A FlyerTalk member noticed his Cash & Points reservation for Athens Grand Bretagne changed this week from 18,000 points + $330  to 30,000 points + $540 for a 3-night stay.

Luxury Collection Grand Bretagne Athens is one of the hotels to rise from Category 5 to Category 6 last week. Athens is suffering riots in the streets, and the tourists and business people are paying more for the comfort of being out of the maddening crowds.

Starwood Lurker responds,

My apologies for the inconvenience. This happens every year when the categories change and a property goes up. Just ignore it. No one is coming after you for more points or cash.

Best regards,
William R. Sanders
Social Media Specialist
Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

Don’t worry about a thing. Every little thing is going to be all right.

SPG C-and-P

SPG Cash & Points

Speaking of Athens

I’ll be in Athens October 23-25 for TBEX14 Europe, the travel blog exchange conference. Looking forward to the trip. This will be my first time visiting Athens and Greece.

I haven’t been close to a street riot since TBEX11 Vancouver when the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup hockey finals.

Hotel Ivy Minneapolis opened in 2008 as a hotel and residential building in downtown Minneapolis. A unique feature of the hotel is its incorporation of a historic building into the modern main skyscraper structure.

The Ivy building  Starwood photo

My photo (on left, if you could not tell) was taken from the Minneapolis Skyway on a snowy day. The photo on the Starwood site gives a bigger perspective of the juxtaposition between historic and modern structures.

Read More…

Another Thursday and another list of SPG Hot Escapes with 142 hotels. While the list actually appears each Wednesday, I have pushed my post to Thursday since there seem to be hotels added throughout the day on Wednesday.

SPG Hot Escapes rules:

  • Available rates are posted for next six weeks.
  • Teaser rate shown may only be available for one or two dates over that period of time with higher rates on other dates.
  • Prepaid and nonrefundable, no changes allowed.
  • Must book by Saturday, March 1.

W City Center Chicago is $133 when I will be in Chicago in April. Now if it were $106 rate shown on the Hot Escapes page available for March 8, then I might jump on that price. I like the hotel lobby ambience and location in the Loop.

SPG chicago

I wrote this line to start my blog post from my 2010 visit to W City Center:

I walked into the W Chicago City Center and I felt that ‘WOW’ factor that I never got at the Chicago W Lakeshore.

W Chicago City Center in blue ray                                Loyalty Traveler, October 27, 2010.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed.

This post looks at 139 Starwood Hotels being reassigned to a lower hotel award category on March 4, 2014. Fewer points for a hotel night is a welcome change, but are these hotels in places you travel? Or places you actually want to travel?

State of the Globe or 60 seconds on hotel economic conditions

The hotel industry executives all love the USA this year. Seems like yesterday when the articles in 2008 decalred America the land of poor returns and executives patted each other on the back for all the hotel projects they had in the pipeline outside the USA.

The main push following the 2008 recession in the USA was a focus by the hotel industry on the BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Economists look at these places with booming middle class growth and think there is money to be made in consumer goods. Brazil and Russia have Olympics and World Cup. Tourists need hotels.

The major hotel chains concentrated growth in these places. Six years later, growth has slowed in Asia, regional conflicts are hurting tourism across much of Africa, Thailand, Ukraine. Many of the hotels that were built in the past decade are hitting the boom and bust bumps that hotel ownership brings. Sochi, Russia has plenty of hotel rooms now. Radisson, the largest of the chain brands in Sochi, lowered the reward night cost for many hotels there effective March 15, 2014. SPG lowers the Hotel National, a Luxury Collection property in Moscow, from category 6 to category 5.

Starwood Hotels award category reassignment = 139 down, 111 up on March 4, 2014

There are global factors and local situations affecting Starwood Hotels and the hotel industry as a whole, resulting in 139 hotel properties dropping in award category for 2014 compared to 111 hotels rising in award category effective March 4, 2014.

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The USA was the global hot spot for hotel rate increases and occupancy in 2013. The number of Starwood hotels rising in award category in the USA at 73 comprises about 1 in 8 hotels across the country.

