Starwood raising hotel category for Four Points LAX without any announcement or advance notice

As noted by LoyaltyLobby, it appears as if Starwood has increased the category of the Four Points by Sheraton LAX from a category two property to a category three property. This means the hotel has gone from costing 3,000-4,000 Starpoints per night, to costing 7,000 Starpoints per night on a free night redemption. Using cash & points the property is going from costing 2,000 Starpoints plus $35 per night to costing 3,500 Starpoints plus $55 per night.

Now there’s nothing wrong with Starwood deciding to change hotel categories. They actually do it annually, and just a couple of months ago in March, 25% of hotels went up in category, meaning more points were required for a free night. The difference is that they disclose they’re going to make the change and give advance notice.

So not only is it really poor form to change a hotel category without any advance notice or even an announcement for that matter, but it really makes me wonder what the point is of the “annual” adjustment, when they make it seem like those are the only changes that will happen to categories for the year. And the sad thing is that this isn’t even the first hotel to have an unannounced category change since the March devaluation.

I really love Starwood, but c’mon guys, what’s going on here? The way these changes are being made sure seem Lifemiles-esque. Would love if a Starwood rep could comment on this.

And what do you guys think — is it okay for Starwood to raise hotel categories with advance notice or even an announcement?

Comments

  1. I guess they heard all the universal blogger praise and love. They figured they could pull this and still be fine.

    I’ll cancel the credit card before annual fee and burn my points soon.

  2. I don’t really like Starwood (their hotels, though I do really like their rewards program). I much prefer Hiltons (the hotels, though I hate their newly gutted “rewards” program). That being said, I recently booked two nights at the Four Points LAX (one the front and tail end of my vacation) – at the old rate. Although I prefer the Hilton LAX, the point cost at the Four Points was so low, it was a no-brainer. So, I see why they would raise it but doing so without any notice is not cool…

  3. this definitely gave me a negative impression on spg. however, what can we do? i have dumped hilton and picked up marriott and starwood. if i dump starwood again, do i have to choose club carlson?

  4. If they raise the four points lax they need to lower the category for the four points Boston Logan airport. Has anyone ever stayed at that property?

  5. how about four points in washingtong, dc? did they raise it, too? i am going to stay there in the coming month. since i will pay my stay, whether they raise its category has no impact on me, but i hate to see spg did it secretly as a thief.

  6. I was seriously considering the SPG card because of all the hype everywhere. Now I feel like that hype was in vain because I have much better experiences with Hyatt.

  7. It will be interesting to see how widespread the increase is. I check a few and they are still at 3,000. For some reason I canlt get one local one (Manassasm VA) to come up in search.

  8. @ Carl P — Universal blogger praise and love? I like the SPG program and on the whole like their properties, though I think I was pretty critical of them this year with their increase in the cost of cash & points and 25% of properties going up in cost.

  9. @ Andy — I don’t think this is something to dump Starwood over. I’m posting this more to point out that I think this bad form, rather thinking this is a huge change to the program. I think it’s an isolated incident.

  10. Some Four Points I know of aren’t coming up when I search even without dates (ie.Manassas, VA). I wonder if they have some pulled while they’re raising the points.

  11. @ Andy — I assume this is isolated and don’t think any other Four Points went up in price.

  12. @ MileHunger — The SPG card is still great, in my opinion, if for no other reason than the ability to transfer to a variety of airline currencies. You’re essentially earning 1.25 miles per dollar spent in a variety of mileage currencies, and it really doesn’t get better than that for spend that doesn’t otherwise fall in a bonus category.

  13. @ Lucky – OK, maybe just universal love

    “I really love Starwood, but c’mon guys…”

    I just got the SPG card about 6 months ago and it feels like the value has dropped a lot in that time.

  14. I think that location is a dump to begin with, so it doesn’t bother me. I only stay there when United puts me up anyway.

