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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.

Suite at Al Maha (Hsein Kazma/The Points Guy)

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.

Hsein Kazma/The Points Guy
TPG enjoyed his desert activities at Al Maha (photo by Hsein Kazma/The Points Guy)

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

American Express® Gold Card

With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 35,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth's Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
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Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
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Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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