Like Hilton’s recently announced HHonors rates (and Hyatt’s discontinued My Elite rates), Starwood is now offering new discounts for SPG members. No elite status is required, but you do need to sign up for the program to take advantage. The promotional period is also very limited, applying to stays through January 31, 2016.
The timing right after Hilton’s announcement seems a little too close for comfort, but there are over 400 hotels participating (rather than just a few Hilton hotels in 4 cities), so I assume it’s been in the works for a while. All properties are located in the Americas. Like Hilton, you’ll also receive free Internet access since you need to book your stay directly with Starwood. However, Starwood’s rates and free WiFi are only available online, whereas Hilton also allows you to book by phone or through approved corporate travel providers.
SPG’s offer has both pros and cons relative to Hilton HHonors rates. The HHonors rates I saw online didn’t always make the terms of the discount very clear — things like which days are eligible or how large the discount was. Such information is helpful to secure the best price if you can be flexible with your stay. I appreciate that the SPG rates clearly provide this information, although it does mean that some days of the week have no discount at all. (On some days the Hilton discounts were only a few percent, so maybe that doesn’t matter.)
On the other hand, SPG’s discounts appear to be limited to the cheapest prepaid rates. One Mile at a Time and I agree that it’s nice to have some flexibility, and Hilton’s new rates are still refundable. However, I have the least luck booking such rates at Starwood, where the AAA rate always seems to be a higher than the prepaid rate. If you’re the kind of person who insists on paying the absolute lowest price, you may already be used to taking a risk with these.
Don’t forget you can also use SPG Hot Escapes, which are weekly offers for discounts up to 20% at select hotels around the world. I often book them when I’m on a mileage run, for example, and such trips tend to be at off-peak times when both flights and hotels are in less demand.