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Best Starwood Preferred Guest Hotels: Category 2

Unlike other hotel chains I’ve covered in this series (Club Carlson, IHG Rewards Club, Hyatt Gold Passport), the number of Starwood hotels in the lower categories is surprisingly low. There wasn’t a horde of run down airport hotels to get through or random hotels in the suburbs that most of us would probably find no use for. To my surprise, there were quite a few Category 2 Starwood properties with great locations in popular tourist destinations and metropolitan cities.

At just 3,000-4,000 points per night, these hotels present excellent redemption value. The fact that you can cover 7-10 nights at one of these resorts with the 30,000 point sign-up bonus from the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express card is pretty amazing.

My last post on this topic got some pretty hormonal responses from a small group who saw the series as some kind of bizarre personal attack on their fragile sensibilities and expressed their views in very colorful language in the comment section…via proxy servers. So I’d like to warn those folks who haven’t taken their anti psychotics this morning that although the information in this post wasn’t compiled to insult your intelligence, you may take it that way, so you should stop reading now and consult a doctor. Maybe take this time to focus on important things that normally occupy your time, like brokering peace in the Middle East, mastering quantum physics or working out the kinks in commercial space travel.

For everyone else who is sane, your constructive, non-profanity laced feedback is much appreciated. Here are my picks for the best Category 2 Starwood Preferred Guest hotel redemptions:

NORTH AMERICA

US

Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City (Orlando, FL)

Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City - One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Four Points by Sheraton Orlando Studio City – One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: At the standard level, guests can book a 460 sqft Traditional Room with either a King or two Queen beds. This is your run-of-the-mill Four Points Hotel, so nothing exciting to report about the rooms or amenities offered.

Location: The resort is ideally located for those looking to visit a variety of theme parks. If you want a front row seat to watch an Orca drags its trainer through a massive pool while hundreds of onlookers try to catch the footage for a Youtube clip, SeaWorld is just 3 miles away. Within a 15-mile radius you’ll find a variety of other parks, including Universal Studios, Gatorland Zoo, and Wet n’ Wild  Water Park. Guests won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

Honorable mention: N/A

Mexico

Aloft Cancun (Cancun, Mexico)

Aloft Cancun Rooftop Source: Hotel website

Aloft Cancun – One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: This is the ultimate budget option in Cancun. The Aloft offers accommodations that mimic upscale chains, but at a much lower cost – in this case just 3,000 – 4,000 points per night for a Partial Lake View room with complimentary wifi and valet parking.

Location: The Aloft Cancun is located within walking distance of the beach, with lots of shopping and restaurants in the immediate area.

Honorable mention: N/A

EUROPE

Sofia Hotel Balkan, a Luxury Collection Hotel (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Sofia Hotel Balkan Luxury Collection Hotel Source: Hotel website

Sofia Hotel Balkan Luxury Collection Hotel – One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: A 323-344 soft room, free wifi, marble bathroom, high ceiling, and daily turndown service for the low price of 4,000 points per night. 

Location: History buffs will love the location in the heart of the city, within walking distance of nearly half a dozen museums, the Saint Sofia Church, Sofia Synagogue, and the oldest building in the city – the Rotunda of St. George. There are many other tourist attractions steps away from the hotel, so it’s a perfect place from which to explore the city.

Honorable mention: N/A 

AFRICA

The Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa (Hurghada, Egypt)

Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa - One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa – One of the Best Category 2 Starwood Hotels

Distinctions: TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

Accommodations: Guests using points at the Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa will get a Deluxe room with 474 soft of space and a balcony featuring sea views. 

Location: The Westin Soma Bay Golf Resort & Spa is secluded on the coastline of the Red Sea, but offers lots of great amenities to keep guests occupied. The resort has an 18-hole championship course, a world-class spa, and a dive center for those who wish to scuba dive in the area.

Honorable mention: Sheraton Soma Bay Resort

MIDDLE EAST

Aloft Abu Dhabi (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

Aloft Abu Dhabi Best SPG Hotels Category 2

Aloft Abu Dhabi – One of the Best Category 2 SPG Hotels

Distinctions: N/A

Accommodations: Another great budget hotel, the Aloft Abu Dhabi gives you lots of value whether you book with cash or redeem points. Standard Aloft Rooms are 420 sqft and include complimentary internet access, which is always a plus. I find it comical how hotels going for $400+ per night charge for wifi, yet at hotels where rates are as low as $70 per night, wifi is often free. Anyway, the rooms are fairly spacious and the bathrooms come equipped with walk-in showers and Bliss Spa amenities.

Location: The hotel is smack dab in the middle of Downtown Abu Dhabi, steps away from several foreign embassies and corporate offices. That’s not to say the location is entirely inconvenient for whatever it is tourists do in Abu Dhabi. Several shopping malls and Golf clubs are just under 10 miles away.

Honorable mention: N/A

ASIA PACIFIC

Le Meridien Angkor (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Le Meridien Angkor Pool Source: Hotel website

Le Meridien Angkor Pool
Source: Hotel website

Distinctions: Tripadvisor Top 25 Hotels in Cambodia: #23

Accommodations: For just 3,000-4,000 points per night, guests can book a 388-409 sqft Superior + Deluxe room with amenities like complimentary bottled water, tea and coffee maker, and heated floors in the bathroom. Free airport pick up is included for all guests, which is a great perk if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like dealing with cab drivers, buses, trains, etc.

Location: It was pretty tough to pick from so many great hotels in Asia, but the Le Meridien Angkor ultimately won out because of its terrific location and it’s ranking as one of the top hotels in Cambodia. Whether you’re interested in shopping, recreation, or a tour of the area’s historical sights, the hotel has the perfect location for all of these activities. Guests are within five miles of religious sites like the famed Angkor Wat and Bakheng temples, the city’s French Quarter, Angkor Shopping Center, Cambodian Cultural Village, and more.

Honorable mention:

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Ariana Arghandewal

10 Comments

  1. It’s like you read my mind with these best hotel redemption posts! Haha every time I start thinking of which hotels I’d possibly redeem, you post about the hotel chain I’m thinking of… It’s perfect!… and spooky. lol

  2. Hilarious commentary to start off this post. Gotta love the crazy people!!

  3. I stayed in the Le Meridien in Chiang Mai last January, and it is a fantastic property in a great location. I stayed at the Four points in Bangkok and the Le Meridien in K.L. on the same trip. All were great, but I thought the Chiang Mai property was the best Cat 2 property among those.

    • That’s good to know, Chris. It’s always helpful getting feedback from a person who’s stayed at the property.

  4. Aloft Abu Dhabi is “smack dab in the middle of Downtown Dubai”??? Really???

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