This post looks at 139 Starwood Hotels being reassigned to a lower hotel award category on March 4, 2014. Fewer points for a hotel night is a welcome change, but are these hotels in places you travel? Or places you actually want to travel?
State of the Globe or 60 seconds on hotel economic conditions
The hotel industry executives all love the USA this year. Seems like yesterday when the articles in 2008 decalred America the land of poor returns and executives patted each other on the back for all the hotel projects they had in the pipeline outside the USA.
The main push following the 2008 recession in the USA was a focus by the hotel industry on the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Economists look at these places with booming middle class growth and think there is money to be made in consumer goods. Brazil and Russia have Olympics and World Cup. Tourists need hotels.
The major hotel chains concentrated growth in these places. Six years later, growth has slowed in Asia, regional conflicts are hurting tourism across much of Africa, Thailand, Ukraine. Many of the hotels that were built in the past decade are hitting the boom and bust bumps that hotel ownership brings. Sochi, Russia has plenty of hotel rooms now. Radisson, the largest of the chain brands in Sochi, lowered the reward night cost for many hotels there effective March 15, 2014. SPG lowers the Hotel National, a Luxury Collection property in Moscow, from category 6 to category 5.
Starwood Hotels award category reassignment = 139 down, 111 up on March 4, 2014
There are global factors and local situations affecting Starwood Hotels and the hotel industry as a whole, resulting in 139 hotel properties dropping in award category for 2014 compared to 111 hotels rising in award category effective March 4, 2014.
In the table above I highlighted specific properties in light white that looked like far better values once the hotel award category drops on March 4, 2014.
Here are some facts, figures and opinions on the Starwood changes:
- 21 hotels in the USA are dropping one category. This compares with 73 Starwood Hotels rising one category in the USA.
- 48 hotels are dropping category in China.
- 21 hotels are dropping category in India.
- 10 hotels are dropping category in Japan.
- 77 of 139 hotels (55%) lowering award category level are in 3 countries of China, India and Japan.
- 20 hotels drop down to category 1.
- Sheraton Shanghai Waigaoqiao Hotel drops from category 3 to category 1.
- Six hotels drop from category 6 to category 5.
Australia sees two hotels drop in key cities of Sydney and Perth. I have fond memories from Four Points Darling Harbour, Sydney where Keely and I stayed two nights in July 2003 as part of a promotion stay to earn 50,000 Starpoints with five different Starwood brand stays in Asia-Pacific. Australia was the only country with five different brands. Four Points gave me a one bedroom suite with brilliant views and was the only one of five hotels that did not downgrade us in room category for Kelley’s SPG Gold member stay. We earned about 110,000 points for $1,600 or so in hotel spend while staying 10 nights at five hotels in Australia.
Cambodia has Le Meridien Angkor dropping down to category 2. That makes award stays about half of what they are now.
China and India see a number of hotels drop from 3 to 2. India has a couple of ITC Hotels in Luxury Collection that are real bargain award rates.
Category 3 hotels cost 28,000 points for 5 nights and 42,000 points for 7 nights. When these hotels drop to category 2, then they are 4,000 points per night for 5 nights and 3,000 points per night on weekends. A 5-night stay ranges from 18,000 to 20,000 points and for a 7-night stay you spend 26,000 points. There is a big drop in award rate for new category 2 hotels.
Westin Turtle Bay Mauritius is another good deal when it drops from category 5 to 4. Here is an article I posted earlier this month on that property.
Bali and Panama both see four hotels drop category. I guess out that all praying finally had an impact on reducing the Bali hotel award categories. When I stayed at The Laguna Nusa Dua in 2003, the hotel award category was 3 and the adjacent Westin was SPG category 2. Next week, both hotels will drop down to category 4.
In the USA, there are three big name hotels dropping category. Le Parker Meridien in Palm Springs, California drops out of orbit from category 6 to category 5 if desert sun is your scene. Wildwood Snowmass is a new resort within a couple miles of Aspen, Colorado and drops from category 5 to 4. Considering the expense of St. Regis Aspen, this is a good alternative hotel for the area. Two Starwood properties in Avon, near Vail go up in category.
W Minneapolis – The Foshay is the original skyscraper of downtown Minneapolis when the 32 floor Foshay building opened in 1929. I visited the hotel a couple times last week. Great W vibe in a downtown location and a 27th floor bar that is definitely worth an excursion to see the layout within the Washington Monument inspired structure.
So more hotels dropped this year than went up in SPG award category. Although if you are not in China, India, Indonesia or Japan, the changes might not offer much for you.
For those of us in the USA, only 21 hotels dropped while 73 hotels went up in SPG award cost.
Might be a good time to travel to China and India to take advantage of the low award rates while they last. Those growing middle class incomes in the BRIC countries will likely mean a resurgence of growth and higher category hotels in years to come.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.