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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.

Marriott Bristol Royal

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.

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:

  • “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.

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.

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (June 2022)

There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards.  Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.

The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.

You can apply here.

American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit card

Marriott Bonvoy American Express

20,000 bonus points and 15 elite night credits Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.

Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card?  It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points indirectly:

and for small business owners:

The conversion rate from American Express to Marriott Bonvoy points is 2:3.

Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which can be used to earn Marriott Bonvoy points

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

Comments (53)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Pauline says:

    Can you book a Ritz Carlton with Marriott Travel Package? I assume you book into Room only but can then upgrade to Club? Does anyone have any experience of doing that?

    • guesswho2000 says:

      Yes, you need to book the travel package valid for Tier 1-4 hotels, dependent on where you’re staying. Of course you can just get the lowest one and upgrade later, if you’re not sure.

      • guesswho2000 says:

        Tier 1-5 I mean. Basically, I believe, the ‘categories’ are Marriott, ‘tiers’ are Ritz Carlton. Happy to be corrected if I’m wrong though.

  • Pauline says:

    thanks but does a package allow you to choose the room category or does it book into the most basic room type which you can then choose to upgrade?

  • JamesB says:

    @Rob/BluehorizonUK, yesterday you exchanged comments suggesting travel packages could provide a route to buy avios at 0.55p. How does that work please? Seems to good to be true.

    • Rob says:

      This is comparing the cheapest with priciest. Use 70k more Marriott gets 70k more Avios. And buying SPG points in the current promo at presumably 1.65p means 0.55p per Marriott point.

      So …. if you only have enough Marriott points to get the 50k Avios travel package it is a no brainer to buy SPG points to convert to Marriott to get the 120k package.

  • Genghis says:

    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”.

  • G says:

    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?

    • JamesB says:

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

  • 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.)

    • Genghis says:

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

    • JamesB says:

      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..

  • 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.

    • JamesB says:

      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.

  • David says:

    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?

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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