New Marriott Loyalty Program Launch Date and Hotel Category Changes

July 25th, 2018

The new Marriott/SPG combined loyalty program has been all the buzz over the past couple of weeks.  What we know so far is that the two loyalty programs will be joining forces with the official launch coming this August.

For those of you who have been out of the loop,  this is what you’ve missed and all you need to know about the new program:

 

Official Launch Date

Today, Marriott finally shed light on the official launch date of the new loyalty program – August 18th, 2018. 

 

 

This means that up to and including August 17th, you can continue to enjoy the current benefits of both programs which means you can still redeem at current prices as well as purchase Marriott Travel Packages.  Come August 18th, the new program will take over – all your Starpoints will be converted to Reward Points in the new loyalty program and all the new redemption rates will go live.

One thing to be mindful of and something Marriott has cautioned about is that their systems will likely be down on August 18th which means you’ll have difficulties making and paid or redemption reservations through the website.

Another big piece of information was provided by Amex and that was the new transfer ration from Amex MR to the new program. Currently, the transfer ratio from Amex to SPG to Marriott was 2:1:3 or effectively 1:1.5 from Amex to Marriott.  After August 4th the new transfer ratio will be 1000 Amex MR:1200 Reward points (or 1:1.2).  As anticipated, this is indeed a devaluation but a slight one at that.  Most would agree that we were all expecting a 1:1 ratio so at the end of the day, this 20% devaluation, although hard to swallow, is still a silver lining.  Moreover, Amex announced that point transfers from Amex MR will be unavailable from July 27th until August 9th while they do some behind the scenes preparations.  Something to be mindful of as we approach the August 18th launch.

Previously on June 28th, Marriott released the full list of hotel categories for all of their properties within the new brand.  This new pricing structure will come into full effect on August 1st.  They also revealed the new Flight and Hotel Packages and let me tell you it doesn’t look good.

Let’s take a look at the offerings below as well as some outstanding questions that most people have.

 

Free Night Redemption Rates

Marriott developed a website for us to check out the new free night redemption rates for all of the 6500 hotels within the new program.  Super helpful might I add although it does have a few quirks.  If you are searching for a particular property, try to be as specific as possible when typing it out.  If you just type out the city name, you may not be able to find it in the list because not all properties have the city name in which they are located, included in the hotel name.  Just something to keep in mind.

It allows you to search any property you want and it will tell you not only the brand and region where it is located, but also the new points required for a free stay, the new category, as well as a comparison to the old redemption amount.

For example, if you were interested in staying at the Zurich Marriott Hotel in, you guessed it, Zurich, you would now need to redeem 50,000 points in the combine “new” program compared to the 40,000 points in the “old” program.  This property is now listed as a category 6 hotel, whereas before it was a category 8.

 

New Marriott Free Night Chart
Free Night Award Chart

How did Marriott come up with the New Redemption Rates?

Taking a look at the above snippet from the redemption website, you can see obviously see a bunch of ups, downs, and standstills in terms of where properties are mapped compared to the old.  To make sense of it, what Marriott did was either round up or down (or keep unchanged) the old redemption values to fit into the new redemption chart.

Here is a little overview of where properties have mapped to the new redemption chart:

7,500 point properties =  stayed the same (with a very small number of properties increasing to 12,500)

9,000 point properties = split fairly evenly between going up to 12,500 (Sheraton and Le Meridian Properties) and going down to 7,500 (Aloft Properties)

10,000 point properties = split fairly evenly between going up to 12,500 or down to 7,500 with a handful of properties jumping to 17,500

12,000 point properties = most went up to 12,500 or 17,500 with a handful dropping to 7,500

15,000 point properties = split fairly even between going up to 17,500 or down to 12,500 with a handful dropping to 10,000 and a small few jumping up to 25,000

20,000 & 21,000 point properties = split fairly even between going up to 25,000 or down to 17,500 with a scattering of properties going up to 35,000 and down to 12,500

25,000 point properties = majority of properties stayed the same with a slightly less amount going down to 17,500 and a handful jumping to 35,000

