Middle Age Miles

New Hotel Award Night Rates for Marriott & SPG Hotels as of August 18 – Opportunities and Strategies

New Marriott Points Redemption Category Change Chart

This morning, Marriott Rewards released its complete list of standard hotel award night categories for reservations made August 1 and after.  This new list includes all Marriott portfolio brands (including Ritz-Carlton) and all SPG portfolio brands.

As you may know, Marriott is combining all Marriott portfolio properties, SPG portfolio properties, and Ritz-Carlton properties into a single award chart as of August (Update: Marriott announced August 18 as the effective date for these changes) presumably August 1, although the Marriott website does not give a specific date).  Then, starting in “early 2019,” Marriott will (a) add an additional highest-level tier (Category 8), and (b) introduce peak, off-peak, and Category 8 redemption rates.  Here is Marriott’s chart showing the new points redemption rates as of August, and the new Peak and Off-Peak rates as of “early 2019”:

Here is the new Marriott Points Redemption Category Change Chart (which, by the way, is very nicely done – the search and sort capabilities on this chart work very well):

Marriott Points Redemption Category Change Chart

The chart looks like this (an excerpt showing the top few lines of the chart, including the search box and the table columns that you can use to sort):

Searching and sorting this chart is easy.  For example, I was able to easily see all of the Ritz-Carlton properties by typing “Ritz” into the search box (and when I delete the word “Ritz” from the search box, the entire chart displays again – all this is dynamic, and it’s not necessary to hit “Enter” or refresh the page, which is very convenient).  Also, it was easy for me to click the “Points Difference” column to sort that way – one click sorted the list by the increase in price, and a second click re-sorted the list so that the properties that decreased in price appeared at the top of the chart.

Opportunities Created by the New Marriott/SPG Award Chart, and Strategies

These changes introduce several opportunities:

(1)  Some hotels are going up in price as of August.  If you want to use your Marriott/SPG points at these properties, you absolutely need to book your reservations before August 17July 31.

(2)  Some hotels are going down in price as of August.  To use your Marriott/SPG points most effectively at these properties, you should wait until the new award chart takes effect sometime in August, then you should book them before the end of 2018.

For reservations where the stay is in 2019, note that there is a further nuance to this situation because of the introduction of Peak and Off-Peak pricing in 2019.  If the dates of your stay are during an Off-Peak time, the award price will go down.  In that situation, you can just cancel your original reservation and book a new one (we’ll assume, since it’s “off-peak.” that rewards nights at the lower rate will be available).  And if the dates of your stay turn out to be during a Peak time, you can just keep your original reservation at the lower rate.

(3)  For all hotels that are going into the new “Category 8,” there is a unique booking window from the time the new award chart goes into effect in August through the end of 2018 that is incredibly valuable.  During that window, these properties can be booked for 60,000 points per night.  But they will all increase in price when the “early 2019” changes go into effect – they will be 70,000 points Off-Peak, 85,000 points Standard, and 100,000 points on Peak dates!  Be sure to book the new Category 8 properties as soon as the new award chart goes into effect in August!!!

(a) There is one exception to this rule and two more semi-exceptions.  The Domes of Elouda is an Autograph Collection property in Greece that is currently bookable for 45,000 points per night.  If you’re looking for a points stay at this property, book it now.  And there are two properties – The Blue Palace on Crete (Greece) and The St. Regis Rome – that are currently 60,000 points per night but will become Category 8.  These two properties can be booked now at the 60,000 point rate – no need to wait until the new award chart goes into effect in August.

 

(b) Note that there will be a lot of competition for booking award nights in the “Category 8” properties as soon as the new award chart goes into effect and the booking window opens.  You will want to make these reservations immediately to have the best chance of finding available award space.

 

(c) If the stay where you want to use points for a new Category 8 property is not immediately bookable when the new award chart goes into effect in August – that is, for stays in August 2019 through December 2019 – you’re going to want to keep a close eye on when your dates become available to book, and book them right away as soon as your window opens.

We plan to spend some more time analyzing the new chart and the opportunities it creates, and post additional articles highlighting particular properties that can be booked for great value either now, or after the new award chart goes into effect in August.

 

What are your thoughts on the new Marriott award chart?  What opportunities and strategies do you see?  Let us know in the comments!

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