Introducing search alerts for Cash & Points hotel awards

If you’ve read my stuff here much you know that I’m not particularly into hotel loyalty programs; I generally don’t find the value proposition to meet my needs. An unfortunate side effect of that is I don’t spend quite as much time focused on those programs. So I was quite surprised when a friend asked me if I could put together a version of my search tool to provide alerts on Cash & Points award availability from the Starwood Preferred Guest program. It hadn’t occurred to me that finding that availability was a challenge. Apparently it is, however. The good news is that the challenge was reasonably easy to conquer.

I’m happy to present the SPG Cash & Points Award Search & Alert tool on the Wandering Aramean Travel Tools site!

Fill in the parameters for your search requirements in the form:


Click the Search! button and check out the results:


Because I know that there are often other hotels in the area which might not meet the specific search request parameters I will also return those results, though under a separate heading:


And all the way at the end of the results page are the hotels with no award rooms at all:


For users who have upgraded to First Class there is the option to filter by specific brands:


And the results are similarly broken out:



Like most of the tools, there is also an option for alerts, just in case the award you’re looking for isn’t available when you are searching. Like the other tools the alert results com in the form of an email which isn’t too pretty right now but also a link back to the site for more details:


And, like all the tools, I’m pretty sure it actually works most of the time. Of course, if you find that it isn’t working on any particular search let me know (as much detail as possible would be helpful) and I’ll try to figure out what broke. I’ve already had some great support in the beta testing from a core group of users and I’m pretty confident that this one is ready to go live.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Looks extremely useful. Thanks! I wonder if you’d be willing to run an experiment and see how many days hotels in the NYC area (Manhattan) make C&P awards available for the whole of 2013. I live here so I don’t need one, but I think it’s a miniscule number of nights. Would be really interesting if there were zero nights for all Manhattan hotels throughout the year…

    1. I don’t know the exact number but I was using NYC in many of my test searches and there were C&P rooms available in my testing. The sample I put in for the screenshots is Thanksgiving week so I wasn’t expecting many positive results; that was on purpose to show the differing types of results which come back. But there definitely were rooms available when I checked.

      It wouldn’t be too hard to check every night over a year but that would just be point-in-time view, not a real world picture of what the general availability is in general.

  2. Sorry about that mike. Awkward timing for a hiccup on the server, to be sure. It should be up and working normally now. Give it another try if you can.

  3. Seth, this is awesome, like abcx it would be neat to have the ability to set an alert for “x” hotel for cash and points any time.

  4. @Seth – sure there might be some nights, but I think it would be miniscule if divided by the total nights in a year * no. of hotels in Manhattan/Brooklyn/Queens.

  5. Very helpful, especially the alerts. Often I will book points and switch to c&p when available.

  6. Great job Seth. So freaking useful…one of best you have done.

    Only bug I can find is it does not handle the french e in Le Meridien. So it comes up as ‘Le M ridien’.

    1. That should be fixed now, Derek. I actually had noticed it in my earlier testing and then forgot about it; thanks for the reminder.

      As for the C&P availability in NYC, it would seem that it varies almost as much as airline award seats do. Checking 21-22 November just had both the W Times Square and W Downtown become available in my searches this morning where they weren’t available yesterday. All the more reason to make use of the alerts feature for your searching.

      Not much different from AwardSpy that I can tell, though I don’t really know their model at all. The part where it is integrated into the rest of the award alerts I offer has some value, IMO, but I do recognize that I’m a bit biased.

  7. Awesome thanks.
    @ Lawrence – one difference is this doesnt have a hard limit of 5 alerts. With AS sometimes trying to find a C&P in a city with 5 or more hotels already maxes you out in alerts. With this tool it searches via city which to me is more useful

  8. Seth,

    Tool shows cash and points available but when I called they are not. I am staying there these 2 days on points already.

    Awards available near BALI NGURAH RAI — DENPASAR — DPS from 1/24/2013 to 1/26/2013

    Hotel Name Cash & Points? Points?
    The St. Regis Bali Resort

    1. That’s a bug, clayd33. That hotel actually doesn’t participate in the SPG program so the results I get back are not in the same format as the other properties and I was interpreting them badly. I’ll get that fixed straight away. Sorry for the bad info.

      I’m actually surprised you got a points reservation at all, given that the website says they do not participate in the program.

