Just a quick reminder that Starwood is making two big changes to their program this coming Tuesday, March 5. First, they’ll be substantially increasing the cost of cash & points bookings, and second their 2013 hotel category changes will go into effect as well. In both cases you can make bookings before Tuesday for stays into the future and still qualify for the old prices. I’d highly recommend making speculative bookings if you’re planning on using cash & points or plan on booking a hotel that will go up in category this year. In most cases reservations can be canceled up until a couple of days before arrival, so you have nothing to lose by locking in a booking now.
One of the very best values of the Starwood Preferred Guest program is cash & points, which offers substantial discounts when paying part cash and part points. It’s worth noting that cash & points has always been capacity controlled, while outright points redemptions aren’t (as long as a standard room is available you can redeem points for it).
They’re changing the redemption levels as of March 5, and adding the ability to redeem cash & points for premium rooms and suites, and also apparently improving the amount of cash & points availability.
To recap, here’s their current cash & points chart:
Here’s their new cash & points chart:
And here’s their outright points redemption chart:
This is more or less a 25% increase in the number of points needed for a cash & points redemption, with the exception of category seven properties, which were overpriced with cash & points to begin with.
Even if cash & points were always available now, I still think this is a huge devaluation, but to each their own.
Starwood adjusts their hotel categories annually, whereby some hotels move up in categories while others move down. This is reasonable and reflects the room rates and occupancy at properties, so just like revenue rates can vary, so can points rates. That being said, over 200 hotels are going up in price, while fewer than 50 hotels are going down in price. So while this could generally reflect the recovering hotel market, there’s no denying we have less “buying power” with our points, so it is a devaluation/deflation of our points. Just as cash is worth less when there’s inflation.
You can find a listing of hotels that are changing categories here.
Make those bookings, folks!