When Marriott and SPG merged loyalty programs in August 2018, the award rates at their most expensive properties were temporarily capped at 60,000 points per night. At the time, Marriott announced that category 8 pricing, along with peak and off-peak pricing, would be coming in “early 2019”. Marriott has now confirmed to us that category 8 pricing (85K points per night) is scheduled to kick in on Tuesday March 5 2019. If you’re reading this shortly after publication then that means you have only about a week to book these hotels at the cheaper rate.
Marriott hasn’t yet announced a start date for peak and off-peak pricing. Once that kicks in, the top price for category 8 hotels will soar to 100,000 points per night.
5th Night free = 48,000 points per night
The best deal when booking Marriott awards is to book 5 nights at a time since you’ll get the 5th night free. At 60K per night for 4 nights over a 5 night stay, this translates to an average of 48,000 points per night. For comparison, at the new 85K rate, you can book 5 nights for 68K points per night. And at the 100K peak rate, you can book 5 nights for 80K points per night.
If you don’t have enough points to book your stay right now, you can lock in current rates via Marriott’s Points Advance. This holds the award for you until you have enough points to pay for it. Keep good records, though. Your reservation will show the new point price starting March 5th. In order to pay with points at the old rate, you’ll have to call in to do so.
Cautions: 30 day cancellation, potential credit card hold
Many of the properties on this list require cancelling 30 days before your stay in order to avoid penalty. If you don’t have the points, it’s theoretically possible they’ll charge your card for the full rack rate instead. Make sure to check the cancellation terms before you complete a booking. Here are the cancellation terms for the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort:
You may cancel your reservation for no charge until February 18, 2019 (30 day[s] before arrival). Please note that we will assess a fee if you must cancel after this deadline. If you have made a prepayment, we will retain all or part of your prepayment. If not, we will charge your credit card. This fee equals your room charge plus tax for all the nights of your reservation.
Another issue is that some properties may charge your credit card a large hold fee prior to your stay. The terms seem to allow for it, anyway. I’m not sure how often this actually happens.
How good of a deal is this?
Whether or not you consider this a a great deal depends on a few factors. Certainly, compared to the new pricing, the ability to lock in the 60K rate right now is a great deal. However, many of the category 8 properties sell rooms for less than $600 per night — at least at times. If you’re not getting at least 1 cent per point value from your Marriott points, I wouldn’t personally consider it a great deal.
Further, you might not value these ultra-luxe properties anywhere near face value. If high-end luxury isn’t important to you, then you may be better off using your points at mid-range hotels for 35K points per night or less.
If you have your eye on any of these ultra-luxe properties, though, this is a fantastic time to book awards — if you can find award space. With highly sought after properties, such as The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, it can be nearly impossible to find free night availability for the dates you want to go. That said, if you can pick up and go very soon, I see plenty of near-term availability as I write this post. And, while points will book you into a garden villa rather than an overwater villa, I don’t think you’ll be miserable there:
Which category 8 hotels offer decent elite benefits?
If you have Marriott Platinum Elite status, or higher, you may prefer to book hotels where your status will give you more bang for your buck… or for your points. Specifically, Platinum Elites are eligible for free breakfast at most, but not all properties. Similarly, Platinum Elites are eligible for free upgrades to suites (when available) at most, but not all properties.
No Free Breakfast: The following brands do not offer free breakfast to elite members: The Design Hotels, EDITION, Gaylord, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club. Some individuals hotels within these brands may offer free breakfast, but that is up to the hotel. Marriott does not require them to do so.
No Suite Upgrades: Ritz-Carlton hotels are not required to upgrade Platinum Elite members to suites, but they may do so for Titanium Elites and higher as long as the upgrade is not to a Club access room. Here is the relevant text from Bonvoy’s terms & conditions:
Complimentary upgrade includes suites, rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities or rooms on Executive Floors. At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Titanium Elite and Ambassador Elite Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded. Enhanced Room Upgrades are subject to availability and are identified by each Participating Property.
