Marriott changes terms: Hotels can now charge more than Cat 8 price

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Update: According to TPG, Marriott has said that they have no current plans to increase pricing on current Category 8 properties. Marriott claims that this change was made specifically for the North Island Seychelles property. Hopefully that holds.

Marriott Bonvoy has updated its terms to allow hotels to charge more than Category 8 pricing. It’s too early to say how this will be implemented, but one could guess that it’ll at least apply at the new North Island Seychelles property. Time will tell whether this is a special case for super high end properties like that or if it spreads backwards to other properties such as those former SPG properties that used to charge more than the award chart.

Seychelles (not the North Island Seychelles, this is rather the Doubletree where Greg stayed this year

New terms added

The following line was added to the Marriott Bonvoy Terms & Conditions:

Select properties may have redemption rates in excess of the Category 8 Redemption Rates.

That means that some properties will charge more than peak Category 8 pricing. As a reminder, that level is 100,000 points per night.

Was I right?

During our weekly FM on the Air podcast/broadcast a few weeks ago, Greg said I was too harsh in how I called the announcement about the North Island Seychelles bad news. I didn’t want to be right about that, but I was concerned (and remain so) about what it will mean for other properties.

I don’t think anyone will be surprised when Marriott inevitably announces that they are going to charge more than 100K points per night at that specific Seychelles property, where royals have honeymooned in recent years. With only 11 rooms at that property and room rates in the stratosphere, it was hard to imagine redeeming points — even an outrageous sum like 100K per night.

My fear from the outset was a return to the “all-suite” property designation. Many will remember that SPG long claimed that properties like the St. Regis Maldives and St. Regis Bora Bora (where I had a great stay earlier this year) had no standard rooms. As such, you could only redeem for suite awards — at prices that were often the equivalent of 270K Marriott points per night today. When those properties dropped as low as 60K per night (or 48K per night after 5th night free), it was an amazing enhancement of the program that made it sting less when those properties landed at Category 8 eventually.

However, if this line in the terms ends up being applied liberally, it could spell bad news for those looking to spend award nights at the most aspirational Marriott properties.

Of course, the other possibility is that this will only apply to super high-end properties like the North island Seychelles. We won’t know until we know. Still, I don’t like how broadly that term could be applied.

Bottom line

As of right now, this line doesn’t appear to have applied at any properties currently bookable with points. Hopefully this change is just aimed at making room for award redemptions at North Island Seychelles and future properties like it. Still, it will be somewhat of a bummer if Marriott adds more properties that are seemingly inaccessible with points. We’ll have to keep an eye out for how much they charge and monitor the monthly pricing changes at the current top end properties to see if this spreads.

H/T: One Mile at a Time

 

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