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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express, Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
Now through October 19, 2016, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express and the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card are offering a sign-up bonus of two free nights at Category 1-5 Starwood properties rather than the usual 25,000 points. To qualify for this offer, you’ll need to spend $3,000 on the personal card within the first three months from account opening, and $5,000 in the first three months on the business card.
As discussed in our post highlighting this current offer, the two free nights aren’t necessarily more valuable than the standard 25,000-point sign-up bonus, especially if you were to use the two nights at a lower-level hotel where cash rates are low. However, if you can maximize the two free nights by redeeming them at an in-demand property where room costs are high, you’ll be getting some great value. (Note that you cannot redeem these free nights at a Marriott hotel.)
In this post, I’ll highlight 10 of the best Category 5 Starwood hotels where you can put the two free nights to use. While there some gems in lower tiers, these properties tend to have the highest nightly rates, therefore getting you the most value per free night.
If you already have one or both of these cards and therefore can’t qualify for the bonus of two free nights, you could consider redeeming Starpoints at these properties instead. A free night at a Category 5 hotel will set you back just 12,000 – 16,000 points per night, depending on the specific property and time of year. In addition, SPG gives you the fifth night free on all award redemptions. This would allow you to book a five-night stay at these properties for just 48,000 points.
For this analysis, I looked at rates for the month of October and tried to provide both the lowest and highest possible value you’d get from a one-night redemption at each property. I’ll also highlight whether the individual hotel would charge 12,000 or 16,000 points for the free night. In some cases, the lower end fell below TPG’s most recent valuations, which pegged Starpoints at 2.5 cents apiece. However, this typically only applied to a select handful of dates, with the majority of free nights giving you incredible value from both the new sign-up bonus and on standard redemptions.
So… what are the best Category 5 options for free nights? Here’s the list, in no particular order:
1. Le Méridien Tahiti
The first property on the list is Le Méridien Tahiti, located on the west side of the main island in French Polynesia just a short drive from the airport. The resort boasts just 149 rooms and seven suites, with standard accommodations starting at 463 square feet and including amenities like private terraces and a separate bath and shower. Grab a bite to eat or drink at one of four on-site restaurants restaurants and bars, and relax by the resort’s sand-bottom lagoon pool. You’ll have access to an on-property spa and can also utilize numerous complimentary activities, including snorkeling, kayaking, beach volleyball and tennis. The hotel can also arrange numerous tours and activities outside the boundaries of the resort, a great way to experience the natural beauty of the island.
Room rates in October are consistently 38,055 XPF (~$356) per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $712. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 Starpoints per night, giving you a redemption value of 3 cents per point.
2. The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland
If you’re planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest, you can’t go wrong with the Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Portland, Oregon. Situated next to Pioneer Square in the heart of the city and just steps from multiple light rail line stations, the property is an ideal launchpad for activities around town. The 331 guest rooms and suites are adorned with contemporary art from local artists and feature plush bedding, twice-daily maid service and bathrobes and slippers. On-site dining options include Urban Farmer Steakhouse in the hotel’s atrium along with Departure, an Asian-themed restaurant on the roof, the latter of which provides two outdoor decks and stunning views of the city. You can even bring along your pet and only be subject to a $30 cleaning fee at the end of your stay.
Room rates in October start at $286.98 but climb as high as $797.41 per night making the new sign-up bonus worth $573.96 – $1,594.82. Free night redemptions will set you back 16,000 Starpoints per night, giving you a redemption value of 1.8 – 5 cents per point.
3. St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya
SPG’s Category 5 list includes six St. Regis properties, and I’d put the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya as the best of the bunch. Thanks to the hotel’s prime location in the heart of Moscow, you’re just a short walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. The standard (Superior) rooms start at 323 square feet and blend classical decor with updated amenities like mini0bars and interactive flat-screen TVs. The on-site Iridium Spa provides an array of treatments along with a gorgeous indoor pool, and you can enjoy contemporary Italian cuisine at A Tavola or light snacks at the luxuriously appointed Orlov Lobby Bar & Lounge. Don’t forget the various traditions of the St. Regis brand, including the hotel’s twist on the Bloody Mary (the Red Maria), afternoon tea and the evening champagne sabrage.
Room rates in October start at 28,586 RUB (~$440.50) but climb as high as $44,521 RUB (~$686) per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $881 – $1,372. Free night redemptions will set you back 16,000 Starpoints for most of October, giving you a redemption value of 2.75 – 4.3 cents per point.
4. The Westin St. John Resort
If you’re looking for a beach getaway a little closer to home, consider a stay at the Westin St. John Resort in the US Virgin Islands. Though getting there involves a taxi and ferry ride, you’ll be glad you made the trek thanks to the array of amenities right on site. Situated on a pristine stretch of beach on Great Cruz Bay on the island of St. John, the hotel boasts just 93 rooms, all of which include Westin Heavenly bedding and bath amenities plus private patios or balconies. While you will have to pay a $40 resort fee on award stays, that’ll include on-property transportation, island shopping trips, many fitness activities and beach/pool umbrellas. You’ll have access to two on-site restaurants plus a casual marketplace for a quick bite, and the resort spa and water sports desk will ensure that you’ll stay as relaxed and busy during your stay as you want.
Room rates in October start at $313.88 and climb as high as $325.13 per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $627.76 – $650.26. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 Starpoints per night, giving you a redemption value of 2.6 – 2.7 cents per point.
