Starwood Preferred Guest is known for its high proportion of Starwood Hotels in upper upscale and luxury hotel properties with more than 250 hotels in brands like W Hotels, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridien and Westin around the world in many countries.
Sheraton and Four Points by Sheraton are the workhorse brands of Starwood Hotels as the upper upscale to upper midscale brands with about half of all 1,300 hotels in the Starwood chain. Like horses, some of these hotels are thoroughbreds. Starwood Hotels has a good track record for hotels that are functional and with luck, in a good location for business or tourism.
Two newest brands in the Starwood family are Aloft and Element. These brands saw their debut in the past decade and were the forerunners of what are now being labeled a ‘millennial’ style brand in the 2014 hotel industry with newcomers like Moxy from Marriott and Even at InterContinental Hotels Group. Aloft had pool tables and a bar in an open-space lobby with electrical charging tables for guests over six years ago. Starwood’s Element offers apartment style amenities like a functional kitchen in what remains a very small brand for Starwood in the extended stay market with fewer than 20 hotels.
Starwood Vacation Ownership properties sometimes offer rooms for award nights in certain locations like Colorado ski resorts.
The following is a basic overview of Starwood Preferred Guest hotel stay awards.
Suite 411, Hotel Kämp, Starwood Luxury Collection, Helsinki, Finland
Cash & Points award for 4,800 points + $90 + SPG Platinum member suite upgrade certificate.
Loyalty Traveler Hotel Review: Hotel Kämp Helsinki, Starwood Luxury Collection (3/21/2013)
SPG Award Nights Qualify for Elite Status Member Benefit – Award Stays Earn SPG Elite Qualification Credit as of October 1, 2011. Loyalty Traveler analysis Sep 29, 2011.
This is one of the best changes with Starwood Preferred Guest allowing members to earn elite nights and stays toward Gold elite at 10 stays in a calendar year by using points for standard or cash and points award nights.
SPG Standard Award Nights (7 hotel categories)
- Category 1 = 2,000 points (Friday-Saturday); 3,000 points Sunday to Thursday.
- Category 2 = 3,000 points (Friday-Saturday); 4,000 points Sunday to Thursday;
- Category 3 = 7,000 points.
- Category 4 – 10,000 points.
- Category 5 = 12,000 points (16,000 points for peak-season dates).
- Category 6 = 20,000 points (25,000 points for peak-season dates).
- Category 7* = 30,000 points (35,000 points for peak-season dates).
Note: For category 1 and 2 hotels, some countries with Islamic culture use Thursday and Friday as weekend nights for discount points rate.
Many category 7 hotels are all suites and require double points at 60,000 to 70,000 points per night.
Suite upgrade may be available at any hotel for double the standard award points. This means a category 3 suite award is 14,000 points.
Room Upgrade Award
Room upgrade awards can be a significant cash savings using more points per award night compared to the published rate for an upgraded room.
- Category 1 = 1,000 to 1,500 points.
- Category 2 = 1,000 to 1,500 points.
- Category 3 = 1,000 to 1,500 points.
- Category 4 = 1,000 to 1,500 points.
- Category 5 = 1,000 to 2,750 points.
- Category 6 = 1,000 to 2,750 points.
- Category 7 = 1,000 to 2,750 points.
SPG Cash & Points Award Nights (7 hotel categories)
SPG Cash & Points awards (Starwood website link) can be the best value for your SPG points. These award nights require 50% points of Standard award nights with a cash component. Cash & Points are not always a good value though. Look for a redemption rate at $30 per 1,000 points or more. $50 per 1,000 points is sometimes possible.
One of the advantages of Cash & Points for high category hotels is no peak season rate difference. A category 6 hotel is 25,000 points per night in peak season, yet Cash & Points is only 10,000 points + $180 rather than requiring the normal 50% points. Cash & Points Awards are capacity controlled and may not be available.
Cash & Points Standard Rooms
- Category 1 = 1,500 points + $30.
- Category 2 = 2,000 points + $35.
- Category 3 = 3,500 points + $55.
- Category 4 – 5,000 points + $75.
- Category 5 = 6,000 points + $110.
- Category 6 = 10,000 points + $180.
- Category 7 = 15,000 points + $275.
Cash & Points Upgraded Rooms (award option added March 2013)
- Category 1 = 2,000 – 2,250 points + $50-$60.
- Category 2 = 2,500 – 2,750 points + $55-$65.
- Category 3 = 4,000 – 4,250 points + $65-$75.
- Category 4 – 5,500 – 5,750 points + $95-$105.
- Category 5 = 6,750 – 7,250 points + $135-$150.
- Category 6 = 10,750 – 11,250 points + $210-$230.
- Category 7 = 15,750 – 16,250 points + $290-$315.
Cash & Points Suites (award option added March 2013)
- Category 1 = 3,000 points + $75.
- Category 2 = 4,000 points + $95.
- Category 3 = 7,000 points + $125.
- Category 4 – 10,000 points + $175.
- Category 5 = 12,000 points + $275.
- Category 6 = 20,000 points + $475.
- Category 7 = 30,000 points + $625.
5th Night Free Awards
SPG members get the 5th night free on award stays. This means a 5-night hotel award stay requires points for four nights.
Category 3 hotels at 7,000 points per night is 28,000 points for a 5-night stay instead of 35,000 points.
The free night offered with any Fifth Night Free Award applies only to the fifth consecutive night within the same stay for which that award was ordered. There will be no Starpoints refund or free night credit for any unused portion of a Fifth Night Free Award. The Fifth Night Free Award is only available for category 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 hotels.
SPG Awards Comparison Table
SPG Award Table 2014 version [click image to enlarge]
Starwood Preferred Guest Nights & Flights Awards
SPG Nights and Flights Awards give 50,000 miles and 5 hotel nights at either a category 3 or category 4 hotel depending on award type redeemed.
With Nights & Flights, you can redeem 60,000 Starpoints for 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 3 hotel or resort.
With Nights & Flights II, you can redeem 70,000 Starpoints and receive 50,000 airline miles and five free nights at a Category 4 hotel or resort.
Nights & Flights awards are available for category 3 or category 4 hotels only. This is a major limitation to this SPG award since a large proportion of Starwood Hotels that used to be in category 3 and 4 award nights ten years ago are now in category 5 or 6. The SPG Nights and Flights award terms have not been changed in over a decade despite so many Starwood hotels moving to higher category award levels over that time.
Normally it takes 40,000 Starpoints to exchange into 50,000 airline miles. The combined Nights and Flights award reduces the cost of a hotel award while simultaneously exchanging points into airline miles.
Category 3 Nights & Flights award saves 8,000 points on 5th night free awards at category-3 hotels.
Category 4 Nights & Flights award saves 10,000 points on 5th night free awards at category-4 hotels.
This is the second article in a series of Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty program guide posts.
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. Check out current hotel loyalty program offers across all the major chains in Loyalty Traveler’s monthly hotel promotions guide.