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Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest become Marriott Bonvoy next week on Feb. 13. That’s largely a change in name only as the programs are already functionally integrated in most respects, but real change comes just three weeks later on March 5. That is the date when the just-announced 2019 Marriott annual category changes take effect. Not only is this when the award chart picks up a new higher tier Category 8, but Marriott says that 5% of the properties are changing in award cost in one direction or the other (1% percent are decreasing, and 4% are increasing in point cost).
But — 5% of a very large network of properties is still a ton of hotels wiggling around the award chart. Plus, that doesn’t factor in the 62 properties that were already slated to go from a Category 7 to a Category 8, thus increasing in cost by 25,000 points per night. The best approach is to take a deep breath and then look at the changes yourself ASAP to lock in a reservation before March 5 if the property you want is getting pricier. You can lock in current prices as far as the calendar allows — currently into February 2020. To help you along, I’ll highlight a few popular family-friendly spots that are changing in award cost. Sadly, most of these are increases.
As a refresher, here is the Marriott award chart with the corresponding award prices. For now, just focus on the numbers under Points Value as peak and off-peak prices have not yet been introduced.
As you are looking at the changes, stay especially tuned into the moves in the Category 5 and Category 6 levels as those are the categories of the award certificates you can earn annually with a variety of cobranded card products.
Now let’s look at some specific category changes.
Grand Cayman Getting Pricier
- Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort — 6 to 7
- The Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa — 6 to 7
- Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman — 7 to 8
Hotels Near Disneyland Increasing
Staying near Disneyland in Anaheim, California, isn’t always cheap on cash, but just months before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens, several Marriott properties are jumping up the Marriott award chart.
- Residence Inn at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center — 5 to 6
- Residence Inn Anaheim Resort Area/Garden Grove — 4 to 5
- Courtyard Anaheim Resort/Convention Center — 4 to 5
- Four Points by Sheraton Anaheim — 3 to 4
- SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate — 4 to 5
- TownePlace Suites Anaheim Maingate Near Angel Stadium — 3 to 4
Niagara Falls Prices Not Falling
Unlike the falls themselves, Marriott award prices at Niagara Falls are not frozen — they are increasing.
Aloha to Higher Hawaii Prices
Book your Hawaii hotel stays now as they are getting painfully expensive in some cases.
- Koloa Landing Resort at Poipu, Autograph Collection — 6 to 7
- Residence Inn Maui Wailea — 5 to 6
- Courtyard Waikiki Beach — 5 to 6
- Sheraton Waikiki — 6 to 7
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani — 5 to 6
Say Goodbye to Some Category 5 Options in NYC
NYC is one of the priciest hotel markets in the United States, especially if you need a room for four. We’ve outlined some of the best spots to use a Marriott Category 5 certificate in Manhattan, but it looks like that article will be due for an update as several of our top picks are moving out of range of those annual credit card awards.
- Courtyard New York Manhattan/Central Park — 5 to 6
- Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Central Park — 5 to 6
- Residence Inn New York Manhattan/Times Square — 5 to 6
- Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel — 5 to 6
- Courtyard New York Manhattan/SoHo — 5 to 6
Changes from Whistler to Puerto Vallarta
Some other notable changes coming to Marriott’s award chart that may interest families include:
- Delta Hotels Whistler Village Suites — 5 to 6
- JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort — 6 to 7
- Key West Marriott Beachside Hotel — 6 to 7
- London Marriott Hotel Regents Park — 5 to 6
- Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld — 4 to 5
- The Westin Resort & Spa, Puerto Vallarta — 4 to 5
- The Westin Dublin — 7 to 6 (yup, this one will be cheaper)
- Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa — 7 to 6 (this resort is getting cheaper, too)
Last Call for Luxury at 60k Points
We knew that getting high-end St. Regis and Ritz Carlton-style resorts for just 60,000 Marriott points per night was something not long for this world, but time is now really running out. Here’s a sampling of current Category 7 properties jumping up 25k points per night to Category 8 on March 5.
- St. Regis Aspen
- Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
- St. Regis Bahia Beach
- St. Regis Deer Valley
- St. Regis Punta Mita
- St. Regis Bora Bora
- St. Regis Maldives
- St. Regis New York
Points Advance May Not Save You
But wait — there’s more bad news. While you can lock in a reservation without having all the necessary Marriott points in your account as long as you earn them at least 14 days before your stay, the info accompanying this award chart change is ominous. It read:
“Members who wish to book a points advance redemption under the current Marriott Rewards and SPG award chart are encouraged to order redemption certificates before March 5 to lock in the rate. On March 5, redemption bookings are subject to the new unified program award chart.”
We are digging into exactly what this means, but it reads to my eyes as you have to pay the points for your reservations by March 5, or they are also subject to the award chart changes. In other words, if you want to book five nights at the St. Regis Maldives, it’ll cost you 240,000 Marriott points if you pay up before March 5. If you don’t, those same five nights you already have reserved using points advance will cost you 340,000 points (fifth night free in both cases).
From a percentage standpoint, this year’s Marriott award chart changes aren’t horrific. However, the introduction of Category 8 is going to be painful for those who like to use points to live the life of luxury for a few days (raises hand). There are also many other family-friendly areas and properties that are taking a hit with increases at the lower and midranges beginning March 5.
Which properties are you sad to see increase or are you locking in before March 5?
Know before you go.
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