First reported by joseror, the JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort published a policy that they would not upgrade Marriott Platinum members to suites despite terms and conditions of the program saying Platinums are entitled to suite upgrades if available.
There are always going to be hotels that are more generous than others with respect to elite benefits. However this wasn’t just a non-compliant hotel, their policy not to comply was explicitly outlined on the Marriott website and in the Marriott app.
Please note – Marriott Rewards upgrades based on availability at check-in. Upgrades are granted to next room category not to suite.
While Marriott’s terms say that “Suite upgrades are excluded for Gold Elite Members” for Platinum members the terms say the upgrade is “to the best available room” and that “includes suites.” There are exclusions, but they do not include J.W. Marriott hotels generally or this resort specifically.
Platinum Elite Members receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in. Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors. At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Platinum Premier Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded. Enhanced Room Upgrades are subject to availability and are identified by each Participating Property. The Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members is available at all Participating Brands except at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Aloft, Element and participating Vistana properties.
JW Marriott Guanacaste Resort, credit: Marriott
Customer service on Facebook though confirms this hotel doesn’t upgrade to suites, “We have checked and this hotel do not offer Suite upgrades” And a Flyertalk member posted his twitter exchange confirming the hotel’s policy with Marriott — and being told that Platinum benefits do not require hotels to upgrade to suites.
Just as I reported Marriott customer service making stuff up about travel packages last week, I knew this couldn’t be right. So I held off reporting it, reached out to Marriott on December 31st (knowing it would take a little bit of time with the New Year).
And a Marriott spokesperson tells me that “JW Marriott Guanacaste is removing the sign about suite upgrades. We have reinforced the policy with them.”
Marriott is huge, on a path towards 7000 hotels, there are going to be properties that skirt program terms and as members we shouldn’t patronize those hotels. It can be hard to address hotels that ignore member benefits in any given instance. In the case of the JW Marriott Guanacaste they were so bold (and honest) as to say so, making it actionable. Now we’ll have to see if they actually honor program terms in practice.
Marriott’s customer service representatives don’t seem to know program rules unfortunately. They often make up information or repeat inaccurate rumors.
There is nothing new about this stemming from the new program or the integration with Starwood. There are just a lot of (legacy Starwood) customers who aren’t used to this, just like they aren’t used to waiting on hold for an agent.
If you don’t get an answer you like — or you’re told information that conflicts with what you think you know about the program or that seems new — it’s important to verify the information. That’s true with any loyalty program, and even any large company but it’s extra true with Marriott.
Towards that end, I’m told that Marriott is going to “make sure the[ social team] understand[s] that this is not our policy.” Platinum members are entitled to suite upgrades when available except where specifically excluded by the program terms.