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Starwood Hotel Category Changes Announced for 2015

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Every year, the major hotel chains adjust the award categories their properties fall into, and Starwood has just announced its changes for the coming year (with redemptions starting March 10) via this thread on Milepoint.

The W Paris Opera is one of the properties moving down a category.
The W Paris Opera is one of the properties moving down a category.

Here is what SPG’s Social Media Specialist, Alexandra Baker, had to say:

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. We’re not adding new categories or changing category pricing at this time. Here’s a look at the preliminary list of changes to help you maximize your Starpoints. Please review the changes to decide if you’d like to redeem your Starpoints prior to – or after – the changes take place on March 10, 2015.

Please note that Category adjustments are always subject to change. While we make every attempt to provide you the latest, most accurate information, adjustments may be made before or after the category change date, March 10, 2015.

Click here to view the list of changes.

Click here to view existing hotel categories.

You can find all the hotels changing categories in the links in the announcement above, but here is a redemption chart including outright award nights and cash & points stays for reference:

SPG Redemption Levels

As Sandi noted, over 10% of hotels are moving up categories. Though the bulk are mid-tier properties going from Category 2 or 3 to 3 or 4, there are also quite a few on the higher end of the spectrum moving from 5 to 6 or 6 to 7. Here are some of the interesting ones to note:

  • Regis Abu Dhabi from 5 to 6
  • W Retreat Koh Samui from 6 to 7
  • Regis Punta Mita from 6 to 7
  • Westin Lagunamar in Cancun from 4 to 5
  • Le Parker Méridien Palm Springs from 5 to 6
  • Palace Hotel San Francisco from 5 to 6
  • The Phoenician from 5 to 6
  • The St. Regis San Francisco from 6 to 7
  • Westins in Portland, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis moving from 4 to 5
  • W San Diego from 4 to 5
Want to stay at the W Retreat Koh Samui?
Want to stay at the W Retreat Koh Samui? Book your stay before March 10!

Of the hotels moving down by a category, most are in the middle tiers as well, though here are some standouts:

  • Le Méridien Ile de Maurice from 3 to 2
  • Sheraton Langkawi Beach Resort from 5 to 4
  • Le Méridien Taipei from 6 to 5
  • Le Méridien Vienna from 5 to 4
  • Schloss Fuschle Salzburg from 7 to 6
  • W Paris-Opera from 7 to 6
  • Westin Grand Frankfurt from 5 to 4
  • Hotel Grande Bretagne Athens from 6 to 5
  • Le Méridien Budapest from 4 to 3
  • St. Regis Rome from 7 to 6
  • Hotel National Moscow from 6 to 5
  • Westin Montreal from 5 to 4
  • Westin Kaanapali Ocean Villas from 7 to 6
  • Westin Los Angeles Airport from 4 to 3
  • Westin Riverfront Beaver Creek from 6 to 5

My Thoughts

Overall, just about 20% of the hotels have changed categories, with half of those going up and half going down. I just took a brief glance, but it does not look like there are any dramatic shifts of two categories in either direction.

With major devaluations from several of the major chains in recent years, I think things could have been much worse. The bulk of the changes seem to be in mid-tier categories where the difference between points prices are just a few thousand points, rather than in the upper tiers where the changes can be more dramatic. For instance, a hotel in Category 5 requires 12,000 points whereas a Category 6 hotel requires 20,000 points per night and Category 7 requires 30,000 points per night, so those jumps can really add up.

That said, if you have future travel plans coming up, check the new listings carefully and plot out your travel before March 10 to see if you are staying at affected properties and which rate will be better to book.

I would also look at booking any hotels that are moving from Category 4 to 5 like the Westin Lagunamar in Cancun or the W San Diego since these properties will no longer be eligible for Nights & Flights redemptions (only Category 3 and 4 are). On the plus side, those moving from category 5 to category 4, like the Le Méridien Vienna, will.

Do these changes affect your travel plans? What will your strategy be? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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