Fellow Seattleite billatq on FlyerTalk shared that Starwood and Alaska Airlines have a promotion through January 31, 2016, that offers 1,000 bonus miles with Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan when you complete a weekend stay of two nights or more. Note that to be eligible you MUST choose to earn airline miles instead of Starpoints during your stay. But the additional 1,000 bonus miles on top of the miles you’d normally earn could still be worth it for some people.
Advance warning: I probably wrote more than I needed to for a simple promotion, but I got interested in exploring the pros and cons. 😉
Consider it like this: If you book a weekend stay at a property that charges $200 per night (tax and other charges included), then your total bill is $400. The typical non-status member earns 2 points per dollar, but let’s assume you have Gold or Platinum status and earn 3 points per dollar. That’s 1,200 points if you choose to earn Starpoints.
Many people say the best use of Starpoints — even better than redeeming them at Starwood hotels — is to transfer them to a variety of airline loyalty programs and use them for free flights instead. That’s reasonable. Starwood offers a 20% bonus when you transfer large blocks of points such that 20,000 points equals 25,000 miles in many programs. Alaska Airlines is one of those carriers, and their miles are among the most valuable. I know people who regularly buy their miles for 2 cents each. So if you’re going to choose to earn miles instead of points, Alaska miles are a good pick.
Starwood, like many hotel chains, offers the choice to earn miles directly instead of earning points and then transferring them to an airline. (Technically you’re still earning points, but the Airline Direct Deposit program transfers them instantly instead of waiting for you to accumulate a larger block. Normally the minimum transfer is 1,000 points.) So instead of 2 points you’ll earn 2 miles. Gold or Platinum members will earn 3 miles instead of 3 points.
The only downside here is that you loose out on the 20% bonus by waiting to accumulate 20,000 points before you transfer them to Alaska. Otherwise you earn the same number of miles/points either way. But if each two-night stay earned you 1,200 points, you’d need to stay 16 or 17 times to earn a measly 5,000-point bonus. In the same period you could earn 16,000 or 17,000 bonus miles by signing up for this promotion and choosing the Airline Direct Deposit program.
We’re not all going to stay 16 or 17 weekends at a Starwood hotel. I do think, however, that this promotion is good enough to be worth registering for a couple of eligible stays during the offer period. Maybe consider registering and then unregistering for the Airline Direct Deposit before/after each weekend stay while continuing to earn Starpoints for longer midweek stays or other ineligible stays.
The terms and conditions state that the offer is only valid at participating properties, but I couldn’t find a list of these hotels. Instead, the only noticeable restriction was that the hotel must be in North America or Latin America. If that’s it, this appears to be a pretty liberal promotion compared to Starwood’s history. (I wouldn’t expect properties in Europe, Asia, or elsewhere since Alaska doesn’t have flights to those continents. But many Starwood promotions have previously excluded every hotel in the Seattle/Bellevue region where Alaska is based. I’m glad someone noticed the irony and avoided that issue here.)