Starwood unveils annual category changes for 2012

As they do every year, Starwood has just unveiled their annual hotel category adjustments. While the actual hotel categories stay the same, the categories that individual hotels are in can change. You can see a listing of hotels with category changes here.

I haven’t analyzed the changes too closely yet, but the chart is definitely worth looking at if you’re planning on a points redemption soon. The changes kick in on March 1, 2012, so in many cases it will make sense to make a booking now before costs go up. For hotels where costs go down, you can always rebook after March 1 once the prices have dropped. But from a quick look at the chart it’s clear that a lot more hotels are going up in price than down in price.

My next points redemption was going to be at the St. Regis Bangkok, though I’m shocked to see it went from a category 5 to category 6 hotel. Even on cash and points I thought the hotel was already overpriced as a category 5 given how cheap luxury hotels are in Bangkok, though as a category 6 it’s a total rip off. Revenue rates are rarely over $200USD per night, and now the hotel will cost 20,000+ points per night, or 8,000 points plus $150 when redeeming cash and points? You’ve gotta be kidding me…

I’m also going to Santiago in September, so am going to confirm my booking now for the W Santiago, which is going from a category 4 to category 5 hotel.

On the plus side, I see the Grosvenor House in Dubai, which I’ve wanted to visit, is going from a category 6 to category 5 hotel.

What do you guys thing about the annual adjustment? Positive? Negative? Indifferent?


  1. I don’t see any changes significant to me. As always, you have to compare points vs cash for any given stay.

  2. Try the Hyatt Santiago just came back and it was a pretty good hotel — little older but clean and simple and can’t beat a category 2 level /- stayed 6 nights at club room for 60k points

  3. The NYC list is ridiculous. The Sheraton Towers is really atrocious. And I was a plat when I stayed there last year on the club floor. Now it will cost more? Wow.

  4. Not a bad change, to be honest. One thing to note in BKK is that ROS has now dropped to Cat 2. It’s a decent property with good Plat treatment and for 3K or 4K points per night, it’s a steal.

  5. The only change in Hawaii is unsupportable…the Princess K is now a Cat 5. Luckily….the Westin Moana stayed a Cat 5. There is no comparison between these two…

  6. Just to confirm, I have an award stay booked for July at the Le Meridian Vienna. That hotel is going from a 4 to a 5. Since I already have it booked I don’t need to do anything to keep the lower category redemption, right?

  7. @ Rebecca — That’s absolutely correct. The change is based on when the booking is made and not when the stay is made, so as long as the booking is made before March 1 you get the old prices.

  8. Thanks for the heads up. Unfortunately nothing I can lock in now though St. Regis Aspen is tempting but unlikely to have cash + points for next year’s ski season.

    I generally expect the worst so nice to see the following downward revisions which reflect lower rates in these properties (ones I’ve visited):

    Westin La Paloma Phoenix
    Sheraton Towers San Diego Airport and LA downtown
    Westin Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale
    Sheraton Tysons (DC area)
    Sheraton New Orleans

    That being said it is disappointing to see the NYC and St. Regis properties going sky high to almost unaffordable levels, and the following revisions are absurd given the competition:

    All San Francisco properties (hello priceline)
    Mission Hills CA and Kierland AZ

  9. I think that the NYC continues to rise as it a very popular spot for people to redeem points based on location for “locals” and travelers. I’d be curious to see the data. The Sheraton Tower stinks, the Manhattan across the street is okay and I do like their pool setup. The best value but no amenities remains the 4points.

  10. @Lucky: Having recently stayed at the Grosvenor House Dubai, I definitely recommend it. While there are plenty of luxury hotels in Dubai, this one won’t disappoint. The rooms are fantastic (I’m only Gold and was upgraded to a “terrace” room where the terrace was about 300 square feet!). The amenities are all Bulgari…veeery nice. There are plenty of great food/beverage outlets: the Turkish restaurant is delicious, there is a bar on the 44th floor (I think) that has great views, and the Buddha Bar on the ground floor (technically hotel adjacent, but you gain entry). My stay wasn’t a redemption, but I remember feeling that what I paid was fair. The only downside is the immediate surroundings. The hotel is located in the Marina district, which is up-and-coming and very “exciting,” but mostly under construction and the building is itself in the middle of a couple of highway overpasses, so you really can’t just go out and walk anywhere from there.

    On another trip, where I got in at 10pm and was leaving the next morning at 8am, I stayed at the Intercontinental Festival City and absolutely loved it. I don’t recommend it except for overnight “transit” stays, because it is airport-adjacent and far from downtown, but for transits it’s great (extremely modern, huge rooms, and stellar service).

  11. Looks like many properties in BOS, NYC, and DC are being elevated categories. Less attractive for points redemption during the week and at peak times when rates are high

  12. Thanks for confirming Lucky! I meant to say at Le Meridien not “the Le Meridien” 🙂 Or maybe I didn’t. I too am confused with the use of “the” in front!

  13. The Westin Ft. Lauderdale went down because of the relatively popularity of the almost-next-door W. I’ve stayed at the W and enjoyed it (I like most W hotels), but for the difference in categories, the Westin Ft. Lauderdale is nothing to sneeze at. One of my wife’s favorite places to unwind is on that very beach…

  14. The LMs in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai moving to Cat 1 is a great deal, a steal really. They were great properties at Cat 2.

  15. The best redemption is going to be India. All 8 hotels listed are one category down. Thats a great value if you are going that way.

  16. No one is really talking about the new “peak season” rates. I just stumbled on this. It is a 4000 point increase for peak season weeks and is new. For example- last year the Westin Maui Villas- timeshares, were 12,000 points per night. They moved this up to a category 6 hotel which is now 20,000 points per night. Then, they added on peak season rates for the summer. Now points redemption is 24,000 per night. This is over a 50% increase from last year. I feel like the new benefits were smoke and mirrors to distract users from changing hotels to higher categories and then implemeting peak season rates. This program is no longer the value it once was.

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