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Craig has already done a great summary of the upcoming Marriott / Starwood reward category changes, but I thought I’d take a closer look at the lists to see who the winners and losers from the latest changes are, and whether there are any new redemption sweetspots opening up / closing down.
Ritz Carlton / Edition by Marriott
Firstly, here are the UK changes:
- Cheshunt Marriott Hotel: moving from Category 5 to Category 4
- Courtyard Aberdeen Airport: moving from Category 5 to Category 4
- London Marriott Hotel Twickenham: moving from Category 7 to Category 6
- MOXY Aberdeen Airport: moving from Category 4 to Category 3
- Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel: moving from Category 6 to Category 5
Starwood: Great Northern Hotel, London moves back to a much more reasonable Category 5 (12,000-16,000 Starpoints) after a brief time as a Category 6.
- Meon Valley, A Marriott Hotel & Country Club: moving from Category 5 to Category 6
- Northampton Marriott Hotel: moving from Category 4 to Category 5
- Peterborough Marriott Hotel: moving from Category 3 to Category 4
- Edition London: moving from Tier 3 to Tier 4 (Ritz Carlton Tiers)
In other words, nothing particularly significant to report.
In (very) general terms let’s now look at the winners and losers globally.
If you are looking to travel to the following places you will likely do quite well out of the changes – but obviously do check specifics yourself as these are just general trends.
China – more than 50 Starwood hotels are moving to a lower Category with only a few increasing. Marriott is making considerably fewer changes, with a more even split.
India – 8 Starwood moving down and only 1 up. Again, only a few Marriott properties changing, with a roughly even split.
Latin America – Approx 20 Starwood down and a handful increasing. Colombia in particular is looking good value with some new Category 1 hotels. ~13 down and 7 up with Marriott.
Turkey – 8 down, 1 up from Starwood. 9 down, no increases from Marriott.
Middle East – 14 down, 1 up from Starwood. Very few Marriott changes.
South Africa – Marriott has a big footprint (mostly due to the Protea brand) with 5 going up and 15 down this time. Many Protea hotels are Category 1 and 2, which is an incredible bargain at just 7,500/10,000 Points per night (5th night is free on redemptions too!)
Canada – About 35 up and only a few down with Starwood. Marriott – roughly a dozen switching each way.
USA – 569 (I think!) increasing and 327 down with Marriott. The picture is more mixed with Starwood.
Remember that you can transfer points freely between Marriott and Starwood, with 1 Starpoint being equivalent to 3 Marriott Rewards points.
Marriott Category changes actually aren’t anything to worry too much/get too excited about for most of us, as the changes in the vast majority of cases will only be 5,000 Marriott Rewards Points per night either way. The only big issue I can think of is if you happen to have any Category 1-4 or Category 1-5 Free Night Certificates, in which case the Categories can obviously matter a lot.
Starwood changes on the other hand are potentially a big deal. For example, a hotel going from Category 2 to Category 3 more than doubles the number of Starpoints required for a weekend night, because Category 2 weekend nights are 3,000 (4,000 during the week) and Category 3 hotels require 7,000 any day of the week. At the higher end, Category 5 hotels can require as few as 12,000 Starpoints (12,000 – 16,000) while Category 6 hotels require 20,000-25,000 per night.
Let’s look at some practical examples:
The excellent looking Sheraton Dubrovnik is moving from Category 2 (3000-4000 Starpoints per night) to Category 3 (7,000 Starpoints per night), so you can save yourself a bucketload of Points by booking before 7th March. The hotels has been known to mess about a bit with availability, so you may need to call SPG customer service to make your booking.
On the other hand, the Metropol Palace Luxury Collection Hotel in Belgrade is switching from Category 3 to Category 2 so the converse applies – book after 7th March to save yourself lots of Starpoints.
Hotel J outside Stockholm is moving from Category 4 (10,000 Points) to Category 3 (7,000 Points) – saving you 3,000 Starpoints per night. 7,000 Starpoints could work out good value for a nice hotel in a part of the world that can often be quite expensive.
The stunning 5* St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya is changing from Category 5 (12,000-16,000) to Category 4 (10,000), which must make it one of the cheapest St.Regis hotels in the world for redeeming Starpoints at.
Other good options in Europe are the Four Points in Brussels (moving to Category 2) and the new Four Points Venice Mestre (moving to Category 1!!!).
As regards Marriott, there are plenty of good redemption options too, but fewer changes that jumped out at me this time. That said, the JW Marriott in Kuala Lumpur moving from Category 4 to Category 3 (so from 20,000 to 15,000 Marriott Rewards Points per night) looks great.
Finally, almost anything Category 1-2 from either Marriott or Starwood is well worth a look – particularly in South Africa and Latin America!