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Start Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip – SPG Edition

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip
Written by Charlie

Advertiser Disclosure

We are just about 8 months away from the 2014 Boston Marathon. I know no one has begin a training cycle for that yet 🙂 but it is not too soon to start planning your Boston Marathon trip. My guess is that the Boston Marathon will sell out quicker than before (under the new entry program). I am also speculating that the Boston organizers are going to create more slots for charity runners as I am sure there will be many that desire to run the 2014 Boston Marathon as a charity run in memory of the Boston Marathon bombing this year. Even though you cannot enter yet, there is no reason why you should not begin gathering your points together and reserving your hotels.

Start Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

First, let’s answer a couple of questions that I know will come up:

Q: Why start planning travel now for 8 months away?

A: In order to get the points necessary to stay at hotels in the Boston area, you may need to apply for one (or two) credit cards. In addition, you may need to do some spending with your current card or new card to receive the points necessary for your Boston trip.

Q: Should I book hotel rooms with points before I even know if I am in the Boston Marathon? What happens if I don’t make the entry pool or I don’t qualify in time?

A: That is one of the beautiful things about booking hotel rooms with points – you do not have to worry about cancellation charges. With most of the hotels, you can cancel up to 1-3 days before arrival and get all of your points back (as well as any cash that you used as part of the award stay). This is why it is always best to book right away

Starwood Preferred Guest Hotels in Boston

I love SPG hotels for many reasons. Some of them are the Cash&Points part of their program, 5th night free, really nice hotels, and award stays counting towards elite status to name a few. There are some really nice SPG hotels in Boston that we will look at in this edition.

Westin Copley Place Boston

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

  • Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip10 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA
  • This is a 4-star hotel
  • It is located .3 miles away from the Convention Center
  • The cost is $589+ tax per night
  • It is a category 5 so it takes 16,000 points per night
  • Trip Advisor Reviews
  • Hotel Website
  • Point Value – $670 per night (with tax) vs 16,000 points = 4.1 cents per point

This hotel gets consistently good reviews and is right in the midst of all the action! If I were doing Boston next year, this would be at the top of my list for hotels for one main reason (in addition to the location) – point value. I admit, I am somewhat strange when it comes to squeezing value out of my points. 🙂 If this hotel only cost $200 a night (which I wouldn’t pay), I would still have a very hard time paying for it with points (at 16,000 points a night) – even if I had 200,000 Starpoints! Because this room costs $670 a night (with taxes) for that weekend, it makes it a winner for me. Note: You need to book three nights minimum to get it with points that weekend. That makes for a total of 48,000 Starpoints for three nights (vs paying $2,100).

The Liberty Hotel, Boston

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

  • Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

    A Lobby Photo

    215 Charles Street, Boston, MA

  • This is a 4-star hotel
  • It is located 1.2 miles away from the Convention Center
  •  The cost is $999+ tax per night
  •  It is a category 5 and requires 12,000 – 16,000 points per night
  • Trip Advisor Reviews
  • Hotel Website
  • Point Value – $1,143 per night (with tax) vs 16,000 points (at the high end) = 7.1 cents per point

This hotel is part of SPG’s Luxury Collection. Their rates start at $999 a night. This is one hotel to get tremendous value from your points! Now, the SPG website is showing that there are only rack rates available for those dates and that you have to call to book with points. This is one of the great things about SPG hotels – if there is any standard room available, you can book it with points. So, you need to call in to book this, but you should be able to unless there are no standard rooms available. This hotel looks very elegant and still keeps you pretty close to the Finish Line area.

The Westin Boston Waterfront

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

  • 425 Summer Street, Boston, MA
  • This is a 4-star hotel
  •  It is located 2.1 miles away from the Convention Center
  •  The cost is $259+ tax per night
  •  It is a category 5 and requires 16,000 points per night
  • Trip Advisor Reviews
  • Hotel Website
  • Point Value – $296 per night (with tax) vs 16,000 points per night = 1.85 cents per point (not a very good value for Starpoints)

This is a Westin (which I love) so I have included it here, but, frankly, I would not plan on booking this hotel as my first choice. There are far better choices for the same point amount and they would give better value for your points. Another reason for my including it here is that hotels will begin to fill up and this hotel still would be a good choice if the above hotels are not available. Remember, this is also a 4-star hotel (like the hotels above), so I am certain it is a nice hotel.

W Boston

Planning Your Boston Marathon Trip

  • 100 Stuart Street, Boston, MA
  • This is a 4-star hotel
  • It is located .8 miles away from the Convention Center
  • The cost is $599+ tax per night
  • It is a category 5 and requires 16,000 points per night
  • Trip Advisor Reviews
  • Hotel Website
  • Point Value – $685 per night (with tax) vs 16,000 points per night = 4.2 cents per point

W hotels are the high-end brand of SPG hotels. This is a luxury hotel that will be sure to make you feel pampered during your stay. It is not that far award from the race action yet still far enough away that you can be away from the crowds if you want to be. The surrounding area is a very nice part of Boston, so your stay here should be very pleasant.

Getting Your Starpoints

All the hotels we looked at above are category 5 hotels which mean that they cost 16,000 Starpoints per night (some may be at 12,000 Starpoints). If there were Cash&Point nights available, it would be 6,000 Starpoints and $110 per night. There is currently no availability for Cash&Points at any of those hotels, but you could keep checking as time gets closer as availability may free up. Each of those hotels have rooms available to be booked as award nights (with the exception of the Liberty Hotel as noted above). If you were to stay 3 nights, you would need 48,000 Starpoints for your stay in Boston during the marathon weekend. If you were to stay 5 nights, it would cost between 48,000 – 64,000 Starpoints. So, how do you go about getting those points in time for the marathon?

American Express SPG Cards

There are two SPG credit cards from American Express – one is the business product and the other is the personal product. Each of those cards offer 10,000 Starpoints after first purchase and an additional 15,000 Starpoints after spending $5,000 in 6 months.  This makes each card have a total of 30,000 Starpoints after meeting your spending (counting the required $5,000 of spending). If you were to get both the personal and business cards, you would have a total of 60,000 Starpoints – more than enough to book a stay at any of the fine hotels above. If you were to just get one, you would need to put $18,000 of spending on that card to get the required 48,000 Starpoints. Now, that is for three nights. If you were to only want to spend two nights, you can do it for 32,000 points.

This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to start planning your Boston Marathon trip now – you may need a few months to spend the required amounts. If you were to apply for both cards, it is best to either do the applications on the same day (the business and the personal) or to apply for them at least 30 days apart. If you have someone living at the same address that would be able to apply for one of these cards, that is an option as well since SPG allows you to transfer points to another member if they are at the same address.

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

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