The new yet to be named Marriott loyalty program is launching on August 1, 2018. All through this year, Marriott has been sharing details on how the program will look like from earning benefits and points perspective. Earlier in April, Marriott gave a glimpse into what the new Marriott award chart would look like. Now, we know the Marriott Award Chart Changes which will follow in August 2018.
As a recap, effective August 2018, all 6500+ Marriott hotels will be under one award chart. The merged award chart will introduce a new top-tier, category 8, which will come into effect only from 2019. Following the SPG methodology the new award chart will also have ‘PEAK’ and ‘OFF-PEAK’ prices, however, these will also be applicable next year onwards. For the rest of 2018, all Marriott hotels will fall under 7 categories and will require the standard points per night.
The interesting thing is that Category 8 hotels will cost a minimum of 70,000 points per night, instead of the current 60,000 points, therefore you have a five-month window to lock in those prized properties at the lower price point. A number of Ritz-Carlton hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton, HongKong and Starwood’s all resort properties such as Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai will now fall under category 8.
This new chart lists full details on every Marriott hotel (Marriott/ Starwood and Ritz-Carlton) worldwide and mentions the current requirements versus the new rates effective August 2018.
At first glance, about 70% of hotels will either become cheaper or require the same number of points effective August. For example, the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar will be going down to category 3 from its existing category 4 and will require 2500 points lesser from August. So if you are planning a reward stay, then I’d suggest it’s best to wait until the new chart kicks in August.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are a few hotels that will become more expensive in a month’s time. For example, the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach is increasing by 10,000 points under the new award chart.
Many hotels will not get affected by this change and will continue to maintain their status quo. One such example is the Courtyard Pune Hinjewadi that is bookable for 7,500 points per night.
So, what should you do?
Since Marriott has now released the entire award chart, here are few things to think about:
- Hotels going down in points: If you are eyeing a hotel that will require a lesser number of points, it’s best to wait until the new chart kicks in. Alternatively, if your travel plans are fixed you could also reserve your room now and get points refunded later.
- Hotels going up in points: If you are planning a redemption at any of the hotels that will require more points from August onwards then you should book straight away. Remember the current award charts will be in effect until the merged program is launched in August.
- Using the Marriott Free night certificate: If you are like me and sitting on a Marriott free night certificate, I’d say you closely scan the hotels moving up from category 5 and the ones coming down to 5. I can see a lot of hotels in Asia that are becoming less expensive and will soon be eligible for the free night certificate.
The wait is finally over and we now know the details of the new Marriott award chart. While, I will take a closer look at individual hotels changing categories, at first glance this does not look bad. We still don’t know the exact date of when the merged program will kick in 2019 and there are questions around how the peak and off-peak rates will be categorised but for now I am happy that Marriott has made the announcement well in advance.
What is happening to your favourite Marriott Hotels where you redeem? Give us data points to help us sense where is the wind blowing for you.