This deserves as much attention and ridicule as possible. Lucky at One Mile at a Time covered the egregious award cancellation rules at the St. Regis Aspen.
- You may forfeit the cost of your stay within 60 days of arrival if you cancel. That much is disclosed, and while it’s a harsh cancellation policy it is not unheard of.
- They will charge you $1000 per night cash for a late cancellation even if you are paying for your room in points. So if you have a major life event that prevents you from staying and you cancel a 5 night stay 45 days before check-in they will hit you with a $5000 charge. THEY DO NOT WARN YOU OF THIS AMOUNT AND YOU DO NOT AGREE TO IT WHEN BOOKING.
- If your flights into Aspen are delayed (this happens a lot) and you do not arrive until the next day they will hold your room, take your points, and CHARGE YOU $1000.
St. Regis Aspen, credit: Marriott
After you book the hotel shares the high forfeiture amount. Lucky shares his from a 5 night stay,
We would also like to bring to your attention that a 60-day cancellation policy is in effect for the dates of your reservation. If changes are required within 60 days of your arrival date, cancellation penalties and additional fees may apply. Due to our remote resort destination we strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance. Please note that a monetary fee will be assessed in the event of a cancelation within 60 days prior to arrival in the amount of $5,000.
And what happens when your flight cancels and you show up the next day or you get sick? Guests are being charged. Even guests who show up, but late. And though my understanding is they’re supposed to at least get their points back that seems not to be happening.
If you arrive on time they get compensated by Marriott for your points redemption. If you arrive late they steal $1000 from you – which is often higher than the prevailing room rate. If the hotel checks you in they’re getting paid by Marriott. And guests report not getting their points back even when they’re charged the $1000 per night (plus tax!) fee.
And that is true even though it is commonplace to reserve the night before when you are arriving early in the morning to ensure a room is available.
Under the terms of the Marriott Bonvoy program a hotel can charge you a cash forfeiture amount when you late cancel a stay (you’re supposed to get your points back).
If a Member fails to cancel a guaranteed Award Redemption Stay reservation within the permitted cancellation period, the Participating Property will charge the applicable cancellation fee to the credit card provided by the Member at the time the reservation was made and the Points that were redeemed will be re-deposited into the Member’s Account.
In contrast under Starwood Preferred Guest members could either forfeit cash or points (at their preference) for late cancellation of an award stay.
For Free Night Awards only, an SPG Member may request a refund of the applicable cancellation fees charged by forfeiting the portion of the Starpoints that he/she had redeemed for the SPG Award necessary to cover the applicable cancellation fees
Just like Marriott doesn’t disclose that some hotels may charge you a deposit of several thousand dollars when you redeem your points, they do not disclose the cash forfeiture amount, they do not disclose the cash forfeiture amount if you late cancel your award stay or your flight cancels and you can’t make it to the hotel on time. And unlike Starwood Preferred Guest, you no longer just lose your points but get billed thousands of dollars.
Please shame the St. Regis Aspen on social media.
Charging an undisclosed $1000 per night on top of room charge (points) as a penalty for late arrival on award stay due to flight cancellations may be the worst hotel policy I have ever heard of. Shame on @StRegisAspen why do you hate your @MarriottBonvoy guests so much? #fraud https://t.co/kqs6zEWYpy
— gary leff (@garyleff) March 15, 2019
Ultimately I blame Marriott. CEO Arne Sorensom explains the new program as being about better economics for hotel owners. $1000 is a lot more than the St. Regis would be compensated by Bonvoy, so there is an incentive to stick it to guests.
I’ve reached out to Marriott to find out why cash forfeiture amounts don’t have to be disclosed during the booking process? I will update if they offer an explanation of how it’s appropriate for a hotel to to charge a guest $1000 for next-morning arrival when their inbound flight cancels as well.