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Since the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express temporarily increased their sign-up bonuses to the highest sign-up bonus level of 35,000 points each after hitting the spending requirements through April 5, 2017, I want to highlight some ways you can really stretch those points as some stand-out SPG middle tier properties.
I have stayed at some truly over-the-top amazing SPG properties over the years, but not all of them are great options on points when if you aren’t “points rich” since the upper tiers can get astronomically pricy, even on points. Fortunately the SPG chain and award chart aren’t strong only at the upper tiers, but there are some very nice options at the lower and mid-tiers. Those SPG Category 4 and sometimes Category 5 and properties and lower are where you should probably focus your point redemption attention if you are working with somewhere in the neighborhood of 40,000 – 80,000 SPG points via the co-branded card sign-up bonuses.
Stay on Disney Property at the Walt Disney World Dolphin
I know there are some people who don’t like Disney, but many families of all types, ages, and sizes love Disney and SPG makes staying on Disney property pretty easy and affordable via the Walt Disney World Dolphin property. This property is not only very easy walking distance to Epcot and a manageable walking distance to Disney Hollywood Studios, but it is also in the SPG network, as is its neighbor the Swan. The Dolphin is a Category 4 SPG property which means it is just 10,000 points per night or 40,000 points for five nights. The Swan is a Category 5 property, so it will cost you a few more points per night than the Dolphin.
Since going to Disney for five nights is a relatively common timeframe, I think this property is not only a great SPG redemption value (especially during peak travel times), but it is the perfect property for a SPG Nights and Flights package which awards you five hotel nights and 50,000 airline miles for just 70,000 total SPG points.
The Dolphin is a great way to get most of the perks of staying on Disney property and still maximize your points instead of opening up your wallet.
Ski at the Westin Whistler
Similarly to Disney trips, family ski trips can get pretty expensive in a hurry. Not only that, but the temptation to save on lodging costs by staying away from the mountain can really backfire when you have younger kids who get tired, take breaks, may not be able to ski all day, can’t always manage carrying their own gear, etc. I’m a huge fan of using hotel points to stay on a ski mountain whenever possible, and the Westin Whistler is a great option on SPG points since it is just steps away from a main gondola and ski school, but it costs as few as 12,000 SPG points per night.
While I love using long weekends to sneak away to the mountains, I also think that five nights is a great length of time for a ski trip as it is long enough for everyone to start to truly feel comfortable on their skis and start making some progress, while leaving room for downtime and other winter activities between the hardcore ski days. We are actually booked for five nights at the Westin Whistler using just 48,000 SPG points when paid rates would literally cost thousands of dollars and been totally out of our price range.
Stay on or Near Colorado Ski Resorts
Not to beat the ski idea to death, but while I think the Westin Whistler is a great opportunity, it isn’t the only stand out SPG ski properties available at the mid-tiers of the SPG award chart. Some other solid options to consider are:
Westin Snowmass – ski in/out property at Aspen Snowmass that doesn’t get the best reviews for being luxurious, but the location is phenomenal to the mountain and ski school. I hope to visit this property next year during ski season. This hotel ranges from 12,000 – 16,000 SPG points per night, but if you book early enough it is pretty easy to get the 12,000 point rate.
Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas – these villas are near Beaver Creek and go for as low as 12,000 points per night for a Studio Villa with no resort fee! Best of all, you can still use the amenities at the more expensive neighboring Westin Riverfront Resort while staying in the villas.
Sheraton Steamboat Resort – this hotel is ski-in/out in Steamboat Springs with a location that couldn’t be more convenient to the action. It starts at 12,000 SPG points per night and soon the neighboring “villa” property will also start at 12,000 points per night.
Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas Vail Valley – I haven’t stayed here, but this property is a Category 4 near the Beaver Creek mountain and this means it goes for just 10,000 points per night. This is another situation where you could use the Nights and Flights package for just 70,000 SPG points to net five award nights and 50,000 airline miles.
Westin Grand Cayman – my one exception on this list beyond a Category 5 is the Westin Grand Cayman. It is a Category 6 property in family friendly spot on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman. At 20,000 points per night with the last award night free, a five night stay will cost you 80,000 points at 16,000 points per night (plus resort fee). This is a ton of points, but once the hotel finishes its big renovation (hopefully later in 2017), the inside of this hotel should match the beautiful ocean views outside. This property is on my own of places to use SPG points in the near future.
Westin Puntacana – beautiful ocean views at a reasonable SPG points price are possible at the Westin Puntacana for just 10,000 SPG points per night, or if you want to stretch your points, you could also spend just 5,000 points per night + $75 on a cash and points stay.
What SPG properties in the middle or lower tiers are your favorite places to stretch your points?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.