Starwood Preferred Guest has announced its annual category changes,
This PDF document contains a list of all the changes. Most are straight one category moves and, to be fair to Starwood, there are as many properties going up as are going down.
Don’t underestimate the size of some of the jumps though. A Category 5 to Category 6 move means a jump from 16,000 points to 25,000 points per night! A jump from Category 6 to Category 7 means an extra 10,000 points per night (25,000 to 35,000).
Of the notable jumps, St Regis Abu Dhabi (which is apparently not as bad as the one in Doha I visited) goes to Category 6.
The real news for European residents, however, is in the fallers.
In theory, Starwood bases its redemption categories on the average room rate achieved for the previous year. Starwood is either having some massive problems in Europe leading to lower rates or, more likely, is adjusting for changes in exchange rates. This is the only reason I can think of for the substantial cuts to redemption rates for European hotels.
Left, right and centre, Starwood has made it cheaper to stay in their European properties.
I would guess that around half of the European portfolio has come down.
There are three drops in Vienna, two in Brussels, one in Prague, one in Zagreb, one in Paris (W Paris-Opera), eight in Germany, three in Greece, one in Budapest, six in Italy, one in Malta, one in The Netherlands, two in Poland, two in Portugal, one in Serbia, four in Spain and one in Switzerland.
In the UK:
aloft Liverpool drops from Category 3 to Category 2 (7,000 to 4,000 per night – or 3,000 at weekends)
Sheraton Heathrow drops from Category 3 to Category 2 (7,000 to 4,000 per night – or 3,000 at weekends)
Sheraton Skyline Heathrow drops from Category 4 to Category 3 (10,000 to 7,000 points per night)
Over in Ireland, the Sheraton Athlone drops to Category 1, making it just 2000 points per night at the weekend or 3000 points midweek!
These changes come into effect from March 10th. You should book now for stays at properties which are going up in price. For the fallers, it is OK to wait. Starwood has ‘last room availability’ so if a standard room is available for sale, you can also have it for points.
Remember that you can convert American Express Membership Rewards points into Starwood Preferred Guest points at the rate of 2:1. A weekend night at the Sheraton Heathrow would be just 6,000 Amex points (3,000 SPG points). This may be an interesting transfer option if you are no longer sure that converting to Avios offers the best value after April 28th.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards (January 2021)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (20,000 bonus points), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)