In 2009 and 2010, Starwood Preferred Guest suspended the practice of charging a surcharge of points for peak season stays at category 5-7 hotels. For 2011, the peak season surcharges are back. Individual hotels determine if and when they will ask for a surcharge but the surcharge per category is consistent: 16,000 points per night (normally 12,000 points) for category 5 stays, 25,000 points (normally 20,000 points) for category 6 and 35,000 points (normally 30,000 points) for category 7 stays. To see the list of peak season dates by hotel, visit http://www.spgpromos.com/highseason
Bottom line: These surcharges represent 17-33 percent more points per stay, with hotels in category 5 taking the hardest hit with 33 percent more points. Peak season pricing doesn’t go into effect until Jan. 10, 2011, so you have until Jan. 9 to book peak season hotel stays without a surcharge.