As of this past week, SPG (the parent chain behind such hotels as W, Westin, Sheraton, and many others) is officially part of the Marriott company.
While many, myself included, predicted a bit of gloom and doom* about this merger, for now at least, the brands are playing nice. It was announced that Starwood points would transfer at a 3:1 rate to Marriott points, and that loyalty status holders would get an instant status-match between the two brands, as well as the Marriott-owned Ritz Carlton program.
Generally speaking, this is good news for Starwood loyalists who had come to enjoy one of the most rewarding loyalty programs in the game. And it’s also good news for us, former Starwood loyalists, in regards to our upcoming UK & Ireland trip.
The primary cities we’re planning on exploring during our 9-day trip will be Liverpool, Dublin and Manchester. Starwood has hotels in 2 of these cities (Liverpool and Dublin) but not in Manchester. Meanwhile, Marriott has no hotels in Dublin, but has multiple options in Liverpool and Manchester.
Looking at our respective points balances (we had a measly 1,315 Marriott points, but a respectable 40,096 SPG points), we saw that we could easily book our hotels for both the Liverpool and Manchester parts of the trip with just our existing bank of points, thanks to the recent merger.
First, we booked two nights at the Aloft Liverpool, a modern hotel in a gorgeous old building (see header photo) for a mere 3,500 points per night (btw, Aloft is an SPG brand, which is why this is a very acceptable redemption rate!)
This left us with around 33k SPG points, so then I turned to the Marriott site, to find a high-ranked property in the downtown area of Manchester. And lucky for us, the Renaissance Manchester City Centre Hotel had availability for 60,000 Marriott points, which at 3:1 rate, translated into just 20,000 SPG points for a two-night stay. We instantly transferred the 20k points over, and booked our room.
So, that means we’ve now booked 1/2 of the hotel nights needed for our trip with just our current surplus of Starwood points — no new credit cards or spending schemes required — and still have around 13k points leftover. This translates into a savings of $688, making the hotel rooms for this section of our trip entirely free.
We’ll likely book the rest of our trip using the points we’ll gain from our brand new Chase Sapphire Reserve card to book the Dublin portion of the trip, and will only have to spend out-of-pocket for taxes, meals and ground transportation.
(*That all being said, Marriott is still terrible. I called them today, asking if they were doing any sort of status match for existing Hyatt Diamond members — the highest level of Hyatt loyalty — and got an entirely rude and unhelpful response. Our plan is to use up these last few SPG/Marriott points, and then avoid the chain entirely in the future.)
Header image courtesy of SPG.