How to maximize 2013 Starwood Platinum renewal gift

One of the nice “touches” that Starwood Preferred Guest offers elite members is a renewal gift every year. It’s nothing huge, but a nice gesture, in my opinion. As I wrote about in April, this year they stepped up their game and are offering Platinum members the choice between double Starpoints for Starwood stays for a month of your choice, or 35% off a redemption for up to five nights at up to a category six hotel.



I requalified for Starwood Platinum status a couple of weeks ago, so have been putting some thought into how best to maximize this. I decided the 35% off a redemption option definitely makes more sense than double Starpoints for a month, since I don’t actually spend that much on Starwood stays. Even if I were to spend $2,000 on Starwood stays in a month, that would only be a total of 4,000 bonus Starpoints, which isn’t worth a ton to me.

So I decided on the 35% off redemption. The only thing is that I don’t really redeem my Starpoints much. While I always preach about earning and burning points to avoid devaluation, I’m quite content hoarding Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and Starwood Preferred Guest points, given how flexible they are. Don’t get me wrong, I sometimes redeem my Starpoints for one or two night stays at luxury hotels using cash & points, but aside from that I don’t usually get around to redeeming them much. That’s probably in part because when I want to redeem points for a luxury hotel stay I end up using Hyatt points for Park Hyatt properties, while I seem to end up staying at mid-range Starwood properties most of the time, where it’s not all that advantageous to redeem points vs. paying.

That being said, the 35% off deal is so tempting that I’ll have to change that pattern. The 35% off only applies to free night redemptions and not cash & points, and the big benefit of free night redemptions is that the fifth night is free. When the fifth night is free you’re already getting a 20% discount, and then on top of that you’re getting a further 35% discount, meaning in the end you pay a total of 52% of what the redemption would otherwise cost.

As an example, category six properties typically go for 20,000 Starpoints per night during non peak season, and that means you’d pay a total of 52,000 Starpoints for a five night stay, factoring in the free night and 35% discount (100,000 Starpoints becomes 80,000 Starpoints becomes 52,000 Starpoints). That means you’re basically paying just 10,400 Starpoints per night for a category six property, which is a phenomenal value.

Anyway, I’ve been looking at different category six properties, and have come up with a few that interest me most. If anyone wants to browse category six properties, you can find them here.

A few that interest me include:

  • St. Regis Rome
  • St. Regis Mauritius
  • St. Regis Lhasa Resort
  • Le Meridien Seychelles
  • Blue Palace Resort & Spa, Elounda
  • W Retreat & Spa – Vieques Island

St. Regis Rome

That’s by no means a comprehensive list of the best category six properties or necessarily the best values on a cent per point basis, but they are all properties I’ve been wanted to stay at that seemed like an especially good value using the 35% off deal.

To those of you that have requalified (or will requalify) for Platinum status, do you have a similar strategy, or which gift do you plan on going with?


  1. Are you sure you can combine the 35% off with the Fifth Night Free? There was one promotion a in 2010 where Starwood allowed that combination, but in every other case I’m aware of they’ve always said you can’t combine, which of course always significantly reduces the value of these % off redemption offers. Though if you do happen to have need for a 4-night stay the % off redemption is still useful.

  2. @ Bgriff — Yep, it has been confirmed that you can combine the fifth night free and 35% off certificate.

  3. @ clayd333 — I believe it has to be applied for a stay within six months of when you choose your renewal gift.

  4. You can definitely combine the fifth night free with the 35% off award – Starwood Lurkers have confirmed it in the SPG forum on FT, and I was able to do it myself. I used it for a five-night stay at the St. Regis Punta Mita, which was recently a Cat 7 hotel, so I’m excited about that. I was originally going to use it for a day where they only had Starpoints and the rack rate available for a room, which would have been at $1295 per night, a value of 12.4 cents per Starpoint! In the long run, I used it for a more typical stay that earned me 5.7 cents per Starpoint, which I was very happy about.

    I haven’t stayed at any of the hotels on Lucky’s list, but I do have a C+P stay coming up at the W Vieques for 10k + $180, which I was happy with considering the room rate was $499. In general, I try to keep my Starwood usage above 3 cents per point. Now, after those reservations, I have to rebuild my SPG account though!

