Why Marriott Suite Night Awards Don’t Clear

Marriott offers Platinum elites and higher upgrades to suites if they’re available for the member’s full stay at the time of check-in. There are a lot of Platinum members, and at peak periods those suites can be tough to come by. It can also be challenging to get an individual hotel to actually honor the benefit.

So they also have a process, pioneered by Starwood, that takes the upgrade lottery out of the hands of the individual hotel and lets members specify when they want priority for their upgrades. That’s the Suite Night Award.

  • Members request the upgrade, to specific room types identified by the hotel
  • Starting 5 days before check-in Marriott will start searching for availability
  • They’ll keep trying to confirm the upgrade up until a day before check-in

W Doha Suite

Suite Night Awards Are a ‘Choice Benefit’ For Elites

Marriott Bonvoy members who stay 50 nights in a year can select from several benefits, including 5 “Suite Night Awards.” Other choices include gifting silver status (which is next to worthless), 40% off buying a mattress, a $100 charitable donation, and 5 elite nights towards status.

At 75 nights members can choose another benefit, including again 5 Suite Night Awards, 40% off a mattress, a $100 charitable donation, 5 elite nights towards status, or a free night (worth up to 40,000 points) or gifting gold status (2 p.m. late checkout and hopefully avoiding the room over the HVAC).

Suite at Las Alcobas, Mexico City

Suite Night Awards Are Upgrade ‘Priority’ (Not Confirmed Upgrades)

This isn’t the same thing as Hyatt offering top tier elite members ‘confirmed’ upgrades when they make their reservation. Don’t think of these as confirmed upgrades, even though they may be processed up to 5 days in advance. Think of them as a member having a limited number of nights where they can raise their hand and say they’d like to jump to the front of the queue for elite upgrades.

Different members value upgrades differently on each stay. It’s a shame to give the upgrade to a member who doesn’t care much one way or the other, while denying it to one who would especially value it.

Sometimes members want that suite when on vacation with their family, but don’t care at all when staying solo. Or maybe the suite only matters to them on longer stays, while a hotel might tend to give space available upgrades at check-in to guests on short one- or two-night stays.

Westin Stonebriar Chairman’s Suite Has 8 Rooms

Suite Night Awards Attempt to Keep Hotels From Playing Games With Inventory

The Suite Night Award process takes the upgrade out of the hands of the hotel and distributes upgrades centrally, based on Marriott’s own formula. And since they are using a hotel’s own published inventory of what rooms are available for purchase, it’s supposed to solve the gaming of inventory by hotels who don’t otherwise abide by the rules of the program.

Suite Living Room, Sheraton Denver Tech Center

There’s A Lot Of Competition For Suite Night Award Upgrades

When Marriott took over Starwood, and merged members into a new program, Suite Night Awards didn’t always work at all properties. There were technical issues processing these upgrades. Let’s leave those aside, and also Marriott’s inability to process upgrades on prepaid reservations and multi-room reservations.

There are more than enough empty suites through the Marriott chain to satisfy all of the outstanding Suite Night Awards that are out there. However members don’t spread their requests evenly across all hotels, throughout the year.

Everyone wants an upgrade at the Westin Maui over Christmas and New Year’s. Very few members request upgrades at the Sheraton Tucson in July.

Westin Napa Verasa Suite Living Room

Marriott Doesn’t Make All Available Rooms Eligible For Suite Night Awards

Hotels receive very modest compensation when Suite Night Awards are confirmed on nights where the property is nearly sold out. On other nights they do not receive compensation from Marriott for these processed upgrades at all. So it’s important to hotels, and to Marriott, that Suite Night Award upgrades don’t crowd out guests who might pay for an upgraded room.

I was asked recently by a Platinum member why they were denied a Suite Night Award at the San Juan Marriott for a two night stay when the requested room type they listed on their upgrade request was still available for sale.

One Marriott executive I consulted with confirmed for me that there are no capacity controls, no limits on the number of upgrades a hotel might give using Suite Night Awards on a given night. The issue here wasn’t that the allotment of upgrade rooms had already been given out.

Instead, a spokesperson explained to me, “an SNA upgrade is based on current and forecasted availability.” Just because a room is available for sale doesn’t mean a member requesting a Suite Night Award will be upgraded to it if Marriott forecasts that the room will be sold.

A room can be available 24 hours prior to check-in, but Marriott’s systems will still hold back the inventory to possibly sell to someone rather than upgrade the member into that room. Of course if they do not sell the room then it’s available as a potential upgrade at check-in.

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. I’ve lost 10+ suite nights last year and a half despite 125 nights and multiple requests. Never once confirmed. So that’s it for me. I have 6years of status and am abandoning it this year.

  2. Gary their “solution” is to now also offer better view rooms and such (vs actual suites) to make members think they are actually getting value from the SNAs.

    Marriott is the opacity master. Now only a backup program for me. I can’t imagine people actually now pay $20k for terrible Ambassador service.

  3. Bonvoy has been a tremendous disappointment for those longtime SPG status members. Classic example of how to denigrate a brand through a merger.

  4. Just got denied a SNA at Solaz in Cabo, even though until yesterday there was suites available. Going to waste this year, and probably switching to Hyatt for 2020. Very “airline” approach at Marriott.

  5. They said I received a suite, but the room did not match their description of a suite, no separate room, and no couch.When I complained they said, sorry. Don’t believe the hype.

  6. Marriott’s program has gone downhill severely. I shifted 95% of my stays to Hyatt and Hilton at this point.I go to marriott when there just isn’t another choice.

