I just redeemed hotel points for an airport hotel. Wait a second, that can’t be right.

My big trip is now officially underway, and unfortunately I really slacked with planning it due to life getting in the way. I didn’t end up booking most of my hotels till last night, actually.

On my return journey in a couple of weeks, after getting off my Air New Zealand flight from London, I’ll need to stay near LAX for a night. I looked at options, and given that it’s a weekday, hotels were all fairly expensive – mostly $120+, which is a bit on the steep side for an airport hotel. Now that I’m a Starwood Platinum I was looking at Starwood properties, and I noticed that the Sheraton Gateway LAX hotel was only 1,600 points plus $30 through Starwood’s “cash and points program” [update: this rate is no longer available]. Now, it’s not the ideal circumstance, given that I won’t be earning stay credits, but it seems like an unbeatable deal, especially since the hotel seems to take good care of Platinum members with suite upgrades and free breakfast.

My point isn’t this specific instance, but rather what makes Starwood different than other hotel loyalty programs. At Starwood, high end hotels are priced disproportionately high, making “dream” stays expensive. On the other hand, mid-range hotels are real bargains when redeeming points, especially through their “cash and points” option.

So that’s what makes Starwood different than virtually any other hotel loyalty program. At Hyatt, Hilton, and to a large extent Priority Club, I wouldn’t under normal circumstances redeem points for a stay at an airport hotel. At Starwood, on the other hand, I have a hard time imagining that I’d be redeeming points for a hotel that competes with the Park Hyatt Paris, Conrad Maldives, etc.

I think my “luxury limit” at Starwood is a cash and points redemption at a category six hotel, like the St. Regis Singapore. At $150 plus 8,000 points (now $250 plus 30,000 Marriott points), it’s about as much as I’ll pay for a stay with them, and actually a pretty good bargain. The challenge is, however, that cash and points redemptions are capacity controlled, unlike outright award redemptions, which make them tough to come by for many destinations.

Anyway, just some random musings from someone that’s new to Starwood…

Filed Under: Hotels, Starwood Preferred Guest
  1. A handful of the St Regis properties are worth redeeming at. I’ve gotten 5 or 6 cents per point valuations at StR’s. Your points+cash value is at least this valuation.

    This brand is expanding fairly rapidly, which will allow for more high end redemption options over time.

  2. I am writing this from the Sheraton LAX and it is a terrific hotel, takes great care of Plats, and their staff is just wonderful. I always stay here when in LA. And by the way, their food is pretty good too, especially the quesadillas. Ask for some appetizer coupons when you check in. Great use of cash/points Lucky!

  3. Sheraton LAX is the best true LAX airport hotel (there are nearby hotels in Marina del Rey or Santa Monica that are better, of course). And a comparative bargain. It’s also one of those rare places where the Sheraton is better than the nearby Westin.

    The club lounge evening spread is pretty awful, but the rooms are fine and they do treat Platinums well. Worth the cash and points!

    There are definitely aspirational properties at decent category pricing though, especially in Asia. But indeed their super-luxe properties of which Starwood has more than the other chains are priced quite high, especially all suite property where they double penalize you — first for the high rate with the high category, and then for the room type which drives the rate in the first place by charging double. My great frustration with the program…

    I could never redeem for a Conrad Koh Samui all-villa property under SPG the way I just did under HHonors.

  4. @Carl – me too. How funny.

    @Gary – couldn’t agree more. The Sheraton LAX puts the Westin to shame. Definitely one of my favorite airport hotels anywhere.

    If you get app vouchers, make sure to them them over to the Paprazzi bar instead of the lobby bar. The vibe is way cooler, bartenders are great, and the food is pretty dang good. Try the tri-tip Mac ‘n cheese if you haven’t.

  5. @Gary – am checking into the Westin in a couple of hours, never stayed there based on my happiness with the Sheraton. Only doing so because of the current promotion that is based on stays, so I can get a few free resort nights at the St. Regis Kauai. But otherwise, always stay here at the Sheraton.

  6. @Chris – yeah, unfortunately have to check-out to go to the Westin to get another stay credit for the promotion. Hope it is not too bad. Really do love this place and great recommendation on the restaurant.

  7. I have stayed at Westin LAX and Sheraton LAX. Both are a great value for points redemption or mattress runs. I am torn between the two properties cuz the Sheraton has a cooler vibe, better design, and friendly staff. The Westin gets kudos because the rooms are larger, beds and pillows more comfortable, and they have convenient parking if you have a car. I hate self parking at Sheraton because it is a trek back to the hotel lobby. Sheraton does have rooms that have some awesome views of LAX and the planes landing….can feel pretty sexy if you get one of those!

  8. The 4 Points LAX isn’t bad either. Also, free street parking (read the signs), adjacent to the Sheraton (in the back) and 4 Points.

  9. @Carl – now that really is too funny cuz I’m doing the same thing. Though I haven’t moved over yet. Since I rarely get a suite at the Westin and have a nice one here, I figured I’d take advantage of the 4pm late checkout. 🙂

  10. @chris – i had to get to the dodger game so went ahead and checked out and checked into the Westin. They did not have suites when i checked-in, but would have had one a bit later if i had been willing to wait. so good luck!

  11. Agree with the Papparazzi and Tri Tip Mac and Cheese comment, using the vouchers for free appetizers is a great bargain. The ribs and scallops are also very nice.

  12. Hi Lucky, I think you should cancel the reservation and rebook as a paid night. Then 2 more cheap nights and you’ll earn a free resort night. The extra cash out of pocket is worth it.

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