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The first quarter is when most hotel chains announce category changes- when they analyze how many points each hotel in their portfolio should charge for an award chart. However, this year hotels are going a step further and actually restructuring their award charts, like Starwood’s recent Cash & Points revaluation.
Marriott also just sent emails to members announcing that beginning May 16, there will be a new top-tier category – Category 9 – which will cost members 45,000 points per night. Plus, at least one third of all Marriott properties will be jumping up by at least one category. Sadly, hardly any will be dropping a level, meaning that Marriott points in general just got a lot less valuable.
The new Category 9 – will initially include just the following hotels:
- Boston Marriott Long Wharf
- Le Merigot, A JW Marriott Beach Hotel & Spa, Santa Monica
- London Marriott Hotel County Hall
- London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square
- Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel
- London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
- JW Marriott Essex House
- New York Marriott Marquis
- Paris Marriott Hotel Champs-Elysees
- St. Pancras Renaissance London Hotel
- Renaissance New York Hotel Times Square
- Renaissance Paris Vendome Hotel
- Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe Hotel
Redemption levels for the original 8 categories will remain the same, as follows:
However, as you’ll see from the full list of changes here, there are hundreds of hotels that are jumping up categories while just a few are having their categories lowered. In fact, only 1% of hotels are dropping a category while a whopping 36% are being elevated by at least one category. Marriott also points out: 73% of properties remain in its lower-run 1-4 Categories. Small comfort.
The bottom line is: Marriott redemptions are going to get more expensive.
If you already have a Marriott redemption in mind and have collected the necessary points for it (or are close), you’d be wise to take a look at the revised category list in case the hotel or resort you’re thinking of is being upped a category and make your reservation now if possible rather than waiting until the redemption level goes up after May 16.
So which hotel chain is the most lucrative? Excluding credit cards and elite status, it takes the following base spend to achieve a top tier award night:
-$3,333 for a free night at a top-tier Hilton (50,000 points at 15 points earned per dollar spent)
-$4,400 for Hyatt (22,000 points at 5 points earned per dollar spent)
-$4,500 at Marriott (45,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)
-$5,000 at Priority Club (50,000 points at 10 points per dollar spent)
-$15,000 for a Starwood Category 7 property (30,000 points at 2 points per dollar spent)
Clearly, there is more to a hotel program than just top tier redemptions and credit cards and elite status make earning free nights much easier, but still- Marriott is in the middle of the pack as far as base earning.