  5. I’m jealous of such an opportunity for an incredible deal on some of those hotels. As a reader of your blog, I think I’m most interested in your adventure to Llasa (21k ft. altitude!), Mauritius, or an option you didn’t list: Le Meridien Ile des Pins in New Caledonia. If you go to either Llasa or Ile des Pins, I fully expected very detailed reports on the planning of the journey to the hotel. In both cases, I think the journey could be as interesting as the destination–which is not meant as a criticism of either destination at all!

  6. Mike: yes, you get the same promo on your first qualification.

    One thing of note – keep your cool and hold of redeeming the gift till you have use for it. You can do that till the end of the year, and then have 6 months to use it, so it should be good up to June 2014.

  7. Not sure where Llasa is, but Lhasa is at a “mere” 11,450 ft. I too would find a Lucky TR to Lhasa fascinating. Yak meat stew, and Butter Tea, made with a lump of Yak butter and salt instead of sugar. Yum! Can’t wait to read all about it. 🙂

  8. Good approach Ben, find the best Cat 6 properties and burn em with the discount and 5th night leverage. I hoard Starpoints as well, but usually only burn them on airline transfers and C&P.

  9. @Robert Hanson, Eeek! Don’t how I managed to mis-type Lhasa, but I will blame Executive Travel for the error on the altitude at the St. Regis there.

    “Thanks to the hotel’s vantage point at 21,000 feet (it’s the highest St. Regis in the world), the third-floor lobby looks out on the hilltop Potala Palace, the former residence of the 14th Dalai Lama.”

    Of course the logical part of my brain should have set off alarm bells at that number, but it didn’t. Still, 11,000′ is pretty high for a luxury hotel.

  10. Definitely go to Lhasa! I am really interested in seeing you fly to Lhasa and read a review about this hotel!

  11. For an extra 6500 Starpoints total, Lucky, you can book an Imperial Room at the St. Regis Rome for 5 nights. I have that exact itinerary coming up in < 2 weeks. I realize you're Platinum with SPG, but IME the upgrades I've gotten when not booking the base room are significantly better across the SPG spectrum.

  12. I’ll be requalifying for Platinum on Wednesday night. I’m looking forward to a vacation of some sort at the end of the year, so I’ll be taking the 35% off

  13. To reward boss’ pt, that would be a good idea only if you have nothing planned yet. If you wait till Jan 2014 to register, you risk standard rooms not being available for pt redemption.

  14. we used our 35% off redemption for the St Regis Mauritius last month and it was pretty phenomenal. It was their “low” season, but i couldn’t understand what was low about it, given it was 75 and sunny every day. only 30 rooms were occupied so to say we were taken care of was an understatement. The rooms are phenomenal, right on the beach, and we were upgraded to a st regis suite, which was essentially our own house steps from the beach.

    to compound the redemption value, we used DL miles to fly EWR>AMS>GEN (stop), GEN>CDG (24 layover/night in Paris), CDG>MRU, then MRU>CDG>EWR back all in J for 120K miles each. it was a lot of flying, but very worth it, given the value we got in the air and at the St Regis. Highly recommended stay.

  15. A couple of minor notes:

    – If you already booked the reward stay that you’d like your 35% discount on, you will have to rebook it, which means there has to be availability NOW.

    – You can only get 35% off up to 5 nights. If you are staying longer, you’ll have to book two separate reservations, and will only get the 35% off on the first 5 nights.

    – Yes you can combine with 5th night free. Yes you can still apply suite upgrades.

  16. I am using mine at the St. Regis Rome in 2 weeks (five nights for 52k).

    @ethan – We’re you able to use the 35% off on an upgraded room? I was told by my ambassador that you can only use it on standard redemptions (no upgraded rooms) – I actually had to cancel an upgraded room reservation to use this and chance the SNA (which saved me about 40k points)

  17. @Ryan– yup. Sadly, I’m only gold, so I only had a 25% off coupon. They took 67.5k points from my account (Imperial room was 22.5k/night x4 before the e-cert.) Maybe the agent wasn’t supposed to book me an upgraded room, but she didn’t hesitate when I asked for availability. She also offered me a Junior Suite, but that didn’t seem worth the 40k/night pre-cert (120k total for 5 nights vs 67.5k).

