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.
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:
- With Starwood’s 2017 hotel category changes, 325 hotels changed categories, with 63% decreasing in price and 37% increasing in price
- With Starwood’s 2016 hotel category changes, 282 hotels changed categories, with 40% decreasing in price and 60% increasing in price
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.
- 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
- 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.
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?