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My experience using Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards

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With hotel companies rolling over elite status for one or two years during the pandemic, as well as reducing their elite status requirements in 2021, I have found myself with top tier status in virtually every major hotel scheme this year.

One benefit I got to experience in 2022 was using suite upgrade awards with both Accor Live Limitless and Marriott Bonvoy. I thought it was worth using two articles this week to run over how I found them.

This article looks at what I learned about Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards. My earlier article on Accor Live Limitless Suite Night Upgrades is here.

My experience using Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards

How do you get Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards?

Suite Night Awards are one of the ‘Marriott Annual Choice Benefits’ for reaching 50 and 75 nights in a year.

Frankly, it isn’t possible for me to do 50 elite nights at any single hotel chain in a year. I got lucky with Marriott Bonvoy, however, over the last two years.

I get 15 elite night credits from having the Marriott Bonvoy American Express card – this is a benefit all cardholders receive each year.

I also got additional nights over the pandemic via covid compensation measures and double elite night credit promotions. Couple this with extensions of existing Suite Night Awards and I started 2022 with 15 upgrades to spend.

What are Marriott Bonvoy Annual Choice Benefits?

On top of your usual elite status tiers Marriott Bonvoy offers two additional benefits for people who hit 50 and 75 elite nights in a calendar year.

Marriott does not provide a lot of information about these benefits. The best page you can find is this one.

You should be able to select your preferred benefit online within a few days of hitting the threshold. If you don’t make a choice by end of the first week of the following year, you are given 5 x Suite Night Awards by default.

This HfP article looks at the different options you can choose. For most people the five Suite Night Awards are the best option.

How do Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards work?

Each award is good for a one night upgrade into a premium room. Whilst they are called ‘Suite Night Awards’, they will often book into higher category standard rooms or lower level standard suites. You can get lucky and do a lot better, however.

Upgrades are not confirmed until at least five days before arrival so you can’t lock them in when booking. Once you have booked a room, you can use the ‘manage my booking’ process to see which room types are offered for SNA certificates. You can select which categories would be acceptable to you.

In my experience, the ranges of rooms varies widely. Some properties will offer you five potential upgrades including their top suite. Others only offer smaller suites or even just premium rooms.

Here is an example of what I saw at the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport for a stay I was planning earlier this year. The ticks show the options I was willing to accept. In the end, it cleared into the Club Suite, the best option.

My experience using Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards

You need to upgrade your entire stay – you can’t use five awards to upgrade part of a 7-night holiday.

Hotels are not obliged to accept your SNA upgrade request just because they have a suitable suite or premium room available.

They expire on 31st December in the following year. Note that if you wait until 1st January in the following year to choose them, you only get them for that year. Marriott is onto that little trick!

The following brands do NOT allow Suite Night Awards to be used: The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Protea, Aloft, Element, Design Hotels and the long-stay brands.

Suite Night Awards have a bad reputation – which I disagree with

If you use Google to find articles from US travel sites on Marriott Suite Night Awards, you will generally find a lot of grumbling.

There are two reasons for this:

  • one is location specific – the US has a lot more elite Marriott members and you are more likely to be competing against someone else on the same night for the same suite when at a US hotel
  • with Platinum members getting no more than five per year and Titanium members getting no more than 10, people tend to hoard them for their ‘best’ stays – this means that a disproportionate number of people try to use them at the same handful of resorts and big city hotels

I got around these issues.

Whilst I have finished 2022 with 51 Marriott Bonvoy nights, 15 of these were from the American Express card and, roughly, 15 from the ‘double nights’ promotion. This means I only did around 20 actual nights.

I started the year with 15 Suite Night Awards to burn, due to rollovers, and used 13 of them.

With a couple of exceptions due to HfP review requirements, whenever I was able to apply a Suite Night Award, I did. Many would have been at hotels which rarely see any SNA vouchers used, yet alone on the nights I was there.

I am also guessing that the lack of US travellers in Europe during H1 2022 meant that there were fewer people with SNAs in my vicinity.

How did my Suite Night Awards work out?

I learnt a trick this year. In a city with multiple decent Marriott properties, you could book rooms at more than one hotel and apply a Suite Night Award to all of them if you have enough. They should clear at five days out, giving you time to cancel the room with the weakest or non-existant upgrade. I did this in Hamburg …..

Here are some example of what happened:

Courtyard London Gatwick Airport

I used two SNA certificates here on two separate stays. Both cleared into a Junior Suite (below). This would probably be seen as a ‘waste’ of a SNA but as I had so many to burn ….

