Last week, Marriott Rewards announced their hotel reward category adjustments which will take effect for stays booked on or after April 8, 2014. These changes do not impact the number of points required per free night at a certain category of hotels, but many hotels will be changing to a different category resulting in an increase or decrease in the number of points required to redeem an award night.
Click here to view the complete list of Marriott properties changing categories.
How Many Hotels Are Affected:
Marriott’s announcement tries to minimize the number and magnitude of changes. It points out that:
73% of the properties remain unchanged
66% of the programs properties will remain in Categories 1-4
27% of the hotels are changing; of these 22% are decreasing by one category and 78% are increasing by one category
As mentioned in the statement, the vast majority (78%) of changes were an increase in category. If you multiply 27% times 78% it adds up to over 21 percent (21%) of Marriott’s total properties going up one category.
By our count, below is the breakdown of the number of Marriott properties that are changing categories:
Category Reductions (233 total properties):
Number of Marriott Hotels Moving Down a Category (233 total):
38 properties from Category 2 to Category 1
125 properties from Category 3 to Category 2
40 properties from Category 4 to Category 3
28 properties from Category 5 to Category 4
2 properties from Category 6 to Category 5
None of the Ritz-Carlton hotels are going down a category.
In looking at the breakdown of the category reductions, the vast majority of Marriott properties going down a category are in the lower categories (especially from Category 3 to Category 2). None of the Ritz-Carlton hotels or Category 7-9 Marriott hotels are going down a category.
Category Increases (848 total properties):
Number of Marriott Hotels Moving Up Two Categories (3 total):
1 property from Category 6 to Category 8
2 properties from Category 7 to Category 9
Number of Marriott Hotels Moving Up One Category (825 total):
42 properties from Category 1 to Category 2
59 properties from Category 2 to Category 3
80 properties from Category 3 to Category 4
123 properties from Category 4 to Category 5
208 properties from Category 5 to Category 6
222 properties from Category 6 to Category 7
75 properties from Category 7 to Category 8
16 properties from Category 8 to Category 9
Number of Ritz-Carlton Hotels Moving Up a Category (20 total):
4 properties from Category 1 to Category 2
7 properties from Category 2 to Category 3
6 properties from Category 3 to Category 4
3 properties from Category 4 to Category 5
As you can see the majority of category increases are in the middle to upper parts of Marriott’s award chart.
Why These Category Changes Can be Considered a Devaluation:
Hotel award category changes are regular occurrences-like other major hotel chains, Marriott periodically adjusts the hotels within each of its award categories. However, this is a major change because 78% of hotels changing categories are increasing. (By comparison, SPG’s recent category changes had 56% hotels moving down a category and 44% moving up a category.) As a result of these changes, a little over 21% of all Marriott properties are moving up a category therefore requiring more points to book free award nights.
While the difference in points required for an increase of one category is not that big (a Marriott hotel jumping a category is a difference of 5,000 points), this affects anyone holding free night stay certificates earned through MegaBonus and Marriott Rewards® credit cards.
For example, holders of Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card receive a free night stay at a Category 1-4 hotel after account approval and a free night stay in Category 1-5 hotel each year after account anniversary. As of April 8, 2014, there will be 95 fewer properties in Category 4 and 206 fewer properties in Category 5 to choose from.
In conclusion, over 21 percent (21%) of Marriott’s total properties will be moving up a category and you have until April 7, 2014 to make any bookings at the current award rates. Bookings can be made up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account.
We would recommend that any Marriott Rewards members (especially those holding free night certificates) take a look at this list of changes and consider making an award booking on or before April 7 if any hotels you plan to stay at will be going up a category. This is especially the case if you have any free night stay certificates as a lot of hotels will be moving up from Categories 4 and 5.
Any Marriott Rewards members, let us know your thoughts in the comments below. Will you be booking any Marriott hotels by April 7?