Historically, both Marriott and Starwood have made annual hotel category changes. While they don’t make changes to the number of points required for a free night in a particular category of hotel, they do change which hotels belongs to which category categories.
For some context on the 2016 changes (early last year):
- 797 Marriott hotels changed in price, with 560 going up in price and 237 going down in price
- 282 Starwood hotels changed in price, with 168 going up in price and 114 going down in price
2017 Marriott & Starwood hotel category changes
Now that Marriott owns Starwood, the two brands have announced their 2017 hotel category changes together, which kick in for bookings as of March 7, 2017:
- You can find the 2017 Marriott Rewards category changes here
- You can find the 2017 Starwood Preferred Guest category changes here
How many hotels are changing categories?
With Marriott, roughly 1,100 hotels will be changing categories, with 60% moving up in price and 40% moving down in price.
With Starwood, 325 hotels will be changing categories, with 63% moving down in price, and 37% moving up in price.
Marriott has provided the following examples of properties moving up and down:
- There are a few properties of note in popular destinations moving down. For example, The Ritz-Carlton, Bali and Autograph Collection’s Canyon Ranch in Beaver Creek, as well as properties in Paris such as the newly renovated Renaissance Paris La Defense Hotel. Other hotels in popular destinations moving down are the Milan Marriott and New Orleans Marriott.
- Among hotels moving up are the JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa, Cotton House Hotel – Autograph Collection, and the Miami Beach EDITION.
Meanwhile Starwood has provided the following examples of properties moving up and down:
- Notable properties in popular destinations moving down include: The St. Regis Langkawi in Malaysia, Great Northern Hotel, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, London and Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina in Dubai, and W New Orleans – French Quarter.
- Notable properties in popular destinations moving up include: Le Méridien Bora Bora, W Montreal, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Sheraton Grand Los Angeles, Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui, and The Westin Resort Nusa Dua, Bali.
What do I make of these category changes?
Between the two brands, almost 1,500 hotels are changing categories, which represents a good chunk of their 5,700+ hotels worldwide. The good news is that as a percentage, only slightly over 50% of properties are going up in price.
Of course everyone’s thoughts on the changes will vary significantly based on what properties they redeem at. We all have our favorite hotels, so a couple of specific hotel going up or down in category could have a bigger impact on our perception than the rest of the hotels combined.
The good news is that the changes don’t seem to be too bad, at least based on my quick glance of the lists. Not too many full service hotels are changing categories. While there are lots of U.S. hotels changing categories, many of them appear to be limited service properties, which I personally don’t generally redeem points for.
At least on the Starwood side, historically these changes are driven by the projected average daily rates at the individual hotels, so these changes are pretty reflective of the economies in hotels’ markets. For example, I doubt it will come as much of a surprise that many hotels in Turkey are dropping a category or two.
At least on the Starwood list, many of the hotels that interest me have dropped a level.
The St. Regis Doha is dropping from a Category 6 to Category 5…
The W Guangzhou is dropping from a Category 5 to Category 4…
The St. Regis. Moscow is dropping from a Category 5 to Category 4…
The Sheraton Frankfurt Airport is dropping from a Category 4 to Category 3 (which can be a great deal, since paid rates are sometimes very expensive)…
And perhaps rather frustratingly, the two Le Meridien properties in Bhutan are dropping a category each. I’ll be staying at them soon, though am within the cancelation deadline already.
Ultimately these adjustments happen every year. I appreciate that Marriott and Starwood communicate them in advance. While the overall trend is towards prices increasing, it’s a mixed bag, and some people will be happy with the changes, while others won’t be.
Personally the changes don’t look too bad to me. If you’re considering a hotel going up in price, you have about a month to lock in the old prices. If you’re considering a hotel going down in price, it might make sense to wait to book, or at a minimum, make sure you’re outside the cancelation deadline on March 7.
Are there any Marriott or Starwood hotels changing categories that stand out to you?