Searching for good news in Marriott’s latest devaluation

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Marriott’s latest devaluation is coming March 4th 2020.  As Nick previously reported, Marriott is making its annual category adjustments and the news is mostly bad.  One thousand six hundred and eighty seven properties will increase in price vs. only five hundred and seven that will decrease.  That’s harsh.  If you plan to book a Marriott with points or certificates this year, there’s a good chance the award price will increase March 4th (you can search here to find out).  If so, book before March 4th to lock in the current pricing.  Sadly, due to changes in how Marriott handles Points Advance reservations, you can no longer lock in prices unless you already have the points or stay certificates in your account.

Enough of the bad news.  With change comes opportunity.  Let’s find it.

Category 1 Hotels

Category 1 hotels cost only 5,000 points per night when off-peak.  That’s crazy cheap.  They can actually go as low as 4,000 points per night if they are both PointSavers hotels and off-peak, but I’m guessing that’s rare.

At 5,000 points per night, these hotels are a reasonable shortcut to Marriott Bonvoy elite status.  Book 5 nights in a row in order to get the fifth night free and you’ll pay only 20,000 points for a 5 night stay.  That’s only 4,000 points per night.  If you’re trying to earn Marriott Platinum or Titanium status (the only status levels worth pursuing in my opinion), that’s not a bad price to pay to earn extra elite nights.

Here is the list of category 2 hotels in the United States that will drop to category 1 on March 4th:

  • Four Points by Sheraton Bakersfield (California)
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Dallas Park Central (Texas)
  • TownePlace Suites Dallas Plano/Legacy (Texas)
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Decatur at Decatur Conference Center (Texas)
  • Residence Inn Houston I-10 West/Park Row (Texas)
  • Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor (Texas)
  • SpringHill Suites Houston I-10 West/Energy Corridor (Texas)
  • Courtyard Houston Sugar Land/Stafford (Texas)
  • TownePlace Suites Mobile (Alabama)

It’s interesting that four of the nine new-to-cat-1 hotels in the US are in Houston Texas.  Unfortunately, Houston will be losing 5 category 1 hotels.  Each of these are moving up to category 2:

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Houston Channelview
  • Courtyard Houston Hobby Airport
  • Courtyard Houston Northwest
  • SpringHill Suites Houston Rosenberg
  • SpringHill Suites Houston Northwest

In Canada, we will gain 3 category 1 properties:

  • Four Points by Sheraton Edmonton South
  • Four Points by Sheraton Sherwood Park
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Winnipeg

But we’ll lose 4:

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Edmonton North
  • TownePlace Suites Red Deer
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Lethbridge
  • Courtyard Calgary South

Bottom Line Regarding Category 1 Hotels

There isn’t really any particularly good news to report here.  If a new-to-cat-1 property works better for you than the one’s we’re losing then that’s good for you.  In general, though, it’s not good.  184 properties are leaving category 1 vs only 43 that are being moved from category 2 to 1.

35K Certificates (Category 5 Hotels)

Most Marriott branded credit cards (found here) give you a certificate each year that’s good for one night at any Bonvoy hotel costing 35,000 points or less.  This means that the highest award priced hotels you can book are category 5 at standard or off-peak pricing, or category 6 with a combination of off-peak and Point Savers pricing.  That latter combination is so rare that we won’t consider here.

The question I hope to answer is whether there are any exciting hotels that are currently higher than category 5, but will soon be category 5.  The high level numbers don’t look good.  There are 15 properties dropping from category 6 to 5, while 217 are going up from 5 to 6.

Still, lets find the gems in those 15 newbies…

New to Category 5, in the United States:

  • Renaissance Asheville Hotel (North Carolina).  Trip Advisor Rating 4.0.
  • Sheraton Princess Kaiulani (Honolulu, Hawaii).  Trip Advisor Rating 3.5.
  • The Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites, Los Angeles.  Trip Advisor Rating 4.0.
  • The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter (California).  Trip Advisor Rating 4.5.
  • The Westin San Diego (California). Trip Advisor Rating 4.5.
  • Hotel Republic San Diego, Autograph Collection (California).  Trip Advisor Rating 4.5.

