Last minute Marriott Travel Package panic – and other things to do today and tomorrow

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Today, Friday 17th, is the last day to book hotels using the old Marriott and Starwood reward charts.

After a period of downtime, hotels will become bookable under the new charts from some point late on Saturday or on Sunday.

Here is the link to the new reward chart on the Marriott website which lets you see the new pricing.  Note that this pricing includes the new Category 8 which doesn’t come into effect until January – you won’t pay more than 60,000 points per night until then.

First …. a warning on Marriott Travel Packages

A worrying announcement was made on Flyertalk on Wednesday night by the official Starwood representative.

You can read the relevant post here but this is the key line:

“After 8/18, certificates cannot be upgraded or downgraded, regardless of when they were purchased.”

This is a BIG problem.  Historically, the smart thing to do with a Marriott Travel Package was to buy the cheapest one (Category 1-5) and then, when you’d decided where to go, ring Marriott and pay the difference to upgrade it to the relevant category.  This made sense because you didn’t get a refund if you bought a high category certificate and ended up booking somewhere cheaper.

The Starwood representative is saying that anyone who did this is stuffed after today.  They will have to stay at a Category 1-5 hotel – and those are not exactly the luxury end of the portfolio – or surrender their certificate for presumably the same 45,000 points compensation that is offered today.

If you are sitting on a Category 1-5 certificate you need to have a very quick think about whether you believe the statement above and whether you should call Marriott today to upgrade it or whether you would be happy to accept 45,000 points to surrender it.  If you do surrender, you would have spent a net 225,000 points for 120,000 Avios which is still not a bad deal.

Who should book a reward room TODAY?

In general, if you want to book a five star hotel in a major city (London, Paris, New York etc) then you should book today.

JW Marriott Essex House in New York, for example, jumps from 45,000 points to 60,000 points tomorrow.  The same happens with the Grosvenor House in London, Marriott County Hall, Marriott Grosvenor Square, Marriott Champs Elysees in Paris, The Shelbourne in Dublin etc.

Domes of Elounda in Crete is, oddly, the hotel with the biggest price rise of all (89%!) as I discussed here.

From the SPG side, lock in (for London) the Great Northern and Sheraton Skyline at Heathrow.  The Sheraton Grand in Edinburgh also jumps up as do the two Le Meridien resorts in Dubai.  The Sheraton Miyako in Tokyo also goes up, as does the Hotel Bristol in Vienna if you ever wanted to try that.

In general it is the luxury hotels which are going up and the mid market hotels which are going down.  There are some exceptions, eg the excellent Renaissance Paris Republique which I reviewed here is going down from 40,000 to 35,000 points.

Who should book a reward room TOMORROW?

If you want a book into a lower end hotel, you may find that it gets cheaper tomorrow.

More interestingly, there are MASSIVE discounts on the hotels which are currently in Starwood Category 7.  If you book these hotels today, they will cost you 105,000 points per night.  From tomorrow, they will drop to 60,000 points per night.

(In January most of these hotels will go to the new Category 8 and will cost up to 100,000 points per night so there is a four month booking window here.)

This page of the Starwood website (link does not work on mobile unless you use desktop view) lists their current ‘Category 7’ hotels.  These cost 30,000 to 35,000 SPG points per night at present, equivalent to 90,000 to 105,000 points in the new scheme.

Highlights include (click to visit the hotel website):

The St. Regis New York  

The St. Regis Aspen  

The St. Regis Florence  

Hotel Danieli, Venice  

The Gritti Palace, Venice 

The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort  

W Verbier  

The St. Regis Bali Resort  

The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort 

You can find a full list of ‘top category’ Starwood hotels here.  The link does not work on a mobile unless you switch to desktop view.

Some hotels in SPG Category 7 are classified as ‘all suite’ and it is not clear how these will be treated from Saturday.  These are (this list also includes some ‘all inclusive’ exceptions): Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, Thailand; The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket, Thailand; Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, Steamboat Springs, Colorado; The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal, Costa Rica; The St. Regis Bora Bora and the Le Méridien Bora Bora, Bora Bora, French Polynesia; Mystique, a Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini, Santorini, Greece; The St. Regis Bali Resort, Nusa Dua, Indonesia; Hotel Cala di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, and Hotel Romazzino, Costa Smeralda, Italy; W Maldives,  North Ari Atoll, Maldives; W Koh Samui, Surat Thani, Thailand; Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai, U.A.E.; St. Regis Residence Club, Aspen, Aspen, CO; and Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale, AZ.

A reminder of the new rule on booking without points

From tomorrow, you can continue to book ex-Marriott hotels if you don’t have the points.  You have until 14 days before check-in to get the required balance into your account.

However, you will not be able to book ex-Starwood hotels in this way.  This means that you can’t lock in a deal at any of the current Category 7 SPG hotels I listed above.

What am I planning to do?

