Starwood Annual Category Changes – the Good and the Bad!

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As they do on a yearly basis, Starwood has reassessed their properties and is changing the categories for 268 hotels. At this time, a total of 276 hotels will be changing categories – about half of them going down a category and the other half going up a category. To me, this is really neither good or bad news, just a shuffle in hotels. So no real devaluation, although when I look at the list there are more hotels that I am looking to stay at that are going up a category then down. So whether or not this is good or bad for you depends on which properties you are looking to stay at.

This change will take place on March 6, 2018, and hotels booked on or after this date will take on the new category. If a hotel you are looking to book is going UP a category, make sure to lock that reservation is now. As of right now, you can book 550 days out, but starting February 11, that booking window will change to only 350 days out. So if there is a hotel going up a category that you are looking to stay at more then a year from now, make sure to make that reservation in the next few days! You can view a list of hotels changing here.

Some hotels that I am happy about the decrease include:

  • Sthala, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Ubud Bali – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • The Westin Arlington Gateway – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • Sheraton Brooklyn New York Hotel – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • Aloft New York Brooklyn – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • Le Méridien Philadelphia – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • The Westin Sarasota – moving from a category 6 to a category 5
  • W Las Vegas – moving from a category 5 to a category 4
  • W Miami – moving from a category 6 to a category 5
  • W New York – moving from a category 6 to a category 5

Some hotels that I am sad to see going up a category:

  • Sheraton Tel Aviv Hotel – moving from a category 5 to category 6
  • Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok – moving from a category 4 to a category 5
  • Le Méridien Chiang Mai – moving from a category 3 to a category 4 (when I stayed at this hotel a long time ago it was a category 1!)
  • The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa – moving from a category 5 to a category 6
  • King George, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Athens – moving from a category 5 to a category 6
  • The Westin Palace, Madrid – moving from a category 5 to a category 6
  • The Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler – moving from a category 5 to a category 6
  • Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview – moving from a category 2 to a category 4
  • Walt Disney World Dolphin – moving from a category 4 to a category 5

The hotels that I am the most sad about include the Westin Grand Cayman and the Westin Whistler. Visiting the Westin Grand Cayman is on my short list of vacations, so I am just going to have to plan ahead and make a reservation probably for Winter 2019. And while I would LOVE to visit the Westin Whistler, my kids are not yet at the age where making that trip is possible. I can see us taking the kids skiing out west in 2 years from now, but not next winter. I also think it is funny to see the Le Meridien Chiang Mai at a category 4 property! While I stayed at this property in 2011 and thought it was great, it is not even close to a category 4 property. I stayed when it was a category 1, so using points was definitely an amazing value, but you can many times get this hotel for $115/night which means using 10,000 points would not be worth it in my mind!

And remember, if you are looking to increase your Starwood balance, you can still apply for either of the Starwood credit cards – Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card (personal version) or Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card (business version). I am assuming this card will no longer be available at some point (due to the Marriott/SPG merger) but as of right now there is no set date.

Comments

  1. I just tried to make a reservation at the Westin Grand Cayman in April 2019 and they’ve already started enforcing the policy where you can only book 350 days out. So by the time the booking calendar would open for April 2019, it would have already moved from a Category 5 to a Category 6 hotel.
    Bummer, now it’ll take even more SPG points to stay there for free !

  2. I just called Starwood to book a reservation at the Westin Grand Cayman for April 2019.
    The reservation agent said that they already closed the 550 day window and are only booking 350 days out right now. Bummer, as I wanted to use 48K SPG points for a 5-night stay in April 2019 !

    • @Eric – It actually looks like they blocked out peak times in their calendar! While you cannot book January 6 through July 3, 2019, you CAN book July 4-August 12, 2019. I looked up many other hotels and you can book 550 days out (for most hotels, although not all).

  3. Thanks – I found a 5-day window I was able to book in June 2019 at the Westin Grand Cayman for only 48K SPG points . I appreciate your update !

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