As a reader of PointsNerd, you are probably well aware of our love and activity within the Marriott Rewards Program. If you’ve been keeping up to date with what’s happening, you’ll know that as of August 18th, the SPG program will cease to exist in its entirety and be replaced with a new Marriott Rewards Program.
Well, over the weekend, a Marriott Insider posted the new Terms and Conditions of the new Marriott Rewards program and we here at PointsNerd have read through the tedium of the legalese to distill down some of the more interesting points.
If you are so inclined to read the Terms and Conditions yourself, you can find a copy here.
No Free Reservations Holds at Old SPG Properties
One of the best benefits of the Marriott program is the ability to hold reservations without points in your account, something that Jayce covered in depth in a previous post. We were all expecting that once SPG properties became amalgamated with Marriott, you would be able to make speculative bookings but, alas, this is not to be.
3.6 Points Advance.
Members who seek to make an Award Redemption with an insufficient Point balance may make the Award Redemption and either (1) purchase Points (as described in Section 2.9) to make a valid Award Redemption, provided that the aggregate amount of Points purchased and/or received as a gift by the Member is less than or equivalent to 50,000 Points per calendar year; or (2) the Member accrues sufficient Points to use Points for payment of the Award Redemption no less than fourteen (14) days prior to Member’s arrival date.
3.6(a). If a purchase of Points is not an option, or if a Member does not have sufficient Points to pay for an Award Redemption with Points fourteen (14) days or less from Member’s arrival date, Member will forfeit any Award Redemption. The Award Redemption may be canceled by the Loyalty Program or the Participating Property without prior notice. The Member must re-book the reservation at the best available rate for which the Member qualifies.
3.6(b). Points Advance is not currently offered at the Participating Properties or Brands listed here:
- St. Regis
- The Luxury Collection®
- Le Méridien®
- Design HotelsTM
- Tribute Portfolio®
- Four Points
- Aloft® Hotels
- Non-branded properties listed in Section 1.2.a.
This is an obvious letdown with the new program as many of us wanted to make speculative bookings after August 18th. I know that many folks were hoping to book things like the W Maldives but according to the new Terms and Conditions, you will only be able to do so if you have the points in your account.
Use of Suite Night Awards
Suite Night Awards are something new in the Marriott Rewards program that was brought forward from the SPG program. This is a benefit conveyed when you reach the Platinum Elite Level (50-74 nights) and beyond.
While this benefit seems like a great way to guarantee a suite for a family vacation, the execution is pretty bad and if the SPG program is any indication, it’ll be a benefit that doesn’t amount to much with many hotels “not having suites available” during the time you want.
Additionally, you are required to use a Suite Night Award certificate for each night of your stay.
4.3.c. Platinum Elite Membership Benefits. In addition to all of the benefits Gold Elite Members receive, Platinum Elite Members and above are eligible to receive the following benefits:
vi. Annual Choice Benefit. A Platinum Elite Member who has achieved fifty (50) eligible Elite Night Credits annually is eligible to receive one (1) additional benefit from the list of available benefits listed below:
Platinum Elite Annual Choice Benefit Options:
- Five (5) Suite Night Awards
- 40% off bed
- $100 Charity Donation
- The gift of Silver Elite status for a friend or family member
- Five (5) Elite Night Credit
The list of Annual Choice Benefits is subject to change at any time. Once a Platinum Elite Member becomes eligible to receive the Annual Choice Benefit, he/she must choose his/her Annual Choice Benefit by visiting the following sites: for Marriott Rewards, for Starwood Preferred Guest, for The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and selecting one of the Annual Choice Benefits. A selection must be made through one of the above methods and may not be made through a Customer Engagement Center. All Annual Choice Benefit selections are final and may not be changed after they are made. In the event that an eligible Platinum Elite Member fails to select an Annual Choice Benefit by January 14th of the year following the applicable Qualifying Period, the Member will receive five (5) Suite Night Awards™ as his/her Annual Choice Benefit (“Suite Night Awards,” individually “Suite Night Award”).
A. Suite Night Awards may be redeemed for advance confirmable upgrades for select, premium rooms or standard suites on a per room, per night basis, subject to availability and the applicable terms and conditions set forth below for Suite Night Awards:
(1) Suite Night Awards may be used only on Loyalty Program eligible paid stays as well as Free Night Award stays and Cash & Points stays.
(2) A Member may request to use their Suite Night Awards on Loyalty Program websites or by calling a Customer Engagement Center.
(3) Suite Night Awards may only be used for standard suites or other premium rooms as designated by the Participating Property.