My only personal plan, before anyone asks, is to try to lock in a couple of nights at the St Regis New York for September, dropping my current Essex House booking.  I like the idea of trying it once and 60,000 points is a good price.

We won’t be rushing to book the Maldives etc because I have decent visibility of our 2019 holiday plans and I don’t see this fitting in.  I’d rather wait a couple of years until my kids are older and can get more out of it – after all, even if the hotel is an excellent deal I’m still on the hook for four flights ….

(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.)

Bits: Best Western sale (plus Avios, a status match and £20 voucher!), get your kids a toy passport
Bits: Amex "Platinum House" coming to London, Priority Pass guest fee jumping up - what should you do?
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  1. OT: Embassy Suites stay did not get the Miles & More bonus, I was registered. My preference was still set to the BA account, so heads up to anyone else that as mentioned it’s probably necessary to make sure Lufthansa is your preferred partner. I’ve emailed HH asking for them.

    • Yep, see the warning I posted in the comments in the offer article – Hilton IT has always worked this way…

    • Safest option is just to leave LH as travel partner and delete all others. With double dipping gone there is no need to list a whole string of them.

      • Yeah Rob mentioned setting LH as preferred, but that required me thinking…..
        Think it’s quite poor the way certain offers work only if other unmentioned things are set. I had similar issues previously.

  2. porkdumpling says:

    I called Marriott customer service to upgarde my certificate from C5 and C9 and the representative told me that the system wasn’t allowing them to upgrade certificates but that she would make notes on my account to reflect the conversation. Anyone else have that issue

    • Not personally, literally just off the phone and ordered a Cat 7 + avios and upgraded a 1-5 to a Cat 7, no problems in doing so.

      If they map old to new 1:1 I’ll be an extremely happy chap. Will probably be the best ever allocation of points I’ve ever done.

  3. Jeremy I says:

    Hello all. I have a cat 1 to 5 TP which I’ve attached to the phu quoc jw Marriott (before it went up a category earlier this year ). If i decide that getting to phu qhoc is too much of a hassle and IF the categories map 1to 1 , will i be able to transfer the booking to a different new scheme cat 5 hotel (rather than points being refunded ) thanks in advance

  4. TGLoyalty says:

    Ended up redeeming for a Cat 8 and 120k Avios – was actually going to Virgin but their system was down. Avios is probably more flexible anyway. Plus plenty MR i can transfer to Virgin.

    I suspect if it 1 for 1 then Cat 8 will be fine for whatever I want in the future.

  5. I’ve noticed a couple of changes on the site.

    1. The Creation Card page has been updated to say that they are no longer accepting applications for this card. I’ve read this to mean that the eagerly awaited return of the Creation Marriott card, may not be happening. Does anyone know for sure?

    2. The info on the SPG Amex now says that the card comes with automatic Silver Elite status. (I think this supercedes the Preferred Guest Plus status) but this begs the question, how are they going to grant this status? If it’s with a 10 elite night credit – then that’s a pretty good improvement in my book.

  6. I’ve noticed something that looks different to me in my Amex SPG Card account… Since yesterday it’s been saying ‘You’ll Receive 9,000 points for each approved friend’… To my knowledge, previously, 5,000 SPG points were on offer for a referral, so this has change. If it’s in anticipation of the currency change, then this could actually be a devaluation – 9,000 new points = 3,000 old points – a little naff for a referral bonus. However, if it has genuinely gone up to 9,000 points, that now make it and excellent card for referrals (in line with platinum for me, as I’ve recently be transferring most of my MR points to SPG and 2:1.

    Or perhaps it’s been 9,000 SPG all along and I’m just losing the plot…?!

  7. Hello I’m new to point collecting/regular travelling, and would be grateful for some guidance on SPG/Marriott hotel status. I recently acquired SPG Gold through Amex Platinum, and matched it to a Marriott account; I understand these will soon become one account, and I will be given Gold Elite (GE) under the new system.

    I’d like to work towards moving up one tier in order to get free breakfast, and it might be achievable but it all hinges on the nights per year. GE is to be granted for 25 nights, and Platinum Elite (PE) for 50 nights. As I’ve got GE through the Amex card rather than accumulating 25 nights though, does that mean I’d have to achieve the full 50 nights to move up to PE, ie getting GE through Amex is worthless in terms of eventually obtaining PE?

  8. Felix Flyer says:

    Slightly OT. I am looking out from the IC Cairo Semiramis across the Nile. The Sheraton across the city is beaming “One Loyalty Program” in Neon. So that’s alright!

  9. Rachael says:

    For all who need to know Marriott has gone live at 10.30 Sat live in the UK !

  10. Rachael says:

    ….or rather everyone’s status has changed as I just logged into and I am no longer Gold.

  11. So according to FT it looks like Marriott have been extremely miserly in how they’ve mapped certs. In particular both 1-5 AND 6 old have gone to 1-4 new!

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