This morning I shared the new benefits which Marriott Rewards is adding, including guaranteed late check-out, an experiences marketplace, and an elite concierge service. All three of these benefits are also offered by Starwood Preferred Guest, so it’s fantastic to see Marriott adopting some of the most popular Starwood Preferred Guest benefits… at least on the surface.
Perhaps the most substantive (and surprising) change was the addition of guaranteed late check-out for Gold and Platinum members. In my coffee deprived state this morning I saw the terms “guaranteed late check-out” and “4PM,” and thought to myself “great, Marriott is adopting Starwood’s late check-out policy,” which offers Gold and Platinum members guaranteed 4PM check-out, except at resorts and conference hotels, where it’s subject to availability.
Well, as it turns out, the benefit isn’t quite that generous… and isn’t much of a benefit at all. The “catch” with the new benefit is the following (bolding mine):
The guaranteed late checkout benefit will be available to Gold and Platinum Elite members of both Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards who will enjoy a more seamless travel experience when planning their trip. These members will receive a guaranteed late checkout, which could be as late as 4pm.
I reached out to Marriott’s PR department to clarify what is actually guaranteed here. Here’s what they had to say:
Hopefully I can clarify; It’s all based on availability on the check-out day. Gold and Platinum Elite members will receive a guaranteed late checkout and it could be as late as 4pm. Members can request the late checkout when making a reservation via phone, through the Marriott Mobile app via the mobile check-in process, or when checking in upon arrival at the hotel. This benefit is available at all fully participating Rewards hotels with the exclusion of resorts, convention hotels and Marriott Vacation Club.
In other words, the only thing that’s guaranteed is that you’ll get late check-out, but there’s no guarantee as to how late of a check-out you’ll be granted. If a hotel’s check-out time is 11AM, the hotel would be within the terms of the benefit to offer you a 12PM check-out.
In other words, Marriott late check-out is about as guaranteed as Hilton suite upgrades. 😉
I wasn’t expecting Marriott to adopt a guaranteed 4PM late check-out policy, which is why I was overjoyed by this morning’s news. For a second I thought “great, maybe Marriott will in fact be taking some of the best aspects of the Starwood Preferred Guest program.”
This benefit is more in line with what I’d expect from Marriott, and isn’t much of a guarantee at all. I’ve never been at a hotel which didn’t offer at least some sort of late check-out to elite members (like allowing a 1PM check-out with a 12PM check-out time), which would be fully compliant with this new guarantee. But that’s a far cry from guaranteed 4PM check-out…