Starwood Ridiculous Cancellation Penalty on Free Nights

Discussion in 'Starwood | Preferred Guest' started by AnthroFlyer, Aug 10, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. AnthroFlyer
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    AnthroFlyer Silver Member

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    I just made a reservation at St. Regis Aspen using a free resort night credit from the Stay 3/Get 1 Promo.

    The cancellation penalty less than 60 days in is equal to a seven day stay so close to $3000 !!!!!

    I asked if they would actually charge since its a free night stay and the agent said that they would.

    Has anyone else run into this kind of ridiculous penalty for canceling a free night?
     
  2. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    The cancellation policy on free nights tends to mirror that of paid nights. This property in particular has a very restrictive policy on paid nights.
     
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  3. SC Flier
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    SC Flier Gold Member

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  4. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Yep it's definitely the property itself.
     
  5. SPG Champion
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    While the property can have a fairly restrictive normal cancellation policy, this is probably an error unless you booked 7 nights. If you booked less than that, I'd contact Corporate Customer Service and have them run it by the property for review. 800-328-6242.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
  6. uggboy
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    uggboy Gold Member

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    :eek:
     
  7. AnthroFlyer
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    AnthroFlyer Silver Member

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    I called Starwood corporate and after some considerable time on hold, they were able to get the St. Regis Aspen to agree to only charge points (or in this case, the free night stay) if the res is canceled.

    In the process, I learned a few more things about how this property and Starwood in general handles cancellation fees. The reservation stated that I would be charged a fee of seven days if I canceled less than 60 days out. However, on the phone the FD told the Starwood rep that the charge was actually only two days but at a rack rate of $2100 a day, meaning that the cancel fee would be $4200!!! Additionally, I had separate reservations since i made them one at a time as the free nights trickled in. Each reservation would be charged $4200 each, meaning a 5 night stay with individual reservations could lead to a charge of $21,000. Unbelievable.

    Despite the property agreeing to only charge points for a cancellation, the bigger problem here is how this property determines cancellation fees for both paid and free stays. While it certainly seems fair for a property to charge an amount equal to their lost revenue on a cancelled paid stay, it appears that they actually charge much more by using the rack rate.

    To my mind, this is nothing more than profiteering on someone's unfortunate circumstances that led to the cancellation. According to the Starwood rep, individual hotels set their own cancellation policy. This allows a property like St. Regis Aspen to engage in this sort of predatory behavior.

    I look forward to reporting back on the stay, I'm hoping its better than what Loyalty Traveler experience recently.
     
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  8. SPG Champion
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    Actually, the front desk person was wrong. The cancellation fee on award stays...for every SPG-participating property...is based upon the same rate as the SPG50 rate, which is half off RACK. That's corporate policy worldwide; however, there are a select handful of properties that can insist on the cancellation policy itself to extend over the entire stay rather than the first night. It would not surprise me, if during ski season, that the St. Regis Aspen is one of them.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
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  9. OneSweetWorld
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    OneSweetWorld Silver Member

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    That is crazy. 60 day cancellation policy. I love SPG but that is a bit ridiculous.
     
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  10. RestlessLocationSyndrome
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    RestlessLocationSyndrome Silver Member

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    Although I agree that a 60 day cancellation policy is ridiculous, this is definitely a property specific issue. As long as they notify us of the cancellation policy when booking the reservation, we know what we're getting into. I personally just wouldn't book it unless I did it very far out or knew for sure, without question, that I would be there. Obviously the St. Regis Aspen is willing to lose a lot of reservations to ensure that the ones they have are guaranteed revenue.

    Although annoying, it is their right as a property owner and if they have a smaller number of rooms, it doesn't sound all that unreasonable to have a cancellation policy greater than 72 hrs as some others do. If you were to compare the free resort nights to promotional rates (or free nights) that other hotels & chains have which are non-refundable, then having a cancellation policy is actually a nice benefit. Moving to 60 days from 21 might even be a temporary thing that they are putting in place for this year since they are shutting down the resort for so many weeks to renovate.

