The Marriott hotels to book before award rates increase on 4 March
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If 2018 and 2019 were the years of the Marriott IT challenges during its integration with Starwood Preferred Guest, then 2019 and 2020 have been the years of the meteoric rise of Marriott award prices.
First came the delayed implementation of Category 8 pricing that took the top end of the chart from 60,000 to 85,000 points (along with some modest shifts in categories), followed by peak- and off-peak pricing which took the award chart all the way up to 100,000 points per night. Now, we’re coming up against yet another Marriott hotel recategorization … this time, with widespread changes that are largely negative. To put math to it, a staggering 22% of Marriott hotels are increasing in award price on 4 March, while only 7% are going down in award cost.
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With this change coming in less than a month, here are some Marriott hotels you should lock in before the new prices arrive on 4 March. Assuming you have the Marriott points at the ready to lock in award rates at one of these properties, you can book stays as far our as late January to early February of 2021 at the current award rates. Just keep in mind that Points Advance only secures you a physical room, and does not lock in the award cost until you actually spend the points to pay for the award reservation.
Category changes to ski resorts
Paid rates for otherwise standard rooms at ski resorts tend to skyrocket between £385 and $1,000 (£773) on ski weekends, and then plunge as low as $100 (£77) to $200 (£155) per night during the off-season. Because of this, ski properties are generally exceptional places to redeem points during the ski season. It was reasonable to hope that Marriott’s introduction of peak- and off-peak pricing would have stabilized ski resort categories, but it didn’t work out that way. Many Marriott ski resorts are heading up the award chart:
- The Westin Snowmass (Category 5 to 6)
- The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Avon, Vail Valley (Category 7 to 8)
- The Westin Monache Mammoth (Category 6 to 7)
- Residence Inn Breckenridge (Category 5 to 6)
- Springhill Suites Jackson Hole (Category 5 to 6)
- Le Westin Tremblant (Category 6 to 7)
- Element Basalt – Aspen (Category 4 to 5)
- Residence Inn Mont Tremblant Manoir Labelle (Category 5 to 6)
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Steamboat Springs (Category 4 to 5)
- Hotel AC Baqueira Ski Resort, Autograph Collection (Category 5 to 6)
Related: Review of the Westin Snowmass
Related: Review of the W Aspen
Many of the best points hotels in the Caribbean are Marriott properties. Frustratingly, many of them are increasing in award cost on March 4.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba (Category 7 to 8)
- Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino (Category 6 to 7)
- Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino (Category 5 to 6)
- The Coral at Atlantis (Category 5 to 6)
- The Royal at Atlantis (Category 6 to 7)
- The Cove at Atlantis (Category 7 to 8)
- French Leave Resort, Autograph Collection (Category 7 to 8)
- Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort (Category 6 to 7)
- The Westin Puntacana Resort & Club (Category 5 to 6)
- AC Hotel San Juan Condado (Category 4 to 5)
- Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort (Category 5 to 6)
Basically, this means that going to Atlantis on points is going to cost you more — as will resorts in destinations such as Aruba, Grand Cayman and beyond.
Hawaii is a fantastic place to travel with points. But, like many other hot spots, a number of Marriott properties in the Aloha State are moving up the chart.
- Courtyard Maui Kahului Airport (Category 5 to 6)
- Marriott’s Maui Ocean Club – Molokai, Maui & Lanai Towers (Category 6 to 7)
- The Westin Maui Resort & Spa, Ka’anapali (Category 6 to 7)
- Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa (Category 6 to 7)
- Wailea Beach Resort – Marriott, Maui (Category 6 to 7)
- Sheraton Kauai Resort (Category 5 to 6)
- Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel (Category 4 to 5)
- Courtyard Oahu North Shore (Category 5 to 6)
- Residence Inn Oahu Kapolei (Category 5 to 6)
New York City hotels
While award chart increases are happening all over the world at Marriott properties, some cities are particularly hard hit. The Big Apple is one such destination. As with Hawaii and ski towns during peak season, cash rates can become painful in Manhattan, making points redemptions a smart way to save money. But it’s going to cost you more points at dozens of New York City Marriott hotels when the new rates take effect. The value-friendly Category 5 New York City properties were especially hard hit.
Here’s a sampling of the upcoming changes:
- Sheraton Tribeca New York Hotel (Category 5 to 6)
- SpringHill Suites New York Midtown Manhattan/Park Avenue (Category 5 to 6)
- The Maxwell New York City (Category 5 to 6)
- Element New York Times Square West (Category 5 to 6)
- Marriott Vacation Club Pulse, New York City (Category 5 to 6)
- Renaissance New York Hotel 57 (Category 5 to 6)
- AC Hotel New York Times Square (Category 5 to 6)
- New York Marriott Marquis (Category 6 to Category 7)
- The Westin New York at Times Square (Category 6 to Category 7)
Related: Review of the Marriott Marquis
It wasn’t a surprise when Marriott added an eighth award chart category in 2019. We all knew peak- and off-peak award pricing was coming long before it arrived. We also weren’t surprised when some hotels moved categories this year. After all, that happens every year.
But to have all this happen in such a short timeframe is a massive blow to Marriott loyalists.
To put this all another way: In six months, we’ve gone from hotels costing a maximum of 60,000 Marriott points per night to a whopping 100,000 points per night.
What’s arguably worse than what happens at the extreme end of the award chart, is how many properties are creeping up in the middle of the chart. Even if you never want to redeem points at the St. Regis Maldives, what happens in those key Category 5 and 6 ranges matters to pretty much all points-savvy travelers.
But by and large, this is a painful recategorization that will leave the average Marriott award price higher than it was before. Our advice? Book those Marriott stays for the next year if the hotel you want is one of the 1,686 that will cost more points on that date.
Featured image of the Westin Maui courtesy of booking.com
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