DAYflier ran into a situation at the JW Marriott Cancun where he says that explain their policy is not to upgrade Platinums to suites.
I spoke to Marriott CSR (I’m on vacation, so I thought I’d waste my time). She apparently called the property and then got back onto the line and advocated on behalf of the property. You see, the property only makes “available” enhanced view rooms as an upgrade for elites.
A separate problem here is Marriott customer service. They don’t know the program rules, give out inaccurate information all the time, so simply repeating this trope is unfortunately par for the course.
So what happened? He was offered an available suite for $500 (covering the length of the stay) and took it.
JW Marriott Cancun, credit: Marriott
Marriott’s Platinum Suite Upgrade Rules
Let’s take a look at what Marriott’s obligations here are. These are the terms for Platinum elite upgrades at Marriott properties,
Platinum Elite Members and above 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 Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite 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 and above is available at all Participating Brands except at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Aloft, Element and participating Vistana properties.
Here are what this means for getting a suite.
- Upgrades include standard suites, which ones those are though are determined by the hotel. You have to be a 75 night elite to get suite upgrades at Ritz-Carlton but otherwise 50 night elites are entitled to available suites except at timeshare properties, Aloft, Element, and non-participating brands like Bvlgari.
- The suite has to be available at time of check-in. A hotel might be selling a suite but if it’s not clean yet when you check in the hotel doesn’t have to assign it to you.
- The suite has to be available for your whole stay. If you’re staying 5 nights they aren’t going to give you a suite for 3 nights and then have you move.
The guest says there was an available “Parlor suite,” that he should have gotten it complimentary, but he had to pay for it.
Was the Guest Improperly Denied an Upgrade?
There’s one problem with the guest’s narrative. A parlor suite doesn’t appear to be a room type at this hotel so we do not know what kind of room he found available, and whether it should have been offered as an upgrade or not.
He does relay that the hotel said they “would have given us the suite if we had applied [Suite Night Awards] in advance. If it’s “available” for purposes of a SNA, then it should be available for a complimentary upgrade.”
This is not actually correct.
- Members staying 50 nights or more per year can opt for ‘suite night awards’ where they are able to prioritize an upgrade up to 5 days in advance of arrival.
- Hotels designate room types for these, and guests choose what they’re interested in spending a suite night award for it it’s available.
- Unlike complimentary upgrades, when hotels are close to sell-out Marriott does compensate the property (a very small amount) for confirmed suite night awards.
- A hotel may make rooms available through this process that are not part of the pool of suites for complimentary upgrades.
Things Are Much Clearer With Hyatt
I like that Hyatt actually publishes what each hotel considers to be a standard suite – and therefore eligible for complimentary and confirmed top tier elite upgrades as well as points upgrades and free night awards.
I also like that Hyatt lets you redeem more points for premium suites (that are not eligible for top tier elite complimentary and confirmed upgrades), and publishes what rooms qualify for that.
At Hyatt each hotel determines the eligible rooms, and they actually tell you what those rooms are.
Agree to Pay and Argue Later?
Let’s assume though that what the guest referred to as a ‘parlor suite’ is a suite type the hotel is supposed to upgrade Platinums to. It’s quite likely to be the case given that the upcharge was just $500 for the whole stay.
Here’s what I’ve done in a similar situation. I once checked in at the Park Hyatt Sydney early in the morning after a long transpacific flight. They told me they did not have any standard rooms available (I had redeemed points) but they did have an Opera View King available and if I wanted that room it would be an extra AU$100 per night for my 5 night stay. (Since they were ‘full’ they wouldn’t offer any complimentary upgrades.)
Unquestionably this is a room type eligible for elite upgrade. And by definition it was available for the entire length of my stay (as with Marriott, a requirement for Hyatt) since they were offering it to me. I was tired and wanted to go to my room, so I accepted.
And when I got there I sent a complaint. Later that day I received a message from a senior manager of the hotel apologizing and assuring me that I would not be charged. I was offered a complimentary airport pickup on my next stay and they made sure to upgrade me to an Opera Deluxe room for that as well.
The risk of course is (1) being right about the room type that is being offered actually being eligible for elite upgrade, and (2) that you’ll be able to escalate the matter to someone more empowered than Marriott customer service. I haven’t had a problem getting customer service escalation Hyatt.
Marriott of course did promise that they will not let hotels ignore suite upgrade rules and that was in the context of another JW Marriott resort. So hopefully they’ll pay attention to the Cancun property, too.