(4) Suite Night Award use is based upon availability of the requested suite or premium room. Checking for availability begins five (5) days before arrival. If availability is not confirmed five (5) days before arrival, availability is checked each day before arrival up to 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival. If at that time Suite Night Awards cannot be confirmed, the Suite Night Awards are credited back to the Member’s account.
(5) Suite Night Awards may be used only when there are enough in the Member’s account so that one is applied to every night of the reservation.
(6) One Suite Night Award is required per room per night.
(7) Suite Night Awards are required for each night of the stay including any nights that may be designated “free” such as the fifth night in a Fifth Night Free Award.
(8) Suite Night Awards may not be transferred or given as a gift; however, a Member may use Suite Night Awards for additional rooms on his/her own stay as long as the Member is present for the stay and the other rooms are under the Member’s name.
(9) Members who book separate reservations for consecutive nights that precede or follow a reservation that has confirmed Suite Night Awards will be required to change rooms to the confirmed room type on any night(s) where a Suite Night Award is not used.
(10) If a Participating Property offers multiple room options for the Suite Night Award, once the suite/premium room option(s) is selected, the selection may be changed until 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property the day before arrival so long as the Suite Night Award is unconfirmed. Confirmed Suite Night Awards may be canceled up to 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival only if the entire reservation is canceled.
(11) Suite Night Awards have requesting, booking, cancellation, and modification policies that are in addition to – but completely separate from – the booking, cancellation, and modification policies for the reservations on which they are used.
(a) Requests to use Suite Night Awards on a reservation may be made up to 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival.
(b) Requests to withdraw the use of unconfirmed Suite Night Awards may be made up to 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival.
(c) Confirmed Suite Night Awards may be canceled up to 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival only if the entire reservation is canceled.
(d) Once Suite Night Awards have been confirmed, the Member must cancel the entire reservation to receive credit back for all Suite Night Awards. Cancellation of a confirmed Suite Night Award reservation after 2 p.m. local time of the Participating Property one (1) day prior to arrival will result in the forfeiture of all Suite Night Awards applied to the entire reservation.
(e) Suite Night Awards cannot be applied to a reservation once the reservation has been checked-in to a Participating Property.
(f) If a Member departs his/her reservation early, any unused Suite Night Awards confirmed for the stay will be forfeited.
(g) If a Member extends his/her reservation and has enough Suite Night Awards to cover the extension, the Member may use his/her Suite Night Awards based upon availability and at the Participating Property’s discretion.
(12) Not all Participating Properties participate in Suite Night Awards. Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, Protea Hotels, Aloft, Element, Design HotelsTM, all-Suite Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, ExecuStay, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club properties and participating Vistana properties. In addition, Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at select Participating Properties. Contact a Customer Engagement Center for individual Participating Property Suite Night Award participation.
To me, this “benefit” is not a very strong one given that suites cannot be guaranteed more than 5 days before the stay and each certificate is only good for one night. Also, look at the HUGE list of hotel brands that Suite Night Awards are not applicable at. I personally believe that if Marriott wishes to adopt this benefit, they should take on the same policy as Hyatt whereby each suite upgrade is eligible for use for up to 7 nights.
Breakfast at Resorts
Let’s see if this fully comes to fruition but it looks like breakfast will now be included as a Welcome Gift to Platinum Elite Members and higher for resorts in the US, Canada and Europe.
4.3.c (iii) – Platinum Benefits …
United States, Canada, Europe: 1,000 Points per stay or breakfast in restaurant per day of stay for Member +1
One of the bigger questions around the new program was whether or not Platinum Members and above would have access to things like the Ritz Carlton Lounges. Bad news. The answer is no.
Guaranteed Concierge/Executive/Club/Signature Club Lounge Access for Members plus one guest at JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, and Courtyard (outside the United States and Canada) during normal hours of operations. Additional charges may apply for lounge access guest count greater than the Member plus one allowance (including children). Lounge offers light snacks and daily continental breakfast. Lounge Access is not offered at the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, EDITION, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Design Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Gaylord Hotels, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield, AC Hotels, Aloft, Moxy Hotels, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, and participating Vistana properties. This benefit only applies to the one (1) guest room in which the Platinum Elite Member is staying.
So no lounge access at the Ritz nor at St. Regis properties, Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Design Hotels, Tribute Hotels and Gaylord Hotels. A lot of aspirational properties fall within these brands so it’s obviously disappointing to see such a wide range of exclusions.
They also call out that children are included in the count of guests, which is certainly disappointing for those that have a young family.
While there are a lot of good things about the new program, there are certainly some negatives, most of which I have highlighted in this post. For the most part, I am still pretty happy with the transition and I’m looking forward to what the new Platinum status means for me and my family.
If you happen to read the terms and conditions, I would love to hear about anything I may have missed in my initial review of the terms.