Marriott Rewards 2014 Hotel Award Category Changes

Marriott Rewards has just announced their 2014 hotel category adjustments, which kick in for stays booked on or after April 8, 2014. That means you can still book award nights at the old rates through April 7, even if you don’t have enough points or reward certificates in your account.

Here’s what they’ve posted in their Marriott Rewards Insiders community:

  • All redemption reservations booked on or before April 7, 2014 will be honored at the current point price, even if the stay occurs after April 8. 2014. If you have not ordered your certificate prior to April 8, 2014, call Guest Services prior to your stay to request the lower priced certificate.
  • As always, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account.
  • You can also use Cash + Points to take advantage of booking your redemption stay early.

To clarify, this doesn’t impact the number of points required per free night at a certain category of hotels, but rather shifts the number of hotels in each category. Per their FAQ:

How many hotels are affected?

73% of the properties remain unchanged
66% of the programs properties will remain in Categories 1-4

27% of the hotels are changing; of these 22% are decreasing by one category and 78% are increasing by one category

Ouch! So over a quarter of their hotels are changing in category, and of those 78% are moving up in cost. That means that net ~21% of properties are moving up in price, which I’d consider to be a pretty substantial devaluation. Admittedly it could have been worse — they could have increased the number of points required for a stay at a certain category hotel, or worse, added another award category or two.

It’s certainly better than last year, where they added a Category 9 to their award chart and net ~35% of their properties moved up in price. But I guess an increase in the number of points is to be expected, with occupancy and room rates at a near all time high.

To put this into perspective, Starwood announced their 2014 category changes several weeks ago, and 56% of properties went up in price, while 44% of properties went down in price. Meanwhile when Hyatt announced their 2014 category changes, 21 hotels went up in price while 17 went down in price, though in fairness that was also in the context of a devaluation, so it was especially mild.

I’m not a Marriott guy, so I’d be curious to hear what Marriott loyalists think of this. Better than expected, or a frustrating increase?

Comments

  1. It’s frustrating to see a category three hotel in Egypt in a category seven hotel in Naples, FL or even worse the category nine hotel in Key West Florida

  2. I guess they will soon have to start awarding Cat 1-6 certs for their promotions. I only stay here to get the megabonus promotions. Otherwise, their prices are a little high, and their awards program isn’t too good. Hyatt and SPG are generally my preference. And lately IHG has been keeping me busy with their Big Win. Im averaging over 20k points per night with them.

  3. Ben, in SPG’s case 56% went DOWN, not up. You have them reversed. It is frustrating to see some of these, there aren’t going to be many cat 5 full-service hotel’s left for redeeming the certs… I hope there will be an adjustment there if enough people start canceling the card.

  4. Like every program, there are sweet spots. My favorite was Rayong Marriott in Thailand. Visited last November, upgraded my two rooms to a junior and one bedroom suites that connected. Massive, and new! Check it out. May have just become my favorite deal system wide.

  5. It is absolutely worst for those who earned 1-5 Cat in Megabonus only to see they moved 208 Cat 5 hotels to Cat 6, while only 2 Cat 6 moved down to Cat 5. I feel cheated.

  6. I’m with JW here — the number going from 5 to 6 is really, really annoying. Thank God I’m finishing my Megabonus this weekend and can book my stay before 4/7. However, one of the ones I had my eye on (Residence Inn Munich East) is now out of reach.

    I think Category 1-5 nights are now things to consider only for nights at airport hotels, not for proper trips

  7. One more reason not to be loyal to Marriott as they obviously aren’t loyal to us. So much for the Cat 1-4 free night I have or even the cat 1-5 night I have in my account.

  8. The changes that really matter are Cat 5 to 6 and Cat 4 to 5. There are some crushing shifts. New Orleans will have no options that don’t require a car. NYC loses most of its Cat 5 options with subway access. IHG has usable options in large cities; Marriott doesn’t seem to want to reward its members that way.

  9. As a Marriott Platinum, I was so freaked out by the rumors floating around the last week that this seems oddly not as bad as I expected. I will certainly miss the great Cat 1-4 and 1-5 redemptions, but frankly, I save my points for Ritz-Carlton stays most of the time anyway and to me that is the real value of the points.

  10. As others have said, most frustrating to see the number of hotels move up from Cat 5 to Cat 6. The yearly certificate that comes with their credit card is now even less worth it since the two hotels which I was looking forward to redeeming for have moved up to Cat 6 and all that’s left are non-aspirational properties in that area. (And annoying 6-month window to use said certificate still remains) Also frustrating to see that many of the hotels which moved down in category I’m not interested in but many mid-to-high-end hotels in major cities went up in price. A “veiled” devaluation. (Oh, and there are 2 hotels which moved up from Cat 7 to Cat 9, btw) Glad I redeemed my Megabonus certificate last weekend. Will be dumping the Marriott credit card before fee hits and only staying at Marriotts if family insists on it.

  11. Makes me appreciate Hyatt that much more. 20-30k UR for their top hotels is bananas. I’m Marriott Gold but even then, the value just isn’t there anymore.

  12. Big marriott guy here. Glad that the rumored changes didn’t come true, but I was hoping for a break with all these hotels moving up. Nearly all of the good places in urban settings are going up 1 category, after going up yet another last year. The value is really starting to go.

  13. I have no idea if the info is accurate or not but according to a GM at one Marriott property that I am friendly with the raise in redemption rates directly correlates to the cost at which Marriott has to reimburse the hotel.

    In essence if the hotel is sold out Marriott pays top dollar and the increases represents that top dollar reimbursement (which is many cases according to the GM has risen along with the economy), however, if the hotel is empty Marriott pays a lot less and there in lies the rub we are paying with points for the times when the hotel is full but not getting much of or any break when the hotel is empty.

    As I understand it the devaluations are simply Marriott’s way of passing the increased costs from the hotel reimbursement to them (Marriott) along to the customer, I am not sure if that makes it any better or not, or even if it is accurate, but feel free to take it for what it is worth.

  14. Only reason to keep the Chase Marriott cc was the annual free night, which only did not go away because they raised the qualifying Category from 4 to 5 with last years devaluation.

    If they don’t raise it to 6 with this devaluation, it will be cheaper to just pay for the room and get the points. Bye, Bye, Chase Marriott card….

  15. Chase Card significantly devalued if the yearly Cert remains at 5 and the MegaBonus promotions are worthless when you can’t even get a LAX airport hotel for under Cat 6. Combine that with the fact that they’ve increased the rate at which they’re dismissing LNF claims (often using very very thin excuses) and there’s little reason to book a Marriott….much better to go with a discounter as they’re often so much cheaper that elite benefits don’t make up for the price difference.

  16. Marriott’s program is failing to motivate me to do any spending with them. I’m a Plat that’s dropped down to Gold and may either shift spending or move to another program. In particular this months “Mega Bonus” was insulting to everyone’s intelligence as it only awarded Category 1-4 rather than 1-5 previously. Add that everything almost every Hotel is going up beyond even a Category 5 and this program is now completely useless to me.

  17. Well I had been on the fence about renewing my Marriott Credit Card, which I only really kept for the free night cert. I can no longer use it in Vancouver or Portland (the easy one night getaways from Seattle… Time to cancel a card. Good time as my annual fee is about to post.

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