The Sweet Spot Of Redeeming Starpoints At Marriott Hotels

Marriott’s takeover of Starwood closed a bit over two months ago, and since that date it has been possible to link accounts between programs, allowing members to match status and transfer points.

Starpoints convert to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio

For the time being, Starpoints can be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio (and Marriott Rewards points can be converted into Starpoints at a 3:1 ratio). I was happy to see they chose this as the transfer ratio, since it seems pretty fair to me. Apparently this transfer opportunity will remain possible until Marriott creates a single loyalty program, which is likely to be in 2018 at the earliest.

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Why I’m not rushing to transfer Starpoints to Marriott (for the most part)

There are no doubt some good deals available through Marriott Rewards, like their Hotel + Air packages, which allow you to redeem points for a set number of miles with a partner airline, plus seven nights in a hotel. It’s unfortunate that they make you spend all seven nights consecutively in a single hotel, but even if you were to throw away a few nights, it could still represent a good deal.

However, there are a few other things I don’t love about the prospect of redeeming through Marriott Rewards, especially as someone who likes to redeem for aspirational properties:

  • While redemption rates at Ritz-Carlton properties are pretty good, Ritz-Carlton only honors limited elite benefits, and you don’t get lounge access, free breakfast, etc., which takes a lot of the fun out of premium redemptions
  • While individual hotels sometimes have different policies, as a rule Marriott resorts don’t offer elite members free breakfast
  • For the most part Marriott’s non-Ritz Carlton resorts don’t entice me that much

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Marriott Gold & Platinum members don’t get lounge access at Ritz-Carlton properties

Starwood isn’t perfect either…

While I like to redeem for aspirational properties, ironically I actually think Starwood’s redemption rates for their best properties are way too high. For example, Starwood charges up to 35,000 Starpoints per night for their top properties, which is the equivalent of 105,000 Marriott points per night.

Starwood-Chart

Meanwhile Marriott’s most expensive properties are just 45,000 points per night, which is the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints.

Marriott-Chart

Ritz-Carlton properties cost up to 70,000 points per night, which is the equivalent of ~23,000 Starpoints.

Ritz-Chart

In practice I don’t actually redeem Starpoints all that much for aspirational properties. Instead I use them for mid-range properties, and then find good paid rates at their aspirational hotels, where I typically get a suite, free breakfast, etc.

One Marriott sweet spot that I’m loving

I don’t expect others to necessarily agree with me about the importance of breakfast or lounge access at Ritz, or what I perceive to be the quality of many Marriott resorts. They just don’t excite me, though everyone is different.

However, in addition to Hotel + Air Packages, I’m finding one other use of Marriott points that I really love.

Specifically, I’m finding that redeeming Marriott points at many of their good city hotels can represent a great value. Take London, for example:

  • Starwood’s presence in London is sort of “bleh,” with a Sheraton Grand, Luxury Collection, Le Meridien, and W, none of which are fantastic (there are now also some Design Hotels properties, but you don’t get elite benefits at most of those)
  • They cost 20,000 Starpoints per night, which is the equivalent of 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night

Park-Tower-Hotel-Knightsbridge-London - 3
The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection hotel

Meanwhile Marriott has several hotels that are quite tempting. For example:

marriott-points marriott-points-1

Most of these hotels are 45,000 Marriott points per night, which is the equivalent of 15,000 Starpoints. You also get the fifth night free, meaning if you’re staying for five nights you’re spending an average of 36,000 Marriott points per night, or 12,000 Starpoints.

The London EDITION is arguably nicer than any of the Starwood options, and costs fewer points. However, you don’t get free breakfast at EDITION hotels (which doesn’t bother me as much in a city hotel where I can easily pop into a Starbucks — it’s slightly more annoying at a resort).

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Room at The EDITION, which costs 50,000 Marriott points per night

Otherwise the JW Marriott Grosvenor House looks great, and has a club lounge, for example.

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Executive lounge at the Grosvenor House, which Gold & Platinum members have access to

Bottom line

While I’m not rushing to transfer my Starpoints for many redemptions at Ritz-Carlton or at Marriott resorts, I am finding it extremely tempting to check out some Marriott properties in cities where Marriott has a big footprint, where the choice is often between a 45,000 point Marriott Rewards property, or a 20,000 point SPG property.

Now if only the two programs would offer reciprocal elite qualifying stays & nights, because as it stands nights spent at Marriott hotels don’t count towards SPG elite qualification. I suspect that will be changed in 2017, though that’s just speculation on my part.

Anyone else finding value in transferring Starpoints to Marriott for redemptions at some city hotels, given that a comparatively advantageous pricing of Marriott’s Category 9 hotels compared to Starwood’s Category 6 hotels?

Comments

  1. You forgot to mention The Great Northern Hotel (SPG/Tribute Portolio), which is just beautiful and very well located at King’s Cross station. Rooms are small but well-appointed, each floor has a pantry with free Nespresso and Cake and sweets, and the a là carte Breakfast for Plats is fantastic.

