Marriott has announced a partial list of hotels as a preview for the new award chart pricing coming on August 1st. Some hotels will be going up, though as expected the preview list includes a number of expensive Starwood properties that are dropping in price significantly. However, the big surprise for me was to see that there will be several Manhattan hotels that will be bookable with the annual free night certificate from the current SPG cards. While you won’t be able to stay at a luxury property with your free night certificate, the option to choose one of a couple of decent NYC locations certainly changes the short-term value proposition of the SPG cards for me.
Some good decreases in the preview
Marriott claims that more hotels will go down in price than up, and while that may be true, we expected the decrease in all of the top-tier properties (since the new chart will top out at 60K Marriott points, lower than Ritz Tier 5 and SPG Category 7 currently charge) to lead to a number of increases in the middle tiers. While I hesitate to judge a restaurant by its appetizer, the preview includes some decent values. See the full preview here.
For example, the image above shows four New York City properties (Courtyard New York Manhattan / Central Park, Element New York Times Square West, Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Midtown West, and Residence Inn New York Manhattan / Central Park) will cost 35,000 points in the new program (note that the Courtyard and Rennaisance are actually in the same building). While those changes are very small in terms of decreases, the value here comes in the fact that one of the benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards starting in August and on the new Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus (which should be available on May 3rd) will be an annual free night at a hotel costing up to 35,000 points per night (See more of the new details here). Existing cardholders should receive that certificate on first renewal after August 1st. As my renewal date is in August, I’ll surely be holding onto my Starwood card at least until then as I’m always happy to pick up a free night in New York. I was particularly happy to see the Residence Inn on the list as I’d read a post fom Points with a Crew a while back on 5 reasons why Ian would pick that hotel for his next NYC trip and I’ve been curious about it ever since. I was further surprised to see that even a couple of Paris properties will remain in the 35K category.
Of course, those with large SPG / Marriott balances will be most excited to see properties at the high end, like the St. Regis New York and The Chatwal New York dropping from a current equivalent of 90K Marriott points per night to just 60K when the new chart hits on August 1st. Keep in mind that in 2019, a new Category 8 will debut, and properties like those are already noted to be moving up in price (though even the peak pricing introduced in 2019 will be lower than the current standard 35K SPG Cat 7 peak pricing). However, if you make your booking between August 1st and the end of this year, it would be honored at this year’s pricing (even if your stay is next year after the new category comes into play). As a reminder, here are the cateogires for the new chart:
Book this one right now
One hotel that stands out as being massively devalued is the Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa. While I don’t know much about this property, the preview clearly shows it will move up in price by 24,000 Marriott points, from a current 12K Starpoints (equivalent of 36K Marriott) to 60,000 Marriott Rewards points – an increase of about 67%. If you had this property in mind, book it now.
Again, I’m very hesitant to judge by a preview of what is likely to be the greatest hits, but I’m noetheless surprised to see properties in expensive markets like New York and Paris decrease (apart from those at the top end, which have nowhere to go but down on the new chart). I was very confident that I would cancel my SPG cards rather than renew, but the preview might change my feelings on that. I look forward to seeing the rest of the list, which Bob Behrens indicated to use should be out in the next few weeks.
H/T: View from the Wing