This Marriott Resort Imposes A $30 Loyalty Tax On Free Night Redemptions

The J.W. Marriott Los Cabos Resort says they charge guests using points a $30 redemption fee. This fee, or loyalty tax, applies only to free night awards and is not billed to guests paying cash.

All Marriott Bonvoy redemption nights are subject to a service charge of USD 30 per night.

Marriott bills members for hotel resort fees when using free night stays. That’s something that neither Hilton nor Hyatt do. But this is not a resort fee. The hotel doesn’t have one. Here’s the expense breakdown for a paid night at this hotel. No resort fee is listed.

What’s more, the hotel doesn’t even disclose the $30 penalty for Bonvoy redemptions in the rate details for the stay.

Is this the most Marriott Bonvoy thing ever?

Prior to acquiring Starwood, Marriott Rewards wasn’t an especially rich program for elite benefits – but they were known for consistency. Now the biggest problem with Bonvoy, I think, is hotel compliance with the loyalty program. Each hotel seems to do whatever it wants, largely with impunity.

Since this particular tactic doesn’t seem to be consistent with program rules, I imagine it will get fixed. Hotels can pass through resort fees to award guests (what a horrible practice not engaged in by competitors) but cannot charge such a fee only to those redeeming points. But that so many hotels seem to make up their own rules as they go, and imagine they can do so at least until called out publicly, is the very biggest problem faced by Bonvoy I think.

(HT: MilesTalk)

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. The JW Marriott Los Cabos was one of the worst offenders even under legacy Marriott Rewards before the merger in 2018 with SPG and Ritz-Carlton Rewards. They refuse upgrades even when at 25% occupancy and also claim bread and coffee is the breakfast benefit. Too bad because it is a gorgeous property.

  2. Oh helllllll no. I’d tell them to stick it up their a$$. I wouldn’t pay it. No way. All the more reason to keep running from the Bonvoy program.

  3. The problem with Bonvoy is that Marriott finds it inconceivable that treating the loyal customer in a fair manner is beneficial to the company. That’s why they view engaged loyalty members as adversaries rather than long term partners.

  4. Honestly who cares at this point. The hotel industry has clearly committed to going the opposite direction of the airline industry which published all-inclusive pricing years ago (plus, you don’t have to tip air crew).

  5. point them to the T&C that service charges are included and tell them to bill it to Marriott.

    also someone should start a reddit thread (lime the gamestop wall street bets) on these offenders and have people start just posting 1-star reviews about these fees and have them “reconsider”. bombard them with 100+ daily bad reviews is the only way to get their attention.

    also for city locations that have “destination fees”

  6. This has been a horrible combination of programs from the start including (although I hear it was never planned to begin with) the lack of new cards and allowing members to retain their SPG numbers/accounts.
    Outrageous to PUNISH loyalty by charging. Hoping someone fixes this mess (Arne would!) or THEY get punished back with a hefty class action lawsuit they will have to explain to investors!

  7. Didn’t think I needed more reasons to hate Bonvoy, but now I can add this one. Thank You.

  8. Gary I know you haven’t been traveling but it’s gotten incredibly bad out there for Marriott elites. Upgrades impossible at empty hotels. Breakfast non-existent, except if you’re willing to pay. Even 4 pm checkout is difficult to obtain. This program has literally been set on fire in the past year.

  9. I am lifetime Titanium Elite due to my previous years of Starwood loyalty and all I care about is my Hyatt Globalist status. I’ve had nothing but disappointing experiences with Bonvoy since the acquisition. Hyatt goes above and beyond to make me feel like I am more than just a number. I love my MLife (Noir) partnership and Hyatt got me back to ExecPlatinum with American Airlines.

    Marriott couldn’t get me a consistent answer on breakfast and bottles of water.

  10. Resort fees need to be eliminated as well as they can’t be seen by many people booking through third party sites. It is an unfair and deceptive business practice to charge a resort fee instead of incorporating the cost of the amenities into the room rate. If resort fees do continue, they need to be made optional.

  11. I was a Loyal member for 27 years..But am so disgusted with how they are nickel and dimeing us to death…The fees they are adding on is complete greed..

  12. This property has charged this fee for many years, all the way back to the days of Travel Packages. Marriott is unable or unwilling to stop it.

  13. I posted this in the Bonvoy Insider Facebook group, Gary. Marriott commented and said that the property DOES have a uniform $30 a day Resort fee that is for everyone, both awards and paid. And that they are working with the hotel to correct the language. If this is the case, there is no there, there.

  14. Marriott has zero control over it’s properties (& doesn’t seem to bothered by it)

    And as always they hate their customers

    Bonvoy!

  15. Marriott is unethical and disgusting. They really screwed up when they passed on Amy Schwartz for David Phlegm.

  16. @Stuart – Marriott told me that as well but it isn’t true, or at least it is a case of resort fee fraud because this isn’t disclosed on their website.

    The hotel adds a service charge that’s 10% of the room rate on paid rates. That’s often less than $30 (as in the example screenshotted in the post). But elsewhere fees that are a percentage of the room rate are included with award redemptions.

    The statement Marriott offered appears to be incorrect. They gave it to me as well and I haven’t shared it yet because I am waiting for them to go back and do additional homework.

