Marriott’s peak and off peak award pricing is now live. This brings Marriott close to being a revenue-based program.
Marriott will be updating peak and off peak dates around once per month. They aren’t setting dates for the year and leaving them alone. That way hotels that are selling out on a given date, where Marriott would have to reimburse a property more for an award, can be moved to peak and require more points.
Here’s the new award chart.
Marriott tells me though that “it may take a few hours to fully update our servers” so there may still be hotels not yet showing peak pricing. And it’s still possible to book awards at those properties as they roll out the changes. I’m not saying to go look for a needle in a haystack, but some glitches and delays in raising prices are likely out there.
When You’re Most Likely to Find Off-Peak Award Prices
The number of points you pay for a room has no bearing on the amount the hotel gets paid for your stay. Peak and off-peak pricing is about controlling Marriott Bonvoy’s costs. It’s (for the most part) not the hotel that’s deciding when you get charged more points. It’s Marriott corporate.
So the way to understand peak and off peak is that you’ll expect peak pricing when hotels are generally going to be full, because Marriott pays a premium to hotels for award guests when a property is fully booked.
There are times of year that hotels are much emptier, or at least the risk of their filling up is low and so Marriott isn’t going to see higher costs from redemptions as a result of occupancy. We can expect they’ll assign off-peak redemption prices to at least some of those dates.
Marriott shared a list of major destinations and dates when “Off-Peak rates will be most widely available” of course each night can have a different award price, and those prices can change monthly.
- Hawaii: October through mid-December (2019) and late September through October (2020) depending on market
- California Wine Country: Mid-November (2019) through April (2020)
- New York: January through February (2020)
- Orlando: beginning in May with the greatest concentration in August and September (2020)
- Washington DC: Late November (2019) through February (2020)
- Capetown: May through August (2020)
- Dubai: May through September (2020)
- European destinations primary November (2019) through March (2020)
- Maldives: May through June and end of August through early October (2020)
- Bora Bora: January through March (2020)
- Bali: November through mid-December (2019), mid-January through March (2020)
- Phuket: May through June (2020)
- Koh Samui: October through mid-December (2019) and September through October (2020)
- Costa Rica: October (2019) and August through October (2020)
- Macau: March through June (2020)
Trust me that many of these are places you don’t want to go to when they’re likely off-peak. I have much enjoyed my time in the U.A.E. but really don’t want to visit Dubai in July. New York is cold in January. The Maldives can be really rainy in May and June. You may luck out, but you may not be able to go out in the water or dive for days.
Hopefully these date ranges aren’t exhaustive, because while DC’s winter months aren’t a good time to visit even if they’re off peak, August too (not listed above) is dead while Congress is in recess and the city built on a swamp is sticky as can be.
Hawaii is often nice even when it’s not a peak travel date, such as when school is in session, but I’m sad to see that we should expect fewer off peak periods there in 2020 than we’ll see this year.
All that said, Bali can be lovely in March and I happen to enjoy the major European capitals more in Winter when they aren’t packed full of American teenagers.
St. Regis Bali
Re-pricing Awards You Already Have Booked
If you have a standard room redemption made at regular price and it’s available at off-peak pricing now, you’ll need to cancel and rebook to get the lower price (and cancellation rules of your reservation apply). Since there’s no published list of peak and off-peak dates, and those dates will change, it’s not a matter of ‘getting an existing reservation re-priced’.
That also means if you book a regular or peak award night you can keep checking in case it shifts downward in price after booking.
Change to How 5th Night Free Prices Work
Instead of receiving “fifth night free” on an award stay, since the price of some reward nights in your booking may vary with peak and off peak, they’re going to give you the least expensive night of your 5 night stay free.
Taking off the average would be more reasonable. This is a cost cutting measure and ensures that you don’t get a ‘windfall’ by timing your stay so that the 5th night is in peak while you pay for off peak nights.
They call this “Stay for 5, Pay for 4” and it replaces “5th Night Free.”
New York Edition
If You Want Classic Award Chart Value, Look to Hyatt
The great thing in the past with award categories (thankfully still offered by Hyatt) is that there was a single redemption price for the year and you could get great value for your points when rates were high. High season pricing limits the ability to do that, limits your upside with the program.
Hilton no longer has this. IHG pulled award charts, too. And Marriott still publishes a chart but with prices that vary monthly.