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.


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.

SPG 2015-3-10-cat1-down-AP-region.png

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.

SPG Hot Escapes banner

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Last week I checked out St. Regis Deer Valley while I was in Park City for the Sundance Film Festival. The location of St. Regis Deer Valley is less than two miles south of historic Main Street, Park City. Free bus service is frequent between the hotel and town.

First impressions of the hotel were great as someone arriving on the Park City bus. There is a large ski area parking lot at the base of Deer Valley Resort. The first step to reaching St. Regis Deer Valley Resort is walking across the street to the funicular for a self-starting ride up the hillside.

St Regis funicular-1

The funicular ride is missed if you arrive at the hotel in a car with the road wrapping around the opposite side of the hill to the hotel entrance.

Funicular base camp is the first step into luxury at St. Regis.

St. Regis funicular lodge     St. Regis funicular-2

The funicular platform is on the second floor level. There are stairs and an elevator. At the top of the stairs is a big dog sculpture.

St Regis big dog     St Regis funicular room

The second floor room at the top of the stairs is one of many spaces in St. Regis Deer Valley where a person can sit and relax in the hotel. And I had not even reached the hotel yet. For that, I needed to get on the funicular.

St Regis funicular sign     St Regis Funicular seat

I rode two funiculars in 2014 on Mount Floyen in Bergen, Norway and in Dubuque, Iowa where the funicular design was from the 1903 Chicago World’s Fair and I sat on a wooden seat. St. Regis funicular is state of the art.

St Regis funicular buttons

The St. Regis Deer Valley funicular is self-starting. Later on as I sat in a car waiting to come down the hillside, people in the car wondered when it would start? The car starts when you press and hold the Start button. Duh. There are two cars on separate tracks.

St Regis Deer Valley view

At the top of the funicular, the car doors open directly into the hallway with the St. Regis bar and outdoor patio entrances nearby.

St Regis Funicular-2

The hotel location and funicular entrance to the hotel impressed me. Can you tell? Ten pictures and I have not even shown the hotel yet.

St Regis Deer Valley, Park City Utah

St. Regis Deer Valley has 181 guest rooms, including 66 suites. Rooms start at 410-435 sq. ft. for Superior category and 440-485 Sq. ft. for Deluxe and Grand Deluxe rooms. That sounds kind of small for luxury hotels where rooms tend to average 500 to 550 sq. ft. The main suite categories are Astor Suite at 800 sq. ft., Deluxe and Luxury Suites average 900 sq. ft.

The hotel was packed. I did not visit any rooms. I stayed over an hour at the property checking out different areas.

The outdoor dining area was popular with the mid-40s brilliant sunshine of a January winter day about to change with clouds over the mountain peaks of the Wasatch Range.

St Regis patio dining

The view from the patio deck is the best view I saw while in Park City.

St Regis pool-2

Skiers walked from the patio deck to the slope. I read about ski in – ski out hotels in the descriptions of Park City lodging. This hotel is where I saw that kind of skiing.

St Regis skiers

There is a large ice sculpture off the patio dining area. The lighting was not conducive to a good photo.

The hotel from the front entrance looks like it was carved out of the mountain.

St Regis building

West facing rooms seemed like they have a better view looking over the pool and ski slopes. The other side of the hotel offers grand vistas into the distance, but far less sunshine in winter.

I walked by the main restaurant J&G Grill and saw the table that I had seen from instagram photo earlier in the day. Brian Kelly was at St. Regis during Sundance while I was at the Hyatt Escala Lodge. I thought he was showing a table from his suite.

St Regis grand dining

I was surprised that staff were friendly and welcoming about letting me take photos at St. Regis Deer Valley.

St Regis wine vault

Several times at St. Regis San Francisco I have been stopped by security from taking photographs in the hotel, even when staying as a guest at the hotel.

St Regis dining room

This is one of the private rooms in J&G Grill. The main area of the restaurant was busy with diners. The windows of the restaurant look out to the best views from the hotel location, the same view seen in the pool photo.

There is a Remède Spa at the hotel. I did not visit the spa. I picked up some 2.4 oz. shampoo and conditioner Remède products from some luxury hotel stay last year. I can’t remember which hotel.

Remede Spa

The St. Regis Deer Valley main lobby is larger than Waldorf Astoria and much larger than Hyatt Escala Lodge. My impression is St. Regis had the most inviting and comfortable lobby for hanging out of the hotels I saw.

St Regis Deer Valley lobby-1     St Regis lobby-2

There were several seating spaces, a couple of fireplaces and a library room.

St Regis lobby fireplace     St Regis library

The front of the hotel reveals why I said the St. Regis looks like it was built into a cut on the mountain.

St. Regis retaining wall

The north side of the hotel is a large wall.

St Regis hotel front

The views are not as attractive from the front of the hotel on lower facing floors.

St Regis east view

Some rooms on the east side, front entrance to the hotel will have this view. The west side offers the better views.

St Regis entrance

St. Regis Deer Valley, Park City Utah is a luxury hotel. This category 7 SPG property will set you back 30,000 points or 35,000 points in peak season. I was surprised to see the hotel was not peak season rates for Sundance Film Festival. Although, the published rates were priced like peak season rates.

Midweek rates next week are $1,297 per night after tax for a Deluxe room.

Rates for a Luxury Suite are $1,700 per night after tax for a midweek stay in late February.

There are only 9 dates available today for points in February and March and no more than two consecutive nights during that period. That will put you into a Superior room. There are no Cash & Points dates available.

St. Regis Deer Valley is a fine looking resort. The St. Regis property is currently ranked #9 of 58 Park City hotels on Locals I spoke with mentioned Montage Deer Valley (#2 TripAdvisor) and Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley (#4 TripAdvisor) as two other must-see hotels in the area. I did not make it to those two other hotels.

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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

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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