Whoever controls that Marriott categories must be planning to use their own certs in San Diego because that’s where we find all three gems in the United States.  All three have excellent Trip Advisor ratings.  As an aside, Nick and I previously stayed in the Hotel Republic, Autograph Collection, and I don’t know about Nick, but I liked it a lot.

New to Category 5, outside the United States:

  • Park Tower, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Buenos Aires Argentina.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Twelve at Hengshan, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Shanghai China.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Roomers Munich, Autograph Collection Germany.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.0
  • Keraton at The Plaza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Jakarta Indonesia.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Sheraton Miyako Hotel Tokyo Japan.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.0.
  • Sheraton Kuwait, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kuwait City Kuwait.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort All-Inclusive Panama.  Trip Advisor Rating: 3.5.
  • Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort South Korea.  Trip Advisor Rating: 5.0.

At first I was excited by the fact that there was an all-inclusive property in the list.  Unfortunately, the Sheraton Bijao Beach Resort in Panama gets poor reviews.  Next I was excited by the 5.0 rating given to the Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort in South Korea until I skimmed recent reviews.  Some reviews were poor.  Most liked the resort, but not the location.

Ultimately, the only properties on this list that really look exciting to me are the Park Tower Luxury Collection Hotel in Buenos Aires and the St. Regis Kuala Lumpur.  Unfortunately, while they’re probably great hotels, both showed up as costing just a bit over $200 on a few dates I tried.  That means that the value you’ll get from your 35K certificates vs paying cash is limited.

Park Tower Luxury Collection Hotel in Buenos Aires

50K Certificates (Category 6 Hotels)

Ultra-Premium Marriott branded credit cards (Bonvoy Brilliant and Ritz Carlton) give you a certificate each year that’s good for one night at any Bonvoy hotel costing 50,000 points or less.  This means that the highest award priced hotels you can book are category 6 at standard or off-peak pricing, or category 7 off-peak.

In this section we’ll look at the hotels that will be dropping down to category 6.  Note that this is useful also for those with 40K free night certificates (which you can get as a Choice Benefit when you reach 75 nights within a year) since category 6 hotels cost 40,000 points off-peak.

New to Category 6, in the United States:

  • W Washington D.C.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.

Yep, there’s only one hotel in all of the United States that dropped from category 7 to 6.

New to Category 6, outside the United States:

  • Sheraton Addis, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Addis Ababa Ethiopia.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • ITC Grand Bharat, a Luxury Collection Retreat, Gurgaon, New Delhi Capital Region India.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina United Arab Emirates.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Le Méridien Ile des Pins New Caledonia.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • The Ritz-Carlton, Perth Australia.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.0.
  • Castillo Hotel Son Vida, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Mallorca Spain.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach Singapore.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • The St. Regis Singapore.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.

This is a nice collection of hotels to use your 50K certificates with.  To me, the most appealing is the Castillo Hotel Son Vida Luxury Collection Hotel in Mallorca Spain.

Castillo Hotel Son Vida, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Mallorca Spain. This hotel will drop from category 7 to 6.

50K Certificates (Category 7 Off-Peak)

The 50K certificates that come with the Bonvoy Brilliant and Ritz Carlton cards can be used at category 7 hotels during off-peak pricing.  So, let’s look at the hotels that will drop from category 8 to 7 to see which ones we’ll have off-peak access to…

New to Category 7, in the United States:

  • W Aspen (Colorado).  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.

New to Category 7, outside the United States:

  • W Hong Kong.  Trip Advisor Rating: 5.0.
  • Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.
  • Hotel President Wilson, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva Switzerland.  Trip Advisor Rating: 4.5.

