St. Regis Aspen Hates Marriott Bonvoy Guests: Most Punitive Policy I’ve Ever Seen

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.

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.

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. St Regis.Bal harbor, 50 weeks out, had a zero cancellation policy for a room on points for next February, Presidents weekend. 24 hours after booking there was a 100% cash penalty for the entire length of the stay.

  2. I’ve had to cancel before at a Ritz then used a great tactic. Call up an agent and ask to delay the arrival for a number of weeks so your back within the legal cancellation window. Call back in a week, then cancel. Worked for me a number of times.

  3. I was considering booking two nights there with 60k certs from the Ritz before the devaluation. Now I feel like I dodged a bullet.

  4. Wow, that is a draconian cancellation policy. It’s one thing for a Marriott property to put penalties in place to guard against casual no-shows and last-second cancellations that prevent them from booking other guests/revenue, but when the penalties exceed the cost of the booking, you know they are being punitive.

    I booked 2 upcoming nights (near the end of the year) at St. Regis Deer Valley using points a few weeks ago, and received an e-mail from one of their staff stating their 7-day cancellation policy and penalty. Which is reasonable, IMO. Didn’t receive any info about their policy if flight/check-in is delayed, however (which hopefully won’t be an issue).

  5. How can the legal department at St. Regis think non-disclosure is, well, legal, and gonna fly?

    Also, good point about the forfeiture of $1000- being more than the cost of a room. Just checked some midweek March dates, about 40% less, at $600. And later in the year at $300-$400 range.

  6. (This is tangential, but I appreciate that you gave that hat tip to the source at the very top.)

  7. Another reason to stick with Hyatt?

    When I had a flight cancelled a few weeks ago, I called Hyatt trying to change or do something to the points reservation I had that night that I wouldn’t be able to use. Phone agent said, “how about I just cancel it and give you the points back.” That was about an hour before check in.

    Vote with your dollars, er, points!

  8. Very similar thing happened to me. Ritz Carlton in Maui, booked two nights with points. I received an email 61 days out saying that if I cancelled after the next day, I would be subject to about $2500 charge (for two nights). I called everyone I could including the front desk, emailed, complained, et al, and no love. So, since my in-laws are in their 80’s, I had to cancel. What idiot is going to subject themselves to $1000 or more per night extra charge when they can’t predict everything that may happen in the next 60 days. That was when I decided to use up my Marriott points, and move to another brand. I have 7 Marriott reservations in Southeast Asia so far and they just dropped me from platinum to gold. Guess how much incentive I now have to stay at a Marriott.

  9. I’ve never been a fan of Aspen since I went to Snowmass/Aspen to ski about 20 years ago. A couple of us went to a casual dinner and left a 20% tip. Some owner/manager walked after us as we were leaving asking what was wrong and why we only left a 20% tip. I was somewhat stunned but said 20% is plenty and we left.

    Not sure if that is common in Aspen but ever since I avoid it. And hotels are just getting more greedy by the day with resort fees and other cancelation fees.

  10. I’m booked in January at the St. Regis Deer Valley. They also have a 60 day cancelation policy with an $800/night fee for canceled points bookings. “Thank you for being a Platinum member…”

  11. I stayed at the Aspen St. Regis a couple years ago on SPG points. Had a very nice stay, even got upgraded to a Junior Suite. We arrived a little late (7pm or so) as our flight was diverted to Grand Junction, which is pretty common for ASP. No problem at check-in. Doubt I would stay again with such an extreme cancelation policy.

  12. I had a weather related flight cancellation past the cancellation window, a few months ago. Hilton refunded my points , no problem.

  13. Is this a global policy, or, are properties running their own unique Ts&Cs? No global disclosure policies?
    Since the booking process is through Marriott, they must be aware of non-standard practices.
    No surprise as this seems to go with the free-and-loose policy of just about everything else in the combined program. No auditors? No standards?

    I guess there wasn’t a handout (.pdf) for owners/management companies on Ts&Cs. More fees = more tithings.

