Update: Marriott isn’t adding a surcharge for award stays, refunding members

Jul 29, 2021

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Update 7/29/21: Marriott reached out to us to share that this issue has now been resolved. The service charges for award stays at the JW Marriott, as well as two other properties with similar charges were rescinded to comply with Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions. The service charge for paid stays remains.

Marriott shared, “Members who booked redemption stays at the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa, Courtyard Nassau Downtown/Junkanoo Beach and Westin Cozumel during the period when service charges were imposed for redemption stays now are being notified in an email that they are eligible for a refund and how to apply for it.”

Earlier this week, MilesTalk flagged a hotel in Mexico that was apparently adding a “Marriott Bonvoy Redemption Fee” of $30 per night when using Marriott points for a stay. The property in question — the JW Marriott Los Cabos Resort and Spa — listed the surcharge as a note when booking but didn’t actually include it in the pricing breakdown.

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This was a concerning development, so we reached out to Marriott to clarify what was happening.

On Friday, we got our answer.

In short, this additional fee was not appropriate and should not have been added to award stays. Instead, it was a service fee that — per the terms and conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy program — shouldn’t be charged when redeeming points for a room. Section 3.2.e. clearly discloses this fact (emphasis mine):

“When redeeming Points for an Award Redemption Stay, the Award Redemption Stay includes the cost of a single or double standard room at a Participating Property, room tax/service charge, and extra-person charges, if any.”

A spokesperson told TPG that the property should be removing these charges from all redemption stays and Marriott will investigate to see if there are other properties using similar practices. While our team at TPG hasn’t found examples of this, it’s great that Marriott is working on getting to the bottom of what happened.

Related: The award traveler’s guide to Marriott Bonvoy

Here is the full statement from Marriott:

“All hotel reservations at the JW Marriott Los Cabos Beach Resort and Spa include service charges. The full amount received from these service charges is paid directly to hotel associates as a gratuity. These service charges have also been applied to redemption stays using Marriott Bonvoy points which is inconsistent with the program’s terms and conditions. We are taking this matter very seriously and have instructed the property to rescind the service charge for all redemption stays. Marriott is looking into whether this practice existed at other properties in the company’s portfolio. Once our review is completed, we will communicate with our members who were impacted by such charges and intend to address the situation.”

It’s great to see that Marriott is taking concrete steps to hold this property accountable to its terms and conditions while also digging deeper to identify other (potential) offenders. If you recently redeemed Marriott points at the JW Marriott Los Cabos and were charged this “redemption fee” as part of your stay, you’ll hopefully see this refunded to you in the weeks to come.

Keep in mind that Marriott Bonvoy does still require resort fees to be paid on award stays — a notable difference from both Hilton Honors and World of Hyatt. Thankfully, though, it appears that this situation was a single property going against the terms of the program rather than a significant change to the way you redeem points in the program.

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo by Nick Ellis/The Points Guy.

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