New SPG Game!

Just a quick post to let you know about a new Starwood Preferred Guest online game.  It’s called Tap Into Luxury, and you can win free hotel nights, SPG points, iTunes gift cards or Ticketmaster ConcertCash.

SPG offered a similar game last year.  It’s easy to do and only takes a couple minutes of your time each day.  Totally worth it, in my opinion, to possibly win a free night stay!


You can spin twice each day, and even if you don’t win, you will be entered into the Grand Prize drawing for 250,000 SPG points! (I would LOVE to win that!)

The daily prizes offered are:

  • One night at a participating Category 1-5 hotel (195 available)
  • 500, 1,000 or 5,000 Starpoints (390 available)
  • $50 iTunes Gift Card (156 available)
  • $50 Ticketmaster Concert Cash (975 available)

They have a lot of Ticketmaster Concert Cash available.  Probably not the best prize because you will most likely end up spending additional money on that one.

The game runs until Sept 30, 2014.  Good luck! And let me know if you win!



Off To Europe

I’m leaving for Europe tomorrow morning so I will not be writing any new posts for the nest week.  I notice many bloggers post while they are on trips, but why waste your time doing that?  Enjoy what you worked so hard to go see!

I am going with a friend of mine from Georgia.  We used to work together at Delta.  She finally decided to use her “One Great Team” pass and asked if I would like to tag along.  Sure! A free flight that won’t even cost me miles? I’m there!  I thought for sure with a pass like that we would get business class but now it doesn’t look like we will.  I am beyond disappointed.  After the horrendous trip to and from Thailand in coach, I vowed to never do that again.  No more economy class tickets on flights lasting more than 4 hours! I thought I could do it, but I can’t.  I thought taking 2 trips in coach was better than 1 in business.  It’s not.

The Positive Space passes she has, are put on the standby list in the order of check-in time.  She had me buy a ticket to Atlanta so we could leave from there and she wouldn’t have to fly back and forth.  Well…if she had come up here today, we could have left at 7am tomorrow and checked in BEFORE the 4 people that checked in at noon today.  It also would have saved me $225 for the ticket to Atlanta.  Oh well.  Whaddya gonna do? Live and learn.

Nice, Free (almost) Hotels

In exchange for the free business class (ahem) ticket to Europe, I agreed to use some hotel points for rooms.  I ended up having to pay for a couple of them, but not much.  For 6 nights in hotels in expensive European cities, we are paying a total of $185 each.

I redeemed 1 Chase anniversary night, 25,000 miles and paid $170 for 3 nights at the Holiday Inn Munich City Center. (retail value $569)

I redeemed 20,000 Starpoints for 2 nights at the Sheraton Prague Charles Square Hotel (retail value $398)

And we are spending 1 night at the Ibis Munich City hotel for $110 total because there is a convention in Munich on our last night and I was unable to get a room there.

So $1077 for a week’s worth of hotels for $370 total is not bad.  I would have preferred to not pay anything, but it’s not so bad because I am splitting the cost with a friend.

I hope nothing “bad” happens while I am gone.  Seems every time I go away some change occurs with gift cards or Bluebirds or Walmart or….something!

Please “like” my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter(@lauraroland) and Instagram (zinnia7).  I will probably post a few pictures while I am gone.

Happy Travels!



Starwood Hotel Category Changes Coming Tomorrow


Starwood is changing the number of points required for some (20%) of it’s hotels tomorrow, March 4, 2014.  56% of the hotels will be moving down and 44% will be moving up.

The Starwood collection of hotels includes: The Luxury Collection, St. Regis, W Hotels, Le Meridien, Sheraton, Aloft and Four Points.

The award chart is not changing, but some hotels are switching categories and may require fewer or more points.  Here is the Award Chart listing categories and how many points are required to redeem in each category.


Less Points

I’ll start with the good news first.  Some hotels are moving down a Category.  One that is of particular interest to me is Le Meridien Angkor. It is moving from a Category 3 to a Category 2.  3,000 points for a weekend night? I’ll take it!


Le Meridien Angkor


We are heading to Thailand in 3 weeks and were scheduled to stay in Bangkok for 3 days.  With the recent political turmoil and the “Bangkok Shutdown” I was thinking about skipping Bangkok and heading over to Cambodia for a couple days instead to check out Angkor Wat.  Bangkok has since settled down and is back on our itinerary, but I will definitely keep this Le Meridien hotel on my list for the future!

A couple other noteworthy hotels moving down a Category are in Orlando.  The Four Points Sheraton Orlando Studio City is moving from a Category 2 to a Category 1.   I have never stayed at this hotel, but I have seen it many times.  It gets good reviews on Trip Advisor and you can’t beat the location on I-Drive!

The other Orlando hotel is the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista, which is moving from a Category 3 to a Category 2.   Another solid hotel choice, only 1 mile from Disney!

Neither of the Orlando hotels are 5 star luxury resorts.  I’m not going to focus very much on luxury properties unless they are a terrific bargain on points.  But these Sheratons are good choices for a family vacation to Orlando.

More points

And now the bad news.  44% of the hotels moving categories are moving up.  These moves hurt a lot more at luxury hotels like the St. Regis Rome which is moving from a Category 6 to a Category 7.  Sure, it looks amazing.  But I would never spend 30,000 Starpoints to stay there for one night.

Of more relevance to my upcoming travel is the Four Points by Sheraton Munich Olympiapark.  I am going to Germany with a friend in late June and considered staying at this property.  Tomorrow it moves from a Category 3 to a Category 4.  That’s a difference of 3,000 points per night and we are staying 3 nights.  We have not nailed down a location to stay in Munich and while this one is a bit further from the city center, it is near a metro station to get us to the center in a few minutes.  I think I will go ahead and book this property before it changes categories because Starwood will allow me to cancel, without penalty, up until the day before arrival.

The other hotel in my future, and one that is making the biggest jump is the Sheraton Baltimore-Washington Airport Hotel. It is jumping from a Category 2 to a Category 4!  That is 7,000 more points per night! We are going up for a wedding in Baltimore in August and I booked this hotel at the fantastic Starpoint rate of 3,000 points per night for weekend nights!  Hubby wants to stay at the Holiday Inn where everybody else is staying.  But I like to stay where I can get the best value! Since I haven’t convinced him of that yet, I will hold on to the reservation I have because I can cancel, without penalty, up until the day before arrival.

So – if you are thinking about planning a trip and staying at a Starwood property, check out the full list of changes here.  If you see one you want to book that is going up in points, book it today! If you change your mind, you can usually cancel without penalty prior to the arrival date.  But be sure to check the cancellation policy on each reservation!  

If you have already booked a property that is going to go down, wait until after the changes take effect, book a new reservation at the lower category and cancel your existing reservation.

I hope you have found this post helpful and I hope you will share it with your friends and family.  My blog is still too new to have affiliate links to apply for credit cards, but if you are interested in applying for the Starwood American Express card to take advantage of some of these great deals, please e-mail me and let me send you a referral link to apply.

Happy Travels!