  18. @ Ethan — Hmmm, the T&Cs state they can only be used for standard rooms, am I missing something? Would be awesome if this could be used for a suite booking.

  19. Here’s the line item breakdown in my account activity. Not sure how well it’ll show up. The dates are 8/30 through 9/4.

    Redeem -67,500 07/04/2013 The St. Regis Rome
    GP1 25%OFF CAT 6 2HI-3LO
    Book Now
    Add to favorites

  20. And from the confirmation email…
    Check In 30-AUG-2013 – 2:00 PM *
    Check Out 04-SEP-2013 – 12:00 PM *
    Number of Rooms 1
    Number of Guests 2
    * Indicates standard hotel check-in and check-out times and does not reflect special arrangements made with the hotel.
    Your Accommodations: Room 1 of 1
    Guest Name ETHAN xxxxxxxx
    Number of Adults 2
    Number of Children 0
    Room Description
    King Bed
    • Imperial Non Smoking Room, Smoke-free
    • 45 Sq.m/484 Sq.ft • Large Marble Bathroom
    • Personal St Regis Butler • Sumptuously Furnished
    • High-speed Internet For A Fee

    Maybe I got lucky

  21. The W Vieques is a beautiful property. As a platinum I was upgraded to a huge suite in a standalone building with an oceanview. There’s wild horses that roam the property and hang out around the rooms some days.

    You have to take a little Cessna (I used Cape Air) to get there.

  22. I have been spg platinum meber for several years. I have never received any gift. specially not the one you are talking about. Maybe I shoul complain….

  23. Are there any Cat 6 properties in New York City, London, or Paris which “stand out” above the others?

  24. @ UAPhil — Starwood doesn’t really have any “amazing” properties in those cities, in my opinion, though the best of them would be the Westin Paris, W London, and probably W New York, if you’re looking to stay with category six properties.

  25. Stayed at most places already. Maybe helpful:

    St. Regis Rome – stayed there during honeymoon as Platinum. Would never ever return. Junior Suite upgrade facing a wall (really!), much trouble with the room service (they ended up waiving a total balance of EUR 700+ – but I was really unhappy with the interaction). Lots of politicians there. Better options from SPG (for less points)

    St. Regis Mauritius – stayed there soon after opening around x-mas 2012. Great property. Staff with training issues (Management aware) due to rushed opening. Good location if you stay in-property – far away from everything (need rental car) if you want to explore the island. limited food options nearby. Would return in a heartbeat on that award – highly recommended

    St. Regis Lhasa Resort – have not been at the St. Regis. But have been to Lasa. Ben, you DON’T just fly from the US to Beijing to Lhasa – you WILL most definitively get altitude sickness! You really need time to adjust to the place. This is all besides/on top of the usual special visa restrictions of Lhasa/Tibet Autonomous Region of the PRC.

    Le Meridien Seychelles – stayed at the Hilton Northholm and the Meridien (Fishermans Cove). Fishermans Cove as a Platinum gave us a very far away bungalow – called it a junior suite. Very sterile, a bit run down, lots of bugs, no real beach. We liked the Hilton (as Golds) much more. Would not recommend the Fishermans Cove at all. If I were to return to Seychelles (unlikely) I would only go to the Four Seasons or the fantastic Banyan Tree (awsame location)

    Blue Palace Resort & Spa, Elounda – Have not been there. But for Greece you really need the right season. And every time I wanted to book an award at the Greece *Wood properties during high season I was unable to find any.

    Conclusion: from the above I can only wholeheartedly recommend the St. Regis Mauritius!

  26. I’d love to hear a full detailed report on Mauritius. Plus thats not TOO far from Madagascar, maybe you could swing by there too and give some details. My Wife and I want to go to Madagascar so badly and a visit to Mauritius would be great too! Thanks to the other posters for the views on the resorts.

  27. i did the platinum challenge last year, and just re-qualified for platinum this year, but when i goto the website to enter my number, it says I’m not eligible. does re-qualifying from a challenge year not count?

  28. @ FP — When did you requalify? It can take a little while after requalifying to be eligible, so I’d be patient.

  29. Qualified through status challenge beginning of August, haven’t received anything (apart from confirmation over email)

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