Marriott’s New August Award Charts Are Online

Marriott has finally released hotel category assignments, letting us know the redemption pricing of hotels starting in August. Hotels only received what category they’d be assigned to two weeks ago.

They’re highlighting that “Nearly 70 percent of all participating hotels can be redeemed for the same or fewer points.” That doesn’t actually sound good to me, though they point out 52% of hotels go down in price while 31% go up which is a little better.

Marriott also points out that “6,300 hotels can be redeemed for just 35,000 points or lower” which matters because it’s the price point that new credit card annual free nights will be valid for.

Through December 31 there will be only 7 redemption categories. Starting January 1 there will be a new higher-priced 8th category as well as high and low season pricing.

Marriott also notes that Starwood’s all suite properties “such the W Maldives, the St. Regis Bora Bora Resort, or the Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club in Scottsdale, are now included in the published award chart.” They’re incorrect though to point out that these “properties can be redeemed for 5,000 fewer points.” The savings are much better than that, but it’s not all good news.

New Award Charts

Here’s the searchable list of hotel category assignments. Hotels that show as category 8 are actually bookable at category 7 pricing through the end of the year (including for stays next year).

There’s also a PointSavers redemption chart with prices for a rotating set of discounted redemption rates at different properties each week that never seem to work out to being hotels I’d need to stay at when they’re available.

Here’s the cash and points redemption chart. In general on the standard chart only category 4-7 redemptions allow you to buy back points at the price those points are worth. You don’t want to be paying a penny apiece for points-savings if you can avoid it.

Points can be used for folio charges at a rate of 250 points per $1, valuing points at 4/10ths of a cent apiece. Avoid doing this.

Marriott is Underselling And Overselling Savings at High End Properties

It’s a complicated process to assign this many hotels to redemption categories, and simultaneously convert Starwood prices to Marriott prices (multiply by 3) for comparison.

Starwood category 7 hotels cost 30,000 points per night (which is 90,000 Marriott points) but high season they cost 35,000 points (105,000 Marriott) and some ‘all suite’ hotels that are considered not to have standard rooms cost double that number of points.

Marriott’s chart doesn’t reflect the savings off of these higher points prices. In fact the St. Regis Maldives costs 90,000 Starpoints per night today, which is 270,000 Marriott points. And between sometime in August and the end of 2018 it will be bookable for just 60,000 Marriott points, going up to 85,000 for bookings made January 1 onward. So this comparison is just off:

That’s an amazing savings. But it isn’t apples-to-apples.

Currently the bulk of Starwood top category double points hotels are bookable using points. That may not be the case at all properties going forward.

  • While the Starwood model of all standard rooms being available on points continues, and indeed Marriott will be eventually adopting that model across its brands
  • Most people think of ‘standard’ rooms as the most common room on the property, but that’s not how they define it
  • In fact standard room means the ‘base’ or entry level room
  • And it may be defined more narrowly in the new Marriott program
  • That means more limited award inventory than before at some top properties. While pricing is much cheaper, it may be a race to get bookings at some of these hotels.
  • And the rooms you’ll get may be less premium than before, e.g. a beach villa rather than an overwater villa at some hotels.


Al Maha Desert Resort

We’ll have to sort through the specifics of which rooms are considered standard at which properties, but I’m expecting it to be fewer rooms and not always as premium a room as before in exchange for the lower award pricing. There should be premium room awards, and those may even offer a savings compared to before but they aren’t on the published chart.

When I spoke with David Flueck who runs the Marriott program back in April he suggested that they wouldn’t just allow 90,000 point Starwood redemption properties to be booked for 60,000 Marriott points this is apparently what he meant.

How I’m Playing This

I made a booking at the St. Regis Maldives. I look forward to August to see whether there’s availability at the new lower pricing. It may be possible to just get a points refund given the lower points price, although it’s unclear whether inventory is going to have to still be available to do that. David Flueck told me in April that it wouldn’t be necessary to rebook, that they’d just refund the difference in points. Of course what they thought in April seems to have morphed. Marriott hasn’t even published the new program terms and conditions which would have told us a lot of what we don’t yet know.

For certain I’ll be in a rush to book top properties in August, even speculatively. Those properties may be tough to get given new more narrow standard room definitions. There will be a huge savings compared to Starwood pricing. And prices are going to be much lower for reservations made in August – December 31 (60,000) that they will be January 1 onward (85,000 though subject to low and high season rates).

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. I use Marriott points for Marriott Vacation Club stays with the family. Almost every MVC is going up in points, and the few that are going down are going down by 5,000, while those going up are going up by at least 10,000, often 20,000, per night. So, boo. MR has just gotten less valuable to me… unless they are also going to increase MVC availability with points, which is now generally awful.

  2. This means absolutely nothing because after January 1 variable pricing will be in effect, meaning any “good” hotel in places where people go will be significantly more expensive. You can guarantee the places you want to go in Hawaii, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, London, Paris, Rome, the Maldives and Thailand will be at “peak” for most of the year.

  3. Remember that the chart (and the percentage metrics they give) are the standard rates. But staying during “peak” times will cost another 5K more, which would skew those numbers way worse.

  4. @Gary, any word hon ow Marriott will handle existing/new hotel and flight packages? Only a month to go and I trying to figure out whether it would be best to redeem before or after the changes.

  5. When I try to book the St. Regis Maldives, it just says the hotel has limited participation in rewards and I can’t book anything? Am I doing something wrong?

    Thanks

  6. My biggest concern is how the hotel/air packages will work with the off-peak vs. peak pricing. Was planning a trip to Hong Kong for next year, and wanted to use the hotel/air package again.

  7. @ Gary

    I have current, confirmed reservations (for February 2019) at an SPG Category 3 hotel–at 7,000 Star Points per night, or the equivalent of 21,000 Marriott Points/night. According to the new award chart, my hotel is moving up to Category 4 on August 1 which will then require 25,000 Marriott Points/night. I have no idea what/if any Peak or Saver rates may be in effect for my hotel for February 2019.

    When I made the reservation, SPG deducted from my Account 100% of the Star Points needed for my entire stay (at 7,000 Star Points per night).

    Will my current confirmed reservation for February 2019 still be honored at 7,000 (21,000) points/night?

  8. I guarantee many of the hotels moving up now will only again move up in 2019 for 2020.

  9. Am I just missing it or is the Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection not on the list? Not sure if there are other properties like this but it seems like this one is missing. Kauai is one of our favorite places to visit so if I need to it might be worth booking now for next year if this one will be going up in price.

  10. “Points can be used for folio charges at a rate of 250 points per $1, valuing points at 4/10ths of a cent apiece”
    How is this done?

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