Starwood Hotels, including Sheraton, Four Points, St. Regis, The Luxury Collection, Le Meridian, Loft, W, Westin and the new Element, fall under this “Program of the Year” for awards travel. With Starwood, you get 2 starpoints for every dollar spent at member hotels.
Starwood claims “No Blackouts or Availability Restrictions on Free Night Awards” but we’ve heard that before. I’ve not tried to book a rewards night with them, so I’m not sure. In addition, they claim to have more resort properties with whom you can book your rewards stay.
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I have had some trouble getting my starpoints converted into airline miles. I entered my airline information when I joined the club and thought it was a done deal. During my first stay after joining, I reiterated to the hotel staff that I wanted airline miles rather than starpoints. The miles still were not credited to my NWA account. I contacted the Starwood customer service center, who informed me that unless you choose your airline partner as your preferred earning method (which I did), you can only convert points to miles once you’ve accumulated 20,000 points. I usually stay at Holiday Inn Express, so it would take me ages to get to that level. They did credit the miles to my NWA account, on a one mile per dollar ratio. That isn’t much, compared to many hotels.