their web address for the James Miami now reads: http://www.jameshotels.com/miami/farewell.

James Royal Palm

The Royal Palm South Beach is now listed on the Starwood Hotels site under the Luxury Collection brand tab as an SPG category 6 hotel property:

Royal Palm South Beach Starwood

The announcement of a new management contract with Starwood Hotels for the Royal Palm South Beach hotel indicates a new Starwood brand is coming.

“The Trust entered into a new management agreement with HEI Hotels & Resorts to operate the hotel, as well as a new franchise agreement with Starwood Hotels & Resorts where the hotel will be affiliated with Starwood’s new brand for independent hotels.”

Apparently the interim management agreement for the hotel is under Starwood Hotels Luxury Collection brand with the intent to affiliate with a new Starwood Hotels brand for independent hotels.

All the other cool hotel kids are into the independent hotel branding game. Marriott’s Autograph Collection is probably the fastest growing brand for independent hotels. Hilton launched Curio Collection in the past year with SLS Las Vegas as one of the initial hotel members. Choice Hotels has Ascend Collection and IHG has InterContinental Alliance Resorts with The Palazzo and the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Will Starwood soon have a 10th brand for independent hotels?

When hotels rebrand within the same chain, the new brand is generally a lower tier. Hilton rebranded the Waldorf Astoria London Syon Park to Hilton London Syon Park in 2013 after the hotel spent two years in the luxury segment brand. Starwood goes the other direction with the recent rebrand of Westin Sunset Key Cottages in Key West, Florida to Luxury Collection Sunset Key Cottages.

Sunset Key is a private 27-acre island, ten minutes boat ride from Key West. Cars are not permitted on the island. There is 24-hour shuttle boat service.  The hotel features Latitudes Key West for restaurant dining.

Sunset Key Cottages offer 40 units from one bedroom to four bedroom cottages. The smallest cottage is 900 square feet. A four bedroom cottage offer a private patio and plunge pool.

Sunset Key Cottages Luxury Collection is one of the most expensive Starwood properties worldwide as SPG category-7 cottages. Think 120,000 points per night in low season.

Good luck finding availability for a one bedroom cottage with points. I was able to find only one date in March 2015 for a 2-bedroom cottage at 140,000 points per night.

Peak Season dates: 1/1/2015 – 1/7/2015; 2/13/2015 – 4/4/2015; 12/25/2015 – 12/31/2015.

Paid rates for a one bedroom on March 16-18 are as low as $850 per night for a prepaid rate and tops out at $956 per night after tax. Rates are far higher for March 17 in a two bedroom cottage at $1,250. Shift the dates to March 17-19 and the rate rises to $1,750 per night for a two-bedroom cottage. November rates are as low as $705 for a two-bedroom at $793 after tax.

Sunset Key Cottages

Paying cash rather than paying points is probably a far better value for a stay at Luxury Collection Sunset Key Cottages.

Rebranding Sunset Key Cottages as a Luxury Collection resort perhaps lessens the blow of account depletion for SPG reward stays.

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Today is the last day to book hotel rewards at Starwood Hotels before category changes tomorrow on March 10. Starwood’s list of changes are ordered by hotel brand. I created regional tables a couple of weeks ago and organized hotels geographically. Here are links to my articles where I looked more closely at Starwood Preferred Guest hotel reward category changes by region.

Loyalty TravelerOverview of SPG category changes March 10, 2015

About 275 hotels, 22% of Starwood’s global portfoilio are changing category. Around 140 hotels go down and 135 hotels go up in SPG category. The USA is hardest hit with 2 of 3 hotels worldwide rising in SPG category for 2015 located in the USA.

Loyalty TravelerList of USA 94 Starwood Hotels with SPG category increase March 10, 2015 (94 hotels go up in USA, 22 hotels drop).

Loyalty Traveler22 Starwood Hotels in USA drop category March 10, 2015. Is 2015 the year to take advantage of lower priced rewards?

Loyalty Traveler  – SPG 2015 category changes Asia Pacific Region Starwood Hotels (34 hotels down, 23 hotels up).

W Retreat Koh Samui rising from 6 to 7 is a 50% increase and a hotel to book today if it is in your sights.

Loyalty TravelerSPG Europe 2015 hotel category changes are all down (46 hotels down, 0 up). Probably the best news to me is seeing Europe drop.

This post has my list of USA 94 Starwood Hotels with SPG category increase March 10, 2015 ordered by State and City. Starwood released a table ordered by hotel brand.

