With Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest and Ritz-Carlton Rewards being merged into one giant hotel loyalty program from August 1, Marriott has finally revealed how many points will be needed to book a room at each hotel under the new scheme.
This includes the shift from a flat rate to demand-driven 'peak' and 'off-peak' redemption rates from 2019.
So what's the upshot?
For many properties, the number of points needed on a normal day will decrease or remain the same.
However, booking a room at those same hotels during busy periods will soon cost you more points, with other properties also increasing the number of points required to book all year round.
Here's what you need to know about booking free hotel nights under Marriott’s forthcoming mega-loyalty program.
Marriott’s new Free Night Award Chart
Back in April, Marriott revealed the basics of its new award chart, including how many points will be needed to book hotels in each category – but Marriott kept secret which hotels would align to each category, until now.
Before we continue though, you’ll need that chart: so, as a reminder, here it is:
For example, as of August 1, a hotel belonging to the new Category 6 would require 50,000 reward points to book a free night.
From early 2019 when new ‘peak’ and ‘off-peak’ rates are also introduced, those same hotels will increase to 60,000 reward points during busy periods and decrease to 40,000 reward points during quieter times, costing 50,000 points on dates in between.
Peak and off-peak dates will vary between hotels based on each property’s commercial demand.
Changes for Marriott Rewards properties
As points in today’s Marriott Rewards scheme will be carried over to the new program at the same face value – for example, 100,000 Marriott Rewards points today equals 100,000 reward points on August 1 – these changes are easiest to understand and compare for hotels that are already on the Marriott side and attached to Marriott Rewards.
Take the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay, for example, which can currently be booked for 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, year-round.
Under the new program, this hotel will belong to Category 5 – which, if you consult the chart above, will require 35,000 reward points for a free night from August. As of early 2019, that’ll become 30,000-40,000 points per night, depending on demand: meaning you can book a night for the same number of points, or fewer, than are needed today.
At some hotels, the new program isn’t as generous: for instance, an overnight stay at the London Marriott Park Lane Hotel currently sets you back 45,000 Marriott Rewards points.
Under the new scheme, this property will belong to Category 7, pushing that figure to 60,000 reward points for a free night as of August 1, and extending to 50,000-70,000 points per night from early 2019 when peak and off-peak rates go live.
In this case, whenever you make your booking under the new scheme – either from August or early 2019 – you’ll need more points than before, so if you’re planning a stay at this hotel, or another where the figures are increasing, you’d be wise to make your bookings before August 1 at the current, more favourable rates.
Changes for Starwood Preferred Guest properties
For hotels that currently belong to the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, the transition will work a little differently, as these properties can’t be booked using today’s Marriott Rewards points, only SPG Starpoints.
Firstly, all current SPG members will have their existing points balance tripled on August 1, when SPG is absorbed into Marriott’s new mega program – so if you have 15,000 Starpoints in your account today, they’ll become 45,000 reward points in the new program as of August 1.
From the same date, free hotel stays will then only be bookable via the new scheme – not through SPG, which is being retired – and because the new scheme requires more points in number than SPG to book a free stay, the ‘triple points’ offer helps to even things out.
Here’s a real-world example: a room at The Westin Sydney can currently be booked for 12,000 Starpoints per night, which is equal to 36,000 reward points under the new scheme.
From August 1, the same room at the same hotel will instead cost 35,000 reward points belonging to the new Category 5, and from early 2019, will cost 30,000-40,000 reward points per night as demand dictates.
This means the value of the Starpoints you’ve earned won’t be ‘gutted’, because you may actually end up spending fewer points to book the same room: although during a hotel’s busy periods, the number of points you’ll need will indeed be a tad higher.
Again, not everyone is a winner here. Guests staying at the W Brisbane, which currently commands 10,000 Starpoints per night (=30,000 reward points), will instead need 35,000 reward points from August 1, and 30,000-40,000 points per night from early next year: meaning you’ll either spend more points for the same room, or the same number of points as before, but not fewer points.
New reward rates for Australian hotels
Now that you understand how these changes will work, here’s how that looks for each participating hotel in Australia, comparing the current number of Marriott points needed per night against the number of reward points needed to book a room at each hotel from August 1.
For hotels currently on the Starwood Preferred Guest side, the numbers in the “current points required” column are three times the current Starwood Preferred Guest rates, owing to the one-off ‘triple points’ conversion taking place on August 1, as detailed earlier.
[Click the table above to expand it.]
The “new points required” column shows only the rates that apply from August 1, but using the number indicated in the “new award category” column, you can take a peek at the chart at the top of this article to see how many points will be needed next year too, during peak and off-peak periods.
Naturally, if you’re planning an upcoming hotel stay and the number of points needed to book it will increase under the new system, get your booking in before August 1 to make use of the current rates – or, if the number of points needed is decreasing, you could hold out until next month to book your stay.
With over 6,500 hotels taking on new categories and points rates, it’s impossible for us to show you them all: so if you’re planning a trip abroad, visit Marriott’s updated website and key in your destination city, region, country or preferred hotel brand, to see what’s changing for you.
How points transfers to the new program from external partners like American Express Membership Rewards remains to be seen.
More on the Marriott + Starwood merger:
- Instant status match: how to link your Marriott, Starwood accounts
- Revealed: Marriott's new mega hotel loyalty program
- Marriott's new program: winners and losers from Marriott Rewards
- Five things you need to know about Marriott’s new loyalty scheme
- Marriott downgrades elite status for SPG Gold members
- Winners and losers from Starwood SPG in Marriott's new program