In the last post, we went over things that are being removed from the program. Now we are on to the part that is getting added to the program.
One of the best thing is Award chart pricing
The basics of Marriott’s new award chart
In August Marriott will introduce a new award chart valid for members of all three programs. At that point Starwood Preferred Guest points will be converted into Marriott Rewards points at a 1:3 ratio, so all stays will follow this pricing. Here’s the chart:
This compares very favorably to Starwood Preferred Guest’s award chart, though in some cases pricing may be higher than what Marriott Rewards used to charge. The other big unknown here is which hotels will be in which category. One way to quietly devalue a program is to simply increase the number of hotels in the higher categories, and that’s a distinct possibility here. However, Marriott does say that more hotels are going down in category than up, though it’s hard to decipher exactly what that means, since all three programs have been using different categories.
However, there are a couple of things that are potentially especially interesting here:
- Marriott won’t introduce Category 8 hotels until 2019, meaning that stays booked between August and December of 2018 (even if stays are on subsequent dates) will cap at Category 7
- Marriott will only use “standard” award pricing for 2018, and then in 2019 “peak” and “off-peak” pricing will be introduced
My guess is that they’re taking this approach so they have time to work out arrangements with individual hotels, figure out what dates should and shouldn’t be peak, etc.
Also, I am happy about them introducing the PEAK pricing. Till now in practice, if hotel really increased their prices beyond the norm, you wouldn’t be able to buy a night using award in practice. It would show you a message of Contact SPG/Marriott Representative for help.
Now, at least I would get a quote and I can still select the hotel which is a great deal.
The HUGE opportunity Marriott’s interim award pricing presents
That means for awards booked between August and December, the most expensive redemption will be 60,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, which is the equivalent of 20,000 Starpoints per night in today’s currency. You also get a fifth night free on redemptions, so that brings down the average cost for a five-night stay to 16,000 Starpoints per night (in today’s currency).
Currently, Starwood’s top hotels cost 35,000 Starpoints per night, so that’s the same as getting over 40% off!
Previously in peak season, a redemption at the Al Maha Luxury Collection cost 140,000 Starpoints for five nights (with the fifth night free). Starting in August that redemption would cost just 240,000 Marriott Rewards points, which is the equivalent of 80,000 Starpoints.
That’s a huge discount. If you want to redeem for one of the top Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, or Starwood properties in the world, then between August and December of this year is the time to book.
We don’t know exactly when Marriott’s new “peak” and “off-peak” pricing will kick in, or when Category 8 properties will be introduced, but it will presumably me somewhere towards the beginning of 2019.
Here’s a list of Starwood’s current Category 7 hotels (the most expensive in the system), where you’d get the biggest savings during this period, since those hotels currently cost the most points. Note that this only applies for hotels with standard rooms.