Marriott’s new loyalty program will launch in August, and while a lot of information has been shared about the new program, there are still lots of questions. One of those questions involves Marriott’s new welcome amenity for Platinum members, and we finally have more information on that.
What is a Platinum welcome amenity?
Both Marriott and Starwood currently offer Platinum members a welcome amenity at check-in. Basically during the check-in process you’ll be given the option of a few different things, though the exact choices vary by brand. Typically you receive the same welcome amenity regardless of whether you’re staying for one night or one week.
Marriott & Starwood’s current Platinum welcome gifts
For context, here are the welcome gifts that are currently available to Marriott Rewards Platinum members, which differ by property:
Meanwhile at Starwood hotels you typically have the option between points, free breakfast, or a local welcome gift. If you choose the points option, Starwood awards 250 Starpoints at limited service hotels, and 500 Starpoints at full service hotels.
Since Starpoints convert into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, that’s the equivalent of 750 Marriott Rewards points and 1,500 Marriott Rewards points, respectively.
On the surface Starwood’s welcome amenity offers more points, but it’s not necessarily that straightforward. In the case of Starwood you’d have to select free breakfast in lieu of the Starpoints welcome amenity, while in the case of Marriott the two amenities are independent — at Marriott you can receive free breakfast and a welcome amenity for eligible properties (in fairness, the breakfast benefit comes with lots of exclusions, though).
Marriott’s new Platinum welcome amenities
Marriott has just published how Platinum welcome amenities will work going forward. Here’s the chart:
My first reaction is that this just reinforces my main frustration with the new program — could this be any more complicated?! Even if I spend 100+ nights per year with Marriott family properties, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to remember this system. There has to be an easier way…
Once you get over how complicated it is, I do find some of the nuances of this to be interesting. They’re largely maintaining the policies of the respective “legacy” loyalty programs:
- At Le Meridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, Westin, and W, you’ll continue to have the choice between free breakfast, points, and an amenity (though for hotels with club lounges you automatically get access to them, so it typically makes sense to choose points rather than breakfast as the amenity)
- At JW Marriott, Marriott, Renaissance, etc., you’ll continue to receive free breakfast plus the choice of 1,000 points or a $10 food & beverage credit (or equivalent amenity in select regions)
Personally I think these new amounts are fair. Some might suggest that this is a devaluation for Starwood members, since previously they received 500 Starpoints at full service properties, worth 1,500 Marriott Rewards points, so the amenity is being reduced by a third. However, let’s keep in mind that:
- Points earning for actual hotel stays is improving under the new program; previously Starwood Platinum members earned three Starpoints per dollar spent (the equivalent of nine Marriott Rewards points), while under the new program Platinum members will earn 15 Marriott Rewards points per dollar spent, which is almost 70% more points than before
- This is great news for legacy Marriott Rewards members — not only are the number of points offered being increased, but previously Platinum status required 75 nights, while now it required 50 nights, so those who earn 50-74 elite qualifying nights per year with Marriott are now entitled to welcome amenities as well
I think Marriott’s new Platinum welcome gift options are fair. Those who are used to the Starwood system will see a one third reduction in the number of points offered as part of the welcome amenity, though Starwood members will also generally see greatly improved points earning opportunities for hotel spend, which will make a big difference. As a Starwood Platinum member I also typically choose to receive free breakfast rather than earn points as the welcome amenity.
For those used to the Marriott system, we’re seeing the welcome amenity offered for many hotels doubled, and on top of that more members will be entitled to this.
The one quirk I’m still trying to figure out is that the chart suggests that at Courtyard hotels there’s no free breakfast. Marriott said they’d offer free breakfast at Courtyards, so I’ve reached out to Marriott to get clarification on that.
What do you make of Marriott’s new Platinum welcome amenity?
(Tip of the hat to Marriott Rewards Insiders)