  9. St. Regis Bali participates, but you need to call a customer contact center because it is all suites.

    Also, just tried searching for NYC. Since the “Where?” seems to validate by airport, I used “East 34th Street Heliport — New York — TSS” while looking for midtown. The results came back for availability in Bali.

    It worked fine when I switched to “Where?” to NYC, although it would be nice to have an option (maybe NYP?) that shows Manhattan before the airport hotels.

    1. Not all airport codes work, JG, though I’m not sure why the default results come back as Bali if it balks at the search you are doing; I have to research that more. As for getting city hotels over airport hotels, I don’t see that happening anytime soon. I’m not going to be parsing the hotel lists returned and trying to guess if they are airport or not.

  10. This could be extremely useful. Thanks so much.

    When I go to create an account, I get the following…

    Server Error in ‘/’ Application.

    The ‘System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider’ requires a database schema compatible with schema version ‘1’. However, the current database schema is not compatible with this version. You may need to either install a compatible schema with aspnet_regsql.exe (available in the framework installation directory), or upgrade the provider to a newer version.

    Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

    Exception Details: System.Configuration.Provider.ProviderException: The ‘System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider’ requires a database schema compatible with schema version ‘1’. However, the current database schema is not compatible with this version. You may need to either install a compatible schema with aspnet_regsql.exe (available in the framework installation directory), or upgrade the provider to a newer version.

    Source Error:

    An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

    Stack Trace:

    [ProviderException: The ‘System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider’ requires a database schema compatible with schema version ‘1’. However, the current database schema is not compatible with this version. You may need to either install a compatible schema with aspnet_regsql.exe (available in the framework installation directory), or upgrade the provider to a newer version.]
    System.Web.Util.SecUtility.CheckSchemaVersion(ProviderBase provider, SqlConnection connection, String[] features, String version, Int32& schemaVersionCheck) +1979964
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.CheckSchemaVersion(SqlConnection connection) +89
    System.Web.Security.SqlMembershipProvider.CreateUser(String username, String password, String email, String passwordQuestion, String passwordAnswer, Boolean isApproved, Object providerUserKey, MembershipCreateStatus& status) +2430
    Tools2.AccountMembershipService.CreateUser(String userName, String password, String email) in C:UserssethDocumentsMy DropboxApplicationsWATTTools2ControllersAccountController.vb:697
    Tools2.AccountController.Register(String userName, String email, String password, String confirmPassword) in C:UserssethDocumentsMy DropboxApplicationsWATTTools2ControllersAccountController.vb:285
    lambda_method(ExecutionScope , ControllerBase , Object[] ) +250
    System.Web.Mvc.ActionMethodDispatcher.Execute(ControllerBase controller, Object[] parameters) +17
    System.Web.Mvc.ReflectedActionDescriptor.Execute(ControllerContext controllerContext, IDictionary`2 parameters) +178
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethod(ControllerContext controllerContext, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +24
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClassd.b__a() +52
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodFilter(IActionFilter filter, ActionExecutingContext preContext, Func`1 continuation) +254
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClassf.b__c() +19
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeActionMethodWithFilters(ControllerContext controllerContext, IList`1 filters, ActionDescriptor actionDescriptor, IDictionary`2 parameters) +192
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerActionInvoker.InvokeAction(ControllerContext controllerContext, String actionName) +314
    System.Web.Mvc.Controller.ExecuteCore() +105
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +39
    System.Web.Mvc.ControllerBase.System.Web.Mvc.IController.Execute(RequestContext requestContext) +7
    System.Web.Mvc.c__DisplayClass8.b__4() +34
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.c__DisplayClass1.b__0() +21
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.c__DisplayClass8`1.b__7(IAsyncResult _) +12
    System.Web.Mvc.Async.WrappedAsyncResult`1.End() +59
    System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult asyncResult) +44
    System.Web.Mvc.MvcHandler.System.Web.IHttpAsyncHandler.EndProcessRequest(IAsyncResult result) +7
    System.Web.CallHandlerExecutionStep.System.Web.HttpApplication.IExecutionStep.Execute() +8699438
    System.Web.HttpApplication.ExecuteStep(IExecutionStep step, Boolean& completedSynchronously) +155

  11. Sorry for the trouble there, MIKETOWN. I think I am having some issues with the host this afternoon but I’m not entirely certain. That said, I was able to replicate the error you were getting so that’s actually a good thing. Even better is that I think I have resolved it. Give it another try if you can.

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