Marriott Confirms Al Maha Award Stays Will Include Meals and Activities
Update: Category 8 pricing began on March 5, 2019. This means the 60,000-point pricing detailed below is no longer available. For details on Marriott redemption options, please visit How to Redeem Points With the Marriott Bonvoy Program.
One of the most exciting aspects of the Marriott/SPG integration was the fact that all legacy SPG properties fit into the standard award chart. To make this even more lucrative, luxurious resorts like the St. Regis Maldives and St. Regis Bora Bora are currently bookable for just 60,000 points per night through March 2019, when the program will introduce Category 8 pricing. Unfortunately, one of the top properties in this tier (Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa) recently indicated that award stays would no longer include meals and activities, a big hit to one of the best redemption options in the new program.
Well, it appears that Marriott is now either reversing course or holding the property's feet to the proverbial award fire. Per View from the Wing, the program has confirmed that Al Maha "is reverting back to the old inclusive award pricing" and will once again include meals and activities for all guests, regardless of their method of payment.
It's worth noting that this development is still not reflected in the online search results:
However, this is a very positive development for those looking to get fantastic value from their Marriott points. Spending 60,000 Marriott Rewards points for a luxurious suite plus food and activities is an absolute steal. Even when Category 8 pricing kicks in and the property jumps to 85,000 points per night (or even 100,000 points on peak dates), I'd argue that this property will still be a great redemption with food and activities included.
More broadly, I sincerely hope that this represents the type of approach that Marriott will take in 2019 to reassert itself as a program that takes care of its members. It's no secret that the integration wasn't as smooth as many had hoped, and I've heard (personally) from dozens of SPG elite members who felt that the new program and the issues that have come up since the August 18 integration left them questioning their loyalty. If Marriott continues to takes steps like this, it may go a long way toward regaining some loyalty that's been lost.
We have reached out to Marriott and will report back once this update is live on Marriott's site.
H/T: View from the Wing