When should you use points vs cash at Starwood hotels across Australia & the Pacific?

A guide to Starwood properties in Australia and the Pacific Islands

GUIDE: Using Points
DIFFICULTY: Intermediate
TIME TO READ: 4 minutes
POSTED: April 26, 2017
UPDATED: November 17, 2018
LOYALTY PROGRAMS:
STATUS: SPG was merged into Marriott Rewards in August 2018. This content is now out-of-date but has been kept on the site for informational purposes

Starpoints are at the top of our list of favourite points currencies due to the relative difficulty of obtaining them (meaning they are less popular) and their excellent versatility in redemption options at Starwood, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton properties, as well as transferring to a wide range of airline partners for flight redemptions.

If you haven’t read up on the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program, here is a good place to start.

In this guide, we identify all Starwood properties in Australia and the Pacific Islands and analyse when it makes sense to use your Starpoints and when to use cold hard cash.

Recently, we’ve had the chance to visit a number of Starwood properties in Australia and will be progressively rolling out our reviews of the hotels, linked in this guide.

One of the best-value ways to get your hands on Starpoints is through the American Express Explorer card, which offers the highest effective Starpoints earn rate of any personal credit card in Australia.

Its sign-up bonus would give you two free nights at a Category 6 property or five nights at a Category 5 hotel.

Locations and redemption rates

In Australia

There currently nine properties around the country, mainly concentrated on the East Coast.

All properties are Category 5 or below (there are seven categories in total), meaning a free night costs between 7,000 and 16,000 Starpoints.

Starwood is more than doubling its footprint over the next three years, expanding more into other states.

Here is a full list of Starwood properties in Australia updated with SPG’s category changes for 2018, sorted by location by default and with links to Point Hacks reviews:

PropertyLocationCategoryStarpoints per nightOpening date
AloftAdelaide1 September 2019
SheratonAdelaide1 March 2019
W BrisbaneBrisbane410,000
Four Points by SheratonBrisbane37,000
The WestinBrisbane1 October 2018
Sheraton Grand Mirage ResortGold Coast512,000-16,000
The TasmanHobart1 October 2018
SheratonMelbourne512,000-16,000
W MelbourneMelbourne1 January 2020
The WestinMelbourne512,000-16,000
Four Points by Sheraton Melbourne DocklandsMelbourne37,000
Aloft South YarraMelbourne1 January 2019
Aloft PerthPerth37,000
Four Points by SheratonPerth410,000
The WestinPerth31 January 2018
Sheraton Mirage ResortPort Douglas512,000-16,000
Four Points by Sheraton, ParramattaSydney1 March 2018
Four Points by Sheraton, Central ParkSydney1 March 2018
Sheraton on the ParkSydney512,000-16,000
The WestinSydney512,000-16,000
The Old Clare Hotel, ChippendaleSydney512,000-16,000

Update: The Westin Sydney will leave Marriott-Starwood and rebrand as the Fullerton Hotel Sydney on 19 October 2019, meaning Marriott Rewards points will not be able to be used for stays after that date.

The Westin Melbourne WestinWORKOUT Room

The Old Care Hotel Sydney

The Old Clare Hotel Sydney The Connell Room

Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane

The Four Points by Sheraton The Riverview Suite

The Sheraton Melbourne

The Sheraton Melbourne King Executive Terrace Suite

In the Pacific Islands

There are currently 12 properties in the Pacific Islands, with the majority in Fiji, New Caledonia and French Polynesia (Tahiti), and one hotel planned in Palau.

These properties tend to cost more than the Starwood properties in Australia as they are in more exclusive settings, ranging from Category 3 properties in Samoa for 7,000 points/night right up to the most expensive, the Category 7 St. Regis Bora Bora for 30,000-35,000 points/night.

