Marriott quietly suspends category changes at mainland China hotels
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
The rapid spread of a novel coronavirus that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan has caused demand for travel to evaporate at an unprecedented rate. Airlines have canceled flights and grounded hundreds of planes worldwide, and travel providers are grappling with ways to keep their loyal customers coming back in these difficult times.
One popular strategy so far has been for airlines and hotel chains to extend the elite status of customers who might not be able to travel as much this year, but Marriott Bonvoy has gone one step farther with a decision that will benefit all members, regardless of elite status. Marriott’s annual category changes were scheduled to go into effect on March 4, 2020, and this year was an especially brutal change with a whopping 22% of Marriott’s global portfolio moving up a category.
It now appears that Marriott has suspended category increases for properties in mainland China, though hotels that were slated to move down a category are now bookable at these cheaper prices.
One property that I had my eye on was the St. Regis Sanya Yalong Bay resort in Hainan, a stunning hotel that was supposed to move up from Category 6 to Category 7 on March 4. When you search for hotels in Hainan on the Marriott website, you’ll see the St. Regis is still listed as a Category 6 hotel. The property is currently available at off-peak rates, meaning you can book a free night here for only 40,000 points instead of the 50,000 that would be required for a standard award.
Related: Maximizing Marriott Bonvoy points
The same is true at the W Xi’an, a vibrant and psychedelic hotel that might be the most extreme iteration of the W brand I’ve ever stayed at. The property was supposed to move up to Category 5 during the recent round of category changes, but it’s still bookable as a Category 4 hotel:
The category changes weren’t suspended entirely though, as properties in China that were slated to move down a category are now bookable at these cheaper rates. The Westin Xi’an was a solid hotel with a decent location, and I loved using my Marriott Suite Night Awards here to upgrade to a three-bedroom duplex suite. The hotel was a Category 4 when I stayed there last summer, but as of March 4 it dropped as scheduled to a Category 3.
The coronavirus has reshaped the travel landscape, and it will take a long time for demand to recover to previous highs. In the meantime, it’s nice to see companies doing what they can to take care of their loyal customers with low prices and attractive deals.
Featured photo of the JW Marriott Shanghai courtesy of the hotel.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.