Last week, Starwood announced the introduction of its new brand, Sheraton Grand to Sheraton properties in Bangalore, Beijing, Dubai, Edinburg, Miyazaki, Seoul, Taipei, Bangkok, Tokyo, and Rio de Janeiro. And that’s just the beginning. Business Travel News reports:
The new brand is part of the hotelier’s Sheraton 2020 program, a new program intended to revamp and improve its Sheraton brand of hotels. Starwood will transform over 100 of its top Sheraton properties into Sheraton Grand hotels, primarily located in high-traffic areas. Starwood says that the new tier of hotels will also motivate other Sheraton properties to step up their service and appeal so that they may gain Sheraton Grand status as well.
So, does the new brand meet my spongeworthiness threshold? 🙂 Here are my preliminary thoughts.
I personally don’t know if Bangalore or Miyazaki can be considered “high traffic areas,” but what I can see is, that Sheraton Grand is rarely a good redemption value even if you take into account the presumed luxury of the newish brand. I value an SPG point at at least 2 cents or more. Of course, I’ve never stayed at any of the above properties except Rio, so maybe most of them are in killer locations, although in Rio, the location really sucks!
The Bangalore Sheraton Grand hotel is Category 3. Sounds like a bargain at 7,000 a night, until you consider how cheap Indian hotels are in general across all hotel brands. The Sheraton Grand’s cash price for the dates I tried hovers at $100, and, by the way, there is a Luxury Collection Hotel in Bangalore, which is Category 2 and costs only 3000-4000 a night or $106. A much better bang for your points, me thinks.
Beijing’s Sheraton Grand is a Category 4 hotel and it costs 10000-12000 points or around $188 a night, which doesn’t make it the most expensive property in town. Beijing SPG hotels range from Category 2 to 5, or from 3,000 to 16,000 points.
Sheraton Grand in Dubai is a Category 5 hotel that commands 12,000-16,000 points or around $220. Dubai SPG hotels range from Category 3 to 7.
Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh is Category 5 and costs 12,000-16,000 points or around $220 a night. It’s the only SPG hotel in town, so you don’t have much of a choice if you want to stay at a Starwood property.
Sheraton Grand in Miyazaki is Category 4: 10,000-12,000 points or around $140. There are no other SPG hotels in town.
Sheraton Grand in Seoul is a Category 5 hotel that goes for 12,000-16,000 points a night. Not a stellar value considering a $150 price tag you can get there. There are other SPG properties in Seoul ranging from Category 3 to 5.
Sheraton Grand in Taipei is a Category 5 property, as well. It can be booked for 12,000-16,000 points or $186. Other SPG properties in town range from Category 2 to 6.
Sheraton Grand in Bangkok is a Category 4 hotel that goes for 10,000-12,000 points or around $133. If you value your SPG points at all, you will never spend 10,000 SPG points in Bangkok, where 4-5 star hotels can be had for about $100. SPG hotels in Bangkok range from Category 2 to 6.
Sheraton Grand in Tokyo is a Category 5 hotel and at 12,000-16,000 points a night it can’t compete against the cash price at around $160. There aren’t any low-end SPG hotels in Tokyo (Category 4 to 5).
And finally there is Sheraton Grand in Rio, the only hotel from the list I’ve actually stayed at. I paid 12,000 points during the World Cup, which was an incredible bargain (the cash price for those days was around $900). It’s actually a great hotel nestled between the mountains and the beach (the beach is not private, but so secluded that it has this private feel). And then, there are killer views from higher-floor rooms (if you’re Platinum, the lounge and the adjacent breakfast restaurant offer breathtaking panoramic views of the nearby favela Vidigal and the ocean).
So what’s wrong about this hotel? Nothing at all, except one thing: traffic! The hotel claims to be located in Leblon, but it’s not. It’s in Sao Conrado, which, for most tourists, is 2-3 neighborhoods away from where they want to stay—Ipanema or Copacabana. And since Avenida Neimeyer is a one-lane road in each direction around the hotel, it will get clogged. It can take you up to 1.5 hours to get to or from Copacabana during rush hours. However, if you do want a secluded stay while you’re in Rio, you’ll be in heaven!
Grand Sheraton is a Category 5, hotel that costs 12,000-16,000 points or $200 and up. It’s one of the two SPG properties in Rio—another one, Sheraton Barra is also a Category 5 hotel located even farther away, in Barra da Tijuca that returned under the SPG roof this May affter a short stint at Radisson.
So, here you have it—I’m not impressed. We’ll see what other hotels Sheraton will bring into the fold, but for now, I’ll spend my points elsewhere.
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