Starwood 2018 Hotel Category Changes: 276 Hotels Are Changing In Price

It’s not unusual for the major hotel loyalty programs to announce annual hotel category changes. With these changes they’re not adjusting the number of points required for a stay at a particular category of hotel, but rather are changing which hotels are in which categories. Starwood has just announced their 2018 hotel category changes.

Starwood 2018 hotel category changes

Starwood’s 2018 category changes kick in for bookings made as of March 6, 2018, giving members nearly a month to make bookings before these changes kick in. Members can make bookings for dates after the changes kick in, as the deadline is based on when you book and not when you stay.

In 2018, 276 SPG hotels will be changing categories, which represents about 17% of their hotels. With these changes, about 9% of hotels will be moving down in category, and 8% of hotels will be moving up in category. So on net we’re seeing categories go down here, though that’s not necessarily good news — after all, it’s typically the most popular properties that increase in price.

You can find the full list of category changes here.

The Le Meridien Cairo Airport is decreasing from a Category 2 to Category 1

Here’s the number of hotels we’re seeing change category in each region:

  • 114 hotels in North America
  • 55 hotels in Europe
  • 10 hotels in Central & South America
  • 2 hotels in the Caribbean
  • 64 hotels in Asia Pacific
  • 31 hotels in Africa & Middle East

Here’s how these changes compare to the past two years:

The Sheraton Tel Aviv is increasing from a Category 5 to Category 6

Hotel category changes that stand out to me

Based on quickly looking at the list, here are the changes that I personally find most significant.

Category increases:

  • Sheraton Frankfurt Airport increases from Category 3 to Category 4
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin increases from Category 4 to Category 5
  • Le Meridien Thimphu increases from Category 4 to Category 5
  • Le Meridien Paro increases from Category 4 to Category 5
  • W Guangzhou increases from Category 4 to Category 5
  • Sheraton Tel Aviv increases from Category 5 to Category 6
  • Westin Dublin increases from Category 5 to Category 6
  • Westin Palace Madrid increases from Category 5 to Category 6
  • St. Regis Osaka increases from Category 6 to Category 7

Category decreases:

  • St. Regis Dubai decreases from Category 7 to Category 6
  • W New York decreases from Category 6 to Category 5
  • W Dubai decreases from Category 6 to Category 5
  • Grosvenor House Dubai decreases from Category 6 to Category 5
  • W Doha decreases from Category 5 to Category 4
  • Le Meridien Cairo Airport decreases from Category 2 to Category 1

The Le Meridien Paro is increasing from a Category 4 to Category 5

Starwood is adjusting their booking window

Starting February 11, 2018, to closer align with Marriott’s booking policies, SPG will be adjusting their booking window. New reservations at SPG hotels will only be available 350 days in advance, rather than the current window of up to 550 days in advance. Existing reservations beyond 350 days will not be affected.

Bottom line

These changes strike me as being quite reasonable. The number of hotels changing category is roughly comparable to previous years, though I’m finding fewer properties this time around than in the past that I’m impacted by. Everyone has different redemption patterns, so these changes are never universally good or bad. Personally I think I’m mostly indifferent towards these category changes, and I’d consider that to be a good thing. There are certainly a few changes I’m not happy about (like the Sheraton Tel Aviv, which seems a stretch at a Category 6), though there are also some positives.

Are there any hotels that you like to redeem at that are changing category?


  1. Four Points by Sheraton Hakodate
    at least this one was raise 2 category
    For places I am interested, mostly bad news.

  2. In Orlando (lake buena vista), you have two properties on site at Disney (closest to Epcot). The “Dolphin” and the “Swan”. Although not specifically branded this way, the Dolphin is a Sheraton and the Swan is a Westin (based on general operations, decor, soaps, etc.).

    Needless to say, the Swan, IMO, is much nicer. Historically, the Dolphin was 10k and Swan was 16k points per night.

    The Dolphin is in this change, going from 4 to 5. I am hopeful that they price the Dolphin at 12k points and not matched at 16k like the Swan. There is no way the Dolphin is the same quality. When they sell out for conventions or Disney events, though, I can see why they’d want to price them more similarly.

  3. The Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview which was a great redemption value on summer weekends when the price is normally over $400 is increasing 2 categories from 2 to 4.

  4. @AMPfromBNA The Dolphin just underwent a $100million+ renovation (making it look like every other cookie cutter hotel lobby these days) but that likely explains the increase.

  5. I’ve found most of SPG’s redemption options on hotels to be relatively poor value. Whereas Hyatt offered great values with C+P redemptions, Starwood and Marriott have been ho-hum, with the exception of the 7-night hotel+miles packages.

    @Lu – it’s not like that hotel ever has any availability. Heck, it’s hard to find nights you can pay for, let alone redemption nights at 4PBS Hakodate.

  6. The LM Cairo Airport move from Cat 2 to 1 is interesting. Normal paid rates including taxes are usually $120+ so redeeming 4k points was already a great deal to begin with. I guess this matches other Starwood properties in Cairo, which I believe are mostly, if not all, Cat 1.

  7. Westin in Whistler, BC is going up from 5 to 6. This was (still is but less so) an incredible value during ski season with regular rates > 1,000 CAD per night and redemptions at 12k points. Even managed to book this over NYE last year.

  8. @neil… I stayed at the w NYC…I wanted a shower after my shower. Maybe a silkwood kind of shower.

  9. That W on Lexington Ave is beyond disgusting. Vile and gross; I’d sooner stay at the Y.
    Le Meridien Cairo might be suffering a bit because of QR being banned. I know that I would have done at least 6 o/n there and suspect there are many others who did the same. As airport hotels go , it doesn’t get much better ( although it needs some refreshing/updating and a better lounge.

  10. Mwahahahaha, what fool pays $1000 a night in Whistler! The real per night rate in Whistler is about C$250 to C$425 a night for both the Westin and the Fairmont. They jack the rates at Christmas/Easter for a few weeks in the hopes that some sucker will book it.

    With a valuation of about C$.034 (as per TPG) for Starpoints and at a redemption rate of 12k per night the hotel is still coming out ahead if you book an award room. This Feb 26th to Feb 28th C$400 per night. Early April for C$280 a night, early May C$250 a night. My last ski day on Whistler last season was May 10th. Looking forward to some cheap nights in Whistler.

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