Assessment of SPG Category Changes

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With the Club Carlson award chart changes announced yesterday and the Starwood Preferred Guest changes that were announced today, I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.  Yes, some hotels are getting more expensive on points, but neither of these changes included an adjustment to the award chart itself the way that Hyatt did earlier this year or HHonors did last year.  The SPG changes announced today impact just 20% of hotels, and of these 56% are moving down and 44% are moving up in category. This is a normal type or realignment that happens each year around this time.

The SPG changes take place on March 4, 2014, so you have a couple of weeks to lock in an advance reservation at the current rates in the event the hotel you want is going up in category.  You can view a full list of the changes here, but I will highlight some of the changes that jump out at me as being potentially more interesting than others.

Award Chart Summary (see full award chart here):

Category 1: 3,000 points per night (weekends 2,000)

Category 2: 4,000 points per night (weekends 3,000)

Category 3: 7,000 points per night

Category 4: 10,000 points per night

Category 5: 12,000 – 16,000 points per night

Category 6: 20,000 – 25,000 points per night

Category 7: 30,000 – 35,000 points per night


Sampling of Hotels Decreasing in Category:

Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City (2 to 1)

Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort (3 to 2)

Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls (3 to 2)

Sheraton At The Falls Hotel, Niagara Falls (3 to 2)

The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta (3 to 2)

Four Points by Sheraton Toronto Airport (3 to 2)

Four Points by Sheraton Destin-Fort Walton Beach (4 to 3)

Wildwood Snowmass (5 to 4)

The St. Regis Beijing (6 to 5)

The Westin Tokyo (6 to 5)

Hotel National, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Moscow (6 to 5)


Sampling of Hotels Increasing in Category:

Sheraton Garden Grove – Anaheim South Hotel (2 to 3)

Four Points by Sheraton Munich Olympiapark (3 to 4)

Sheraton Anchorage Hotel & Spa (3 to 4)

Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter (3 to 4)

Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon / Vail Valley (4 to 5)

Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach (4 to 5)

The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa (4 to 5)

The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas, Beaver Creek Mountain (5 to 6)

W San Francisco (5 to 6)

Sheraton Waikiki (5 to 6)

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (5 to 6)

The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapa (5 to 6)

W Austin (5 to 6)

The St. Regis Rome (6 to 7)

Summary and Analysis:

It is always sad to see hotels you like go up in price, but in general these changes are mild.  The ones that hurt the most are hotels jumping from 5 to 6 or 6 to 7.  I would certainly pay special attention to those hotels to see if you might want to lock some advance reservations in now.  The Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas in Avon were one of the very best family friendly ski deals out there, so I would also pay attention to that one going from a 4 to a 5 to see if you can lock something in now.  As a Category 4, it is eligible for Nights and Flights, but that option will go away as a Category 5.  Wildwood Snowmass going down from a 5 to a 4 will make it an even better deal and make Nights and Flights an option at that ski property.

The SPG properties in Hawaii are almost all now very expensive, which is sad to see.  Many of the SPG Hawaii properties increased last year, so a continuation of this trend I suppose is not surprising, but a good reason to lock some stuff in now if you can.  If you want a family trip to Niagara Falls then those options will now be very affordable – especially on the weekends at just 3,000 points per night.

I’ll be making a few speculative bookings ahead of the March 4th changes and encourage you to consider doing this same.  What do you think of the overall changes?

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  1. Not much of an impact to me personally and I appreciate at least the notice (cough, cough, Wyndham). I mean most people generally like to gripe and whine about any kind of changes, but it’s just the facts of life that hotels are going to have to change categories occasionally.

    I agree that Four Points Orlando at a Category 1 looks like a possible good deal – looks pretty nice for only 3000 starpoints (2000 on weekends)

    • Gabriel, indeed but this is the villas. I don’t see the hotel listed. The villas were a 6 in 2012 went back down to a 5 in 2013 and are now going back up to a 6. The hotel stayed a 5 the whole time…unless I’m missing something.

  2. saw an interesting perspective… looks like therewardboss uses cat 2 hotels for maintaining plat. never considered doing this, but i guess if anyone has issues meeting plat 50 this year or next, would be good idea to look for cat 1-2 hotels near you that are going up, make speculative bookings for the weekends and simply cancel when the time comes.

    here is the article:

  3. upon further review…i’m no longer as mad…but it’s still disappointing. it appears that the Westin BC will remain a cat 5 while the Villas go up to a 6. That actually makes sense. I had always wondered why the Sheraton was a “condo” style (nicer, IMO) and yet the Westin was “hotel” style yet the Westin was a cat higher. Well, no more I suppose. Still smarts…

    and sorry about the multiple comments. you can tell that i’m VERY involved with this devaluation.

  4. SPG credit cards are/were pushed ad nauseum by bloggers for a long time like they were the second coming. I assume it was because of easy affiliate $$$, still way too much fawning. I got one but I’ve been waiting for it do something amazing like make dinner or clean the house, but alas it just sits there staring back at me. The 30,000 points are nice but not mindblowing. Now it will be interesting how the bloggers will be spinning the card with the latest devaluations, Mommy points excluded.

  5. Is it possible to make a speculative booking if I don’t have enough points now, but I plan to earn them before the stay? Was hoping to visit Rome for our 20th anniversary next year, but I only have 35000 points at the moment 🙁

  6. Kent, that card gets the most attention when the bonus is increased to 30k (which has happened once a year the last few years). The points it earns are still some of the most valuable out there, and SPG points are hard to earn, so it really is a great card. That said, I’m sure it can get over-emphasized from time to time, but it belongs in the discussion of top cards to be sure.
    Julie, Hyatt let me do that before, but I’m not sure if SPG does.

  7. Well, I have to post it somewhere:


    The Sheraton Maui going from a 5 to a 6, and thus 12,000 to 20,000 points per night really sucks. A 67% increase! Sure the dollar rates are going up, but not that much! A Family Suite last September was around $526 per night booked 6 months ahead, and is now $639 per night. So it has gone up about 20%. Not even close to 67%.

    Anyway, with the 5th night free, this means every 5 nights goes up from 48,000 points low season to 80,000 points. Yikes. A 10-day stay now needs 160,000 points. Sure its doable but now it starts to REQUIRE some manufactured spend. Not just 50+ nights in regular SPG hotels during the year.

    In fact, by the time I hit my 50 nights this year, the offer for 35% off a redemption won’t be useful, since it would just compensate me for the increase since I booked the vacation. Yow.

    Anyway, I guess the Westin Puerto Vallarta going down is nice. Not sure its adequate compensation though. Plus their Wi-Fi really really sucks.

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