  14. When I received my 60 warning from the ritz Carlton, it said that I must disregard any other communication from Marriott as this was the final rule that I needed to be aware of. Some level of contact that I had said that they would listen to an excuse and possible make an exception. For $2500, I am not leaving it up to a CSR in Manila.

  15. I have a Marriott/Bonvoy card because I get a free night each year that I can make worth more than the $95 fee. That’s the extent of our Bonvoy involvement.

    We focus on Hilton (Diamond by Aspire) and Hyatt (Explorist by stays and WOD card spend) beyond that.

    The more I read, here and elsewhere, about Bonvoy, the more I see that this is the right move.


  16. This is very disappointing. In August 2015 we had a wonderful 5 night stay here— on points with SNAs that cleared and we were upgraded to a really nice Suite. We loved the hotel and have been planning another stay there. This changes things.

  17. Beside this being wrong on so many levels (and btw one person says SR Deer Valley has a 7 day cancel and one says 60???) would travel insurance even pay for a charge/night that is 3 or more times the actual room rate?

  18. Dumb question – can you check in via the Marriott app? If you’re “running late” (delayed), can you just check in remotely?

  19. My email confirmation for Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection also has a 60 day cancellation, although in the Bonvoy app, it is showing a 3 day cancellation policy. Just took a screen shot of the app, just in case I need to cancel

  20. I just read all of these responses, what the F*** is wrong with Marriott. I have already begun the change because of being Bonvoyed. Hyatt has welcomed me, I intend long term to show my appreciation to them when I can.

  21. All hotels have the same policy that you’re charged cash if you no-show. It’s baloney. Hilton is nice enough to waive it sometimes but if you look at the policy it is the same. Hotels are basically franchises and do what’s in their best interest, not the best interest of the brand. If Marriott would give them money for no-show award bookings then this would go away, but there were fraud problems in the past with abuse by the hotels (wow 5 last minute check-in’s with points, you owe us Money Marriott) so they changed the policy.

  22. “Dumb question – can you check in via the Marriott app? If you’re “running late” (delayed), can you just check in remotely?”

    Ooh, @Chris may have brought up a great idea. Wondering also if that would work.

  23. Wife and I are in the fourth week of a six week trip, in Kaikoura NZ tonight. We are burning all of my hotel points save Hyatt.. We are booked into the Singapore Andaz with points and cash for the last leg of the trip. Burned the last Marriott points in Melbourne, last Hilton points in Adelaide (made the Fringe).

    Hyatt is the best of the lot with Hilton a close second. Burned the last of the IHG points on the EWR Holiday Inn on the way to our Singapore airlines J seats over here. I may take the Hilton card for the 100 k bonus but am generally done with hotel programs. Using for all the non points bookings. Screw these loyalty programs and their devaluations. yields 10%.. I’ve cashed in twice this trip, gotta love it. Earn and burn.

    Have a week at the Le Meridien isle of pines coming up. Paying for it with actual money so I suspect they will treat me well. Booked thru bye bye bonvoy.

  24. In the simple world of rental property, a tenant that abandons a rental unit is not liable for more than the gross value of the lease. A 1 year lease at $1,000/month =$12,000 maximum payout. Legally, there is no such thing as a “you never took possession of the unit so now you owe us a huge penalty.”
    Also, if the tenant notifies the landlord, the landlord may be responsible for mitigating damages. If by dumb luck a suitable new tenant is found, the landlord can only deduct reasonable fees and costs such as 10% per month and return about 90% per month of the original tenants rent for the months that th he new tenant paid 100% of his rent. Every state is different but charging twice is not equitable.

  25. Another question: if the hotel knows the amount to be forfeited, why not disclose it? Visa, Amex, MC require some degree of transparency by merchants. In the olden days, merchants that took checks would get your DL info and credit card info. Visa said publicly that merchants were wasting their time because they can only use the Visa information at the time of purchase, not to make a bad check good.

  26. Uh, Minneapolis Marriott West also seems to have this policy when using points. Booked for final four. Nightmare, just saw the policy and was within the 60days. Yep, gonna use points and go Hilton. SPG service is dead.

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