All of these look great to me.  I took a look at the current award pricing of some of these to see how often these hotels are currently available off-peak.  The W Aspen was only available off-peak in the shoulder seasons (Spring and Fall), but the Cristallo, in Italy, was often off-peak, even in the middle of the summer (70K is off-peak while the hotel is still category 8):

There’s no guarantee that these hotels will still have as much off-peak pricing once they drop a category, but at least the current results are hopeful.  I don’t know about you, but I think that the Cristallo Luxury Collection Resort & Spa in Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy looks awesome.  Here are a couple of pics from their website:

Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy. Currently category 8, but soon to be a category 7 hotel.
Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo Italy. View from a Junior Suite balcony.

Bottom Line

I had hoped to find more, but the truth is that there isn’t much to look forward to in Marriott’s March 2020 category changes.  But there are a few nuggets:

  • Those with 35K certificates planning to visit San Diego will find three excellent new choices.
  • Those with 35K certificates planning to visit Buenos Aires may like using the certs at the Park Tower Luxury Collection; and those planning to visit Kuala Lumpur may like the new ability to use the certs at the St. Regis.
  • Those with 50K certificates have several interesting new category 6 options (unfortunately 94 other properties will go up from category 6 to 7).
  • And those with 50K certificates may find off-peak opportunities at one of the four category 8 properties that will drop to category 7.  Personally I find the Luxury Collection hotel in Italy the most appealing, but I expect that the others are good too.

Hat Tip: Thanks to Gary at View from the Wing for providing a downloadable spreadsheet of hotel changes (here)

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Preacher
Guest
Preacher

At least Bonvoy is still good for airline transfers. I’m sitting on over 5M points that could be turned into over 2M miles. Alaska is typically my go to transfer option.

CaveDweller
Guest
CaveDweller

Preacher
Transfer the points Dump the card right after then send a letter or do a Survey .. I brought a new truck in 2018 and took the Survey a week later . I had a call 48 hrs later from the head of the dealership 30 days later the head of internet sales was Canned like a Tuna . I had that dealership fix every thing then switched to a better one .
Unless u Bitch NUTTHING gets done .
CHEERs

YoniPDX
Guest
YoniPDX

But the problem is until the shareholders bitch about poor returns, Arnie won”t be canned.,

Sadly like so many post mergers the get so big they DGAF or feel they need to, they don’t because they made out like a bandit off the merger.

Mire and more Corprate America has become monopolistic megaocrats.

That was what was great about SPG small enough to be niche, and to compete the offered and provided excellent CS and value. Hyatt is ATM o e if those Goldilocks hotels chain not to big not to small.

Jacinto
Guest
Jacinto

For a property going up in point price, is it possible to lock in with a points reservation today and then substitute a night later on with a newly acquired free night certificate?

PoorChurner
Guest
PoorChurner

Those San Diego Westins have “destination fee charges”

JB SanDiego
Guest
JB SanDiego

There is no good news. Devaluation is not good news.

More importantly, with devaluation unabated, if you book an award now for future stay, there is no guarantee it will stick. This is beyond devaluation when they don’t honor your booking and charge more at a later date without notice!

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

TL;DR: Dump this program like the hot pile of garbage that it is.
Good effort Greg, but tough to find value that just isn’t there. Unless aspirational properties are the motivation, I think the vast majority would be better off with a 2%+ CB card + saving the AF or using UR or TYP for 1.25c – 1.5c pp. With a $25k Simon Mall trip you could easily net around $400 cb after fees & liquidation. Putting that same spend on a Marriott card would cost >$100 for 50k points, the opportunity cost is ridiculous & the value just isn’t there.

Also, the irony of the Ritz card having a free night cert that can’t be used at any Ritz property is just so Bonvoy.

