Starwood Category Changes March 1, 2012

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Starwood is going through their annual review and will be changing the categories of several hotels starting March 1, 2012. You can take a look at the hotels changing categories here. Two things to keep in mind:

  1. If you already have a future reservation for a hotel that is going down in a category, make sure to call Starwood on March 1st to get the difference credited back to your account
  2. If you are looking to make a reservation for a hotel that is going up a category, make your reservation NOW to lock in the lower rate. Even if you are not 100% of your vacation, book your reservation and cancel later (just make sure to take a look at the cancellation policy).

Here’s my analysis and thoughts on the changes:

Pros:

  • Going to Thailand with Starwood just got really cheaper (Le Meridien Chiang Mai, Le Meridien Chiang Rai, and Aloft Bangkok will be category 1 hotels). The Westin Siray Bay and Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers are also going down a category.
  • Both the Le Meridien Bora Bora and W Retreat Koh Samui are going down to a category 6 (20-25k points for a free night) – this will allow redeeming for a free night a MUCH more obtainable (and assuming another summer free night promotion, potentially be included).
  • Many hotels in the UAE went down a category.
  • Le Meridien Angkor (Siem Reap, Cambodia) is now a category 2 and a great value compared to the paid rate.

Cons

  • Many hotels in LA, San Francisco, and San Diego are going up a category. I am actually shocked by the Sheraton Delfina Santa Monica as it is nothing to write home about.
  • Almost every New York City hotel is going up a category.
  • The St. Regis Aspen Resort and Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas are going up to a category 7. If you are looking at these hotel for Christmas vacation or next years ski season – book now!
  • The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico will be a category 7. I am not surprised about this as I’ve heard amazing reviews.
  • W South Beach is moving up to a category 7 – I think this is quite high.
  • The two Nusa Dua Bali hotels are going up a category (to a category 5). With this change you might need to re-evaluate using points at these hotels vs. paying the best available rate.

Unfortunately more hotels are going up a category than going down. Additionally, more category 7 hotels have been added to the list then taken away. Just remember, if a hotel is going up a category – BOOK NOW! You have until Wednesday February 29, 2012.

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