  17. As someone else said, this is a gorgeous property. I think it is one of the nicest Marriott properties in mainland North America. Maybe only rivaled by the Westin Los Cabos, although that is mostly timeshares and condos and not really a hotel proper. I stayed here in August 2017. They charged us $219 per night with several taxes and a fee that was called a service fee. The service fee was 10%. We disputed this because it was never disclosed at the time of booking. I was platinum premier at the time in the old Marriott Rewards program. They refused to upgrade me even though all of their suites were showing as available for booking. The property was completely empty. If there were 25 guests by the pool each day that was a lot of guests. I imagine it’s as empty or emptier now. Best of all, we were there as part of a corporate junket. I was the meeting planner. We had 15 rooms. So most of the 25 people were our people. Our contract required them to upgrade me and the three other platinums or platinum premiers to the best available suite at the time of check-in. They flat out violated the contract. I had to call Marriott’s Latin America-Caribbean meeting and events sales manager, who pitched us on doing the event there, to get the property to comply with the contract and upgrade. It also took almost two months to get the points. Needless to say, neither Marriott nor the JW Marriott Los Cabos has ever pitched us on returning to the property despite us doing a good dozen events per year before COVID. I think this is a classic case of (a) really bad management, (b) a property that doesn’t care about returning guests or elite status guests, and (c) a property or an owner that knows they are in Mexico and can basically screw foreigners because none of us are going to sue them in a Mexican court.

  18. I made a typo. The comment by NT is me, FNT Delta Diamond.

    Yes, Marriott and Marriott Bonvoy are horrible. But you know what? Hyatt is horrible too. Hyatt owns and manages a property — the one in Hawaii — that is notorious for cheating elites out of award redemptions by playing games with room categories. Hyatt is only marginally better than Marriott, IHG or Hilton because (a) Hyatt’s footprint is, at least until recently, much smaller and (b) again, until recently, Hyatt managed the majority of its hotels worldwide. I don’t know if that will continue to be the case given all the acquisitions of late.

    By contrast, Marriott does not manage the majority of its hotels. These days, Marriott pretty much only manages a couple of high-end brands like Ritz-Carlton, Edition and JW Marriott and even then generally only internationally. Increasingly even Ritz-Carlton franchisees are being allowed to manage their own property or hire a third-party management company, like YTL in Malaysia. You can’t ensure compliance with this kind of model. Especially when the hotel development and hotel management divisions of Marriott International actively find ways to undercut the loyalty division; like cheating guests out of a breakfast benefit by actively encouraging properties, both Marriott-managed properties and franchisee/third-party-managed properties, to only provide bread and coffee for breakfast.

    If it were up to me I would be a free agent but my principal is a Marriott addict. Between us we have probably 5 million Marriott points banked. At this point we’re too invested to go to greener pastures. So when I plan our corporate junkets I don’t even deal with Marriott International anymore. The corporate sales folks are useless, especially when so many properties aren’t managed by Marriott corporate. Most of the time corporate sales just refers you to the property sales team, which means they do nothing but collect a commission for referral.

    It took a couple years but we finally found properties that knew what my principal and the folks who attend the corporate junket want in exchange for $20,000 to $30,000 of business over 3 nights. Triple points, guaranteed suite upgrades, complimentary full breakfast, drink chits, and group rate good three night before and three nights after. You should see the rider I put onto the contract.

    Before COVID, we were doing a dozen events a year worth as much as $360,000. The year before I took over planning the principal did six events at the Ritz-Carlton San Juan and four events at the Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas. Neither property EVER upgraded him to a suite. Neither property EVER tossed in club lounge access. We stopped going to those properties when I took over.

    As bad as this JW Marriott Los Cabos is and was, right now is a great time to be a meeting and event planner for small groups because properties are desperate for this kind of guaranteed revenue. Especially if you’re a small group or a group without a lot of banqueting demands. My usual 15 attendees would rather eat in the restaurant at the hotel every night than do a banquet or worry about leaving the property and finding an off-property restaurant that wants to deal with 15 people (plus spouses) taking up table space for a couple hours. I’m putting out an RFP this week to a dozen different properties and will be asking for FIVE TIMES POINTS as opposed to my usual triple points. I’m sure I will get a taker.

    By the way, I would say my principal has spent somewhere between $1.2 million and $1.8 million on these junkets in the last four or five years. That’s not an insignificant sum of money. Never once have we been taken out to dinner by Marriott International’s sales team. Nothing. Not even a “thanks for doing business.” So, yes, while we continue doing business with Marriott it’s with individual properties and not corporate itself. If the Marriotts still ran Marriott I suspect Mr. Marriott would have flown out to see my principal by now.

  19. I became Titanium Elite for life in the merger. Since getting that, I have not stayed one single night, and have no plans to until a whole lot of things change with this terrible program. Hilton Diamond has been lovely, as has Airbnb.

    These people seem to think there’s no competition out there. Oh well.

  20. One of the problems with Marriott, they have no interest in making the hotels play by the rules.

    I’m current Titanium and LT Platinum. Reported violations of several Marriott rules by a hotel and requested compensation according to written Marriott rules. Case have been dragging for a few weeks now, closed without notification and re-opened 3 times. Just about to call Marriott again to see what the status is but the way they’re treating it is they’re clearly waiting for me to give up.

  21. Just experienced this at the Aloft in Raleigh (Hillsborough St). $45 charge on a room that has a nightly rate of less than $200. With tax, this is over 25% fee. Never disclosed in the booking or at check in or check out. Daughter heading there for school for 4 years and unfortunately they’ve lost out on numerous stays from me and my family. Now looking for other hotels in the area and rethinking the Bonvoy program altogether, even as a lifetime gold member.

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