Starwood is offering a 35% discount on award nights booked at 7 resorts which otherwise (and still!) cost a ton of points.
Bookings must be made by March 1, 2014 and can be made for stays as far out as inventory is loaded (you have to book but not travel by that date).
- Pine Cliffs Residence, Portugal costs 26,000 points per night instead of 40,000
- W Retreat Koh Samui, Thailand costs 26,000 points per night instead of 40,000
- W Retreat and Spa Maldives costs 58,500 points per night instead of 90,000
- Le Meridien Bora Bora costs 39,000 points per night instead of 60,000
- Mystique, Santorini costs 39,000 points per night instead of 60,000
- Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai costs 39,000 points per night instead of 60,000
- Vana Belle, Koh Samui, Thailand costs 26,000 points per night instead of 40,000
While the 35% discounts are welcome, they also underscore just how outrageously expensive Starwood prices its top end hotel redemptions to begin with.
Back in February I did the math (complete with spreadsheets) to show which hotel programs are most rewarding for your spend.
The results were surprising to many — while I much like Starwood’s elite program (in fact it is my second favorite behind Hyatt Gold Passport), its redemptions are unreasonably stingy.
The program’s unique selling proposition, and what made it reasonable to be less rewarding for in-hotel spend, was that they didn’t have any blackout dates on redemptions and didn’t even have capacity controls. If there was a standard award you could have it. But now hotel programs overall have essentially matched this feature.
Starwood’s redemption pricing has gotten more expensive over time with the introduction of category 6 and then an even more expensive category 7.
But the thing that really drives the price of these hotels in particular, as well as others at the top end, is that they charge double points (and in some cases more!) for hotels they consider to be “all suites.”
Starwood assigns hotels to redemption categories based on the each property’s projected average daily room rate for the coming year.
And then they say that if a hotel in the top couple of categories is all suites then they’re going to charge double.
Even though it generates the sort of room rates it does precisely because of the character of property, reflected in being all suites.
In other words the member gets penalized twice for the same thing. It’s all suites, so it’s double. It’s all suites, so it’s more expensive, which is why it’s in the high category to begin with.
Even after Hilton’s dramatic devaluation from March which had many members running for the exits, Starwood requires far more spend for its most expensive hotels than Hilton does.
That’s both because Starwood is not generous on the basic earn side of the equation (though their elite member bonuses are the highest) and they’re pricey on the redemption side.
Oddly enough Starwood — which probably has more aspirational properties than any other chain — is fairly competitive in terms of spend required to generate points for redemptions at the low end of the chart (weekend nights at category 1 hotels).
This promotion makes a handful of outrageously priced redemptions a little bit less (but still) outrageous.
The offer cannot be reserved online and must be booked by calling. Fifth night free, of course, applies.
(HT: Wandering Aramean)