Points and miles enthusiasts usually focus on redeeming airmiles for premium cabin flights and points at luxury hotels. However, not everyone is looking for the same thing.
We recently received a reader question asking about the best value redemptions for Starwood points in India.
— Sergey Fedorov (@Anandabhairava) May 17, 2018
While the Starwood program will merge into Marriott Rewards in the coming months, there are some pretty good VFM redemptions out there. We appreciate how hard it is to earn SPG points in India. Apart from staying with Starwood and Marriott Hotels, the only options are American Express cards such as the American Express Gold Card and the American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card.
In this post, I share my picks of SPG hotels in India that are value redemptions in India. While putting together this list, I considered three factors to determine which SPG properties offer the best value:
- SPG Category 1 and 2
- Typical revenue rates which should give a minimum value of 2.5 US cents or INR 1.5 per Starpoint
- Uniqueness (location, facilities, architecture, etc.)
Remember that SPG category 1 and 2 hotels have different redemption rates during the week than they do on the weekends and the points mentioned below are based on weekend stays.
- Category 1: 2,000 points on the weekend, 3,000 points during the week
- Category 2: 3,000 points on the weekend, 4,000 points during the week
1. Le Meridien Kochi: SPG Category 1| 2,000 Starpoints
My recent stay at the Le Meridien in Kochi swooned me over. Right in the centre of Kochi city this hotel almost feels like a resort. There are beautiful gardens, the hotel has its jetty by the backwaters and offers a complimentary boat ride to the other side of the city. The hotel, although more than 20 years old, the rooms here are nicely maintained, and there’s lots of natural beauty all around.
At just 2,000 Starpoints a night, a room night here costs ~INR 5,000 during the monsoons and goes all the way up to ~INR 10,000 in the December season. That’s a pretty sweet value of INR 2.5 per Starpoint.
2. Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram Resort & Convention Centre: SPG Category 2| 3,000 Starpoints
This Four Points hotel in India is only a few months old. The ECR drive from Chennai to Pondicherry is one of the most scenic driving routes in India. Mid-way lies the historic town of Mahabalipuram, a coastal town famous for its temples.
Four Points by Sheraton Mahabalipuram is located near the backwaters on the side of the Bay of Bengal. The resort is currently priced at INR 6,500 and at 3,000 points per night you are looking at getting a value of INR 2.2 for each Starpoint.
3. ITC Rajputana, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Jaipur: SPG Category 2| 3,000 Starpoints
Some of the best value on SPG award stays lies in redemptions at ITC hotels. By virtue of the ITC Hotels and Starwood Preferred Guest partnership, some ITC Hotels also participate in the Luxury Collection brand of Marriott International. These are usually low-category SPG hotels that give great value. One such hotel is the ITC Rajputana in Jaipur that is designed to resemble traditional Rajasthani havelis in the region. The best part is that it is right in the city centre, unlike many other luxury hotels that are located in Jaipur outskirts. Winter weekends are priced at an average of INR 10,000 per night. That can get you a value of ~INR 3.3 per Starpoint.
4. ITC Sonar, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Kolkata: SPG Category 2| 3,000 Starpoints
While a trip to Kolkata is ideal during the Durga Puja festivities, the Kolkata biryani, rolls, rosogulla and the vibrant food fare make the city a food lovers paradise. The ITC Sonar is understated luxury. Lily ponds surround the hotel and the architecture is inspired by the Bengal’s Pala dynasty that once ruled the region. You won’t regret paying 3,000 Starpoints for a night that on an average costs INR 11,000 here.
5. Four Points by Sheraton, Srinagar: SPG Category 2| 3,000 Starpoints
Kashmir on your mind this summers? Stroll in the Mughal gardens, take a shikara ride on the Dal Lake and indulge in the Kashmiri Wazwan at Ahdoos. Srinagar is beautiful. Take a look at the Four Points by Sheraton in Srinagar. This is a fairly new hotel located in Sonwar Bagh, a plush residential area in the centre of Srinagar that is priced at INR 7,500 during this summer season.
6. ITC Mughal, A Luxury Collection, Agra: SPG Category 2| 3,000 Starpoints
Another ITC Hotel that is a good redemption choice is the ITC Mughal in Agra. Sprawled over 35 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, this is the only Indian hotel to have won the prestigious Aga Khan Award for its excellent representation of Mughal architecture. A standard room night here in winter season is priced at an average of INR 9,000 per night.
All these redemption prices are of course, subject to change when the new combined aware charts for Marriott / Starwood hotels are announced in the lead up to August rollover to a combined program. But till then, you can continue to book hotels as per the old rates.
Also remember, SPG has a fifth-night free benefit, which means that when you book five nights on Starpoints, you only have to pay the cost of four nights. Another factor to consider is that I have not even added the 18% GST which most of these hotels would charge you and won’t be payable on a redemption booking.
Have you made redemptions at any SPG participating hotels in India? Do feel free to add to this list with your experiences in the comments section below.