5. The Old Clare Hotel, a Member of Design Hotels
The Starwood Preferred Guest program has been adding more and more Design Hotels to its portfolio since it first announced the partnership back in November 2015, and a great (very recent) addition to Category 5 is the Old Clare Hotel in Sydney, Australia. Located in the Chippendale neighborhood, the hotel occupies a former pub and the buildings of the Carlton United Breweries and includes just 62 rooms and suites. Each standard (Connell) room is unique and boasts high ceilings and a blend of vintage furniture and modern accompaniments. Choose from three restaurants plus a rooftop bar and pool, though you’ll do well to venture out and experience the young, hip environs immediately surrounding the property.
Room rates in October start at AU$299 (~$225) and climb as high as AU$709 (~$534) per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $450 – $1,068. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 Starpoints per night, giving you a redemption value of 1.9 – 4.45 cents per point.
6. THE US GRANT, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
The sixth hotel on the list is also a blend of the old and new world. THE US GRANT first opened its doors back in October 1910 and has withstood the test of time (including Prohibition, no small feat for a hotel in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter). While the standard rooms aren’t massive, they do feature 9-foot ceilings and a mixture of French and Native American art that complements the vintage furnishings and luxurious marble bathroom. The on-property Grant Grill serves lunch and dinner, and you can grab a pre-dinner drink in the Lobby Lounge. Of course, you’ll also have easy access to the Gaslamp’s numerous restaurants and entertainment options just steps from the hotel.
Room rates in October start at $258.24 and climb as high as $540.17 per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $516.48 – $1,080.34. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 Starpoints per night, giving you a redemption value of 2.15 – 4.5 cents per point.
7. Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove
If you really want to get away from it all, consider a trip to the Seychelles. I visited back in 2013 and had an incredible time, and if you don’t want to deal with an expensive transfer to another island, Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove is a terrific option. Situated on the northwest corner of Mahé, the resort is in a great location for relaxing on the picturesque Beau-Vallon Beach. The standard (Superior) rooms check-in at 377 square feet and boast ocean views from the private balcony or terrace along with a separate bath and shower and minibar. You have two on-site restaurants and two bars on site to enjoy, and the on-property Zen Spa provides an array of luxurious treatments to help you really enjoy your time in paradise.
Room rates in October start at €360.53 (~$403) and climb as high as €396.58 (~$443) per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $806 – $886. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 Starpoints per night (after October 10), giving you a redemption value of 3.35 – 3.7 cents per point.
8. The Westin Dublin
Another terrific Category 5 SPG property is The Westin Dublin, a hotel TPG himself visited back in 2012. Occupying a building dating back to the 1800s, the Westin is ideally located in the heart of the city, placing many attractions (including Dublin Castle and St. Stephen’s Green) within easy walking distance. Despite the age of the building, all of the rooms have been recently refurbished with modern furnishings like Westin Heavenly Beds and deep-buttoned leather headboards. Two lounges plus a relaxed brasserie give you a few options for eating and drinking on the property, or you can indulge in a spa treatment in the comfort of your own room.
Room rates in October start at €264.60 (~$295.50) and climb as high as €338.10 (~$377.50) per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $591 – $755. Free night redemptions will set you back 16,000 points through October 10 and 12,000 points thereafter, giving you a redemption value of 1.84 – 3.15 cents per point.
9. Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buenos Aires
If your travels take you to South America this fall or winter (spring and summer down there), consider a stay at the Park Tower in Buenos Aires. Situated in the heart of the city, the hotel has seen its fair share of celebrities over the years thanks to its beautiful decor and central location. Standard (Deluxe) rooms are a sprawling 420 square feet, including a desk, sitting area and Italian marble bathrooms. The elegant St. Regis Restaurant serves gourmet cuisine in a Winter Garden-style setting, though you’re also in a perfect location for exploring the nearby dining and tourist attractions, including Plaza San Martin, just a three-minute walk away.
Room rates in October start at $359.79 and climb as high as $455.35 per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $719.58 – $910.70. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 points per night, giving you a redemption value of 3 – 3.8 cents per point.
10. The Westin Georgetown
The final property on the list is a terrific option for avoiding the insanely high prices of hotel rooms in Washington, D.C. Located just north of Washington Circle, the Westin Georgetown is surrounded by top-notch shopping and is less than a mile from Georgetown University. The small but cozy rooms provide the standard amenities you’d expect from the brand, including Westin Heavenly Beds and in-room coffee makers. The Caucus Room serves three meals a day in the style of a modern French brasserie, while Boveda, the on-site Latin speakeasy, offers craft cocktails. You can also stay active at the on-site fitness center and outdoor pool, though the latter of the two is only open from mid-May through mid-September.
Room rates in October start at $325.24 and climb as high as $672.14 per night, making the new sign-up bonus worth $650.48 – $1,344.28. Free night redemptions will set you back 12,000 points per night, giving you a redemption value of 2.7 – 5.6 cents per point.
The Starwood Preferred Guest program is filled with high-end, luxury resorts that can represent aspirational uses of Starpoints. However, many of the middle-tier properties can still provide some fantastic value, and Category 5 is one of the best examples of this. If you sign up for the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express by October 19 and earn the sign-up bonus of two free nights, consider using them at one of the properties listed above. If not, these hotels still represent solid uses of your Starpoints for free night redemptions.
Featured image courtesy of the US GRANT in San Diego.
What are your favorite SPG Category 5 properties?
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