Nick Reyes
Editor

I’m not going to argue with you that I wouldn’t rather be able to use the Ritz free night cert at any Ritz in the world, but you can’t use the annual Hyatt free night cert that comes with their credit card at any Hyatt property in the world nor can you use the IHG annual free night cert at any IHG property in the world. I don’t think that specific limitation is particularly specific to Marriott Bonvoy.

Sam
Guest
Sam

I guess the difference between the Ritz and Hyatt/IHG comparisons you propose is that at this point Ritz is just another brand in the Marriott portfolio. It would be akin to IHG having an Intercontinental card that offers a free night that can’t be used at any Intercontinentals but could be used at a Holiday Inn.

Nick Reyes
Editor

Fair point. I see what you’re saying there. I feel like it’s a little different because I view the Ritz card as a Marriott card since Ritz stopped being its own thing long ago and nobody else has cards for separate brands under their portfolio (i.e. a Park Hyatt CC and a Crowne Plaza CC, etc). I’m sure that’s part of the reason they got rid of it. I’m just glad they added an annual free night to it rather than eliminating the card or continuing to let people keep it with no free night cert. Truth be told, I’m not really interested in staying at a Ritz anyway since I won’t get free breakfast or lounge access, so I’m glad to have a cert that works elsewhere.

Parts Unknown
Guest
Parts Unknown

Nick, what I meant was that as far as I can tell, all Ritz Carlton hotels are now >50k points. The FNC from a Ritz card can’t be used at a Ritz. Maybe there’s one I’ve missed in there somewhere?

Cindy Davis
Guest
Cindy Davis

Can you provide a list of Category 1 outside the USA please?

Mav Gal Mama
Guest
Mav Gal Mama

(I used Google Sheets) If you open the spreadsheet Greg provided,{Hat Tip: Thanks to Gary at View from the Wing for providing a downloadable spreadsheet of hotel changes (here)} and use the DATA header to filter a sort. You can sort the data when its filtered.

Mav Gal Mama
Guest
Mav Gal Mama

Looking for Loyalty positives in the wake of the most recent Bonvoy Butchery {ie-devalued redemptions, vacant or lack luster promotions, point rate changes in the middle of the night, and the gutting of RewadingEvent nights, have made it harder to get excited about the program. I appreciate your ability to try to find the “silver” (Gold/Platinum/Titanium) linings. You guys have found epic sweet spots when working within the confines of self imposed limitations in your travel challenges before, maybe this too will inspire innovation?
In looking for a positive, its not a big change, but I did notice that the UK now has a Cat 1 (@ the Aberdeen Airport.) For those Point/Mile/Elite chasers across the pond, who already did not benefit from extraordinary credit card bonuses, a chance to redeem @ 5k, even a slim one, on home turf, that could be a positive. Hailing from Northern New England myself, those “local” opportunities have all dried up around here. Houston however, does not appear to have that problem.

Joseph N.
Guest
Joseph N.

Just a little heads up. There is another level of free night certificate. Members staying 75 nights can choose a free night cert good for up to 40,000 points.

Nice job trying to find a silver lining, but it did not take this latest deval to show me Marriott was no longer competitive. The two 2018 devals showed me it was time to head for the exits.

wise2u
Guest
wise2u

LOL, this post is like ” After being raped by Bonvoy for the umpteenth time, at least I didn’t get a STD” there is no upside for the way they have treated loyal customers since the merger….Personally after being lied to by lurkers, csr’s, and company execs I loaded up on travel packages and pulled the plug a long while ago….I am just trying to give away or use my remaining certs so I can totally ignore this crappy excuse for a hotel company.

Dave
Guest
Dave

I am lifetime titanium with Marriott, but with the continued devaluations I’m starting to reconsider my Marriott stays. In particular I’m debating whether or not my Ritz Carlton card is worth keeping. My last couple stays at the Ritz Carlton Santa Barbara were pretty disappointing. Greg or Nick do either of you have an opinion on keeping the Ritz Carlton credit card?