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Marriott Hotel Award Category 2015 Changes – 27% Going Up

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Similar to other major chains, Marriott periodically adjusts the hotels within each of its award categories, and it has just released their list of hotels that will be changing categories in 2015. Over one-fourth of Marriott’s properties are moving up in categories, and those new rates will kick in for reservations after March 18, 2015. Any reservations booked on or before March 18, 2015 will be honored at the current point price, even if the stay occurs after March 18, 2015.

27% of Marriott hotels will be going up a category
27% of Marriott hotels will be going up a category

In addition to the whopping 27% of hotels that are moving up a category, just a mere 9% are moving down a category for a total of 36% of Marriott hotels making category changes. That means 64% of hotels will stay the same, category-wise. Here you can download the full list of changes, which was posted on the Marriott Insider Blog. If you know you want to stay at one of these properties going up a category, book before March 18 (as you will read below, you can book up to 50 weeks in advance) in order to redeem for fewer points.

Here’s what was officially included in the accompanying statement:

  • All redemption reservations booked on or before March 18, 2015 will be honored at the current point price, even if the stay occurs after March 18, 2015. If you have not ordered your certificate prior to March 18, 2015, call Guest Services prior to your stay to request the lower priced certificate.
  • As always, you may book redemption reservations up to 50 weeks in advance of your stay, even before having the required points in your account.
  • You can also use Cash + Points

After last year’s news that 21% of hotels were going up a category, 27% moving up this year (especially compared to just 9% going down) is not good news for Marriott Reward Members. It seems like each year we have some kind of devaluation; first, the addition of the more expensive, top-tier Category 9 back in 2013, then several hotels going up a category in 2014 and in 2015, over 1000 properties will be going up a category.

The Miami Edition is going up a category in 2015
The Miami Edition is going up a category in 2015

Some of the most notable properties going up a category are the London Edition and the Miami Edition (both of which I love, in fact I enjoyed a stay at the London Edition over Christmas 2014). The Dubai Marriott Hotel Harbour & Suites and several Autograph and Renaissance properties will also be increasing, such as the Renaissance Koh Samui. The PDF list, which is 35 pages long, is a rather tedious read (that’s putting it nicely, it’s a total mess) as it’s not categorized by city, tier or brand, so perhaps it’s best to search it specifically for the properties you are looking for.

The Ritz-Carlton Berlin is going up a category in 2015
The Ritz-Carlton Berlin is going up a category in 2015

Several Ritz-Carlton properties are also going up a category, many of which are located in Florida, and it’s also important to point out that some of the properties like the Edition hotels in Miami, Istanbul and London are moving into Ritz tiers.

The Renaissance Koh Samui is going up a category in 2015
The Renaissance Koh Samui is going up a category in 2015

These Marriott changes seem even more severe than some of the other hotel chains that have already devalued in 2015, like Starwood (11% of properties moved up a category) and Hyatt (4% of properties went up a category).

My Thoughts

Given the recent hotel and airline devaluations that have been happening over the past few years, I’m not surprised, but I am disappointed. Now, it’s going to take even more points to book more Marriott hotels now, and I feel like this is just the same news on repeat–devaluations that are negative for the consumer coming from loyalty programs, both airline and hotel.

That being said, it’s not the end of the world, because when hotels jump a category, it’s a difference of 5,000 points – and with some savvy spending strategies, you can make up for that by maximizing category spending bonuses and other credit card benefits. In any case, book soon (before March 18) if you know you want to stay at a hotel on this list, or else you will be subject to using more of your hard-earned points.

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