I have decided to make this post today instead of my semi-regular Good Stuff Weekly. First of all because there hasn’t been too much good stuff lately. OK, well, so these reports about upcoming RedBird’s doom have turned out to be either a hoax or isolated incidents. But that’s about all good news for the week.
Second of all, the new SPG category changes are going in effect in two days, so if you have a favorite hotel to book at the old rate, now would be a good time. So, without further ado…
SPG 2015 changes are mostly positive. Yey! You will like these changes whether you are a budget or luxury traveler. You will not like these changes, however, if you frequent the hotel(s) that is going up. If that’s the case, book now.
Here is what FT Starwood Lurker had to say about the changes.
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.
Here are a few links you might find useful.
Most of the hotels going up, are in the US, which is not surprising. The dollar is strong.
So what kind of traveler are you?
If you are a budget or budget luxury traveler, you might share my attitude toward SPG points.
SPG points are extremely hard to get, aside from BIB (butt in bed), and there are no reasonable transfers. The only other sources of SPG points are two AMEX credit cards: a regular SPG card and a business one that have a measly 25,000-point bonus each most of the time. And since AMEX have restricted us from getting repeated sign up bonuses on a personal card, the best we can do is to churn a business card every 1.5-2 years (you can make this turnaround faster, but I never close the card immediately upon getting the points). This general scarcity is why:
- I’m mostly interested in Categories 1 and 2 SPG properties.
- I’m sometimes interested in Category 3 SPG properties.
- I will consider a Category 4 property only if there are no better redemptions from other programs.
- I will not stay at a Category 5 SPG property and above unless there are no other options and the cash price is astronomical I did stay at Sheraton Leblon in Rio during the World Cup when cash rates were completely and utterly insane.
- I’m mostly interested in international travel, although it has nothing to do with SPG.
Just a reminder!
The ideal length of stay at SPG hotels is as follows:
- 5 nights at Category 3 and higher hotels (fifth night free applies)
- A weekend at Category 1 and 2 hotels (fifth night free doesn’t apply)
|1||3,000 (weekends 2,000)|
|2||4,000 (weekends 3,000)|
Since staying two days at a hotel is not really a vacation, let’s bring all these redemptions to the common 5-night stay denominator. See, I’m not interested in anything beyond the first three lines.
- Category One: 13,000 points (if you utilize weekends)
- Category Two: 18,000 points (if you utilize weekends)
- Category Three: 28,000 points
Category Four: 40,000 points Category Five: 48,000-64,000 points Category Six: 80,000-100,000 points Category Seven: 120,000-140,000 points
Like I said the changes are mostly positive. It is certainly not a devaluation.
- Aloft Brussels Schuman 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Brussels Hotel 4 -> 3
Prague, Czech Republic
- Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel 4 -> 3
- Hotel Elephant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, WEIMAR LUXURY COLLECTION 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Munich Westpark Hotel 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Offenbach Hotel 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Rhodes Resort SOUTH AEGEAN RHODES SHERATON 4 -> 3
- Four Points by Sheraton Milan Center 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Catania Hotel & Conference Center 2 -> 1
- Sheraton Padova Hotel & Conference Center 3 -> 2
- Sheraton Roma Hotel & Conference Center 3 -> 2
- The Westin 3 -> 2
- Convento do Espinheiro, a Luxury Collection Hotel & Spa 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Lisboa Hotel & Spa 4 -> 3
- Four Points by Sheraton Barcelona Diagonal 3 -> 2
Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
- Sheraton Fuerteventura Beach, Golf & Spa Resort Canary Isle 3 -> 2
Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain
- Sheraton Gran Canaria Salobre Golf Resort 3 -> 2
- Sheraton Madrid Mirasierra 4 -> 3
- Aloft Liverpool 3 -> 2
- Le Méridien 4 -> 3
Now consider these less traveled European destinations that can be a great value, too.
- Four Points by Sheraton Panoramahaus Dornbirn 3 -> 2
- Sheraton Zagreb Hotel 3 -> 2
- Metropol Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Belgrade 4 -> 3
- Sheraton TiranaHotel 4 -> 3
- Sheraton Athlone Hotel 2 -> 1
- Sheraton Poznan Hotel 3 -> 2
Airport hotels are not exactly aspirational properties, but when you need it, you need it.
Sheraton Munich Airport Hotel 3 -> 2
Sheraton Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport Hotel 4 -> 3
Sheraton Heathrow Hotel 3 -> 2
Sheraton Skyline Hotel London Heathrow 4 -> 3