I reviewed Courtyard London Gatwick Airport here.

Courtyard London Gatwick Airport junior suite

The University Arms, Cambridge

I had three SNAs clear here across two separate stays – it seems that if you book two rooms you can upgrade both. The results were OUTSTANDING.

On one occasion we got a rooftop suite with a huge terrace and a bathroom in the ‘turret’ on the roof (below) and on another I got the Stephen Hawking Suite which is the biggest in the hotel.

University Arms Cambridge bathroom

Le Meridien, Hamburg

I reviewed my Le Meridien Hamburg stay here so I won’t repeat myself. I got a Prestige Lake Suite which is as good as it gets.

Le Meridien Hamburg Lake Suite

The St Regis, New York

This was an example of a hotel which doesn’t make much available via the SNA route. The best I was offered despite booking well in advance was a larger standard room, which I took and which cleared.

On check-in, I was upgraded to a full suite as a Titanium Elite member of Marriott Bonvoy. It was actually smaller than the suites I had been given on my two previous stays at the same hotel where I hadn’t used an SNA. Did the SNA even make a difference?

The St Regis, Venice

I can’t remember what I was offered here when I picked the upgrades I was willing to accept. I ended up in a ‘Venetian Suite’ which was selling for €1,700 per night vs the €1,000 standard room which I’d actually booked on points.

I didn’t like the room or indeed the hotel as my St Regis Venice review shows, but the upgrade did clear.

St Regis Venice Venetian Suite

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport

As I mentioned earlier, my SNA cleared into a huge Club Suite which I reviewed here. Again, I had issues with the hotel but the upgrade worked out OK.

Sheraton Frankfurt Airport club suite

Le Meridien Paris Etoile

This is a hotel that I would never have chosen if it wasn’t for the fact that I had a Marriott Bonvoy free night voucher to use, but only up to 40,000 points of value. This was my only Paris option at that level.

I reviewed Le Meridien Paris Etoile here. My SNA cleared into a full suite, albeit this was actually two bedrooms which had been merged together. This meant two bathrooms, two wardrobes etc and a generally odd feel to the space. Look at the picture below – there is a headboard above the sofa!

Le Meridien Paris Etoile

I didn’t use a Suite Night Award on the following stays:

  • Al Maha Desert Resort, Dubai (does not accept them, and the tents are all similar) – a short review of Al Maha will appear in my ‘review of the year’ on 27th December

Importantly, I had a 100% success rate in getting my Suite Night Awards to clear even at premium hotels like The St Regis Venice.

Conclusion

Despite the bad reputation they have, I got excellent value from my Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Awards during 2022.

2023 will be trickier of course. I will only have five of them, so I may end up being ‘that person’ who saves them for a high profile hotel and then finds they don’t clear because so many others are trying to use them too. Let’s see.


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

How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (February 2023)

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.

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 Premium and MeliaRewards Gold status.  We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.

The Platinum Card from American Express

30,000 points and unbeatable 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 (42)

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

  • JDB says:

    I really don’t like the concept of ‘maybe’ upgrades if I’m travelling with my wife/family. Given these reports, I should consider consider myself lucky. I have no status or more than a handful of points in any of the big three chains which would never be my first choice, but booking a Marriott ‘Luxury Collection’ in Australia where friends are staying, the FHR rate was A$1,304 (deducting the c.A$140 F&B credit = A$1,164), including breakfast and a ‘maybe’ upgrade for three nights. The normal Bonvoy online rate was A$1,220 with breakfast so I contacted the hotel who offered A$1,120 with breakfast and a confirmed double upgrade to a suite as long as I booked directly with them. Sorry, even without Tanzanite Triple Elite, that’s one less room in the SNA pool.

    • Harry T says:

      That’s a bit naughty of the hotel, as they are avoiding giving Bonvoy a cut.

      • JDB says:

        Yes, that’s my very well tested theory; I get better than any status benefits whilst having none and even better, I’m free to choose any hotel without being tied to any chain at all.

      • Ken says:

        Can they really avoid the Marriott royalty fee ?

        I’d imagine it’s difficult.

        • JDB says:

          It’s not the brand fees they are avoiding, it’s referral/booking fees they have to pay in the system. I prefer the money off and they also give me better than status benefits that cost them very little, so we are both happy.

          • Ken says:

            No doubt it’s a better deal for you, I was just curious to see what fees the hotel would avoid.
            I think the hotels are charged roughly 4% for people enrolled in the loyalty program which pays for points accrued.