Which hotels are going up in price?
In a separate post we listed many of the Marriott hotels that are soon going up in price on March 5th due to Marriott’s annual category updates: 25K, 35K, and 50K Marriott hotel opportunities before and after March 5 2019. Check out that post if you’re interested in locking in today’s rates for properties that will be increasing in price due to being reassigned to new categories.
Today’s post is specifically about just the top tier properties, including those that will become top tier on March 5th due to category reassignment. Here’s the list of hotels that will jump from 60K to 85K points per night on March 5th:
|Hotel||Brand||Country / Region|
|The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas||Ritz-Carlton||Virgin Islands (US)|
|11 Howard, New York, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||USA|
|The Miami Beach EDITION||Edition||USA|
|Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale||Luxury Collection||USA|
|The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale||Luxury Collection||USA|
|The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City||Luxury Collection||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami||Ritz-Carlton||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park||Ritz-Carlton||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch||Ritz-Carlton||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe||Ritz-Carlton||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Naples||Ritz-Carlton||USA|
|The St. Regis Aspen Resort||St. Regis||USA|
|The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort||St. Regis||USA|
|The St. Regis Deer Valley||St. Regis||USA|
|The St. Regis New York||St. Regis||USA|
|W South Beach||W Hotels||USA|
|Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley||The Luxury Collection||United States|
|The London EDITION||EDITION||United Kingdom|
|The Wellesley Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel, London||Luxury Collection||United Kingdom|
|Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai||Luxury Collection||United Arab Emirates|
|The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach||The Ritz-Carlton||United Arab Emirates|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai||The Ritz-Carlton||United Arab Emirates|
|Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui||Luxury Collection||Thailand|
|W Koh Samui||W Hotels||Thailand|
|Giardino Ascona, A Member Of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Switzerland|
|Giardino Mountain, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Switzerland|
|Hotel President Wilson, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva||Luxury Collection||Switzerland|
|W Verbier||W Hotels||Switzerland|
|Sir Joan Hotel, Ibiza City, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Spain|
|The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort||St. Regis||Spain|
|The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico||St. Regis||Puerto Rico|
|Pine Cliffs Residence, a Luxury Collection Resort, Algarve||The Luxury Collection||Portugal|
|The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort||St. Regis||Mexico|
|The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort||St. Regis||Maldives|
|W Maldives||W Hotels||Maldives|
|Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto||Luxury Collection||Japan|
|The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel||Luxury Collection||Japan|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto||Ritz-Carlton||Japan|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo||Ritz-Carlton||Japan|
|The St. Regis Osaka||St. Regis||Japan|
|G-Rough, Rome, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Italy|
|Palazzina G, Venice, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Italy|
|Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice||Luxury Collection||Italy|
|The St. Regis Florence||St. Regis||Italy|
|The St. Regis Rome||St. Regis||Italy|
|The Westin Europa & Regina, Venice||Westin||Italy|
|The St. Regis Bali Resort||St. Regis||Indonesia|
|W Hong Kong||W Hotels||Hong Kong|
|Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection||Autograph Collection||Greece|
|Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Crete||Luxury Collection||Greece|
|Mystique, A Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini||Luxury Collection||Greece|
|Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort, Mykonos||Luxury Collection||Greece|
|Le Meridien Bora Bora||Le Meridien||French Polynesia|
|The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort||St. Regis||French Polynesia|
|Hôtel de Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris||Luxury Collection||France|
|Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris||Luxury Collection||France|
|Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Limassol||Luxury Collection||Cyprus|
|The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal||Westin||Costa Rica|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong||Ritz-Carlton||China|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman||Ritz-Carlton||Cayman Islands|
|Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection||Autograph Collection||British Virgin Islands|
|Kenoa Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, Barra de Sao Miguel, a Member of Design Hotels||Design Hotels||Brazil|
|Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg||Luxury Collection||Austria|