    The important thing to me is to ensure that this continues to be the exception and not the rule with the rest of the properties in the Starwood portfolio.
     
  11. AnthroFlyer
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    AnthroFlyer Silver Member

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    Just to clarify, the written reservation I received stated that the cancel fee was 7 nights, and this was on a one night stay. Additional reservations for one night stays also had a 7 night penalty each. On the phone I was told it was a two night penalty at rack rate. So apart from the FD clerk being wrong, they are also sending out incorrect information on their confirmed reservation emails.
     
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  12. Jaimito Cartero
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    Jaimito Cartero Silver Member

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    This has got to be one of the most horrid cancellation penalties I've ever seen.
     
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  13. SC Flier
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    The Westin Casuarina, Grand Cayman, and the Westin Dawn Beach, St Maarten are also known for strict and/or excessive cancellation policies. That's why you can't book awards for those two properties online.
     
  14. avflyer
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    avflyer Silver Member

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    What if you just no-show?
     
  15. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    They presumably charge the credit card you provided when making the reservation. (do they accept prepaid cards? will they come after you if the charge is rejected?)
     
  16. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    From SPG.com:

    " For Free Night Awards only, not Cash & Point Awards, a member may request a refund of such fees and the forfeiture of all or the applicable portion of Starpoints from their award, in lieu of the fee, to satisfy the penalty by e-mailing their request to chargechange@starwoodhotels.com no later than 60 days after the reservation arrival date."

    William - is this change guaranteed upon receipt of request or is it at the discretion of the hotel and/or SPG?

    https://www.starwoodhotels.com/preferredguest/legal/spg_terms.html#12
     
  17. SPG Champion
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    It would be a guaranteed alternative to satisfy the cancel policy at the receipt of the request. Whether or not it would apply in regard to promotional awards, I can't say at the moment, but it would definitely be applicable to regular free night awards booked using Starpoints as currency for sure.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
  18. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Thanks William, it would be very helpful to know the applicability of the policy to the Free Resort Nights and similar.
     
  19. SPG Champion
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    I am making inquiries about the same.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
  20. SPG Champion
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    Well, that did not take long. ;)

    My SPG guru tells me that this also applies to any earned FRN or FWN-type award reservations. Of course, you lose the ability to re-apply the earned award, but the alternative cancel policy penalty can be requested for these as well.

    Best regards,

    William R. Sanders
    Social Media Specialist
    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide

    spgchampion@starwoodhotels.com
     
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  21. mattsteg
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    mattsteg Gold Member

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    Thanks for the excellent news and quick response.
     
  22. estnet
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    estnet Gold Member

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    Has anyone else run into this kind of ridiculous penalty for canceling a free night?[/quote]
    Well I know one hotel I will never reserve!
     
  23. Pete
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    Pete Silver Member

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    At least with respect to SXM, the policy can't be due to wanting to insure paying customers during a premium/peak season, because I attempted to cancel (due to flight cancellation coming from the States) an award night there on a June stay when the property was at about 15% occupancy. No dice, even after escalating to the manager who gave me the song and dance about how they would have otherwise sold the room, they staffed up based on number of reservations, etc. This was the first night of a multi-night award stay, and I ended up forfeiting the points but ws not charged a cancellation fee since I eventually checked in, a day late. In fairness, this was a few years back, and the present staff is overall much more customer-friendly.
     
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  24. SC Flier
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    Well to be fair, if you hadn't booked that room, they'd have been able to book a convention group. :rolleyes:

    I'm convinced that the real source of the problems are the owners who direct these managers.
     
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  25. Pete
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    Pete Silver Member

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    I was well aware of the "rules", and was just politely asking for a bit of a courtesy as a repeat guest, SPG Gold who was spending his hard-earned SPG points for nothing. I had very low expectations, but it really chapped me when the manager outright lied to me, repeatedly, trying to justify an unjustifiable policy.
     
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