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.
- 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:
- “They removed all-inclusive rewards without notice in 2011.
- Substantially more hotels became more expensive in points than less expensive in 2012.
- Then in 2013 they increased the price of 36% of hotels and dropped only 1% while introducing a new more expensive award tier.
- 2014 saw a 4:1 ratio of increases to decreases in points prices for hotel redemptions.
- 2015 was 3:1 increase.
- In 2016 ‘only’ 560 hotels went up in points prices while 237 went down.
- Last year with merger news fresh they only increased 1.5 times as many hotels as they reduced.“
Marriott is not a company to trust, long term, with your points.
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
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.)