Our best bet this year is pay in the USA when low rates are offered and redeem points internationally where rates are high and reward nights have gone down in price for 2015. The value of points for hotel stays improves in Canada, Europe and much of Asia, while the USA nightly reward rates using points go up for 94 hotels and only drop for 22 hotels.

SPG reward night cost

Loyalty Traveler – SPG Europe 2015 hotel category changes are all down (Feb 24). 46 hotels in Europe drop in SPG category on March 10. No hotels in Europe increase category on March 10.

94 Starwood Hotels in USA with March 10 SPG category increase

SPG 2015 USA Cat up

Two hotels make a double category leap with Four Points San Jose Silicon Valley jumping from category 2 to category 4. Friday night went from 3,000 points to 10,000 points per night. Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney also jumps from SPG category 2 to category 4.

California is hit with 21 hotels making a category increase. The Palace Hotel San Francisco is likely going to create some angry SPG members who redeem 20,000 points and find their room on the interior courtyard with a view of brick walls.

Category 2 hotels tend to be a pretty good deal with points. Nearly 1 in 3 of 90 category 2 hotels in the USA increases to SPG category 3 on March 10. This means SPG members need about twice as many points when the 3,000/4,000 points category 2 reward nights increase to 7,000 points.

Boston and California take a hit with several new category 6 hotels and quite a few category 5 properties.

Take stock of the SPG changes and redeem your points before March 10 if one of these hotels is in your sights.

The news is not all bad. In the next post I will cover 22 hotels in the USA going down in category, along with some Canada hotels going down as a result of currency devaluation against the US Dollar in 2014.

Related Posts:

Starwood : List of Starwood Hotels withSPG Category Change on March 10, 2015. This list from Starwood orders hotels by brand. I have reorganized their list to look at hotels geographically by state and city.

Loyalty Traveler – Overview of SPG category changes March 10, 2015

Loyalty Traveler – SPG 2015 category changes Asia Pacific Region Starwood Hotels (23 hotels go up and 34 hotels go down).

Loyalty Traveler – SPG Europe 2015 hotel category changes are all down (46 hotels drop SPG category on March 10, 2015.

Starwood Asia Pacific has 23 hotels rising in SPG reward night category effective March 10, 2015. 34 hotels drop in SPG category in the region. Here is my Loyalty Traveler table for SPG 2015 category changes Asia Pacific region Starwood Hotels.

SPG-2015-3-10-cat1-up-AP-region

W Retreat Koh Samui rises to the vaulted level of category 7. Peak Season dates will see a rise from 25,000 points to 35,000 points per night.

  • 7/15/2015 – 8/31/2015
  • 12/20/2015 – 12/31/2015

SPG Category 1 Hotels:

The rise sees eight category 1 hotels in China, India and Indonesia rise to category 2. This is a 50% increase in reward night cost from 2,000 to 3,000 points for Friday and Saturday and 33% more points needed from 3,000 to 4,000 points for Sunday to Thursday nights. Asia Pacific region currently has 42 SPG category-1 hotels. There are 18 in the rest of the world.

The good news is 15 hotels drop from category 2 to category 1 for a net gain in lowest SPG category 1 hotels.

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ITC Rajputana, Luxury Collection Jaipur looks like an incredible deal at 14,000 points for 7 nights when rates tend to be more than $100 per night.

Travelers to Taipei and Singapore will have lower cost reward nights at Le Meridien Taipei and Sheraton Towers Singapore.

I have little familiarity with hotels in India and China, so not too much to say about the Asia-Pacific region SPG category changes for Starwood Hotel rewards.

Starwood Preferred Guest released its list of Starwood Hotels worldwide that will change SPG reward category on March 10, 2015. I am creating tables sorting the changes by country and city rather than the Starwood list ordered by region, country and hotel brand. I want to see hotels by city, like all the San Francisco hotels grouped together. These posts with tables will be posting over the next couple of days.

FlyerTalk: Starwood Lurker IV (Starwood company representative)- Announcing SPG’s 2015 Category Changes

MilePoint: SPG Champion 2 (Starwood company representative) – Announcing SPG’s 2015 Category Changes

Starwood says 22% of hotels globally are changing with 10.49% going up in SPG reward category and 11.78% moving down.  The list shows about 275 hotels.

What do the changes reveal about travel in 2015?

This post is an overview of SPG category changes March 10, 2015. I will post other articles on different Starwood regions with my own tables of hotels changing reward category for 2015 and discussion on some of the hotels that look like good values.

Europe: There are a large number of hotels dropping category in Europe with the Euro devaluation against the US dollar. Several category 7 hotels dropped to category 6.

India and Canada are other places where the currency lost ground against the dollar. There are many shifts in Asia-Pacific with China and India.