This post has a table showing the 73 hotels by state and a second version of the table showing the same hotels ordered by SPG award category.

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Starwood Preferred Guest has a Twice as Nice dining promotion for earning double base points, 4 Starpoints per dollar, for dining at a participating Starwood Hotel restaurant when not staying as a hotel guest from February 1 to April 30, 2014.

This is a global offer with 1,543 restaurant locations.

SPG Twice as Nice promotion registration is required for this offer.

This offer may be combined with the SPG.com/restaurantsandbars discount offers.

This promotion seems to be designed to bring awareness to the SPG Restaurants and Bars discount offers that launched in 2012. It was April 2012 when I wrote about SPG restaurant and bars discounts. There were few participating restaurants when the program launched.

*Eligible Food and Beverage Purchases

When an SPG Member is not staying at an SPG Participating Hotel, purchases made or charges incurred by the SPG Member for food and beverage (excluding alcoholic beverage purchases where prohibited by law) at participating restaurants located within or adjacent to SPG Participating Hotels will be considered as an Eligible Purchase or Charge if: (i) the restaurant permits guests to charge food and beverage on their folios; (ii) the charges are greater than $10 USD (after discount where applicable and excluding taxes, gratuities) ;(iii) the food and beverage is not in connection with a banquet, meeting or other function.  Visit spg.com/termsandconditions to learn more.

This looks like a good promotion for raising awareness of the SPG Restaurants and Bars program for dining and drink discounts while earning double points, even when not staying at the Starwood Hotel for a room night.

SPG Hot Escapes, the prepaid, nonrefundable discount rates for Starwood Hotels over the next six weeks, has 314 hotels on this week’s list, more than 25% of hotels worldwide.  This is by far the largest list of hotels to appear for this weekly Starwood Hotels promotional offer.

The list is too long to reproduce for this post.

You should check out these offers, especially if you are earning the SPG 2,500 bonus points for every five nights.

Winter snow resort destinations and warm sun beach resorts look sky high, but there are plenty of bargains in middle America and elsewhere in the off-season of mid winter.

SPG Hot Escapes 2-8-14

314 hotels on SPG Hot Escapes for bookings by Feb 8, 2014.


Happy Birthday Bob Marley who would have been 69 today if his life had not been cut too short by cancer in 1981. Never forget who you are and where you stand in the struggle.

Another Wednesday and another set of SPG Hot Escapes hotels are out. These are prepaid, discount rates available over the next six weeks. The advertised rates tend to only be for a few dates over the entire booking period. There are 102 hotels listed at time of this post. Hotels drop off and get added throughout the day on the Wednesday day of posting.

I see a great $60 rate for Sheraton Minneapolis West during the time I will be there next month. Closer inspection reveals Minneapolis West is actually Minnetonka. Any knowledgeable folks have an opinion as to whether Minnetonka is worth a visit or am I better off sticking to downtown Minneapolis?

Here are some other Starwood Hotels with sample rates:

Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers $68 (2 dates out of 31 days); rate range ($68-$175).

Westin New York Grand Central $136 (4 dates on weekends with another 4 weekend dates at $144).

Paris Le Meridien Etoile $194 (11 weekend dates in February).

The Laguna Bali, Luxury Collection, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia $116 on ten dates in February.

Westin Verasa Napa, California $136 on 6 midweek dates in February.

SPG Hot Escapes Feb 1

SPG Hot Escapes – Book by February 1, 2014.


Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.

Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.

Follow Loyalty Traveler on Twitter and Facebook and RSS feed or subscribe to a daily email newsletter of Loyalty Traveler blog posts.

On January 9, 2014, Starwood Preferred Guest launched a partnership with Caesars Entertainment Total Rewards for limited shared benefits. My previous SPG-Caesars post is an introductory piece and discussed benefits of the partnership for loyalty rewards members.

One of the features of this partnership is the ability to redeem SPG points for hotel rooms at Caesars properties around the USA including 9 properties in Las Vegas.

This post analyzes the value of SPG points redeemed for one free night in Las Vegas over six nights in February 2014. Some trends emerge.

