Starwood Preferred Guest's annual hotel category realignment is coming March 1, 2012, so now is the time to peruse the list of changes and determine if there are any stays you should be booking or rebooking. For convenience, here is the full SPG award chart.
Not surprisingly, many SPG hotels in the larger cities across the United States are seeing their categories rise, as room rates have increased significantly in those markets during the past year. All hotels in New York City (Manhattan) and San Francisco are moving up at least one category. In addition, many hotels in China are moving up one category as well.
One bright spot I did notice was several hotels in Thailand. Both the Le Méridien Chiang Mai and Le Méridien Chiang Rai have dropped to category 1, as did the Aloft Bangkok. Coincidentally, I have a cash and points reservation at the Aloft Bangkok in early April, so I will be rebooking that stay after March 1st to take advantage of the lower redemption rate. Another hotel I will be rebooking is the Le Méridien Angkor in Cambodia, which drops from category 3 to category 2.
If you have an existing award reservation, go through the list of changes to see if your hotel has moved down in category. If so, you can rebook your stay starting on March 1st. If you have a future reservation planned at a hotel that is moving up in category, be sure to book your stay prior to March 1st so you can take advantage of the current redemption rates. Even if you are unsure of your travel plans, you should still book now since most award reservations allow for full cancellation without any penalties.