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Why did Starwood lose four top hotels in Dubai?

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If you’re wondering why there is a picture of me with Jamie Cullum here, it links back to an opening party for the super-luxury St Regis hotel in Dubai which I attended at Easter 2016.

“Nice party, shame about the hotel” was my view at the time.  Whilst the hotel was, in itself, suitably glamorous inside, it did feel like a ‘luxury hotel by numbers’ piece of construction.  More worrying, though, was the fact that the site was shared with a Westin and a W hotel, both of which literally towered over the St Regis in what is a surprisingly small plot of land.

The lack of an uber-luxury feel was not helped by the fact that the three hotels are literally on the edge of Sheikh Zayed Road, which is the equivalent of building The Savoy 10 metres from the edge of the M25.

Not surprisingly, it hasn’t worked out well.  It was announced this week that the St Regis, Westin and W at Al Habtoor City will be leaving Starwood on 31st July.  The second St Regis in Dubai, in the middle of nowhere at the Polo Club and which shares the same owners, has already been deflagged.

It isn’t clear if the hotels will be rebranded or not. Habtoor operates the Waldorf Astoria Dubai on The Palm (reviewed here) for example which seems to be working better although could be improved.  It also operates hotels under its own brand, although how it can do this with three totally different properties on the same site remains to be seen.

In the short term, this is a blow for anyone looking to redeem Marriott or Starwood points for a luxury stay in Dubai although these were not exactly ideal vacation choices.  The ‘best’ Marriott / SPG holiday option remains, I think, the Habtoor Grand Resort (Autograph Collection) although I have never been there and it is never discussed in any ‘best resorts in Dubai’ article I have read.  The JW Marriott Marquis is probably the best city option.

In terms of value, you are FAR better at the two The Ritz-Carlton properties just down the road in Ras Al-Khaimah which are exceptional value for redemptions – see my review here (desert resort) and a news article here (beach resort).


Mariott Bonvoy American Express credit card

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2021)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 points sign-up bonus and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

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 status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), 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).

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy 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.)

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