As I mentioned in last week's coverage of Hilton's new promotion for stays through June 30, many current hotel promotions are scheduled to expire at the end of April, leaving travelers to wonder which hotel chains will be launching new bonuses for stays thereafter.
Starwood has joined Hilton in announcing a new offer, extending travel incentives even further into the summer months.
Between May 1 and July 31, members of the Starwood Preferred Guest program can earn one free weekend night (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday) after every two Starwood hotel stays.
According to Starwood's news release: "The nights are redeemable without blackout dates through the end of September." No blackout dates—that's good. But forcing program members to use their free nights by September 30? That's within a scant two months after the end of the promotion. It's a safe bet—and Starwood has to know this—that a significant number of the earned weekend nights will never be redeemed within such a narrow window of opportunity.
The news release also refers to this offer as "unprecedented" and Starwood's "richest promotion yet." It may be unprecedented and uncommonly rich for Starwood, but it's hardly an industry first. Members of Priority Club Rewards, for example, are currently being offered a free night after two stays at Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn hotels in various countries outside the U.S.—but the free night is not restricted to a weekend, and there's no close-in deadline to use the award.
Still, this is a solid offer, and good news for summer travel.