Reward nights at Caesars Las Vegas properties are offered at discrete reward rates and these award rates are assigned to a limited range of room rates.

In essence, the number of points required for a free room night is pegged to the Caesars hotel room rate at the time of booking. The value of SPG points is likely to be in the range of $8 to $12 per 1,000 points when redeemed for a free room night at a Caesars hotel.

$8 to $12 per 1,000 Starpoints is less than half the value that a SPG member can easily find using SPG points at a Starwood Hotel where the value of points tends to range from $20 to $40 per 1,000 points, especially when redeeming for Cash & Points award nights. 


Caesars room rate and SPG award rate compared. Dividing the room rate by points required for free night gives redemption value as Points Value per 1,000 points. The redemption value is actually higher since the hotel room rate does not include tax.

Caesars Resort Fees

Resort fees are additional to room rate and must be paid on all cash or award stays.

  • Caesars Las Vegas $25
  • Nobu Las Vegas $25
  • Paris Las Vegas $20
  • Planet Hollywood Las Vegas $20
  • Rio Las Vegas $20
  • Bally’s Las Vegas $18
  • Flamingo Las Vegas $18
  • Harrah’s Las Vegas $18
  • The Quad $15

SPG Award Rates for Caesars Las Vegas hotels

Comparing room rates at these nine Las Vegas hotels to the SPG award rate for six dates in February 2014 reveals the award rates are at discrete point levels starting at 4,500 points, then rising by 2,500 points to 7,000 for the second award tier. The third award tier is 9,500 points. The next three tiers rise by 3,000 points at 12,500 points and 15,500 points and 18,500 points. Then the tier levels increase by 3,500 points for 22,000 points to 25,500 points to 29,000 points. There were no data points for higher SPG award rates during the survey period, however, far higher rates have been observed in other award rate checks, in excess of 50,000 points per award night.


My conclusion is the value of points for Caesars Entertainment properties is low redemption value at $6 to 12 per 1,000 points. I still aim for $30 to $35 per 1,000 points. That kind of redemption value is harder to find in 2014 after the rise in SPG Cash & Points rates, but still a possibility.

The SPG Caesars Entertainment partnership offers new earning opportunities for hotel stays in Las Vegas and around the USA at 17 resort casinos.

Still, there is poor value in burning your SPG points for Caesars hotel stays, unless you find that to be the best use of your points.



Another aspect of redeeming points at Caesars hotels is the option to pay more Starpoints for upgrade rooms with participating Caesars properties. There might be better redemption value in upgrades, or possibly worse. That is another analysis I will examine soon.


Staying in Las Vegas?

Caesars Palace, Mandalay Bay, Venetian and The Cosmopolitan are some of the Las Vegas casino resorts where hotel loyalty program members with Starwood, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott can earn hotel loyalty points and burn points for award stays.

Las Vegas, with nearly 40 million visitors in 2012, is a leading destination in the USA and more than 1 in 6 visitors to Las Vegas is from another country. Visitors to Las Vegas consumed 46 million hotel room nights in 2012, more hotel nights than any other U.S. city.

Las Vegas casino hotels in recent years have established partnerships for earning and burning loyalty points through mainstream hotel chain programs. InterContinental Alliance Resorts was created in 2010 partnering Sands-owned properties The Venetian and The Palazzo with IHG Rewards Club. The Cosmopolitan opened as a Marriott Autograph Collection property in December 2010. The M life partnership between MGM Resorts and Hyatt Hotels announced in summer 2013 placed many of the premier Strip resorts like Bellagio, Mandalay Bay and MGM Grand as Hyatt Gold Passport properties for earning points and redeeming award nights. Hilton HHonors shed some of its former casino hotel properties while expanding its Hilton Grand Vacations Club timeshares in Las Vegas.

Tapping into hotel loyalty preferences of visitors to Las Vegas is a win-win for casino resort operators who gain new customers and hotel program loyalty members who can earn and burn hotel loyalty points for Las Vegas hotel stays.

Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Caesars Total Rewards

The newest major chain partnership in Las Vegas effective January 9, 2014 pairs Starwood Hotels and Caesars Entertainment

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