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Marriott today released their new award chart that will apply August 1 to all SPG and Marriott properties. They have also released their new Hotel and Air packages. Overall, I would say I’m quite pleased, although there are some people that will disagree.
Marriott Award Chart
The new Marriott award chart ranges from 7,500-85,000 points. With peak and off-peak pricing, it will be from 5,000-100,000 points. This combines all three current award charts (Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood). View the new Marriott Award Chart here. Marriott states that close to 70% of properties will be cheaper, although if you compare the values against the the chart before the devaluation in Feb 2018, it doesn’t seem to be the case.
There are over 5,000 properties in the new chart, so there many hotels that will become more expensive. Unfortunately those who currently redeem for Category 8 and 9 on Marriott’s chart, many properties go up in price. The current Category 8 (40,000 Marriott/13,333 Starwood) and Category 9 (45,000 Marriott/15,000 Starwood) are stellar deals, so it’s not surprising that this sweet spot goes away. Nearly every single property I’ve looked at that I want to stay in goes up:
- Marriott Miyako Osaka (40k -> 50k)
- JW Marriott LA Live (40k -> 50k)
- JW Marriott Parq Vancouver (40k -> 50k)
- JW Marriott Singapore South Beach (40k -> 50k)
- JW Marriott Los Cabos (40k -> 50k)
- Marriott San Francisco Union Square (45k -> 50k)
- JW Essex House New York (45k -> 60k)
- Marriott Champs Elysees (45k -> 60k)
- Grovesnor House, JW Marriott, UK (45k -> 60k)
- Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection, Greece (45k -> 85k)
Ritz-Carlton properties all around the world also go up. This includes New York, Hong Kong, Berlin, Budapest, Langkawi, Grand Cayman, and more. I’m not pleased by this at all, but there’s not really anything I can do except make many speculative reservations. Marriott allows you to book a stay without currently having the miles in your account through points advance, but I’m not sure whether that will lock in your price.
The upside of this chart is that as predicted, SPG Category 7 hotels will be substantially cheaper. Category 7 hotels with Starwood cost 30k-35k SPG/90-105k Marriott points per night. However, these will only cost 20k SPG/60k Marriott per night until 2019. This is a huge discount on some of the best hotels in the world. Since you can book up to 50 weeks in advance, this means all stays until Dec 2019 will be an extraordinary deal.
What’s more is that all suite properties that would go for 60k-90k SPG/180k-270k Marriott points a night supposedly will cost only 20k SPG/60k Marriott a night. If that actually happens August 1, it will be a screaming deal – probably one of the best in years. Many speculate that things will go wild on August 1 – so be ready to get in on this as soon as possible.
Now, my skeptical opinion is that it may not happen. Why? Because most of these properties have limited participation in the SPG program. Presumably, they’d remain limited participation under the new program also. I would not be surprised if those properties simply block out award redemptions on, say, 11 months out of the year.
As well, I can forsee really expensive properties like the St. Regis Maldives and Bora Bora to take vast swaths of inventory away for points redemption. Since hotels are only reimbursed a very low cash amount when occupancy rates are low, I just can’t see $1,500+ properties accepting the low reimbursement amount. With most ‘standard’ Category 7 properties, though, the lowest category rooms, if available on a paid rate, must be redeemable on points, so there will be many deals available come August 1.
The last benefit is that free night certificates after August 1 will be valid at hotels that cost up to 35,000 points. With the new chart, there are actually many hotel worth staying at with this category. It also improves the value of the co-branded credit cards and offsets the decline in points per dollar earned.
Marriott Hotel and Air Packages
Unfortunately, Hotel and Air packages get devalued significantly.
One of the best deals out there currently is the Category 1-5 certificate with 120,000 miles. For Aeromexico, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, British Airways, Copa Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, GOL/Varig, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic, this only requires 270,000 Marriott.
Once August 1 comes around, you’ll 330,000 points for the same package and only 100,000 miles instead of 120,000. It’s safe to say that if you have a need for a Hotel and Air package, I strongly suggest making a redemption sooner rather than later.
They also haven’t announced details about the 5-night packages currently available to a targeted group of members although I would get my hopes up either.
Ultimately, changes to an award program will result in positive and negatives. I’m not sure whether one outweighs the other here given that there are so many different changes, but there are certainly some improvements I like. This could have been a lot worse.