When Marriott launched their new loyalty program last August they came out with new elite levels and benefits. And when they renamed their program ‘Bonvoy’ in February they also renamed the top two published elite levels.
Marriott’s public elite tiers are:
- Silver: 10-24 nights per year, I do not consider this level to offer meaningful benefits.
- Gold: 25-49 nights per year, you get 2 pm late check-out and hopefully avoid the room over the HVAC.
- Platinum: 50-74 nights per year, you get 4 pm late check-out, lounge access, upgrades if available (but not to suites at Ritz-Carltons), and continental breakfast as a choice benefit at properties without lounges (and at resorts). You also get a ‘choice benefit’ which includes the option of 5 suite night awards.
- Titanium: 75-99 nights per year, you get an additional choice benefit such as 5 more suite night awards, and upgrades to suites include Ritz-Carltons.
- Ambassador: 100+ nights and $20,000+ annual spend gets an ‘Ambassador’ assigned to handle all Marriott needs and entitles the member to Your24 24 hour check-in benefit.
Presidential Suite, Sheraton San Diego Marina
As tough a criteria as Ambassador is — 100 nights isn’t enough, and indeed you could spend 250 nights at mid-level properties in Asia without spending enough to qualify — it isn’t actually the top tier in Marriott’s program. That’s because there’s an unpublished level called Cobalt.
Cobalt was previously the name of Ritz-Carlton’s invitation-only status. They’ve also used the name for credit cards in Canada and some lounges. Cobalt status cannot be earned. It is invitation only.
The major unique benefit of Cobalt status is that hotels must provide a local experience.
According to Marriott “The program is for individuals that the Chairman Emeritus of The Ritz-Carlton knows personally” suggesting this is the new name for “Platinum Five Star” which required nomination by Bill Marriott.
This is not status for hotel owners, by the way. Owners are given Titanium (75 night status) not even Ambassador (100 night status) with one difference — Marriott property owners with Titanium status have their benefits apply regardless of rate booked, even third party rates, something Marriott took away from all other members without notice back in September despite assurances to the contrary from Marriott’s Senior Vice President of Loyalty David Flueck.
Update: Here’s the new Cobalt membership card. It appears that legacy Ritz-Carlton Cobalt members have transitioned into the new Marriott Cobalt program, so it’s not actually ‘Chairman’s invitation only’. The Ritz-Carlton program included best-available upgrade as a benefit, and Marriott Cobalt members can generally expect the same thing.