I have interspersed totally unrelated photos from my Friday drive to Big Sur between the Starwood promotion Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Friday was one of those perfectly gorgeous days on the California Central Coast with 70 degree temperatures and incredibly clear skies.
Unfortunately there are no Starwood Hotels anywhere near the Monterey Peninsula or Big Sur coast.
St. Regis Monarch Beach is a category 6 Starwood Hotel near the beach at Dana Point in southern California.
Three eligible paid Starwood hotel stays from May 1 through July 31 earn one free weekend night good for any hotel with the exception of 16 hotels in the 1,000 property Starwood Hotels chain. Promotion weekend award nights must be redeemed by December 19, 2010.
1. Registration is required for this promotion by the date of June 30.
Starwood Preferred Guest Registration link. (registration is not active at time of writing.)
2. Reservations booked before promotion registration are eligible for earning free night credits as long as part of the stay falls in the promotion period from May 1-July 31. Only one eligible night is required to make the stay eligible for earning free night credit. For example, a Starwood Hotel stay from April 28-May 2 or July 31 to Aug 2 will count.
3. Earned free nights should be credited to your account within three to five days of your third eligible stay. You can check free weekend night availability online. If a room is available using points, then a free weekend night room should be available. Redemption period begins May 7 and ends December 19, 2010.
4. US and Canada members may redeem free weekend nights by calling 888-625-4988. Elite members should call their dedicated SPG elite line listed on your SPG elite card. Members in other locations should call their regional Starwood reservations center.
5. Definition of weekend: Most locations use Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, however, many countries define the weekend as Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Members may redeem their Free Weekend Night Award for any Friday, Saturday or Sunday except in select Middle East and African countries where redemption will be for any Thursday, Friday or Saturday: Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
7. Free night awards can be combined with paid nights for a multi-night stay. The paid nights will count for earning points and elite credit and qualify towards a free night credit if during the promotional period of May 1-July 31.
For example, a member might stay nine times in May and June and then redeem three free weekend nights Friday through Sunday night in Hawaii during mid-July. Add a paid night for Monday night at the same hotel. The paid night will count as one stay credit towards another free night.
8. Free weekend nights cannot be combined with other award nights for a fifth night free award. For example: SPG allows a member to redeem points for five nights with a 5th night free award. A category 5 hotel at 12,000 points per free night takes only 48,000 points for a fifth night free award. You may combine free weekend nights with additional points for an extended stay, but you will not qualify for a 5th night free award.
In the Hawaii example above, the member could redeem three free weekend nights and then spend another 12,000 points for the Monday night on a four night hotel stay. But you need another 12,000 points for a 5th night.
9. Free Weekend Award nights are not transferrable, but you can book multiple rooms for a single stay. Regular award nights using points are transferrable. For example: I frequently redeem award nights using my points for my parents’ hotel stays. I can’t transfer my free weekend award nights from this promotion to my parents for their stays. But, I can book multiple rooms at a hotel using free weekend night awards for my parents as long as I am also a guest using one of the free weekend night award rooms. (Booking multiple rooms is not actually mentioned in the official SPG promotion FAQ, but I’ll keep it here unless I learn differently.)
10. Free Weekend Award night reservations may be cancelled and re-credited to your account as long as cancellation occurs within the hotel’s cancellation policy window.
Priority Club offered free nights last summer, but the Priority Club primary restriction was no cancellations on free night award bookings. If you cancelled, you lost your free night credit.
Last summer I earned 8 free nights with the SPG free weekend nights promotion and I cancelled several of my free night reservations as I shifted my travel plans around to match the best redemption opportunities.
Pay close attention to the hotel award cancellation window. Some hotels will be day of arrival, most are likely the day before arrival, but some resorts may require as many as seven days before arrival to cancel without penalty.
Last year there was an issue of rack rate cancellation penalties which I think Starwood Hotels addressed after many member complaints. For example, I had a stay at the St. Regis San Francisco that was upgraded to a Metropolitan Suite and my cancellation forfeiture policy was listed as $1,500 per night for the hotel. I wasn’t about to miss that hotel stay as a no-show!
Loyalty Traveler Note: Keep an eye on your account after free weekend nights with incidental spend to be sure the points post. Award stays frequently are not posted by hotels even when there is incidental spending. If your free weekend nights stay does not post and you had incidental spending for restaurant, room service, etc., then call the hotel to get your points posted.
13. Free weekend nights are not valid at these SPG category 7 hotel properties:
- The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort, Punta de Mita, Mexico
- Sunset Key Guest Cottages, a Westin Resort, Key West, FL, USA
- The St. Regis New York, USA
- Santa Marina Resort & Villas, Mykonos, Greece
- Mystique, Santorini, Greece
- Hotel Cala di Volpe, Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Italy
- Cervo Hotel, Costa Smeralda Resort, Porto Cervo, Italy
- Hotel Pitrizza, Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Italy
- Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda, Porto Cervo, Italy
- The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort, Spain
- Hotel President Wilson, Geneva, Switzerland
- The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, French Polynesia
- Le Méridien Bora Bora, French Polynesia
- The St. Regis Bali Resort, Indonesia
- W Retreat & Spa-Maldives, Maldives
- Pine Cliff Residence, Albufeira, Portugal (category 6 all suites hotel)
Pine Cliff residence is an all suites category 6 hotel, but free weekend nights are only valid for standard hotel rooms.
Loyalty Traveler Example of a Hotel Hop
One of the most basic questions asked about these kinds of promotions based on hotel stays is:
“Can I check-out and then check back in the same hotel with a different reservation to get two stays?”
No you can’t.
Consecutive days at the same hotel will count as the same hotel stay regardless of check-in and check-out. The hotel hop is a common strategy. Last year I earned several free nights from San Francisco Bay Area hotel stays. Here are some examples of what I did.
- Westin St. Francis, Friday night
- The Palace, Luxury Collection, Saturday night.
These hotels are about three blocks apart in downtown San Francisco. Checking out and checking in to a new hotel wasted about an hour of time, but the benefit of a free night at the St. Regis San Francisco after two stays made the mid-day hotel change worthwhile. This year it takes three stays for a free weekend night.
In January this year I stayed at the Grand Hyatt San Francisco on a Thursday night, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Friday night, and back to the Grand Hyatt on Saturday night. I earned three hotel stay credits.
These are examples of hotel hopping and perfectly acceptable for maximizing hotel stay credits for the free night promotions.
Another strategy is checking into a hotel and leaving. I have also done this strategy of checking in, going up to the room and snapping a couple of photos and picking up some soap and shampoo, and then leaving the hotel. Hotels require you to check-in, but not necessarily check-out. I have always received stay credit and I have never been charged extra for not properly checking out.
Feel free to leave a comment to ask any additional questions not covered in this post.