Middle Age Miles

One Final Reminder: Last Day to Make Award Reservations at Marriott Hotels Before the Increase in Points Price (especially Category 8 hotels!)

Lobby of the Prince des Galles Hotel, Paris – this beautiful hotel is moving up to
Category 8 and increasing from 60,000 to 85,000 points on March 5 – book today!
[featured image courtesy Marriott/Prince des Galles]

We’ve written at length about the Massive Marriott March Devaluation. Today, we just want to remind you that it’s the *last day* to book the 66 new Category 8 hotels and all of the other Marriott hotels increasing in award category at existing rates. Higher award pricing goes into effect at these properties tomorrow.

Recap

If you’re reading this, you’re probably acutely aware of the devaluation and award category changes. We’ve written extensively on this subject. You can see details and our in-depth analysis in these articles:

In case you’d like a reminder, there are two major Marriott devaluation changes that are effective as of tomorrow, March 5:

  • 66 hotels are moving into a new Category 8, with a standard redemption cost of 85,000 points
    • For the next week, these properties remain bookable at the Category 7 standard rate of 60,000 points per night
    • We have included a full list of these properties below
    • The increase for these aspirational properties is a whopping 41.7%!
  • About 340 other Marriott-family hotels are increasing in category, making points redemptions more expensive

Also, remember that there is one more huge devaluation impact that will come later in 2019 – Marriott’s implementation of Peak/Standard/Off-Peak award night pricing. As we’ve previously written, we fully expect Marriott hotels to implement a lot of Peak higher pricing, and not a lot of Off-Peak lower pricing.

What You Need to Do Today

  1. Make your award reservation for any hotel that is moving up to Category 8.
  2. Make your award reservation for any other hotel that is moving up to a higher category.
  3. If you want to use a 35,000-point certificate on a hotel that is currently Category 5 (35,000 points) but is about to move up to Category 6, do it now. (We believe there are 72 hotels moving from Category 5 to 6.)
  4. If you want to use a 50,000-point certificate on a hotel that is currently Category 6 (50,000 points) but is about to move up to Category 7, do it now. (We believe there are 22 hotels moving from Category 6 to 7.)

What You Need to Watch Out For

There have been numerous reports in the last few days of Marriott “playing games” with award reservations and availability. Here’s a quick list of what to watch out for:

1 – No availability at all – For example, check out the St. Regis Rome, which at the time we’re writing this article has exactly one night (June 22) available on points for April through August.

It’s our understanding that many other “new Category 8” properties are also showing no availability. We’re not sure whether to blame Marriott, the individual hotels, or people abusing Marriott’s “points advance” program to make dozens of speculative reservations without having the points in their account – or perhaps some combination of these.

2 – Cancellation deadlines and penalties – Be sure to check the cancellation deadline on your reservation before you complete it. We have seen at least one report on Reddit Churning of a cancellation deadline of 3/4/2019 (today!) on a reservation in February 2020. (The property was the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort.) We’re not sure how widespread this is, but you need to be aware of the issue and be sure to check your reservation.

3 – Prepayment to “Hold Your Reservation”One Mile at a Time reported on this a few days ago. It seems that, at some Marriott properties, the hotel is charging a prepayment to hold your award reservation. (OMAAT’s example was a charge of $832.64 at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, and commenters reported seeing the same thing at other properties. Other commenters said that their “rate details” showed a prepayment but it was never actually charged. Your mileage may vary – wildly, it seems.)

If you complete the stay (or cancel the reservation before the cancellation deadline), the prepayment will be credited back to you. But you may end up giving Marriott an interest-free loan for a few months.

To check on whether a “hold your reservation” prepayment fee may apply, be sure to click on the small “Rate Details” link before completing your reservation!

4 – Long hold times if you have to call Marriott Bonvoy customer service – Over the weekend, we read multiple reports of people being on hold for an hour or more when they needed to call Marriott Bonvoy customer service about an award reservation issue. We presume that it’s at least as bad if not worse today, on the last day before award pricing goes up at many hotels.

Anything else you’ve learned that other Middle Age Miles readers should know about? Please share in the Comments!


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