Marriott’s annual devaluation shows that SPG members should remain on alert

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As the story (as told by Marriott’s CEO) goes, the company was very surprised by the lack of overlap between its existing customer base and the customers it acquired when it bought Starwood Hotels.

Admittedly the average W / Aloft customer is unlikely to spend much time in a Residence Inn, but at the same time Sheraton / Westin and Marriott / Renaissance tend to serve the same market.

The downside for Marriott is that it knew it then had to work harder than planned to keep Starwood Preferred Guest members on side.  To give them credit, none of us expected a ‘Starwood to Marriott’ points transfer rate as generous as 1:3, neither did we expect a direct SPG to Marriott Rewards status match.  After all, Marriott Gold – because it needs 50 nights to earn – has far greater benefits than Starwood Gold.

So far, so good.

Many of us had even begun to forget how badly Marriott Rewards treats its members.

The 2018 round of devaluations should be enough to remind everyone.

Here is the list of Marriott properties changing category on 6th March.  Bookings made before then will be priced at existing rates.

Marriott Bristol Royal

In summary:

  • 5% of Marriott Rewards hotels are getting cheaper
  • 21% of Marriott Rewards hotels are getting more expensive (over 1,000 hotels!)

European increases include Marriott Prague, Renaissance Paris La Defence, Marriott Hamburg and Stuttgart, The Shelbourne in Dublin, Marriott Amsterdam and Marriott Lisbon.  A lot of South African hotels in the Protea chain move from Category 1 (where they are unfeasably cheap, to be fair) to Category 2.  A lot of Spanish hotels in the AC chain also go up.

The UK risers are:

  • Bristol Marriott Royal (photo above)
  • Leicester Marriott
  • London Marriott West India Quay
  • Residence Inn Edinburgh
  • St Ermin’s Hotel
  • The Glasshouse

European falls include The Ritz-Carlton Berlin, Marriott The Hague and a number of Turkey hotels.

The UK fallers are:

  • Aberdeen Marriott
  • Courtyard Aberdeen Airport
  • Courtyard Glasgow Airport
  • Sprowston Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club
  • Sunderland Marriott

The key issue with Marriott is the number of hotels which move from Category 5 to Category 6.  This is because Category 5 is the cap for:

the free night vouchers often given out via Marriott quarterly promotions

the basic 7-night Marriott Travel Package hotel

If you had a specific property in mind to redeem a Category 1-5 Marriott Travel Package then you should check the movers list here to ensure that it remains a Category 1-5.

(If you don’t know why Marriott Travel Packages are so good, read this article.)

It is worth remembering that this is not an isolated example of Marriott’s behaviour.  To quote from US blog View from the Wing:

Marriott is not a company to trust, long term, with your points.

Marriott 2018 category changes

The Starwood changes are not so bad

The Starwood Preferred Guest changes also kick in from 6th March.

These changes are more modest, although I would note that:

Starwood’s top-end properties are already far more expensive than Marriott’s, given the 3:1 conversion ratio

The gap between Starwood categories in terms of points needed can be steep – a one category SPG rise can be more painful than a one category Marriott Rewards rise

The list of impacted hotels is here.

European risers include Four Points Brussels, Sheraton Prague, Sheraton Frankfurt Airport, Le Meridien Stuttgart, Westin Hamburg (above the new concert hall), Westin Dublin, Element Amsterdam (reviewed here), Sheraton Porto and Westin Palace Madrid (reviewed here).

European fallers include Sheraton Baku Airport, Element Frankfurt Airport (reviewed here), Sheraton Rome and Sheraton Zurich plus a number of Turkish hotels.

You have just over three weeks to lock in the old redemption rates.  It is worth noting that Starwood has a 550 day booking window – which is about to align TOMORROW with Marriott at 350 days – so for today only you can also lock in redemptions for Summer 2019 at the old rates.

(Want to earn more hotel points?  Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Promos’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

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  1. I use a mix. When a hotel is charging ridiculous rates in £££ it’s also charging ridiculous rates for rewards. That’s where points come in and you can get some “bargains”.

  2. I’ll have enough points for a Marriott Travel Package soon. I wanted to choose the option for Alaska Miles. Has there ever been a bonus on this package, similar to the 162k avios one?

    • Search SPG transfers to Alaska miles, there was a 60% transfer bonus for that. Doubt we will see it again.

