Annual Starwood Hotel Category Adjustments Announced

by on February 20, 2013 · 10 comments

in Starwood

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The past few weeks have been all about hotel points program changes and devaluations, with Hilton and Marriott announcing both individual hotel category changes and the addition of new top-tier categories requiring even more points for redemptions, and Starwood making sweeping changes to its Cash & Points redemptions.

Well, the trend continues with Starwood now announcing its annual hotel category adjustments, which is rarely good news for loyalty program members since more hotels tend to go up in category than down. In a post on Milepoint this morning, Starwood Social Media Specialist Christopher Carman wrote the following:

“We’re making our annual hotel Category adjustments for 2013 and would like to provide you with an advance look at the preliminary list of changes. We want to be sure you are able to maximize the use of your Starpoints, so please review the information to decide if it makes sense to redeem before or after the changes take place on March 5, 2013.

While our Categories remain the same, individual hotels may move between Categories each year. You can click here to see each Category’s Starpoints requirements.

This year the majority of our hotels have stayed the same, but we have a few more hotels moving up than down. To view a list of the upcoming changes, please see the attached PDF. Please note that a select number of additional hotels may be added to the list prior to March 5th.”

You can find the full list of properties in this file: CatChange2013 and for reference, here is the SPG redemption table:

Starpoints Redemptions

There are just 47 hotels moving down by a category, including some interesting ones like the W Istanbul and the landmark Hotel Grande Bretagne in Athens, both of which are dropping from Category 6 down to Category 5.

Staying at the SLS Beverly Hills will cost me an extra 8,000-9,000 points a night now.

Staying at the SLS Beverly Hills will cost me an extra 8,000-9,000 points a night now.

By comparison, over 200 hotels are jumping up a category. The ones that are being raised include a property I frequently stay at, the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills, which was a Category 5 property, but will now be a Category 6, meaning each award night will cost me an extra 8,000-9,000 points. The W Westwood, where I also stay a lot, is staying put in Category 5, so I’ll probably shift more of my stays over there.

The St. Regis Princeville is among the properties jumping to Category 7.

The St. Regis Princeville is among the properties jumping to Category 7.

Four of Starwood’s eleven Hawaii properties – the St. Regis Princeville (which I loved) and the Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas on Kauai, the Moana Surfrider in Waikiki and the Westin Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas on Maui are also jumping categories and the St. Regis and the Kaanapali property will both be top-tier Category 7 properties requiring 30-35,000 Starpoints for an award night, or 15,000 Starpoints + $275 for Cash & Points.

Last year,The Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, Westin Times Square, W New York, and W New York-Downtown all moved up to Category 6, where they’ll remain, but this year, just a few New York City hotels are increasing, including the Sheraton Brooklyn New York Hotel, Aloft New York Brooklyn and Four Points by Sheraton Long Island City/Queensboro Bridge.

Luckily, one of my go-to European properties, the Westin Palace Madrid, isn't changing.

Luckily, one of my go-to European properties, the Westin Palace Madrid, isn’t changing.

One of my other go-to Starwood properties around the world, the Westin Palace in Madrid, appears to be remaining at Category 5 property, and a good value proposition at that requiring just 12,000 Starpoints for rooms that can go for near the $400 mark.

Preemptive Redemption
All in all, this is just a continuation of the devaluation trend I noted in an earlier post today with about 20% of Starwood’s hotels rising a category level, requiring more points for award stays, and devaluing those points we all work (and spend) so hard to earn even further.

My suggestion is to check out the new listings and if you have upcoming travel taking you to a property that’s about to change categories upwards, book your travel plans for this year before March 5 when these go into effect to take advantage of the current rates!

On the bright side, all SPG stays—award or not—count toward elite status, so even if you have to book a property whose category has been adjusted upward, you might still reap some value from your redemption.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Cory Stinebrink

    Boy, the hotel hits just keep on coming. At least I booked my Mardi Gras hotel in NOLA before it jumped up a level.

  • Danielkirwin

    I’m not a fan of the SLS so no lose there. Wonder why W Istanbul dropped.

  • Blue

    Can we stop with the with that spg is the best loyalty program? It takes an insane amount of spend to earn a free night at their good hotels. Sure you can stay at a cheap hotel easy but who of us pay for westins and ws and redeem for cat 1 hotels?

    Time to pick a better hotel value.

  • PSL

    The fact that, for instance, there will still be several midtown Manhattan hotels remaining at Cat 5 makes this much easier to take than the ridiculous Hhonors adjustment which had some properties such as the Doubletree Guest Suites Times Square nearly doubling in points.

  • Slee

    So many purely coincidental hotel reward program devaluations…

  • Jon

    Europe goes largely untouched, which is frankly nice to see. The biggest surprise to me is the Sheraton in my city which is amongst the worst hotels in the city increasing from 2-3 while the MUCH nicer Westin a few hundred yards away stays at a category 4. The Sheraton isn’t worth the 4000 points they’re asking for now.

  • Sahil

    Wow, I wonder what goes on at SPG headquarters. Some of the hotels moving up are really bad (check tripadvisor ratings for 4P Boston Logan for example). The 3 things good about SPG points were:
    1. Cash + Points (going away now with new rates)
    2. Free Nights (going away also with this new category bump)
    3. Airline transfers

    Hopefully someone at SPG has some good news coming our way.

  • Miles To The Wild

    Really glad I cashed in some UR to book Hyatt Regency Maui. You can get the Westin on Priceline for $175-ish plus tax and fees but I like that Hyatt awards include the resort fees.

  • Fv Illefour

    I concur with this. All of the hotels I usually use my points at are jumping up a category. The St. Regis Princeville is worth the 20k pts a night but at 30k it’s not worth it. I don’t understand how they can justify a 50% increase while offering no additional benefit. Even worse, they just keep jacking up their resort fee. I’m pretty happy I didn’t re-up Platinum status with them and chose Hyatt instead. This move right here is more than enough to make me chose Hyatt from now on over SPG properties. Shame too because it was such a good deal for such a long time…

    Bubye SPG

  • Matt N

    The two westins in Tampa Bay and Westin in Orlando are awful. I agree with your statement of some moving up being really bad.

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