Historically, Starwood has charged “peak season” award rates at the discretion of individual hotels, based on what they consider to be their peak season. Due to the economy, Starwood eliminated the peak season pricing for two years, though I guess the economy has recovered (or so they think!), since they’re introducing it again as of January 10, 2011, at 65% of category five through seven hotels. During the peak season (which is up to 16 weeks of the year at some hotels), the peak season premium for a category five hotel is 4,000 points per night, and the peak season premium at a category six or seven hotel is 5,000 points per night. You can see the full list of category five through seven hotels that are participating, along with what their peak dates are, here.
My thoughts? I’ve never been a loyal Starwood customer, and doubt I ever will be. I love their credit card, but strictly for mileage conversions. While cash and points redemptions (where you pay fewer points per night than a standard award redemption, plus a cash supplement) can be a great deal, the real value in loyalty programs for me comes with really high end redemptions, be it redeeming miles for international first class, or a stay at an iconic, $600+/night hotel. High end Starwood hotels are prohibitively expensive to redeem points for, and this only makes it worse.
And that’s why I love Hyatt and Priority Club… the ease of redeeming points at truly high end properties.
(Tip of the hat to Loyalty Traveler)