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It’s interesting to see the policies different hotel loyalty programs have towards redeeming points for premium rooms and suites.
For example, Hyatt Gold Passport is one of the more favorable loyalty programs for award redemptions in suites. They charge an extra ~50% points for suites over standard rooms, with the restriction that you have to redeem for at least three nights.
Given that on revenue rates suites can often be exponentially more expensive than standard rooms, that can be a great value.
Park Suite at the Park Hyatt Zurich
For this post I figured I’d cover Starwood’s policy when it comes to premium room and suite redemptions and upgrades, as they’re a bit quirky.
Upgrade paid Starwood stays to premium rooms or suites
I’m not a huge fan of Starwood’s program when it comes to upgrading paid bookings. As you can see below, the number of points required to upgrade to a premium room is quite reasonable, while the number of points required to upgrade to a suite is the same as the number of points required for a free night in a standard room at that hotel.
The upgrade rates are per night, and they’re based on the hotel category you’re booked in.
The major restriction is that upgrades can only be confirmed within five days of arrival, and the reservation must be booked on a RACK, COR, SET, or BAR rate. The policy of only confirming upgrades at most five days before arrival is the same as their policy for upgrades using Platinum Suite Night Awards.
Redeem points for a suite
If you want to outright redeem Starpoints for a suite, the cost is typically double the number of points required for a standard room (shown below).
You have to call Starwood to make such a booking, and as usual, the fifth night of the award redemption is still free. That’s a rather steep premium in most cases, in my opinion, given that Hyatt charges just a 50% premium.
That being said, in some cases it could still make sense. If you’re traveling for a special occasion and want to guarantee you’ll get a suite, that’s the best way to do it.
Redeem points for a premium room
Here’s something that I almost consider a “sweet spot” of Starwood points redemptions. Starwood charges a very reasonable premium for premium room awards — often less than a 10% premium over a standard room. It’s typically in the range of 1,000-2,750 points per night.
There’s no way to search these awards online and there’s no standardized list of what room you’ll get by paying a certain number of points, so you do have to call.
Why is this potentially valuable?
A standard room isn’t available
I’m sure most of you have seen this dreaded message when desperately looking for a free night redemption:
When you see there’s no standard room availability, I think it’s only natural for the reaction to be “oh crap, I guess if I want to redeem points it’ll cost me an arm and a leg.” After all we are used to the airline loyalty program model of “standard” awards costing a bajillion miles.
But in many cases this means you can redeem points in a premium room for a very small premium.
For example, in the case of the St. Regis San Francisco, a free night can cost as little as 20,000 Starpoints per night. If there’s not standard room award availability, then you can instead redeem 21,500 Starpoints for a Deluxe Room, or 22,500 Starpoints for a Grand Deluxe Room.
Those are very mild premiums. So don’t let the lack of standard room availability deter you from trying to redeem points.
Sometimes you just want a nicer room
While I do hope for upgrades as a Starwood Platinum member, not everyone has status, and for that matter even when you do have status, often hotels are just sold out and there’s no chance of an upgrade. Even if a standard room is available, it can make sense to redeem an extra 1,500-2,750 points per night for a nicer room.
Redeem Starpoints for a Grand Deluxe Room at the St. Regis Bangkok
Admittedly Starpoints are hard to come by
I know a lot of people like to hoard Starpoints… I’m among those people. The reality is that they’re incredibly valuable and tough to come by. The earnings rates when staying at hotels isn’t amazing in my opinion, and the only other major way to earn Starpoints is through their co-branded credit cards:
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
So I get that an extra 1,000-2,750 points per night might be a lot more when we’re talking about Starpoints as opposed to other points currencies.
But it’s also at least worth knowing about the possibility.
I do wish they’d put the cost of premium rooms online, as I bet it would encourage a lot more people to redeem points for them (either because they’re sold out of standard rooms or because they just want a nicer room). Then again, I guess that answers why they don’t do it. 😉
All things considered I definitely think premium rooms are a better value on award stays than on paid stays (given the five day restriction on paid stays), and also think the premium for a premium award represents a better value than the premium for a suite.
Have you ever redeemed Starpoints for a premium room reward?
(Tip of the hat to Dan)