  2. Just to make the sweet spot even sweeter – As Platinum you get in London EDITION a la carte breakfast for 2 for free in Berners tavern (*michelin) with no limit on number of dishes. + room upgrade two tiers up. If ya want the suite (cca 1.3k gbp/night) you pay 300 gbp extra per night. There is also a cool club in the basement where you are on guestlist (usually full on weekend). My favourite hotel while in London…

  3. I was actually tempted to look and understand the Marriott redemption options – and now I have a much better idea. Assuming it will be nearly impossible to redeem at RC Reserve properties? And is bulgari completely out of the table?

    We stayed this year at the Mandapa (Ritz Carlton Reserve) in Bali and loved it – I think you would too! Also just back from W Maldives and was very impressed! Very colourful and great service – and great adaptation of the W concept to the islands (and it wasn’t a 24/7 party at all, worry not!). For New Years we booked St Regis Langkawi on points. But I’m going to start looking into Edition hotels. Have *finally* linked my account today – thanks for the push, Ben!

  4. We did the exact same math for London properties and are staying at the JW in January using Starwood points! Glad to have our thought process verified.

  5. I agree that London has nice Marriott alternatives for award stays using Starpoints. However, I often find that Edition and Ritz-Carlton are blacked out for award redemptions–including the last 2 times I tried for the London Edition.

    I also found the New York Edition to be a great alternative. I used 16,667 Starpoints for my sister and her husband to get a free night–a very good rate!

    Of course, there are only 5 Edition hotels.

    I agree that only Ritz-Carlton and Edition hotels are of use for those of us looking for luxury…since few Autograph properties are really in the same league or even 5 star. HOWEVER, everyone needs to remember that the best RC Reserve properties are not available for awards at all, nor are the Bulgari hotels. And there are several regular RC properties that also don’t participate with awards. So it’s not as simple and obvious as it might otherwise sound on the 5 star top luxury level…unlike most StR and LC hotels.

  6. Yes, definitely.

    While booking a hotel in HK for New Year’s Eve this year I had 3 options:
    Sheraton at 12,500 SPG points
    JW Marriott at 45,000 MR points
    W at 25,000 SPG points

    Given that the JW was 10,000 SPG points cheaper and the cash rate was more expensive than the W ($680 vs 550 USD), it was a no brainer to book the JW Marriott

  7. Last month I booked one night after Christmas at St. Ermin’s in London for 35,000 Marriott points (PointSaver). Feeling pretty good about that one…

    Last year around the same time I stayed at the Great Northern and a free night was only 12,000 Starwood points. I think redemptions have gone up to 20-25,000. It’s almost certainly not worth it for their smallest rooms…

  8. I completely agree – strongly thinking about staying 7 nights in London using a Hotel & Air package (which will also earn my Southwest Companion Pass renewal). (Quite a combination, eh? Fly WN and stay at a top of the line Marriott.)

    I also still like Club Carlson’s properties in London. A few are still 50,000 points, and even at 70,000 points/night they are a reasonable value.

  9. Just scored with the SPG/Marriott Merger. I transferred 30K SPG points to Marriott at 3:1. The 90,000 Marriott points plus $200 got me a one bedroom suite at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas for check in Thanksgiving and check out Saturday. At the desk for another $150 a night I upgraded to the two bedroom suite that was 1600 sq ft WITH a 9am check in and 1pm check out. I have a 3 yr old and a six month old so trying to put them both in the same room is a nightmare. The suite would normally cost $1250 per night plus taxes/fees. After doing the math I got $2143.95
    for 30K SPG points. 7.14 cents per point. BOOM!

  10. For Marriott’s Travel + Air package, do you have to redeem 7 nights stay at once? Or are you allowed to use few nights stay here and there? Thanks.

  11. Overland – you have to redeem the 7 nights in a single stay at a single property. But, in my view, the value is good enough so that I might use the package even if I didn’t stay the full 7 nights.

  12. Don’t forget one of Marriott’s most beautiful properties, St. Pancras at 45k a night with access to the private Chambers Club for Elites.

  13. I had ~3000 Marriott points that were set to expire in December. I was going to transfer them to SPG to keep them alive, but then realized I needed to book a night in London for an upcoming trip. So instead, I transferred points to Marriott for the following booking.

    12k Starpoints and 1k Ultimate Rewards. To get the 40k Marriott points I need for St. Ermins.

    Used my expiring Marriott points and only have 76 left which will probably expire, but I’m okay with it, because the room cost is $487 dollars and I am getting 4+ CPM!

    In other news….Does anyone have any amazing recommendations for spending New Years Eve in Paris? Thanks!

  14. Just a note from your list, the JW Grosvenor looks nice, and arguably their tea is fun. However, the hotel was horrible a few years ago and doesn’t appear anything has changed.

  15. Stayed at the JW Grosvenor on points last year, it is a wonderful hotel in a great location. The lounge provides great breakfast and dinner and a broad selection of drinks (incl. cocktails).

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