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Last November I wrote about the exciting new marketing partnership between Starwood and Design Hotels. Design Hotels is a group of almost 300 independent hotels around the world, all of which are selected for their emphasis on style and design.
While Design Hotels is Starwood’s 11th brand, it works a bit differently than the others. Starwood’s 10 other brands are fully integrated into the Starwood Preferred Guest program, while Design Hotels only has a “marketing partnership” with Starwood.
Here’s how SPG benefits at Design Hotels work:
- SPG members will receive high-speed internet access and complimentary bottled water in-room
- Gold and Platinum members will automatically receive a Starpoints bonus as their welcome gift
- SPG members only earn Starpoints and elite qualifying stays/nights if they’re booking through Starwood channels
- Starpoints can be accrued at the same rate as at other SPG properties:
- 2 Starpoints per dollar spent for base members
- 3 Starpoints per dollar spent for Gold and Platinum members
- 4 Starpoints per dollar spent for 75 night Platinum members
- Those paying with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express will earn 2 Starpoints per dollar spent at Design Hotels, just as they would at other Starwood properties
While Design Hotels aren’t fully integrated into Starwood, it was also announced at the time that Starpoints could be redeemed for stays at Design Hotels as of “early 2016.”
Starwood’s annual hotel category changes kicked in yesterday, and it looks like Starwood introduced redemptions at Design Hotels at the same time. It’s now possible to redeem Starpoints at Design Hotels, and these redemptions follow the “traditional” Starwood award chart:
This is good news, because it means redemptions aren’t on a dynamic basis, as is the case with the redemption of Starpoints at Caesars Palace properties.
The following Design Hotels are available for redemptions, at the following rates (here’s a link if you want to download the spreadsheet):
And here’s the map with the Design Hotels properties eligible for redemptions:
As is the norm at hotels with fixed award redemption rates, values fluctuate significantly, especially since many of these Design Hotels properties are located in seasonal destinations.
I will say that on balance the categories seem a bit high for some of these hotels, given the revenue rates. I don’t have any data to back this, but I’ve compared the revenue rates to hotel categories at about a dozen of these hotels, and most seem like they’re maybe one category too high.
There are some exceptions, like the Town Hall Hotel & Apartments in London, which is a Category 5 property, making it 12,000-16,000 Starpoints per night. That seems quite reasonable to me.
The categories generally seeming a bit high doesn’t really surprise me, since this is more of a marketing partnership than an integrated one. When hotels are integrated into Starwood there’s more of a balance in money changing hands, given hotels are paying SPG for certain things, and SPG is paying hotels for other things. I doubt there’s as much of that with these Design Hotels, which might explain why the rates are a bit higher.
Still, there are instances where redemptions at Design Hotels represent a good value. Even though Design Hotels properties won’t always represent a great use of points, between being able to earn and redeem Starpoints at these properties, I’m a big fan.
It’s fantastic that Starpoints can now be redeemed at select Design Hotels properties, given how unique they are. I love loyalty programs for the consistent experience they provide, but at the same time hate that many properties are cookie-cutter. This lets you redeem points at some very unique properties, many of which I’m excited to check out.
Now I’m just hoping that Design Hotels fully joins Starwood Preferred Guest, so that all benefits will apply at these properties. I’m curious to see what impact the Marriott and Starwood merger has on this marketing partnership, given that the combined company will have 30 hotel brands.
Do you plan on redeeming Starpoints at any Design Hotels properties? If so, which ones?