Starwood Options in Accra, Ghana

The #4 place to visit in 2013 suffers the same fate as its earlier brethren. No Starwood options in this beautiful coastal city. This might be a tip for Starwood to expand into some of these hot markets. If you plan to use your SPG Starpoints in Ghana, you will be shutout yet again as no Starwood properties exist in this waterfront hotspot.

Despite this, Accra is still a place to visit, so why don’t we learn a little about it?

First off, where is Accra, Ghana?

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How about I zoom in…

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Now that you know about its location, how’s the weather in Accra?

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As you can see, it gets quite toasty in Accra. Don’t forget to wear proper clothing/suntan lotion so you don’t get too sunburned. Also don’t forget to have fun on the capital of Ghana’s beaches.

Starwood Options in Nicaragua

Unfortunately, Starwood is absent in the third place to see in 2013. Nicaragua by all accounts is a beautiful place to visit, but if your goal is to stay at a Starwood property, you will be sorely dissapointed.

The lack of Starwood properties is not a Nicaragua specific issue. Starwood only offers two properties in the non-American owned territories in the Caribbean. The first property is The Westin Resort & Casino located  in Aruba. The second property is located in Nassau, Bahamas, and it is named the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort & Casino.

To counter this lack of properties in the Caribbean, Starwood offers many properties in Puerto Rico. At present, Starwood offers five properties in Puerto Rico, with many of them receiving high accolades.

Starwood Options in Marseille

The #2 city to visit this year is Marseille, France. Sadly, this wonderful culture capital of Europe is shutout from Starwood options. The closest Starwood option is about 200km away in Nice:

Nice to Mareseille

As you can see from the map, this is quite an adventure, and it would never be an option to stay in Nice to commute into Marseille. In fact, upon further review it appears that Starwood, Hilton, Marriott and Hyatt are not present in this major city. Of the big hotel providers, only Intercontinental is present.

 

 

Starwood Options in Rio De Janeiro

The number one place to visit in 2013 is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil according to the New York Times. However, the number one place to visit in 2013 is not a hotbed of Starwood activity. While it will be the host of the next Olympics and World Cup, other hotels have a much stronger presence in this market.

With only two hotels in this large market, if you want to stay at a Starwood property, you are quite limited in your selection. Fortunately (or unfortunately) if you are using points, they are both Category 5 properties that will cost you the same 12,000-16,000 points per night. One must be warned, both properties are not close to all of Rio De Janieiro’s attractions and events.

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The first option is the Sheraton Barra Hotel & Suites, and while it appears to be generous to Platinum members, it appears to be a little far from the traditional Brazilian atmosphere. From the local attractions, it is much more situated for the corporate/business traveller than the tourist looking to soak up some sun and culture. Also, there have been some complaints about the local traffic during the week in the peak rush hours (complaints not seen with the Sheraton Rio).

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The second option (and the better Starwood property) is the Sheraton Rio Hotel & Resort. Key word here is beach. This property offers a (almost) private beach and provides the luxury that one would expect from a Brazilian resort. While not Thai level of service, the scene is quite beautiful.

The private beach provides amazing views from many of the hotel’s rooms. Lately the rooms have shown some age, but if one wishes to stay in a Starwood property for their beach getaway, this is the place to reserve.

According to Platinum members, this hotel can be generous with suite upgrades and is not as stingy as Starwood’s American brethren. Many say the club lounge at this location is one of the best in the system.

 

For a great non-Starwood option (albeit quite expensive), a traveller should check out the Copacabana Palace Hotel. I will let this single image do the talking:

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General Rio Tips

1. If you are traveling here, you must plan ahead and be ready to spend money. It now costs $160 for the entry visa. However, if you plan to visit Brazil a lot, it isn’t a terrible deal as it is valid for 10 years.

2. Don’t forget, the language is Portuguese – not Spanish- and you should know enough of it to get around as not everybody knows English.

3. Rio businesses are tourist friendly and credit card acceptance (especially Visa/Mastercard) is widespread – even more so than some parts of America.

4. The timezone is UTC -3, or in layman terms, three hours ahead of the EST.

5. The weather patterns are:

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Top 3 Attractions to Visit

1. Cristo Redentor (Statue of Christ the Redeemer)

2. Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Acucar)

3. Copacabana Beach

Starwood Hotels in the 46 Places to Go in 2013

The New York Times recently released a list of places to visit in 2013. Over the next few weeks, we will be analyzing the Starwood options in each of these places and providing tips about the local hotel market.

 

Here is the list of places to see in 2013 according to the New York Times:

1. Rio De Janiero
2. Marseille
3. Nicaragua
4. Accra, Ghana
5. Bhutan
6. Amsterdam
7. Houston
8. Rossland, BC
9. New Delhi
10. Istanbul
11. Singapore
12. Montenegro
13. White Salmon River, Wash
14. Hvar, Croatia
15. Mongolia
16. Big Island, Hawaii
17. Philippines
18. Vernazza, Italy
19. The Kimberley, Australia
20. Ningxia, China
21. The Adirondacks, NY
22. Oslo, Norway
23. Constantia, SA
24. Lithuania
25. Burgos, Spain
26. Lens, France
27. Changbaishan, China
28. Porto, Portugal
29. Puerto Rico
30. Koh Phangan, Thailand
31. Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka
32. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
33. Bangkok
34. The Jeseniky, Czech Republic
35. Waiheke, New Zealand
36. Yucatan, Mexico
37. Charlevoix, Quebec
38. Pecs, Hungary
39. Republic of Congo
40. Ireland
41. Getaria, Spain
42. Mergui Islands, Myanmar
43. The Falkland Islands
44. Washington, D.C.
45. Casablanca, Morocco
46. Paris