30,000 point properties = split fairly evenly between going up to 35,000 or down to 25,000 with a handful dropping to 17,500

35,000 & 36,000 point properties = mostly stayed the same or dropped to 35,000 with a handful going down to 25,000 and a small few jumping to 50,000 or 60,000 (The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas)

40,000 point properties = fairly even split between going up to 50,000 or down to 35,000

45,000 point properties = most went up to 50,000 or 60,000 with one jumping up top 85,000 (Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection, Greece)

50,000 point properties = mainly stayed the same with a few going up to 60,000

60,000 point properties = fairly even split between staying the same and going down to 50,000with a few anomalies (The St. Regis Rome jumping up to 85,000 and The St. Regis Astana Kazakstan dropping to 35,000)

70,000 point properties = most went up to 85,000 with a few dropping to 60,000

90,000 point properties = most dropped to 85,000 with a few dropping big time (The St. Regis San Francisco and Las Alcobas Napa Valley, and W Bali dropping to 60,000)

 

Biggest Changers and Possible Sweet Spots

The following properties were the biggest changers and can very well be sweet spot redemptions if you plan to be visiting those particular areas.

Domes of Elounda, Autograph CollectionAutograph CollectionGreece45,00085,00040,0008*
The St. Regis RomeSt. RegisItaly60,00085,00025,0008*
Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, CreteLuxury CollectionGreece60,00085,00025,0008*
W Bali – SeminyakW HotelsIndonesia90,00060,000-30,0007
The St. Regis San FranciscoSt. RegisUSA90,00060,000-30,0007
Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa ValleyLuxury CollectionUSA90,00060,000-30,0007

 

Properties with biggest increase:

Within Europe, you have the Domes of Elounda, Blue Palace and The St. Regis Rome which obviously are increasing to 85,000, but that change won’t take place until 2019 when the 8th category is added. In the meantime, for the rest of 2018 it will be priced as a Category 7 which is 60,000 points per night.  Conversely, the Domes of Elounda, although increasing in the meantime to 60,000 for the remainder of the year, if you were to book this property before August 18th, the current 45,000 would be honoured, even if your stay happened to be sometime in the future!  This property will have the biggest jump in points and is an absolute steal!

Within the U.S.A, The Westin Riverfront Mountain Villas is also a sweet spot since it’s currently priced at 36,000 and will be going up to 60,000 and again, any reservations made prior to August 18th will be honoured.

 

Properties with biggest decrease:

Included in the biggest drops is the The St. Regis in San Francisco and Las Alcoves in Napa Valley which are dropping from 90,000 to 60,000 points per night.

More notably is The W Bali which makes for a remarkable redemption opportunity for anyone looking at a beautiful getaway to Bali.  Let’s be honest, at 90,000 points per night, this property is pretty unattainable even for the most avid Miles and Points go-getters.  Being revalued at 60,000 points per night come August 1st, you’ll now have a significantly better chance of making this redemption a reality. I mean, take a look at the property below and tell me who in their right mind wouldn’t want to stay here! This place screams eclectic and funky.

 

New Flight and Hotel Package

I won’t go into too many details about this since it involves a separate post but you can take a look and compare it to the current package pricing.  Not only do you need to dish out a bunch more points, you also get fewer miles.  Needless to say, it suffered a big devaluation.

Marriott Rewards Travel Package Redemption Chart

“Old” Marriott Travel Package Chart for Package 1

 

Wrap Up

Overall, lots of changes.  Some for then good, some for the bad and a sprinkling of some for the worst.  The biggest upset was the aforementioned change to the Flight and Hotel travel packages and if you currently sitting on the fence deciding whether or not to pull the trigger on one before August 18th, I’d highly recommend it.

Also, remember that although the redemption rates will be changing come August 18th, all bookings made prior to that will be honoured at the current redemption values, regardless of when your travel is. Marriott allows you to make bookings 350 days in advance so it would be best to make any speculative bookings before then to lock in the rate today.  That said, if the property you had in mind is going down in price after August 1st, just rebook it at the lower price once the new rates come into play.

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