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Today Starwood announced their 2015 award chart category adjustments. The best news is that the award chart itself is not changing. This means there are no new categories being added and no changes to award category pricing.
However, like each year, there are hotels that are changing category based on the average rate that hotel pulls in on cash. It doesn’t really mean the hotel got “nicer” or “worse”, it just likely means they are going more or less on average for the rooms each night. This is why you will often see several hotels in a given area all going up, or all going down.
Just over 22% of hotels are changing category; of these, 10.49% are moving up and 11.78% are moving down including some favorites such as The St. Regis Rome, The Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas, Maui, W Paris – Opera, and others.
The new prices go into effect on March 10th, so you will certainly want to get in any bookings for the next 18 months for properties going up in category before then. If you are staying at a property going down in category you can rebook (if there is award availability) after March 10th at the lower rate. They will not automatically be refunding the points difference for hotels going down in category.
Obviously you will want to look at the full list to see if any of the changes impact your upcoming travel plans, but here are a few properties changing categories that jumped out at me because they may be of particular interest to points collectors or families. To have a good understanding of the different pricing for each category, you can head here to see a full list of SPG category prices. In general, categories 1-5 are all within a few thousand points of each other, but to get from a 5 to a 6 or a 6 to a 7, you are talking up to a 10,000 point per night swing.
Sampling of Hotels Increasing in SPG Points:
First, the bad news. Here are some interesting/popular properties that are increasing in SPG points cost on March 10th. Most of the hotels going up in category are located here in the United States.
The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun 4 to a 5
The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort 6 to a 7
Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel & Casino 3 to a 4
Four Points by Sheraton College Station 2 to a 3
Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach 3 to a 4
Palace Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Francisco 5 to a 6
Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel 3 to a 4
Sheraton Park Hotel at the Anaheim Resort 3 to 4
Sheraton Suites Orlando Airport 2 to a 3
The Liberty, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Boston 5 to a 6
The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale 5 to a 6
The St. Regis Houston 5 to a 6
The St. Regis San Francisco 6 to a 7
The Westin Austin at The Domain 4 to a 5
W Boston 5 to a 6
W San Diego 4 to a 5
Sampling of Hotels Decreasing in SPG Points Price:
There are some good properties in Europe, Hawaii, and even a couple ski destinations that are going down in points price and are certainly worth a mention and a look. China and India are also seeing many of the SPG properties decreasing in category.
Le Méridien Vienna 5 to a 4
W Paris – Opéra 7 to a 6
Le Méridien Munich 5 to a 4
Vedema, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini 7 to a 6
Le Méridien Budapest 4 to a 3
The St. Regis Rome 7 to a 6
Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort 3 to a 2
Sheraton Madrid Mirasierra Hotel & Spa 4 to a 3
Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss Hotel 6 to a 5
Sheraton Heathrow Hotel 3 to a 2
Le Westin Montreal 5 to a 4
Le Westin Resort & Spa, Tremblant, Quebec 5 to a 4
Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa 6 to a 5
Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley 5 to a 4 – now a killer deal for Nights and Flights!
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas 7 to a 6
The Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas 7 to a 6
The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali 6 to a 5
The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek Mountain 6 to a 5
Summary of SPG Annual Category Adjustments:
I don’t think this list is bad at all. Of course there are some properties on there that I hate to see increase in points price, but I do understand the logic behind many of the changes. For example, when I went to Boston last fall hotel rates were totally insane, so I’m not shocked at all to see the Boston properties increasing in category.
I am happy to see some properties in Europe come down, as well as some Hawaiian properties, and having the Vista Villas ski property in Beaver Creek drop to a Category 4 really opens up some great redemption options there for a family looking for a ski holiday.
How do the SPG annual category changes look to you? Remember you just have a couple weeks to get in your bookings before the new categories take place!