USA has a big increase with 94 hotels going up and only 22 dropping down in SPG reward category. Canada is interesting with 15 hotels going down and only two going up. The USD gained big against Canadian Dollars in 2014.

Caribbean, Latin America, Mexico Africa and Middle East will be covered in its own post.

SPG reward night cost

Changes in reward category can have a big impact on the cost of hotel stays.

Dropping from category 7 to category 6 is like a 3-for-2 coupon. A hotel that was 60,000 points for a 2-night reward stay in 2014 buys 3 nights for 60,000 points in 2015.

Starwood Hotels dropping from Category 7 to Category 6 for 2015

  1. Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg, Austria
  2. W Paris – Opéra, France
  3. Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini, Greece
  4. The St. Regis Rome, Italy
  5. Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  6. The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, Hawaii

Starwood Hotels dropping from Category 6 to Category 5 for 2015

Even bigger savings are found with hotels dropping from Category 6 at 20,000 points per night to category 5 at 12,000 points. These hotels were 60,000 points for 3 nights in 2014 and the same 60,000 points buy six nights in 2015 with the SPG 5th night free reward rate.

    1. The Westin Kierland Villas, Scottsdale, Arizona
    2. The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek Mountain, Avon, Colorado
    3. Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, Maui, Hawaii
    4. The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali, Maui, Hawaii
    5. Hotel Grande Bretagne, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens, Greece
    6. Hotel National, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Moscow, Russia
    7. Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss Hotel, Switzerland
    8. Sheraton Lagos, Nigeria
    9. ITC Grand Bharat, a Luxury Collection Resort, Gurgaon, New Delhi Capital Region, India
    10. Le Méridien Taipei, Taiwan

This looks like the year to plan a Starwood points vacation for Maui or Greece. I stayed at the Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas in May 2013 when it was a category 5 SPG hotel on a $116 AAA mud season rate. Should you feel like a sucker if you redeemed 20,000 points per night in 2014 at the hotel?

Loyalty Traveler – Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas Beaver Creek Mountain, Colorado (May 27, 2013).

There are big savings to be found at the high category properties when a simple category drop means more free nights or points savings in the tens of thousands. Picking up 60,000 Starpoints is a lot of effort and spend for most of us. Having hotels where 60,000 points buys twice as many nights in 2015 is a good find for a vacation hotel redemption.

Time to Redeem and Save Points at these hotels

The next two weeks are the time to redeem points if one of the vacation properties rising from 6 to 7 or 5 to 6 is on your 2015 list.

Plan your hotel stay now if you want to spend fewer points at these high category Starwood Hotels moving to higher categories.

Starwood Hotels rising from Category 6 to Category 7 in 2015

  1. W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand
  2. St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta de Mita, Mexico
  3. St. Regis San Francisco

Starwood Hotels rising from Category 5 to Category 6 in 2015

  1. The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale, Arizona
  2. Westin Verasa Napa, California
  3. Le Parker Méridien Palm Springs, California
  4. Westin Palo Alto, California
  5. Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco, California
  6. The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston, Massachusetts
  7. W Boston, Massachusetts
  8. St. Regis Houston, Texas
  9. Westin Bahrain City Centre, Manama, Bahrain
  10. Sheraton Doha Resort & Convention Hotel, Doha, Qatar
  11. St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, Abu Dhabi, UAE

This week’s SPG Hot Escapes has half the listings of most weeks with only 83 hotels. China at 23 hotels has almost as many offers as USA at 27 hotels. The main difference is China has only 7 of 23 hotels with guest recommendation ratings below 80% favorable. In the USA, Four Points Saginaw Michigan looks like a good bet at $80 per night with a 96% favorable rating. 21 of the other 26 hotels in the USA on this week’s SPG Hot Escapes have a rating less than 80% favorable and 10 of these hotels receive lower than 70% recommendation, all the way down to 53% recommending Four Points Philadelphia Airport.  When one of two guests ding a hotel, that is a hotel to avoid.

Westin Bayshore Vancouver at $106 looks great. That rate is only available over the next six weeks for Sunday, February 15. There are 12 dates with $114 rates. Sheraton Amsterdam Airport at $104 is only for two dates on March 7 and March 14.

SPG Hot Escapes needs a change. Besides the teaser rate shown for hotels often being available for only one or two dates over the next six weeks, the quality of many of the properties offering discount rates is poor for USA hotels.

Offering weekly discount teasers for mostly crappy hotels in the USA does not seem like a smart way to promote Starwood Hotels.

SPG Hot Escapes are prepaid and nonrefundable rates. You must book these hotels by midnight Saturday, February 7 hotel local time.

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