Marriott Rewards Elite Room Upgrades Now “May Include Suites”

For several years the Marriott Rewards program specifically excluded suites from the upgrade benefit offered to elites.

They added the exclusion to avoid confusion, for absence of doubt a suite upgrade was simply not a benefit of the Marriott Rewards program. Some individual hotels might do it from time to time, either because the regular rooms were full and someone had to be upgraded or because of sheer generosity. But no elite was entitled to an upgrade to an empty suite.

Then last month they restricted the upgrade benefit even more, specifying that an upgrade was to “the next room category level” only, “[s]uites are excluded.”

Marriott’s Gold level requires as many room nights as top tier status with Hyatt, Starwood, and Hilton. Marriott’s Platinum status requires a whopping 75 nights. And per the terms and conditions change last month, the best that a Platinum was entitled to was a one room category upgrade.

Today the suite exclusion was removed from the website.

I’ve always found it curious that the upgrade benefit (and lounge access benefit) was the same for Platinums as for Golds. Both the Platinum and Gold upgrade benefit now reads:

So every time you check in, we’ll do our best to upgrade you to a premium room – at no additional charge – for your entire stay. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites, subject to availability identified by each hotel. See terms and conditions for details.

There’s still no confirmed at booking suite upgrade like Hyatt Gold Passport offers to top tier elites.

There’s still no upgrade priority for suites like Starwood Preferred Guest offers its top tier elites who stay 50 nights per year.

Nor is there an upgrade to best available room at check-in like Starwood offers to all its Platinums.

But the exclusion, the promise that suites are simply not a part of the program, is now gone.

What does this mean in practice? We’ll have to see how each hotel implements this. There’s clearly no enforceable benefit, if a standard suite is available at check-in and the hotel doesn’t assign it to a Platinum member they have done nothing wrong under this benefit description. Upgrades “may include” suites, with availability determined by the hotel.

It’s curious that this change was made just a month after the last one, and moves in the opposite direction even. Hotels have been notified. Good luck to all you Marriott Platinums out there!

Sadly, breakfast is still only promised as continental, and not on the weekends in the U.S. and Canada, and not at resorts. So you may still be hungry even if you get that suite. But it’s a start.

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. re: breakfast..

    If you’re getting that suite, you’re probably gold or platinum, which entitles you to lounge access, which equals free breakfast (usually hot, sometimes quite good) as well as free appetizers in the afternoon, dessert in the evening, and a place where you can hang out during the day to work and escape the hotel room. Between my fiance and I, we’re top tier status at Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, and Hyatt – lounge access is where Marriott actually wins.

  2. @Kevin my point about Marriott lounge access benefits is that if a lounge is closed on the weekend, the program does not entitle you to breakfast at all. And you have no entitlement of lounge access or breakfast at resorts. And the benefit that is promised is continental breakfast, as opposed to full breakfast at Hyatt. I don’t think Marriott even comes CLOSE to winning the breakfast benefit…

  3. I have to agree having been Platinum with Marriot R years ago.
    I was shocked years ago after making 75 nights to Plat and the hotel refused me breakfast coupons pointing out the terms I misunderstood.
    Lightning will have a better chance of striking me than the chances I would return to Marriott Rewards again after sipping the offerings of SPG,Gold Passport,Hilton and Royal Ambassdor over the years

    I fact I would stay with Club Carlson and pay for my suite and get a good deal then earn my keep in Marriott Rewards.I would give MR way higher ratings over Sofitels A Club a pitiful program

  4. Let’s not forget that now Courtyards are migrating away from the buffet concept and towards an a la carte *boutique* breakfast model where you pay for a plate of food regardless of your status. This has effectively killed off the Courtyard from my choice of hotels given the added cost of what used to be free…

    Given the poor quality of food at Residence Inns and Springhill Suites (carton eggs, overcooked sausage patties, etc.), I’m more compelled to look at alternative chains, even though they may not be as prevalent as the “captive audience McChain” that Marriott have plastered everywhere.

  5. Elitw status with Marriott is the worst, a real waste of time and money unless your travels specifically force you to be at a Marriott. I bailed and went to Hyatt years ago and have always been satisfied.