  15. as a former Platinum and now gold, i think SPG is more hype than substance (the rewards program). points don’t come all that quick thru nights and manufactured spend is only @ 1x for hotel redemptions. the award pricing for anything but entry level hotels is outrageous.

    we’re all pissed at the massive hilton deval but even at 95,000 points, the Conrad Maldives is 76,000/night if 5 nights vs, what.. 70/night for the W. Given what it takes to get 70,000 SPG points vs 70,000 hilton (which still has 6x spend at grocery, 12x spend on surpass card vs 2x for SPG)- SPG is completely out of whack.

    it was good when there were a lot of cat 1 and 2 hotels- but they’re inching up. in SE Asia a lot of former cat 1 are now cat 3. throw in the cash & points gutting which resulted in ZERO increase in availability (they treat us like we’re stupid with their spin, which offends me), and it’s harder and harder to get value for your points even at the lower end. ZERO aspirational redemptions.

    The hotels are loving this, as it’s almost like price fixing. they all gut their programs and there is nowhere to run to. right now it’s Hyatt, but i foresee a big change next year just to bring them back in line. Hyatt was the first to announce this year and they pretty much did nothing. After, everyone else gutted. Given all the ultimate rewards points floating around, it’s inevitable.

  16. I absolutely love Starwood. Defected from Hyatt 8 years ago and haven’t looked back.

    I am disappointed with this action. But still love Starwood!!

    Of course, they must love me more than others as I usually get great suite upgrades, unlike most other Plats it seems.

  17. Hmm, just stayed at this property last March under the old rate..dont think the new rate is worth it, but they can do what they want…some advance notice would have been appropriate but one must remember that loyalty is a one way street………….

  18. Day after day, one after another of these articles are posted. And some of the worst aren’t even being mentioned on the travel blogs I read. Cases in point: Barclays Virgin America card app is instantly “expired”. Worse, the B of A and FIA Hawaiian Air cards are suddenly “not available”. What does “This application may be unavailable for maintenance, development improvements, or this offer may have expired” mean? Anyone? Bueller?

    For me it means no 70K HHonors points from my churn later this week. And no additional 70K HHonors points from my churn 3 months from now either. Which were going to be used for 8 nights at quite-nice-enough-thank-you Hampton Inns in Europe summer 2014.

    Welcome to the new normal. As I said a few weeks ago:

    Award space with {insert name of airline} has greatly decreased.

    Number of points required for a “free” room with {insert name of hotel chain} has greatly increased.

    Ability to churn ccs with {insert name of bank} has been greatly cut back.

    I guess I should have added: expect this process to accelerate daily….

    And no, you can’t get back at them by canceling your ccs and memberships, since every program is doing it. Unless you are willing to just sit home and watch Rick Steves and Anthony Bourdain on TV instead of actually traveling. 🙁

    It hasn’t really hit home for Lucky yet, since he has new opportunities to fly a China Southern A380 to Guangzhou{where?} without needing a visa. Followed by his usual exceptional preliminary and detailed blog posts about the trip.

    But for us leisure travelers, only “aspiring” to nice vacations in Rome Vienna and Paris, these dramatic daily cut backs really hurt…

  19. is it just me or as C&P availability gotten a lot worse in recent months (after temporarily getting better)?

  20. I think if follow what William (Starwood Lurker) has said at FT in the past, they always reserve the right to make some tweaks throughout the year. I suspect this isn’t the only property to ever change category “mid-year” but on the whole they do stick to their mass changes once a year.

  21. I find this really disturbing! I also noticed that the Sheraton Royal Orchid in Bangkok was raised from Cat 2 to 3 without that property’s being on the list of hotel changes in March! Not good form, and makes me a bit skeptical of the program I’ve invested most of my hotel stays in…

  22. so, this abrupt cat increase is not isolated. we never have a time and energy to count and compare before and after categrories for worldwide four points. the worst is, starwood does not release it.

    it really downgrades starwood’s value in my mind. i had planned to spend 75 nights this year at starwood (i have had 36 night credit so far), but it is time for me to dump starwood for the rest of this year (as i have already re-earned my plat).

  23. Can I use SPG points for multiple upgrades? For example, St Regis New York requires 35,000 points for a free night. With a gold status will be eligible for an upgrade to one bedroom suite. Now can I burn extra points 35,000 or whatever they ask for to further upgrade to designer/master suites?

  24. @ Gipsy — No, I don’t believe you can use Starpoints to upgrade into a specialty suite.

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