It was only a matter of time before Marriott made this move to stay competitive in the frequent stay program space. Starwood has had a no blackout dates policy for a long time now (though some hotels do manipulate room types to limit availability), and Hilton recently changed their program to expand that option to all their members; it previously was reserved for their Diamond (top) level group. Now Marriott has joined the crowd, removing their StayAnytime reward product and removing the blackout dates from their program.
Of course they are spinning this as a great benefit to their members. And, of course, it is an it isn’t. They have added a new Category 8 reward level. Stays at those properties will now be 40K points/night, up from the previous max of 35K points/night at a Category 7 property. The hotels that will be classified as Category 8 are:
- Paris Marriott Hotel Champs Elysees
- Renaissance Paris Vendome
- JW Marriott Capri Tiberio Palace Resort & Spa
- Rome Marriott Grand Hotel Flora
- London Marriott Hotel County Hall
- London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
- London Marriott Hotel Marble Arch
- London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
- Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
- Renaissance Chancery Court London
- New York Marriott East Side
- New York Marriott Marquis
- Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
- South Beach Marriott Hotel
In addition, multi-night stays are getting a bit of a change. The current program offers a sliding scale, where the per-night rate is reduced the longer you stay at the same place. The new program will offer a 5th night free approach; shorter stays will no longer receive a discounted rate per night. This is actually beneficial for folks who were planning on a five night stay in a hotel in categories 1-5. For the category 6-8 hotels the five night price actually goes up in the new program. And for 2-4 night stays the cost goes up across the board.
Also, they are increasing the bonus earned by their Platinum members to 50% from 30%, a much needed increase to remain competitive.
All changes are effective as of January 15, 2009; rooms cannot be booked using the new levels until that time.
This is certainly one of those changes where the value will be measured very much individually based on travel habits. It would definitely be bad for me as I rarely have a five night stay anywhere. But for folks who like that approach to travel it might not be so bad.
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