  6. Seems almost like a word-for-word copy of Hilton’s changed upgrade benefit language. Completely YMMV with language that promises nothing.

  7. For this who aren’t quite so high up the pecking order, how would you compare Marriott gold vs. Hyatt platinum status? Is one significantly better than the other? I understand the huge difference in qualification requirements, but that aside from that how do they compare?

  8. As a Plat for 75+ real nights, I’m close to checking to see if the grass is greener on the other side.

  9. I have lifetime Plat at Marriott (10 yrs as Plat) due to a business contract.

    I also stay at Hyatt (Hyatt Place, actually) quite often and far prefer it to Courtyard or Springhill.

    When selecting a hotel, I search for both Hyatt and Marriott. If just one night, then proximity wins. If more, then amenities and that usually puts me in Hyatt.

    That said, Marriott Marquis in Times Square almost always gives me a suite if I check in late for one night stay (and check in is in the concierge lounge, not the long line in the lobby) Marriott Cancun gave me the nicest suite I’ve ever stayed in, as a free upgrade on a points stay. Marriott Hong Kong apologized for no suites available (I had one booked on points) and gave me a standard room BUT REFUNDED ALL THE POINTS!

    One benefit I really do appreciate is the 48 hour guaranteed reservation function. I’ve used that for last minute travel and it has been a life saver.

  10. @Lee, makes more sense to compare Marriott silver (10 nights) with Hyatt platinum (15 nights or 5 stays). Marriott gold would need to compare to Hyatt diamond. In both cases Hyatt offers more.

    Hyatt plat gets free internet, for example.

  11. @matt – I’m more interested in doing a comparison between Marriott gold and Hyatt platinum. The qualification requirement difference means nothing to me.

    I’m guaranteed to have both from credit cards every year, regardless of how many nights I spend in their hotel. The JP Morgan Ritz Carlton Visa Signature gives automatic Ritz/Marriott gold, while the Chase United Mileage Plus Club Visa Signature grants Hyatt Platinum.

    I just haven’t had a chance to fully compare both yet and was hoping for some insights before booking my next few trips.

  12. The link with the revised text takes you to the Marriott Australia site. The US site still has the ‘Suites excluded’ text. 🙁

  13. @Lee,
    Then Marriott would come ahead for full service properties where upgrades, club lounge, breakfast come into play.

  14. My too-often business travel games are done. (Thank God!) That said, I often make extended road trips for pleasure, but not enough to maintain maintain most ‘elite’ qualifications. I now pay attention to the facilities offered by 3-star houses or mention former qualification when checking into 4-star houses. Simply being polite, rather than Demanding Benefits often delivers great reqards. Beyond the basics, that good breakfast is often the only perk that interests me. If one shops hotels with care, you’d be surprised at the number of mid-range houses that offer a very good breakfast in a dedicated room, or will comp a breakfast chit in their regular dinning room. Even those that do not advertize it as a ‘benefit.’ In the end, hotels with a bit less kiss-ass, but a decent breakfast end up at the top of my lists.

  15. cook, so you simply ask nicely and recieve?

    This tactic is one I’ve been waiting to try at a jw resort or courtyard

    Do you think they would actually give you breakfast if you didnt assume and were nice about it?

  16. With the BOGO nights gone for about a year, stepping in with *confirmed* suite upgrades for Plats (and non-confirmed for Gold) plus extension of the breakfast benefit to include all situations would be a nice move and would more than make up for it and get the MR program back on track.

  17. @Sean it’s only excluded on the summary page, click through to the details page and you’ll see it, they’re in the midst of making the changes across their websites

  18. I think Hilton blows away Marriott , no charge for card after 20k spend you are upgraded. Free breakfast . And at Embassy Suites you get breakfast and drinks anyway .

    Hyatt I am just starting but you need few points t get a hotel. I have so far stayed at Chicago Hyatt great breakfast , Hyatt Jacksonville Fl nice, Hyatt Cinci great place, Hyatt Deerfield awesome.

    Hard to say any Marriott property impressed me.

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