Starwood adds Cash & Points at many Category 7 properties

One of the best uses of Starwood points is their cash & points option whereby you can redeem part points and part cash for a hotel stay. The catch is that unlike their “free night” awards, cash & points is capacity controlled.

I find the “sweet spot” with cash & points to be category 3-5 hotels, where the savings are substantial enough to forgo the ability to earn points on a stay. On the low end, I find most category 2 hotels to be cheap enough so that I’d rather pay ~$80 and earn points (and qualify for any promotions) than to save a few bucks and pay 1,600 points plus $30 instead.

On the high end with category 6 hotels, I find most of them a bit overpriced at 8,000 SPG points plus $150 per night. For example, the St. Regis Bangkok is a category six hotel and regularly has room rates of ~$200 per night. So would I really spend 8,000 SPG points to save $50? No way.

Up until now Starwood excluded category 7 properties from cash & points redemptions, though they’ve finally changed that policy, and with what they’re trying to charge — 15,000 SPG points plus $275 per night — why wouldn’t they?

The following category 7 hotels are eligible for cash & points:

Cervo Hotel ,Costa Smeralda Resort
The Chatwal, New York City
The Gritti Palace, Venice
Hotel President Wilson Geneva
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
The St. Regis Bahia Beach, Puerto Rico
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
The St. Regis Bali Resort
The St. Regis Florence
The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort
The St. Regis New York
W South Beach
W Paris- Opera

At the end of the day new options are a good thing, though I really don’t see myself taking advantage of this anytime soon. I have a hard time justifying spending 15,000 points OR $275 for a hotel night, let alone both. That’s not to say it won’t be a decent value in some cases, though I suspect since it’s capacity controlled we’ll see a lot more cash & points availability in the off season.

The issue is that the increase in the cost of cash & points is disproportionate compared to redeeming for a free night. If redeeming a free night, the increase in the number of points required is 50%. So keeping the same math, 50% more than 8,000 SPG points and $150 would be 12,000 SPG points plus $225. Instead they nearly doubled both the cash & points required compared to a category 6 hotel.

I value SPG points at 2.2 cents each, so in order for this to be worthwhile for me the room rate would need to be at least $605, and that’s not even factoring:

Anyway, I appreciate the option, but no thanks!

(Tip of the hat to Gary)

Comments

  1. It doesn’t make sense to me why you would pay $80 instead of 1600 pts and $30 rate. How many points are you getting off an $80 stay? More than 1600?

  2. @ Jack — Those 1,600 points are worth ~$35 to me, bringing up the cost to $65. With any sort of a promotion it’s worth it to me to spend the extra $15 to get a qualifying rate and earn points.

    For many points currencies I’d rather keep the cash than points all else being equal, though I think SPG points are as stable as the USD.

  3. To add to Lucky’s comment, getting ~4cpp out of SPG is pretty easy. 2.2 is a very conservative estimate. So, it would indeed make sense to pay $80 for a room instead of $30+1600.

  4. Further to my comment, don’t cash and points stays count as a qualifying elite stay? I personally don’t think 3.25 cpp is pretty decent for me to use 1600 points. In Canada I don’t see any rates for $80 for an SPG property. With taxes they always exceed $100. Not worth it!

  5. Hi Lucky;

    Good structure to your analysis, but you chose a hotel in a city with some of the lowest hotel rates. Any Cat 6 in Bangkok will be overpriced on C&P. Any Cat 6 in Paris will probably be very attractive on C&P. Similarly, given their current high rates, those in NYC.

    The other way to look at it is to calculate the savings in points on a full award vs. the cost of cash portion. For example, in Paris, I just saved 12,000 points per night for $150. No way I would stay at Westin Vendome for cash (cheapest room north of 300 euros) so those are my two options.

    Looking at it that way, the C&P option for cat 7 is 15,000 points for $275. Much less attractive, but if you don’t have a ton of points, you might get into the Gritti for twice as long (using 30k points for two C&P nights vs. one award night) vs. not getting in at all. The rate next June at the Gritti is 835 euros. Not saying I’ll pay cash, but I love the Gritti as much as I love Cathay F!!

  6. @ beachfan — Good point, and I wasn’t suggesting the St. Regis Bangkok was a good example. It’s an outlier, though it really breaks Starwood’s logic since they claim categories are based on room rates, which clearly isn’t the case with the St. Regis Bangkok.

    And I definitely agree comparing it to an outright points redemption is a valuable comparison as well.

    What remains to be seen is when the hotels actually release C&P space. My money is on the Gritti not releasing C&P rate anywhere around the high season.

  7. Big yawn for me. SPG remains a poor points program for high end properties. The really amazing properties like Bora Bora and W Maldives are still a ludicrous 60-70k per night, and places like Al Maha Desert Resort cannot even be redeemed at all. Contrast to Hilton and Hyatt where all the top properties can be booked. I think SPG remains the most highly over-rated points program in the universe!

  8. I agree with pp that it really depends on the hotel. For many Cat. 6 hotels, C&P is a terrific value. I stayed at two resorts in Greece last summer for 8,000+$150/night rather than a room rate that would have been $600 inc. taxes. That’s >5 cents/pt. based on my savings. If your measuring stick is never to spend either 15,000 points or $275/night, there are a lot of terrific SPG hotels that you’ll rarely get.

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