Here is a full list of the Starwood properties in the Pacific Islands updated with SPG’s category changes for 2018:

PropertyLocationCategoryStarpoints per nightOpening date
Sheraton Resort & Spa, Tokoriki IslandFiji512,000-16,000
Sheraton Fiji ResortFiji410,000
The Westin Denarau Island Resort & SpaFiji410,000
Sheraton Denarau VillasFiji620,000-25,000
Le Méridien Bora BoraFrench Polynesia620,000-25,000
The St. Regis Bora Bora ResortFrench Polynesia730,000-35,000
Le Méridien TahitiFrench Polynesia512,000-16,000
Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Resort & SpaNew Caledonia512,000-16,000
Le Méridien Ile des PinsNew Caledonia620,000-25,000
Le Méridien NouméaNew Caledonia512,000-16,000
Sheraton Palau ResortPalau17 March 2019
Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's Hotel & BungalowsSamoa37,000
Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey's ResortSamoa37,000

There are not currently any Starwood properties in New Zealand.

You can search for other Starwood properties around the world here.

Comparison with rack rates

I chose five properties from the Australia list and five from the Pacific Islands list across all categories to analyse the per point value of a free night redemption compared to how much a night would cost paying with cash at the flexible rate found on spg.com.

I searched for a Saturday night stay two months in advance at time of writing (11-12 March 2017) and found an average per point value of 2.8 cents per point, with the best value to be found in the higher categories of 5, 6 and 7 rather than 3 or 4.

Generally, if you can get 3.0 cents per point value, then that represents good value.

High-value redemptions

If you’re making the long trek to Tahiti for a honeymoon, anniversary or beach break, then using 30,000 Starpoints instead of forking out $1287 AUD for a night at the Category 7 St. Regis Bora Bora will give you an excellent 4.3 cents per point value.

St. Regis Bora Bora

If you wanted to try the category below, you could use 20,000 points at the Category 6 Le Méridien Bora Bora instead of paying $733, giving you a healthy 3.7 cents per point value.

Closer to home, the Category 5 hotels of The Westin Melbourne and The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney will give you 3.4 cents and 2.9 cents per point value, respectively. This puts the latter just on the cusp of our threshold of 3.0 cents giving good value.

The Westin Melbourne

Whilst the category of a hotel is not determined until closer to its opening date, of the properties opening over the next couple of years, one could reasonably expect higher-end hotels like W Melbourne, The Westin Perth and Sheraton Adelaide to offer the best value redemption opportunities.

Poor redemptions

All of the Category 3 and 4 hotels I searched for gave less than 2.6 cents per point value, which means that if you are looking at staying at the Four Points Brisbane (Category 3), W Brisbane (Category 4) or Aloft Perth (Category 3), you might consider booking your room with cash and saving your Starpoints for another hotel or flight redemption.

Four Points by Sheraton Brisbane

Fifth night free benefit

The good news is that SPG gives you your fifth consecutive night free at all hotels in Categories 3 to 7, so all of the properties in our region are eligible for this benefit.

How to earn Starpoints

There are two main avenues for getting your hands on this excellent points currency:

  • buying Starpoints (read more here)
  • getting a credit card that earns Starpoints (see below)

There’s no dedicated/branded Starwood Preferred Guest credit card in Australia (unlike in the UK and the US), so the most common option for Starpoint collectors is to pick a card from the American Express Membership Rewards range.

We have a full guide to Starpoints-earning Amex cards here.

One of the best-value ways to get your hands on Starpoints is through the American Express Explorer card.

The Explorer card offers an effective earn rate of 1 Starpoint per $1 spent, which is the highest of any personal credit card in Australia.

Summing up

Starwood is heavily investing in its properties in our part of the world over the next 2-3 years, increasing the number and value of redemption opportunities, especially for properties in the Category 5 or higher range.

How these properties will be priced from 2018 onward once the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs are combined remains to be seen, but let’s hope the options continue to grow and redemption rates remain reasonable.

Supplementary images courtesy of Starwood.

When should you use points vs cash at Starwood hotels across Australia & the Pacific? was last modified: November 17th, 2018 by Matt Moffitt