Marriott Bonvoy is launched today. Alongside it, Marriott has released the list of hotels changing award category in 2019.
“But hang on”, I hear you say. “Didn’t that happen in August when Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest were merged into one award chart?”
I thought so too, but clearly we were wrong.
The pricing changes take effect from 5th March.
For clarity, two separate things happen on 5th March:
Category 8 is officially launched, so the 60 hotels listed at the bottom of this article which have always been identified as forming the new Category 8 will finally move
A raft of other hotels will be changing category too, mainly upwards
What won’t be happening is the launch of peak and off-peak pricing, which appears to have been delayed until later in the year.
The first point is arguably the most important. If you look at the Marriott Bonvoy reward chart here:
…. the current highest price is 60,000 Bonvoy points per night. This is, let’s be honest, a steal for hotels such as St Regis New York which was selling for $1,100 plus taxes per night when I was there last Autumn.
On 5th March, 60 hotels such as St Regis New York move to Category 8 and immediately become 85,000 points per night.
What other hotels are changing Marriott category?
In Marriott’s defence, it is only a very small percentage of the total number of hotels which are moving. A quick scroll down the list will show you that the impact is disproportionate, unfortunately, with places you might actually want to visit – New York, London, Paris – hit multiple times.
There are a further eight hotels which will now be placed into Category 8 when it is launched:
- Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection (British Virgin Islands)
- The London EDITION
- Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley (United States)
- Pine Cliffs Residence, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve
- The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach
- The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai
- W Hong Kong
- The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice (closed, will re-open soon as St Regis Venice)
I want to highlight The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach on the list above. I reviewed The Ritz-Carlton Al Hamra Beach last year and it is an amazing redemption, given that every room – as you can see below – is actually a villa with a private pool and direct beach access.
It is also frustrating that St Regis Venice, image below, is not bookable at present. I imagine it will be after 5th March when reservations open.
What should you do?
If you have any existing Marriott Bonvoy reward reservations, it is worth going through the list to see if they are dropping in price. It is unlikely, but there are some fallers which you could rebook after 5th March.
More importantly, think about your plans for the hotels moving into Category 8. At present you can book them for 60,000 points but, from 5th March, they will cost 85,000 points. Once peak and off-peak pricing is introduced, they will cost up to 100,000 points per night.
Remember that you can book for up to a year ahead.
The full list of hotels moving to Category 8 is at the bottom of this article.
Is ‘Points Advance’ changing?
‘Points Advance’ is a unique Marriott Bonvoy feature. It lets you book reward nights even if you don’t have the points.
This is very clever. After all, nothing is going to motivate you to move your upcoming stays to Marriott more than the knowledge that you have a reward stay booked and only another xx days to earn the points.
With ‘Points Advance’, you can book reward nights now. You have until 14 days before your stay to get enough points in your account, otherwise it is converted to a cash stay.
Due to a badly worded email sent to Marriott Bonvoy members, there was some confusion over whether ‘Points Advance’ was changing. The email implied that you were no longer locking in the points cost, and that if it went up between the day of booking and the day you had enough points, Marriott would ask for the extra.
Marriott has now stated on its own members blog that this is not the case. If you make a ‘Points Advance’ booking now you are guaranteed the rate even if you don’t have the points.
Since I am swimming in Marriott Bonvoy points this is not a scheme that appeals to me, as I can only lose out if others without any points book rooms I want. I do admire it, however, because it is 100% successful in changing customer behaviour in Marriott’s favour.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points via UK credit cards
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses!
Click here to read our detailed summary of all UK credit cards which earn Marriott Bonvoy points. That page is regularly updated with the latest special offers and will still be accurate even if you are reading this article months after publication.
Appendix – Marriott Bonvoy hotels moving from Category 7 (60,000 points) to Category 8 (85,000 points):
This is the full list of hotels moving into Category 8 on 5th March.
Click the text to enlarge – it is actually four separate images. It was not designed to be readable directly from the article! It is always difficult publishing tables on HFP because a lot of people read the site via mobile and tables distort.
If you still can’t read it, go to this page of marriott.com and sort the chart by category. The Category 8 hotels will be on top.
(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.)