35% Discount on Starwood Award Redemptions at 7 Top Resorts

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)

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About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I was once a 50 night a year SPG guy for over a decade
    Excessive redemption costs/devaluation of my SPG points for free nights and boring promotions (no free night promotions) made me wake up to the fact that is was time to move on. I finally realized that the program had little value to me except for redeeming SPG points for airline miles
    I now stay with them less than 7 times a year and stay instead with InterContinental and Hyatt and more recently Langham
    The other thing perhaps off topic I dislike about Starwood hotels are their stinky perfume drenched lobbies which I find as bad as 100 chain smokers in a lobby. They have stink bombed me away from their hotels at any price.
    Its disgusting in my eyes.
    I mourn much of their direction as this was once my favorite hotel group in the world for years. For me they have lost most of their magic.Your post helped me realize
    I have made the right choices.

  2. Considering how hard these points are to get (I don’t remember more than 30k cc sing-up bonus) the prices are still high. Better off transferring to an airline when they have a bonus offer.

  3. First off the redemption rates to begin with for these properties are outrageous. Take W Maldives 90K! Really? Even at 58K it’s crazy! I guess if you have millions of points to burn it makes sense, just not me!

  4. Vanna belle is a catergory 6 on spg.com hotel directory. Screw up on there part or an increase?

  5. @Aarif, at St Regis Bora Bora, I believe I’ve seen 120K per night for the base room…..image whoever redeeming for one night for 120K and not aware that is enough to fly CX first class round-trip between US-HKG through AA (and you will have some AA miles left)!

  6. 58,500 points/night is the discounted rate???
    That’s just ridiculous.
    As you mentioned, given how difficult it is to earn Starwood points(even with sign-up bonuses of 25,000), these redemption rates are borderline insulting…even by Maldivian(is that a word??) standards.
    Now their lower end properties are pretty reasonable.
    Again, Starwood’s earning(non-stay) rates are pretty bad.
    I’ll take Hyatt’s program anyday.

  7. thx for the post & all the replies here. i am a low level on SPG but had considered moving all my spending here to earn stays and miles. now to rethink the strategy.

  8. @DJ – it is an excellent credit card, valuable for some stays but especially for transfers to airline miles

  9. Maybe I am missing something here. I have been with SPG for many yrs. Considering the other programs I see far less devaluing with SPG. Most hotels top out at (20-30K) max. Plus you still get fifth night free. On a Cat 4 nights and flights that redemption is only 70K points for 5 nights and 50K airlines miles transferred to the program of your choice. I joined Hilton this year and their redemptions are terrible. Hilton charges 60K points for a room that goes for 230 a night in NY. I started up again with Hyatt but all their top cat hotels are 22K a night. Many similar Starwood hotels are many less points than that. A 350.00 room in NY costs me 12K Starwood a night. I don’t see how Hyatt points are that much easier to earn over SPG?

    @DJ these hotels listed are the absolute top points I have ever heard of. ST Regis in NY is 30K a night and those rooms go for 750 a night + tax. SPG has pretty good availability as well.

  10. Robertw – exactly. For those of us not focused solely on aspirational stays, there are still many great values in the SPG award chart. (That $350 room is actually close to $400 with taxes, and you can get “5th night free” on points. I’ll redeem 48,000 points to save $1900 any time!! I never transfer SPG points to airline miles; I get much better value redeeming them at hotels.)

    There are also still some very reasonable non-aspirational values in the Hilton award chart (example – my upcoming stay in downtown Minneapolis – 30k/night; 120k/5 nights for a highly rated property that sells for over $200/night; $1000/5 nights).

  11. I rarely pay more than 20K a night average with SPG. I guess the Hilton was ok prior to the huge devalue and the loss of drugstore promo where some guys were pulling 5X points (not me)

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