  3. RussellH says:

    Courtyard Glasgow Airport is surely overpriced even at Cat 4. Only been there once, when it was still a Ramada, and perfectly OK for one night, but IIRC, the room only cost me £27. (I was not flying, I just needed somewhere to spend the night in or near Glasgow – as I had the car where was not important.)

    • We stayed there in Oct before our flight to Barra. Paid cash. Decent value and decent hotel for a one night stay.

    • I was wondering where the Courtyard was, nos I know.Stayed there when Ramada just opened. I prefer the old Holiday Inn though and it is often a great price too. Just wise to avoid dining there.

      • RussellH says:

        Sure, if I were flying, and leaving early or arriving late, I would go for the HI. <5mins from reception to check-in is worth quite a lot.
        The only time we have stayed there though we both had foul colds, the flight from LHR was late, and because we had come from BSL our bags were separated into a small room at the side of the baggage hall, which we could not find.
        The HI told us we had been upgraded into a newly refurbished room and asked for feedback on the improvements. Sadly, we saw no sign of improvements..

  4. Pangolin says:

    Couldn’t agree more with Rob on this. Marriott has had a ridiculous cumulative rate of category hikes over the last few years.

    I went a bit off HHonors in the last year or so because they effectively switched to dynamic pricing for C+P and their points requirements became unrealistic for better properties.

    However, I’m now going to do a Diamond status match and go back to trying Hilton as it will give me more options when travelling in Europe and Asia. Also, Hilton has a better spread of reasonably priced properties across the globe, with HGI being a sweet spot when you want to make your budget go further (their breakfast is MUCH better than Hampton and they’re a lot more pleasant to stay in).
    I find Courtyards are often overpriced in Europe, where you do not get the excellent bennies you find in the Asian equivalents (like lounge access, which also gives free breakfast).

    It’s not as if Marriott give exceptional treatment to their top tier anyway. I’ve been Platinum since last June and the only thing I notice that’s different to Gold is the extra welcome points (500 MR points is hardly life changing!). And Platinum still won’t get me free breakfast in a European CY.

    • The refurb rooms are decent, still feels like its build era in a way but in a non-shabby non-worn way. Apart.from price, proximity and status recognition the thing I have always liked about this hotel is that the open plan nature of the bar, restaurant and coffee shop along with the presence of a lot of holidaymakers often le nds itself to a great atmosphere for a large chain hotel.

  5. As Marriott allow you to book (I.e. reserve) a redemption BEFORE you have earnt the points, presumably you can lock in bookings now at the lower rate without having the points available?

  6. Agree completely. And less likely to be disappointed that my mid tier status didn’t get an upgrade!

  7. Currently in South Africa on a 2 week holiday where I have 10 reward nights at less than 100k…such great value here with most Protea hotels at category 1 or 2. As Marriott Gold they don’t offer complimentary breakfast but tbh the food offerings in Cape Town etc are wonderful and around half of London prices. No complaints from me at all and agree with Rob that the SA hotels are currently ridiculously good value.

  8. Having never booked a Marriott redemption or even stayed in Marriott property, i don’t understand the eCertificate thing. So i’m saving points for the Orlando World Centre Marriott. When i do a dummy booking for one night, I get these options:

    Rewards Redemption = 35,000
    eCertificate required prior to check in

    Rewards Upgrade = 40,0000
    eCertificate plus 1 upgrade certificate per night

    Rewards Redemption with Points Upgrade = 45,000
    eCertificate plus 2 upgrade certificates per night

    Please can someone explain how the eCertificate stuff works, including if you were to use a travel package instead?

    • This is linked to the fact that Marriott lets you book BEFORE you have the points. What they are saying is “you can book on points now even if you don’t have them yet but you need to trigger the points deduction from your account – so we issue the certificate to the hotel – before you check-in”.

      • What are your thoughts Rob, I have around 450,000 MR points (some in SPG) but hanging on to see if the vacation packages will include SPG properties after the merger, do you think it’s likely?

        • There will be a small window I reckon when we will know a) if Marriott is even keeping the packages in the new scheme and b) what it will cost. 100% certain the SPG hotels will be included.

  9. I have just got 90k SPG, just have to decide where we want to go for travel package, and also what airline to credit miles too!

  10. Hi,
    Just now starting to work on a marriot package plan. One question for the experts please. How do l stop our spg points from expiring in an spg account, whilst waiting to book a marriot package? Will be transferring some from our gold card soon to SPG.?? Probably wouldn’t be booking TIL later this summer once we know where we can use our 241. Probably Asia somewhere.

  11. Stevie G says:
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