These Family-Friendly Marriott Properties Increase in Award Cost on March 5

Feb 8, 2019

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Update: The point pricing detailed below is no longer available as of March 5, 2019. For details on Marriott redemption options, please visit How to Redeem Points With the Marriott Bonvoy Program.

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

Photo courtesy of the Westin Grand Cayman
Photo courtesy of the Westin Grand Cayman

If you are thinking about locking in a trip, here are five things to know about the Westin Grand Cayman and a rundown of where to use points in Grand Cayman.

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.

Here are some other ideas of where to stay near Disneyland using points.

Niagara Falls Prices Not Falling

Unlike the falls themselves, Marriott award prices at Niagara Falls are not frozen — they are increasing.

Photo by Darren Murph / The Points Guy

Aloha to Higher Hawaii Prices

Book your Hawaii hotel stays now as they are getting painfully expensive in some cases.

Image courtesy of Sheraton Waikiki

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.

(Photo courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott, Manhattan/Central Park)
(Photo courtesy of Residence Inn by Marriott, Manhattan/Central Park)

Changes from Whistler to Puerto Vallarta

Some other notable changes coming to Marriott’s award chart that may interest families include:

Westin Puerto Vallarta pool
Lounging poolside at the Westin Puerto Vallarta is peaceful and relaxing. (Photo courtesy of 2DadsWithBaggage.com)

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 Punta Mita (photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
St. Regis Punta Mita (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

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).

Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives.
Photo courtesy of the St. Regis Maldives.

Bottom Line

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?

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