My “Travel Made Easy” posts are meant to provide easy access to new destinations, hotel groups or airlines, with a quick summary and links to more in-depth information you might be interested in about the brand. Today’s post provides a summary of all the information around the Starwood Hotel group, their brands, the experience you can expect at their hotels and the rewards program to earn points for free stays and more!
The Hotel Group: The Starwood group has more than 1,250 hotels around the world. That makes them one of the smaller chains, comparable to Carlson Hotels, but only a fraction of Hilton or InterContinental. With 45% of the hotels in Europe and Asia, it has a more global distribution than other chains. And with 75% of the properties considered upscale or luxury properties, it has a higher ratio than other chains of high-end hotels! Marriott is in the process of acquiring Starwood, so their days are numbered as an independent group, but their brands are likely to live on! For more information, read all the Starwood Facts & Figures in my detailed review!
The Experience: Starwood has a lot more upscale and luxury hotels than any other chain. The W brand has been a trendsetter for stylish hotels and the aloft brand has that taken to the mid-scale market. St. Regis, Westin and Le Meridien are other high-end brands that have made Starwood popular with many US business travelers and bloggers! Unfortunately, a lot more Starwood hotels belong to the Sheraton and Four Points brands, which are a lot less desirable and less consistent, making for a very mixed experience! It will be interesting to see, which brands will survive the Marriott acquisition – I sure hope some of them do! You can click on the brand names above to read more about what to expect at any of those hotel brands!
The Rewards Program: The SPG Rewards program has been an innovative leader in the hotel rewards space for years. Unfortunately, that glory has faded over the years and today, it is one of the less rewarding programs out there. It has one of the worst earning ratios (others offer 50-100% more value per Dollar spent), some of the most expensive redemption rates for free nights and only mediocre benefits for elite members. With the pending Marriott acquisition, there is not much reason to recommend SPG to new members. For existing members, it’s time to look for another program – read my full review here to find out how to make the most out of the SPG program and how it compares to other hotel reward programs in the industry!