Marriott Hotels Just Ignore Elite Breakfast Benefits With Impunity

The Sheraton Charlotte airport has a club lounge normally, and that’s where Marriott Platinum members (and higher) would receive breakfast. The lounge is closed. But a reader reports that the hotel explains they aren’t obligated to provide a breakfast choice benefit because they have a club lounge.

The J.W. Marriott in Grand Rapids also has a club lounge that’s closed. They’ve been offering eligible elites a credit that doesn’t cover the least expensive breakfast on the menu.

At the W in Los Angeles they aren’t offering complimentary restaurant breakfast as a choice of benefit. However they will sell this breakfast to Platinums, Titaniums and Ambassador members for $11 plus tax and service charge.

Here’s a couple of interesting data points about Marriott hotel elite breakfast recently posted online,

  • Ambassador member at the Royal Hawaiian reports that breakfast is currently limited for elites… but not for people booking a rate that includes breakfast.

    Elites have access to a separate continental breakfast line that is clearly for elites only, where you can get coffee, assorted fruit, yoplait yogurt, and some pastries. No proteins other than a mini premade egg thing.

    Luckily I was worried about the breakfast situation and booked a virtuoso rate that includes 4th night free and full breakfast. We received coupons that were good for any entree on the menu (with the top price being a ~38 short rib benedict. Note that this is limit 1 entree per person and does not include any side orders.

  • Titanium member at the Laylow, Autograph Collection Waikiki sells breakfast but won’t offer a breakfast benefit, and the value of the points is only around $5 per night. (Compare that to breakfast for two people.)

    While they are serving breakfast and coffee in the coffeeshop (nothing extravagant, but things like egg sandwiches), they will not give Plat / Titanium / AMB any credit towards breakfast. Instead of the previous $15 pp credit, you now just get 1,000 points plus 750 points per night.

    I asked why, if they can *serve breakfast*, they can’t give the credit and the answer was that “It’s a management decision.”

According to a Marriott spokesperson,

Over the past year, hotel occupancy dropped to historic lows and properties had to adapt their operations accordingly such as closing restaurants or concierge lounges, as well as manage local guidance. In these situations, hotels were given the flexibility to offer food and beverage alternatives to members with elite status including a complimentary grab-and-go breakfast, F&B credit, or something comparable based on the brand. We will continue to monitor systemwide performance as occupancy improves in many markets but still remains low in others in determining how long to grant flexibility.

Supposedly “There is a policy in place for now regarding the breakfast benefit based on hotel occupancy” but hotels don’t seem to follow it, and Marriott doesn’t seem to enforce it.

Hotels have struggled in many cases (though are struggling a lot less in domestic leisure markets). The worst way to address those struggles is stick it to a chain’s best customers who are the way out of this mess.

Where local regulations prohibited indoor dining (or outdoor!) hotels have to comply of course. If restaurants are occupancy-restricted a replacement breakfast is reasonable – provide vouchers, but those should cover the cost of paying for breakfast, set up an alternative breakfast pickup at least. 1000 Marriott points are worth less than $7.

If you care about your elite benefits part of selecting a hotel now must include finding out what benefits are actually being honored at a property. And if you have to work so hard to get your benefits, the benefits probably aren’t worth it to begin with, and you shouldn’t be choosing a hotel based on loyalty to a chain.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. Next up: Marriott cs now interpreting 4 pm check-out “guaranty” as purely at the property’s discretion.

  2. Just spent a week at Marriotts and then one night at a Hilton – Titanium Lifetime with Marriott, nothing with Hilton. Got a welcome for being a lifetime at Marriott, but nothing extra – not even a bottle of water, but did get a grab and go cold breakfast (a little frustrated because it was a downgrade at the same properties that used to do much better hot breakfast). Checked into the HIlton, big welcome, gave me some water bottles while I was checking in, free hot (good) breakfast. Check out – more free water bottles for the road and they even taped a granola bar to one. Small things, but huge difference when you think of status at each. I was starting to feel the fool for being so loyal to Marriott all these years.

  3. If anyone bothered to check the Bonvoy full service properly websites, they all have a link for What to Expect which details exactly what food outlets and other amenities are on offer, hours of operation, and what elite benefits are on offer. Anyone who doesn’t bother to check those or call ahead and then complains is wasting everyone else’s time. If we don’t like what they have on offer or don’t find their execution of benefits to be sufficient, we can exercise our own free will and choose to stay elsewhere. There are way too many hotels of all brands and all hotel chains that are barely surviving after a year of depressed revenues and/or barely able to offer normal services due to decreased staffing for Marriott to be able to or even be interested in policing them all. Despite nonsense to the contrary, the same issues exist with plenty of the 400+ full service Hyatt hotels and tons of Hilton, IHG, and Accor hotels as well — none of which have anything close to the What To Expect website links to make it so easy to figure out in advance what is and isn’t on offer. Most people complaining about a lack of proper breakfast benefit are staying at properties where that is clearly described in their What to Expect links — but most whiners want to stay there anyway and not take responsibility for their own inability to read or to pay less and ask for more when other Bonvoy hotels that cost more do offer the breakfast benefit they desire (or other non-Bonvoy hotels too, for that matter). It isn’t quite so difficult as many pretend, but then most always want to play victims.

  4. I don’t know the guy, “Bill,” who supposedly is well-traveled, but find his comments right out of the Marriott/Bad Voy box. A paying guest should not have to scan this internet and that blog to discover what’s to be expected. I have seen this ploy used enough elsewhere with a lot of businesses trying to improve the bottom line. (Case in point: recently ought a new watch for literally more than I used to pay for a car. It’s complex, but the makers refused to offer a freakin’owner’s manual. Stupid. It never works.

    Nothing since the suicidal merger is any better as far as I have experienced. Yes, there are some exceptions, but there are more and more annoying elements that pretty much invalidate the reasons I personally really don’t care to spent time and money seeking out a Marriott branded facility. When I first began to care about hotels, things were different. I was willing to pay a good deal more for the things that Marriott seemed to cherish. Much of that is gone.
    A few examples:
    1. The reservations system is a mess. Has been for month/years now. If they don’t know who I am by now they never will. Still, unless I have the good fortune to know a staff member at the hotel, booking is like play roulette in Vegas. The house always wins.

    2. The loyalty recognition program is shameful, (i.e. who decided that Titanium was more valuable than Platinum and why? Yes, we all knew that the merger of literally hundreds more hotels would screw the system. What’s the point in telling a decades-long, life-time customer that they are “valuable” and then shoving them into a program that has less and less real value?

    3. But, still, seeing a Marriott brand sign no longer means what it used to and I have recently stayed at several of the newly branded dumps that would have had the Marriott brothers roll out of their graves.

    4. Breakfasts: I don’t get it. Last year I literally was refused breakfast service at one of the top Marriott properties because the room was reserved for a “private function.” I bitched and got a pass for the regular restaurant, but that didn’t do it. I read bitches about hotel breakfasts years after year and conclude that there is no solution. At home, I don’t make a “hot breakfast” and frankly don’t care or need one. Why all the fuss? And I like the “grab and go” as long as its not some mess in a bag that I can’t eat on the road anyway.

    5. Hilton as an alternative: Seems that the roller-coaster of hotel management goes up and down every decade or so. New faces with bright ideas of how to screw the Elites seems to be the bottom line. Right now, although I resisted it for years, I may swing back to Hilton just for variety. I won’t live long enough for the next swing.

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