Ever since Marriott announced the takeover of Starwood Hotels, frequent travelers – especially Starwood fans – have been nervous about the merger of the loyalty programs. Typically in situations like this, a big devaluation is part of the integration and perks disappear. But Marriott has done a good job so far, merging the programs without technical glitches and protecting benefits for most members, and is now unveiling the new redemption rates with more reductions than increases in the number of points needed for a free night – find out how your favorite hotels will change!
The majority of hotels will stay the same or require fewer points – 52% of hotels will require fewer points, 17% will stay the same and 31% will go up in points. While Marriott had hinted earlier this year it would look like that, of course nobody who knows the industry believed them. So, now it’s time for a sigh of relief!
As a refresher, free nights at all Marriott Hotels will cost 7,500 – 60,000 points/night starting in August depending on category as in this table:
Next year, there will be a new category 8 costing 85,000 points as well as off-peak and peak awards.
All Starwood hotels have been merged into these categories, with a rough conversion of 1 StarPoint to 3 Marriott Reward Points, with adjustments. These adjustments have the biggest impact on top Starwood Hotels that can currently cost up to 90,000 points/night and will now be available for only 60,000 points/night from August through December 2018, before (likely) going up to 85,000 next year.
After checking some destinations I know really well, the real good news though is in a lot of the many small adjustments: I found a lot of hotels in lower categories that are going down a few thousand points, making them better value than they are today.
Unfortunately, some hotels that are very good value today, will go up in redemption rates in August. Marriott has published a searchable table with the old and new rates, making it easy to see what’s happening with every single hotel in the chain:
The second good news of this integration is the transparency of Marriott in this: Many programs will not communicate devaluation till after the fact, giving you no chance to book planned vacations at the old rates. Here, you can now big a planned stay at the old rates (if they are lower), book them now at the higher rate and get a refund in August, or wait till August to book at the new, lower rate. This is transparency and fairness at its best, hats off to the folks managing the loyalty program at Marriott for showing respect to their loyalty members!
If you have points in Marriott or Starwood, it’s a good idea to look for redemption opportunities now. I found two for myself:
The new Element Ubud, Bali, is currently available at the weekend rate of only 2,000 SPG points (or 6,000 Marriott points) per night. It will go to 12,500 points/night. I booked two nights for my first stay at this brand at a saving of more than 50% and with a cash rate of $101/night great value of 1.7cents/MR point, more than twice their regular value!
There is also a new Marriott Hotel in Kota Kinabalu. I’ve booked a stay soon after opening at a rate of only 10,000 points/night at a cash rate of $147/night (or 1.47 ct/pt). The rate will go up to 12,500 points/night or a 25% increase!
I will post reviews of both hotels soon after my stays. You can find your own Marriott reward deals at the searchable table with all new and old rates here! You can also read about the changes in benefits and other news from the merging programs.
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