Marriott Changed Award Categories At 15 Hotels That Weren’t In Its Published Announcement

A reader asked me about two hotels that recently changed Marriott award categories – and thus the number of points they cost when redeeming for a free night – that didn’t appear on Marriott’s list of hotels going up or down in cost for 2021 which went into effect March 3, 2021.

It turns out that the two hotels I asked about – the Moxy Chelsea and the Sheraton Puerto Vallarta – changed leading up to the publication of the list of 201 hotels changing category, and that’s why they weren’t on it. However 15 properties that were not on the list did change categories for 2021.

They went up some time between the list’s publication and now, with 11 of the 15 going up in category (charging more points for hotels despite the pandemic’s historic blow to travel) and 4 hotels going down in category. Marriott spokesperson John Wolf offers, “Adjustments are made based on significant changes to business conditions.”

Here’s the list of changes:

Hotel Property Old Category New Category Change
The St. Regis Dubai, The Palm 8 7 Down
Moxy Slough 5 4 Down
Residence Inn Slough 5 4 Down
The Tuxon Hotel, Tucson 5 4 Down
The MC Hotel, Autograph Collection 4 5 Up
The St. Regis Changsha 4 5 Up
Schloss Lieser, Autograph Collection 4 5 Up
Renaissance Milwaukee West Hotel 3 4 Up
Fairfield Inn & Suites Oakhurst Yosemite 3 4 Up
Element Spring Valley 2 3 Up
SpringHill Suites Winchester 1 2 Up
Delta Hotels Kunming 1 2 Up
Four Points by Sheraton Houston Energy Corridor 1 2 Up
SpringHill Suites Houston I-10 West/Energy Corridor 1 2 Up
Residence Inn Houston I-10 West/Park Row 1 2 Up

The hotels going down in category are clustered at the top end, with four hotels in categories 5 and above going down a notch. Meanwhile the hotels going up were clustered at the lower end (all started out as category 4 or below).

Interesting, 3 of the 14 changes (and all increases) were in Houston. Two hotels go from category 4 to 5, meaning that during peak redemption periods co-brand cardmembers cannot use annual ‘up to 35,000 point’ free night certificates.

The only hotel here that I’m directly concerned with is St. Regis Dubai, and that’s going down, although some will be disappointed to see the increase at Schloss Lieser, But remember that if you’re disappointed, late Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said that was just noise around the edges.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Love all the whiners – overall Marriott has the best collection of hotels and diversity among brands.

    People talk about Hyatt but their footprint is tiny compared to Marriott. Also, as a lifetime Titanium member, I have no problem getting recognition, upgrades and other benefits.

    Not sure why everyone is so down on them. Would you prefer a Hyatt program that has much smaller footprint. Give me Marriott and Hilton (Diamond elite at Hilton) for the availability of hotels, 5th night free (retired so can travel when/where I want) and overall service.

    Kicking Marriott is really getting old. NONE of the programs are in it for you people and they all devalue their programs. The sooner you get over yourselves the better.

  2. @ AC — Why Hyatt? Because they meet/exceed expectations, whereas Marriott does not deliver on basic promises made to elite members.

  3. Don’t know what list you’re looking at, but Schloss Lieser went straight from 3 to 5 in the regular category change back in March.

  4. If you’re really worried about an incremental change to a random hotel in… HOUSTON, then you need to expand your scope of where you enjoy traveling. Also, If you’re going to Houston, it’s mainly for work, so you aren’t paying so what do you care.

    Separately, people keep bashing the Bonvoy program but yet to even make a flicker of a comment about Hilton. If you want the absolute best experience everywhere you go, it costs money. stop expecting free perks.

  5. @ steve — I only expect free perks when they are promised to me in exchange for money. Therefore, they are NOT FREE. I will not do business with a company that refuses to honor its GUARANTEED elite perks. Last time I checked, earing elite status wasn’t free. If Marriott cannot honor their current elite benefits, then they should reduce the benefits so that they can. Why is it so hard for people to recognize bait and switch tactics?

  6. @AC – as noted upthread, Marriott “guarantees” aren’t worth a damn, recognition stinks, SNAs don’t work in the US, benefits are weak…other than that it’s just peachy.

    LTT myself but smartly ditched them 2 years ago and am loving life at Hyatt these days. Oh it’s the same size as Starwood prior to the “merger” too – works just fine for most of us who don’t need thousands of limited service properties in Small Town USA.

  7. not to mention the 35k free night certificates are worthless. most nights are at peak redemption rates.

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