I’m seeing a ton of coverage of Marriott’s new award chart lauding the top points price of the most expensive hotels. For instance, Dan’s Deals: wrote AMAZING! Marriott’s New Award Chart Is A Dream Come True For Aspirational Hotels. This is indeed good news, but it needs to be tempered.
Starwood used to charge double points for its most expensive properties. That is, they’d assign category 7 prices (30,000 points per night but 35,000 points in high season). Then their super luxe hotels would be considered not to have any standard rooms and those would cost double, e.g. Al Maha Desert Resort is all suites, with private pools, including meals and two daily activities so it costs 60,000 points per night.
Al Maha Desert Resort
Then some hotels cost even more than that. For instance I booked the St. Regis Maldives at 90,000 points per night.
While it’s true these hotels are often expensive, and don’t always have what you would consider a basic room, it’s precisely the special nature of the accommodations that drove the room price in the first place making it category 7.
For example the W Koh Samui in Thailand is a category 7 double points hotel, 60,000 Starpoints per night, but regularly sells for less than $600 per night. A redemption at that price is simply silly.
Marriott is fixing this, it’s true. All hotels are on the regular award chart. Starting in August the highest points price is 60,000 points per night, equivalent to 20,000 Starpoints. Next year that will go up to 85,000 points going up to 100,000 points in high season. That’s like 33,333 Starpoints. It still seems like an amazing value.
And it is. Except you won’t have access to as many rooms for redemption as you do today. And they may not always be as premium rooms either. As I wrote this morning, because I specifically asked and I spoke with Marriott executives around the world about this,
[Standard rooms] may be defined more narrowly in the new Marriott program [for these hotels].
That means more limited award inventory than before at some top properties. While pricing is much cheaper, it may be a race to get bookings at some of these hotels.
And the rooms you’ll get may be less premium than before, e.g. a beach villa rather than an overwater villa at some hotels.
As I was told, think ‘beach villa’ instead of ‘overwater villa’ as an example of the room type that would be considered for award redemption in the new program.
That said, this won’t always be the case. Nearly all the rooms at Al Maha are the same, you’ll be able to get a suite with private pool for 60,000 Marriott points come August. I’ll be interested to see whether award redemptions still come with meals and activities there.
Meanwhile the old better room types should still be available at various properties as well — they’ll just cost more than the base points price listed on the chart.