Book Your Stays Soon! Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016

Book Your Stays Soon!  Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016

Million Mile SecretsBook Your Stays Soon!  Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016Million Mile Secrets Team

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Starwood announced yesterday they’re making changes to their award chart on March 1, 2016.

There are 282 hotels changing category.  Of those, 168 (~60%) are going up in price, many of which are in the US.  Including some very popular hotels!

If you want to plan an award stay at a Starwood hotel, book soon if your hotel will increase in price after March 1, 2016.  Because available rooms may get booked quickly.

Book Your Stays Soon Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016
Planning a Disney Trip? The Walt Disney World Swan Will Cost More Starwood Points Starting March 1, 2016

I’ll explain the changes.  And show you which hotels to book soon!

Starwood Category Changes

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest

Link:   Starwood Award Chart

Link:   List of 2016 Starwood Category Changes

Starwood usually makes changes to hotel categories each year.  And considering Starwood has ~1,270 hotels worldwide, this affects a small percentage (~22%) of its locations.

Starwood hotels include:

The new categories take effect March 1, 2016.  So book your hotel before then, if it’s moving to a higher category.  Many folks will be doing the same thing, so book soon because there may be fewer available award rooms.

But if your hotel is moving down a category, book after March 1, 2016, because it will be cheaper!  Unless there aren’t many award rooms available, in which case you might book now to lock-in your stay.

Book Your Stays Soon Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016
Hotels Like Le Meridien Chicago – Oak Brook Center Are Going Down in Price, so Wait Until After March 1, 2016, to Book

Here’s the full list of hotels changing their category.

Hotels Moving to a Higher Category

There are 168 hotels moving to a higher category, many of which are in the US.

Here are a few hotels that caught my eye and their new category (all hotels have moved 1 category up).  But this isn’t a comprehensive list!

Folks who like Disney may be disappointed to see 2 popular Orlando hotels (Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort and Walt Disney World Swan) are increasing in price.

And because Walt Disney World Swan is moving to category 5, it can no longer be booked with Nights & Flights.  Only category 3 & 4 hotels are eligible.  This was a terrific way to save points and money on a Disney vacation!

But the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort becomes a good alternative (although it’s not on Disney property) because it’s moving into category 3.  So it will be eligible for Nights & Flights bookings!

Book Your Stays Soon Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016
Hotels Like the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Will Still Be an Affordable Pick for Disney Travelers

Remember, if you already have a hotel booked (or book before March 1, 2016), you’ll pay the old rates.

Hotels Moving to a Lower Category

Many of the 114 hotels moving to a lower category are outside the US.  And you can find a few good deals!

Check out these hotels which will cost fewer points after March 1, 2016 (again, not a comprehensive list):

Book Your Stays Soon Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016
Save Starwood Points on a Stay at the Gorgeous Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran After March 1, 2016

Remember, you get the 5th night free on award bookings at Starwood Category 3 to Category 7 hotels.  So you could save a lot of Starwood points if you wait to book.

For example, the The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club will change from a category 5 (16,000 points per night in peak season) to a category 4 (10,000 points per night).  So you’ll save 24,000 Starwood points on a 5-night stay (4 nights x 6,000 points per night + the 5th night free).

Note:   Marriott is also updating its award chart!  Remember, Starwood and Marriott will merge later in 2016.

Need More Starwood Points?

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Link:   Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express

The easiest way to earn Starwood points quickly is by signing-up for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest personal or small business cards.

You’ll earn 25,000 Starwood points when you sign-up for each card and complete the minimum spending requirements.

Book Your Stays Soon Starwood Category Changes Take Effect March 1, 2016
25,000 Starwood Points Will Be More Than Enough for 3 Nights at the Elegant St. Regis Mumbai

I like using these cards for expenses that don’t otherwise earn category bonuses, like your veterinarian, barber, or hardware store!

And if you’re not interested in award stays, there are lots of other ways to use Starwood points.

Bottom Line

Starwood is updating their award chart starting March 1, 2016.  From that date, 282 hotels will change category.  Of those, 168 will increase in price (and many are in the US!).

This includes popular hotels like the Walt Disney World Swan and Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa.  But some hotels (mostly international) will decrease in price.

Be sure to book soon if your hotel is increasing in price!  And keep in mind, hotels that change from category 4 to category 5 (like the Walt Disney World Swan) will NO longer be eligible for Nights & Flights bookings after the changes take effect.

Which hotels will you book before March 1, 2016?  Are there any price decreases that caught your eye?

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@Alex @margy - That's a fantastic question! Unfortunately, Starwood won't let you book an award stay until you have all the points required.

@Matthew - Correct. The Walt Disney World Dolphin isn't changing categories:

Not dumb at all... I was blindsided by this increase as I just received the spg card and was rushing to complete spending so I could combine points with hubby and book 4 nights to get fifth with the deadline they probably won't post in time...unless I can book it even though points aren't complete...please tell me they are like Marriott as long as points exist before stay...fingers crossed !!

Is it only the Disney Swan and not the Disney Dolphin?

This sounds like a dumb question but can you book even if you don't have all the necessary points? Like you can do with Marriott.