In April Marriott Rewards added some new benefits, 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 was refreshing to see Marriott actually adopt some aspects of the SPG program.
Perhaps the most substantive (and surprising) change was the addition of guaranteed late check-out for Gold and Platinum members. I was so excited when I saw the terms “guaranteed late check-out” and “4PM,” and thought to myself “great, Marriott is adopting Starwood’s late check-out policy.” This offers Gold and Platinum members guaranteed 4PM check-out, except at resorts and conference hotels, where it’s subject to availability.
But we quickly realized that the benefit wasn’t as generous as it sounded, and wasn’t much of a benefit at all (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.
In other words, the only thing that was guaranteed was that you’d get late check-out, but there was no guarantee as to how late of a check-out you’d 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.
SPG members are worried about the merger, and “benefits” like that only reinforced the fears of SPG members. At Starwood, guaranteed late check-out is actually a guarantee. Just guaranteeing some sort of late check-out isn’t actually much of a promise.
After some backlash, Marriott quickly updated their policy, and added guaranteed 4PM check-out to match Starwood’s policy:
Guaranteed Late Checkout
Gold and Platinum members may checkout as late as 4pm if they ask. This benefit is guaranteed at all participating Marriott Rewards hotels, except at resort and convention hotels, where it is based upon availability. Marriott Vacation Club is excluded. Guaranteed late checkout launches globally onMay 16.
They said they’d offer guaranteed 4PM check-out globally starting May 16, except at resort and convention hotels, where it’s subject to availability.
However, based on some readers emails I’ve received, it seems like Marriott might not be executing this benefit very well.
Is Marriott backtracking on their guaranteed 4PM check-out?
A reader who is a Platinum member reached out regarding his correspondence with Marriott customer service. He sent the following email to Marriott;
I would like to clarify the late checkout policy. My understanding is that the guaranteed late checkout of 4pm is a guaranteed benefit for all hotels (except for convention and resort hotels), including Ritz Carlton properties. I called Marriott/Ritz Carlton Rewards a few weeks ago to confirm that. However, every time I have asked for a late checkout of 3 or 4pm at the Ritz Carlton Central Park or Battery Park as a Platinum member, they have said no. Could you please clarify this?
The response from Marriott read as follows:
Since travel schedules can be unpredictable, we offer you priority for late checkout. Just call the front desk the morning of checkout with your planned departure time. Available at all Marriott hotels except Marriott Vacation Club International and Horizons by Marriott Vacation Club. At The Ritz-Carlton, a two-hour extension is offered based on availability when requested the morning of checkout (not available at resorts). You can find this by going to www.marriottrewards.com and clicking on “Marriott Rewards Terms and Conditions” or by using this link.
The reader responded with the following:
Is the guaranteed 4pm late checkout for Platinum members when requested at check-in not a guarantee? Or does it not apply to Ritz Carlton properties?
Because they have not been providing the 4pm guaranteed late checkout benefit when requested.
Marriott responded as follows:
No, priority late check-out is not a guarantee and not available at Ritz-Carlton. It is provided if available.
At The Ritz-Carlton, a two-hour extension is offered based on availability when requested the morning of checkout (not available at resorts).
Incorrect information from a single point of contact at a hotel chain is common, though he also followed up with Marriott on Twitter. Here’s how that conversation went, after the initial contact he made with him:
Marriott DM: I am sending you a link with the Platinum member benefits. Reviewing it states when a benefit is not offered the hotel brand will not be listed. Ritz Carlton is not listed for late check-out so according to the terms & conditions, you can request “late check-out.” As with all hotels, it’s subject to availability.
Reader DM: I’m confused — if it’s subject to availability, then it’s not really guaranteed? I thought it was guaranteed to all Platinum members as long as it’s requested at check-in?
Marriott DM: The late check out request would have to be requested before your arrival.
Reader DM: Ok so a 4PM late checkout should be guaranteed then if I request before arrival?
Marriott DM: You should be guaranteed late check out up to 4PM when you request it before you check-in.
Reader DM: Thanks, but I’m trying to clarify, what does “up to 4PM mean?” Is 4PM guaranteed or not? Because even when I call beforehand to ask of ra 4PM checkout, they say no, only 1PM or 2PM is possible. Just trying to understand what is guaranteed because it doesn’t seem like even the hotels are clear on this policy.
Marriott DM: The statement up to 4PM is based on the availability at the time of the request. The property may only be able to allow a late check-out as late as 1PM, as it is based on the availability at the property.
My gosh these reps are playing word games, it’s pathetic.
What do Marriott’s terms actually say?
When you look at the terms that the above representatives refer to, I can certainly see why there’s confusion:
Guaranteed Late Checkout
Make advance requests on our mobile app for guaranteed checkout as late as 4pm.
This benefit is guaranteed at all hotels, except at resort and convention hotels, where it is based upon availability. Marriott Vacation Club is excluded from this benefit.
If Marriott actually wanted to deliver on this benefit in a straightforward way, maybe they should also learn from Starwood about how to phrase this benefit:
4p.m. late checkout, subject to availability at resort and conference center hotels.
That sounds much more straightforward than saying “as late as,” no?
My correspondence with Marriott
I reached out to Marriott PR to see whether the policy had changed or what was going on (in regards to the above correspondence), and received the following response:
To clarify, Ritz Carlton properties are included in the guaranteed 4pm late check out for Platinum Elite members, when requested upon check-in. It’s in our terms and conditions. We believe that the people corresponding with the guest were quoting the priority late checkout offered for Silver Elite Members which is not guaranteed. We appreciate you reaching out to look into it.
So guaranteed 4PM check-out it supposed to be a benefit for Gold and Platinum members at all non-resort/convention hotels. Ritz-Carlton properties are included under this benefit.
While I commend Marriott for adding this benefit, it seems like the execution leaves a bit to be desired. I’d say they need to retrain their staff, but the terms are even written in a confusing way, so I think it goes beyond that.
Has anyone else run into issues being granted late check-out with Marriott? It would be interesting to gather more data points.