    • Bagoly says:

      Interesting tip – I contact independent hotels outside of OTAs but I had not thought of contact chain hotels outside of their chain.

    • Bagoly says:

      The original idea of “maybe” upgrades is that they don’t involve the hotel losing any revenue by running out of inventory that they could have sold for cash.
      Thus in theory they can be more generous.
      Practice may be a different matter.

    • marcw says:

      I agree. If you spot some interesting rates, always contact the property directly. Did exactly this during summer in Thailand. Hotels matched SecretEscapes and related rates.

  • Magic Mike says:

    Thanks Rob. Like others I think you have had a better than average experience with SNAs. There’s more that could be added to this article, based on my understanding of how it works:

    1. SNAs come from a pool of rooms defined by the hotel. This may not be all the rooms in a particular category (e.g. a hotel may have 10 junior suites but only one will be in the SNA pool). As others say, some places will only put room categories that are marginally better than a standard room in the SNA pool, and even then not all of those rooms.
    2. The advantage of SNAs is that if there is a room in the pool and it is available 5 days out, you will get it, automatically confirmed by Marriott. The order of how multiple SNA requests are decided is unclear, it’s possibly linked to status levels, then booking date (do all the titaniums, then all the platinums, etc). The SNA approach seems to put you ahead of high status guests checking in on the day, as likely any upgrade for them will not be organised by the hotel that far out. The SNA gives you the comfort that you know you’re going to get that better room, and as you say can give you the opportunity to rethink your plans if there’s a better option.
    3. Some hotels will upgrade you anyway. Some will upgrade you further than your confirmed SNA. A few unscrupulous hotels like the Renaissance St Pancras will downgrade your confirmed SNA then pretend they know nothing about it.

    I’ve had some amazing rooms as the result of SNAs, mostly pre the Starwood-Marriott merger. I’ve also had some equally incredible upgrades without (the wood and mirror panelled corner 2 bedroom suite at the Westin Paris overlooking the Tuileries and the Eiffel Tower, during Paris Fashion Week, is probably the winner). I’ve also had a significant number of SNA misses.

    SNAs are not worth what they used to be in the Starwood days, and they’re very much a lottery ticket… but occasionally you do win.

  • Will says:

    Since the SPG merger I’ve put most of my stays with Marriott.

    SNA’s aren’t perfect by any means but when you consider IHG wouldn’t even give breakfast for top tier until recently and Hilton are reported to be removing breakfast, I think we have to give credit to Marriott.

    For platinum members, breakfast, lounge access and 5 SNA’s is a very decent offer.

    I personally only use the SNA’s at hotels which offer a decent sized upgrade and in 3 stays this year on SNA’s I’m pretty sure and upgrade as a titanium wouldn’t have got close.

    I’ve got one pending for a stay in Dubai over new year which would book into a 200sqm suite which is £1300 a night if it confirms.

    There’s definitely real value in them and realistically how many of us would pay the equivalent cash price anyway? Personally I’d just book into a normal room.

  • memesweeper says:

    I have five SNAs expiring year end — is it book by, or stay by?

  • Mrs-Fussy says:

    We are currently at St Regis Saadiyat where our SNA Cleared for 1 bedroom ocean view suite. It’s exceptional

    • Adam says:

      So that is why my SNA for ocean view suite did not clear :))) But I got Astor as a titanium, so was even happier :)). Just checked out, bit dated but good hotel. Enjoy!

      • Mrs_Fussy says:

        Excellent – lucky you Adam. We checked in yesterday. Really liking the hotel. Is Sontaya worth trying?

        • Adam says:

          I did not like Santaya to be honest. Portions were quite small and the duck was too dry for my liking. I liked seabass at Signature 3 and I also had dinner at that Greek place – Mazi. It was a delight.

    • will says:

      The breakfast spread at that hotel is insane.

      Also had one of the most memorable nights there, made a massive error and got the wrong St Regis for an evening with Valtteri Bottas before the F1 a few years back.

      GM took pity on us and invited us to a night he was running, which ended up as a dinner on the next table over from Laurence Stroll and a night out after in Amber lounge with bottomless DP.

      Needless to say the race the next day was a challenge even though it was in the evening!

  • Mark says:

    Stayed at the new Moxy in Dusseldorf this week. Not a bad hotel and in a great location.

  • Celso says:

    Marriot is a good hotel, but their experience programs are poorly managed. I got a 1250 dollars gift card that failed to be used 3 times, very disappointing situations due to poor brand network and policy execution consistency. I have a bad feeling when I think about Marriot.

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

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