Thailand + Starwood = 1 Amazingly Cheap Vacation!

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If you’ve been following this blog for awhile you know two things: 1) I recently went to Thailand and LOVED it AND 2) I stayed at all Starwood properties during my stay. While I have MANY points in all of the major programs, Starwood had some of the best properties throughout the country and their redemption rates were ridiculously low. Well… to make things even better, Starwood just went through their annual review of hotel categories and new changes went into affect March 1st. While this might have been a disappointment to some, Thailand properties actually benefited.

As of March 1, the following hotels in Thailand are a Category 1, which now requires only 3,000 points during the week and 2,000 points on the weekend for a free night:

  • Le Méridien Chiang Mai
  • Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort
  • Aloft Bangkok – Sukhumvit

I actually stayed in all of these three hotels and they were great! I also stayed at the Sheraton Krabi hotel, but they did not change in categories and still remain as a category 3 (still a great value)! You could easily spend three nights in Bangkok and then maybe another six nights between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, all of this for only 25,000 points total! That is almost the same cost as a high end category 6 hotel in Europe! Additionally, the Starwood American Express credit card gives at least 25,000 points depending on the offer when you apply (upon meeting the minimum spend requirements for the particular offer), so these 9 nights could be FREE!

Additional hotels went down a category too, although they are slightly above a category 1:

  • Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers (Bangkok) – now a category 2 (3,000 points for a weekend and 4,000 points for a weekday)
  • W Retreat Koh Samui – now a category 6 (20,000-25,000 points for a free night – and the 5th night is free!)
  • The Westin Siray Bay Resort & Spa, Phuket – now a category 3 (7,000 points for a free night – and the 5th night is free!)

For a trip to Thailand, Starwood is really the only major chain that has properties in all the tourist destinations (Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Chiang Rai). If you are thinking about Thailand, make sure to focus on Starwood this year as the number of points is now extremely obtainable!

And on a side note – I promise to get my Thailand trip report posted soon!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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    • @Maury – I used Continental miles on the way there and AA miles on the return. On the way there, I flew via London (United from JFK to London and Thai Airways from London to Bangkok). On the return I flew on Cathay from Hong Kong to JFK direct. I spend a few days in Hong Kong so flew from Bangkok to Hong Kong on a local carrier (AirAsia) for about $120.

  1. Definitely agree! I just rebooked my stays at the Aloft Bangkok and also the Le Meridien Angkor (which went down to a Category 2 from a Category 3). Now is a great time to visit SE Asia using SPG points!

    • @glu800 – I LOVED the Le Meridien Angkor! Once you are in SE Asia, it is so cheap! Just getting there is the expensive part!

  2. Looking forward to the trip report! Was the Aloft Bangkok centrally located and in a good spot for touristy stuff? I’m headed for a 2 week trip to Thailand in January 2013.

    • @Rebecca – I liked the Aloft Bangkok. While it did not have a Thai cultural feel, it was a nice hotel. It is similar to the Alofts in the US, but a hair nicer. It is about a 5 minute walk to the train, and in my opinion, that is all that matters. If you are constantly going back to the hotel throughout the day, then no, this hotel will not be convenient. It was also really close to all the places we were recommended for dinner. I’d highly recommend it, but it really depends on your travel style. Feel free to email me.

  3. 25K points is amazing when you consider that a domestic Hampton Inn costs 25k Hilton Points for 1 night. Granted you can’t do a 1:1 comparison, but still….

  4. Can hardly wait for the trip report! Will have to ask you for tips when we travel to SE Asia. Um, can I do the AA one world award from SFO to HK, Saigon, Singapore, and Australia? and what would be the miles required for round trip on business/coach class? Thanks.

    • @Nguyen – I promise they will come soon! Feel free to email me with any questions about redeeming awards to get to/from SE Asia.

  5. My only concern with Thailand is that it takes 3 days to travel back and forth. For a one week vacation that is poor use of time.

    • @Z – I personally spent a full 14 days in Thailand and then another 2 in Hong Kong on the return. I absolutely loved Thailand, and if one only has a week, I’d still recommend going.

  6. Glad you like Thailand. So far it’s my favorite (has nothing to do with the fact that I am a native Thailand’s neighbor – Lao 🙂 ) of all the places I have been to (Europe, AU, NZ, Carribean, HK). Went back year after year, have always stayed in low-cost locally own lodging but it will be even better next time to be able to use less SPG points at great properties.

    My last trip there I took similar route: USA – HK – ferry to Macau – Air Asia to BKK – Nok Air to UTH. Also took Nok Air to Chiang Mai on a different trip.

  7. We’ve gone on many overseas trips and still consider Thailand our favorite. When we’ve worked through our list, Thailand is on the top for a repeat return. We also stayed at Starwoods Hotels and never had a bad experience. Thailand has the friendliest people we’ve ever encountered. Many great stories of people stopping to help us when we had a language problem, waiting for your report.

    • @Kalboz – Not even sure I can compare the two. They are totally different. Both have the big city atmosphere, but different cultures, food, things to do. It’s less than a 3 hour flight between the two so you can go to both!

  8. I have currently booked Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I was told that I will be charged a 10% service charge along with 7.7% VAT tax. What were you charged for these two extra charges per night?

    I see that you stayed around New Years. When did you book your rooms for Samui? Did you only use points or did you use points and cash?

    Do you earn any extra points using your Starwood Amex for points and cash?

    Thanks in advance!

  9. I have currently booked Chiang Mai and Bangkok. I was told that I will be charged a 10% service charge along with 7.7% VAT tax. What were you charged for these two extra charges per night? I see that you stayed around New Years. When did you book your rooms for Samui? Did you only use points or did you use points and cash?

    Do you earn any extra points using your Starwood Amex for points and cash?

    Thanks in advance!

    • @Jay – What type of reservation is this for? Paid, all points, cash and points?

      I did stay around New Years, but did not go to Samui. For many of my nights I paid as they were relatively inexpensive and I was enrolled in the Platinum Challenge.

      When you do cash and points, you unfortunately do not earn points for the cash portion.

  10. I have two nights using only points at Chiang Mai and one night using points and cash. For Bangkok, I am using points and cash. For all three reservations I was told I would pay 10% service charge and 7.7% VAT tax.

    I forgot you said you stayed in Krabi! =) Did you use points for that stay? If you did, were you charged the extra fees?

    I also just registered for the promotion they are running to obtain gold status for a paid stay in Asia. I will be paying for one of the nights in January to obtain the gold status. Will I receive gold status for one year or will I receive gold status for the remainder of 2013/2014? Is paying for a night worth the benefits you get for being gold?

    Thanks in advance!

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