Starwood Preferred Guest points are some of the most valuable in the travel rewards world as they are prized for their flexibility not only in booking hotel award nights at some of Starwood’s iconic brands but for their transfer options to over thirty different airline partners!
The video and transcript below walk you through how to search for and book hotel nights using Starwood Preferred Guest points.
Video: How to Search for Starwood Hotel Award Availability
Hi, this is Brad Barrett from TraveMiles101.com. In this video I want to talk you through how to search for and book Starwood Hotel award nights. Most people aren’t terribly familiar with the name Starwood, but it is a huge name in the travel rewards world, and you probably are actually very familiar with some of the brands.
If we scroll down here we see it’s W, Sheraton, Aloft, Four Points, Westin, these are the main ones that people have heard of. There are some luxury collections Saint Regis, Element, et cetera, but most people have certainly heard of Sheraton, Westin, W, and Aloft. There’s a fairly significant footprint with this hotel, and many of them are very luxury hotels, but you can book these for significantly fewer points per night than let’s say a Marriott or a Hilton.
There’s a lot of value in the Starwood program in general for many reasons, but their reasonable redemption rates are first and foremost. What we’ll do is we’ll actually head over here to the Starwood award chart, and down below in the transcript area I will certainly have this linked to. You see here this is a whole big mess of information, but it is fairly easy to understand (once you go through it). Let’s just talk through it. The most important items here, so these are the categories, okay, across the top here, these columns are each: Category one all the way up to seven.
Now these (Category 7) are ridiculous luxury hotels, but I like to focus on category one through four, and then five to some degree. I don’t find much value out of six or seven, unless you just for some reason want to stay at a thousand dollar a night hotel or some such, and pretty much use up all your points in one or two nights, but some people get value out of that certainly, but I find a ton of value in category one through four especially.
These are the points per night, and you’ll see they actually discount category one and two on weekends. These are generally business hotels, and they offer one thousand points off from the traditional rate. I found some really good ones:
There’s a nice Sheraton Hotel just outside of Disney World in Florida that is a category two, so it’s actually only three thousand points per night on Friday and Saturday nights, which is amazing. We can certainly talk about a lot of these items, but most of them are fairly self-explanatory. There’s cash plus points if you wanted to basically pay half the number of points of a free night, plus what they might call a copay let’s say, so for two thousand points a night you could get a category two hotel, and you’d have to pay thirty-five dollars. In that case on Monday to … On the weekdays you are paying thirty-five dollars to save two thousand starpoints, so you just need to determine what makes sense for you.
You can upgrade, you can get suites, all this … Many of these upgrades. These are pretty interesting, and there’s also one other important point to note which is the fifth night free. Okay, this is only good for category three through seven. You get on a five night stay or longer you get the fifth night free. Okay, so if you book five nights in a category four hotel that should be fifty thousand points, but they give you that fifth night for free, so it actually only costs you forty thousand.
That’s what my wife Laura and I used when we took our girls down to Disney World. We were able to stay in the onsite Disney Swan Hotel for five nights, and it only cost us forty thousand Starpoints. That was a really nice savings for sure.
Another cool thing is if you notice these are actually hyperlinks here, so we can click on category four, and this now shows us all the category four hotels that they have throughout the world, which as you can see is pretty considerable. This is a huge list of hotels, and let’s see here, you can do this drop down all the way at the top for select hotel category. Again, I would like to focus on category one through four generally, so I’m not going to normally click down here, but sometimes you’ll find something in category five in the off peak time that’s not unreasonable, it’s twelve thousand points per night. They give you the peak season for each. Again, this is just helping you navigate through the website.
Now, what we’ll do is … There’re a couple ways to search, so we’ll head back to the Starwood Preferred Guest main page, and let’s just say since I’ve talked about Disney World, why don’t we say Orlando, Florida. We’ll just pick some random day in June of 2015, and say we’re staying one night and we’ll ‘search.’ Now this should give us all the Starwood Hotels that are available in the greater Orlando area.
You see there are twelve options, and it’s nice. This is just a fairly straightforward list, they tell you what category, the number of points needed if they have the cash and points option open. Now, not every hotel has cash and points, so that’s not always available.
The nice thing about Starwood free nights is that if they have one ‘standard room’ available to pay for in cash you can use your points, so that makes it really, really easy to book these free nights, so you talk in many of these cases there’re hundreds of rooms in a large hotel.
The likelihood of them being at full occupancy is fairly slim on just any given night. You can often book using your points up until the very last moment, so that provides a lot of flexibility to people. You’ll see here, category three this is … Category three let’s see … Another nice thing you can filter here by category, you’ll see this is a Category two.
Let’s see if we can’t find that Sheraton that I was talking about. Yeah, this is right outside of Disney World, according to their website. It costs four thousand Starpoints per night on a weekday, and three thousand on a weekend, and they do have cash and points available actually. Let’s see if we can find … Yeah, here’s the Disney World Dolphin, and the Disney World Swan, so these are really wonderful hotels that we’ve stayed in personally. It would just be as simple as just clicking through and booking.
You can click reserve here, and they’ll give you some room options, and yeah, you just select your rate. You see what kind of … Let’s see, they have two queen beds, let’s see they should have a king bed option. Yeah, so it would just be as simple as you have these points and you click reserve, and it’s that easy.
I like going through that main Starwood Preferred Guest page, because it allows me to see what kind of hotels are available in a city I’m going to. Another couple options obviously would be to just go to Google. Just type in Starwood Hotels Orlando, and it would give you the list, or it would also then give you specific options that you could click through, but I find it more efficient to go through the main page and see them all in one list.
Finally, if you just happen to end up on the Starwood page for the particular hotel it would operate essentially the same way. You would just click here as if you were booking for cash. We’ll just do again some random night, and click reserve.
This is as if you’re just doing a regular cash booking, and you can see here if they have … Any time you see or ten thousand points per night or whatever it may be, as long as this SPG free nights is clicked then you can book that. Sometimes, like I said, it could be booked theoretically, but these are pretty big hotels so the likelihood is fairly slim, but of course you always need to check for dates that you plan to travel before you book your airline flights certainly, so keep that in mind. Yeah, so that walks you through the Starwood award chart, some of the options you have, and the different ways to book Starwood Hotels. Alright, thank you for watching.