$7000 Private Island Villas Will Participate in Marriott Bonvoy (Get Excited)

North Island, one of the world’s top private island resorts in the Seychelles, announced it was joining Marriott’s The Luxury Collection. There are only 11 rooms (starting at 5000 square feet) and rates can hover above $7000 a night.

So it was bizarre to see them sign up with Marriott’s Luxury Collection. I didn’t cover the news that this is expected to happen a couple of weeks ago when it first came out because, as Lucky from One Mile at a Time observed,

  • It would be shocking to see rooms bookable here at standard points rates.

    I can’t imagine this hotel will be bookable at standard award rates. 10 of the 11 rooms here are “standard” rooms, and there’s simply no way they’ll be bookable per Marriott’s standard award chart. I mean, it could be nice, but that’s just implausible.

  • Not all Marriott hotels participate in Bonvoy “like Ritz-Carlton Reserve and BVLGARI.”

Credit: North Island

So joining Luxury Collection alone doesn’t mean participating in Marriott’s loyalty program. What I was waiting on then was to confirm that — yes, indeed — North Island “will be in the program” according to a Marriott spokesperson.

We don’t know exactly what that will mean. I cannot imagine that, though Lucky suggests 10 of the hotel’s 11 properties are ‘standard’, that those rooms will all be bookable on points.

If it will be possible to book the hotel at the the top category 8 points price, it will almost certainly mean redefining room types. A standard room does not mean the most common room type. Last week I outlined How Marriott award availability restrictions actually work.

For all-suite, all-club, and all-villa hotel properties there is no minimum number of rooms that have to be bookable on points, redemptions can be limited to the lowest room category no matter how many rooms that entails. So differentiating a single room downward is enough to make just one room reserve-able with Marriott points.

What we know is that the hotel is expected to participate. That’s big progress considering it won’t be entering the program until the end of the year (and even then that could get pushed). We do not know,

  • If Marriott will introduce a new higher redemption tier to go along with it
  • Whether there will be more than a single room available

Credit: North Island

If Marriott charged 80,000 points per night here and didn’t limit inventory you’d expect 10 rooms to be booked by Bonvoy members every night of the year. And since the hotel would be full and getting reimbursed around their average daily room rate, that would cost the loyalty program a ton. It’s reasonable to expect some guardrails around this.

By the way inclusions for all paid guests have to be honored on award nights and this hotel offers,

  • Breakfasts, lunches, dinners and all alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks plus cocktails (with the exception of high end premium wines and champagnes on the reserve list)
  • All scuba diving courses, scuba diving activities and snorkeling in and around the North Island & Silhouette dive sites
  • All activities including sea kayaking, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, bicycles, sunset cruises, guided walks and fully equipped gymnasium
  • A complimentary welcome treatment at the Spa
  • Daily complimentary group yoga classes every morning
  • Shore based fishing on North Island and half day fishing trips
  • The use of one “North Island Buggy” per villa for the duration of your stay
  • In-villa wireless Internet connection
  • Laundry

    So even if just one room here gets offered, or there’s a new redemption category to cover the property, it’s something to get excited about Marriott Bonvoy over, goodness knows there haven’t been enough of those lately.

    As for Lucky’s question about whether Marriott can add any value to this property,

    There are a lot of hotels where a loyalty program can impact whether or not a guest chooses to stay there; but does that really apply to a hotel that’s almost $10,000 per night? Are George Clooney and Prince William really closet points collectors (well, George Clooney outside of his Ryan Bingham role in “Up In The Air”)?

    I’d just suggest that,

    • We don’t know what sort of deal they’ve negotiated with Marriott from a cost perspective
    • Guests Marriott delivers are likely to come less expensively than those delivered by Virtuoso travel agents
    • There’s little question inclusion in Marriott’s marketing channels raises visibility of the property, after all we wouldn’t be talking about it otherwise

    Maybe points earning isn’t what moves the needle here, even if points-earning is what brings people into the channel and exposes them to the property which they eventually book. And if they’re not already selling out, filling an incremental room on points for which they earn their average daily room rate from the program when they’re otherwise full could make sense.

    And if the pitch is pay for a night here and earn 1-2 nights at the St. Regis Maldives as a reward based on room rates at North Island and redemption rates in the Maldives and at other category 8 hotels, that actually does seem rather compelling!

  • 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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    1. Having just returned from the St. Regis Maldives, I’m certainly excited. (Also, everyone we met there was on points. I’d be really curious to know the numbers.) I know you love the Park Hyatt, but having stayed at both the St. Regis is miles beyond it on almost every metric of quality. The only negative thing I can say is that the house reef has not yet recovered from construction so the view under the OVW villas isn’t as nice.

    2. This probably means that for 85,000 points, Bonvoy members will be allowed to stay in the standard living quarters used by resort employees and be able to work/serve alongside villa staff during their stay.

    3. @gary – I love that you say you waited for more info, just to provide no additional info. And here I thought you’d actually provide something of value, not just a rehash of old information and your own guesses.

    4. I can’t believe someone hasn’t pointed out the obvious. If this hotel was truly amazing and was making a lot of money it wouldn’t need the affiliation with Marriott through Luxury Collection. The fact that it is affiliating tells me business may not be that good. And who’s to say the hotel will sat all-inclusive? If it’s a re-flagging to Luxury Collection it could very well coincide with other changes at the property.

    5. Quite frankly there’s an oversupply of these ridiculously priced locations. When they are so many it drives down demand.

    6. @Nick: At some point a beach is a beach. There are hundreds of beach resorts. Most of them are more or less the same.

    7. The woman I spoke to at Bonvoy knew nothing about it. I cant wait until she sells Seychelles by the seashore. (sorry).

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