  7. For sure, the benefit needs revision; it would be laughable for Marriott to claim it’s comparable to Hyatt ( duration :28 nights v 10, guaranteed v ‘priority’).
    Some years I’ve had them expire ( even under SPG), but this year I had all 15 clear ( 15 being a one-off in the transition year), including a nice suite at Sheraton Tel Aviv…which had only given premium rooms as the choice. So I’m pleased but suspect early 2020 , NYC and SFO , will be more difficult.

  8. I had my 10 clear this year. The first seven were used in the Marriott in Aruba, for 1 week at a front ocean Junior suite. But it was not easy…even though the suite was available 5 days before, it would not clear. 4days nothing, 3 days nothing and it was available. So I called the hotel only to be bounced between operators…so I found out the “Jw Marriott” office phone number (Mr Marriott himself), and talked to some secretary. 2 hours later my suite cleared. True story.

  9. @Andrew +1. The obvious way to fix this problem is to have Bonvoy automatically upgrade your room into the applicable suite 5 days out, provided the suites show available for sale.

  10. What other program offers a similar reward for members? And is it a better bet? That’s really all I care about at this point- is there a good choice in hotel programs? All things being equal I have a lot of leeway in choosing where my events are held overseas, and usually the major capitals I go to have a choice of Hilton, IHG, Accor, or Marriott. What is my best choice, assuming any status with credit cards is not getting me more than low/mid-tier (gold)?? I like to use my status for upgrades and free breakfasts when traveling for work and for vacation with my family (say Hawaii in Feb or London in May not peak but not low season). I feel that from what I’ve seen online in forums there is zero chance of using these suite upgrades even when its not peak season.

  11. Maybe I’m just lucky but had no problem at all using the 5 suite upgrades I got in 2017 (good through 2018). I’m lifetime Titanium but retired last year so won’t hit the 50 nights a year to get any more but those worked just fine.

    I used one of them for 3 nights at the JW Marriott Hong Kong and got an incredible suite overlooking the harbor and Kowloon. It cleared right at 5 days before I arrived. The others were more modest in just getting a larger room, with a sofa bed, when we were traveling with our daughter but they, also, were honored with no problem.

    Again, maybe I’m lucky but I had them work great at a very high end hotel that was in high demand as well as at 2 different mid grade properties.

    BTW for any other long-term Marriott Rewards members we NEVER got these until the programs were consolidated as they came from the SPG side (which Gary posted in his article). IMHO to complain about something you never got before is pretty petty. Just be glad we got them.

  12. I’ve been able to bump Ambassadors & Titanium’s out of their suite night upgrade awards in the past though I am Titanium now
    So I am convinced that hotels still have the final say in manipulating inventory
    based on my past experiences
    There are some exception hotels where they may work however it’s ultimately elite status illusion after my 1000 nights between SPG & Marriott and getting around not having many standby upgrades in the past and being disappointed when using them typically

  13. “Suite Night Awards attempt to keep hotels from playing games with inventory.” The key word being “attempt.”

    My last Marriott stay is an example. I booked five nights at the Marriott Marquis Bangkok in December. I requested 5 SNAs and for a late night/early morning arrival I requested a 02:00 Your24 check in. Surprise, the Your24 request was granted. The first time that’s happened for a check in at that hour. The SNAs were denied and at check in I was not being upgraded. At check in at 02:00 I overheard a conversation with another guest. The agent who was working at a seperate counter nearby told the guest others in his party should also be able to get suite upgrades when they checked in. I was tired and just wanted a room, but hearing that I asked my clerk why I wasn’t getting a suite. Long story short, a suite was magically produced for the full stay.

    I’m Ambassador for a few more weeks and Lifetime Platinum Premier, er Lifetime Titanium with Bonvoy primarily do to history with SPG. Over the years, I’ve been able to use 10 SNA’s pretty consistently but not necessarily where and when I would have preferred using them. This year I took 5 SNAs with the 50 night choice and the free night award with 75 nights. I figure a free night in the hand is worth more than 5 SNAs in the Marriott bush. Even though I’ll be concentrating on Hyatt this year to raise Explorist to Globalist, I should still be able to use 5 SNAs over the course of a year.

    Even though 60 Hyatt nights will generally cost more than 60 nights in other programs, having reached Lifetime Titanium, Globalist is now the best hotel program tier for me because I will never spend $20,000/year on hotels which is required for Marriott Ambassador. Reaching Globalist provides some upgrades at booking as well as check in, no resort fees! and free night milestone awards.

    SNAs are a game as really nearly all hotel upgrades are. Unlike airline upgrades, there just aren’t enough rules and systems in place around upgrade priority for hotel guests to have any assurance against sheena.

  14. @John
    That hits the nail on the head in respect of my view of the program. I want to be able to arrive at a property and get the best room available , as per the terms and conditions….NOT to have to chat, phone, email, negotiate via Ambassador to secure an upgrade in advance . It’s a PITA…yet, as the advice is circulated that it’s the best way to get an upgrade, and so long as hotels accommodate those requests, everyone is going to end up doing it.
    “Best room available at check in” ( or through pre-allocation vis a hotel’s priority list)….what’s so freakin’ difficult about that?

  15. The SNA process is no longer outside the properties’ control. They can absolutely game it and either deny upgrades improperly or downgrade the guest after the SNA upgrade has been “confirmed.”

    How much did Marriott pay for this puff piece?

  16. I just had this discussion with my wife. Last two year 10 SNAS none cleared. However I tried twice in London during Christmas/New Yrs. They were pretty full. I was at one hotel this week as Titanium with a friend. We did not clear. But the hotel only has 7 suites and most likely were occupied by paying customers. Here is the frustration. SPG gave you 10. Marriott gives you 5. If you are Plat or higher in 2019 and 2020 it would be nice if you could at least roll them over once. At least it would be a show of good faith to have you use them in the following year and the fact was you remained as a top tier customer for them.

  17. SNA’s are yet another example of how pathetic Marriott is. I’m Ambassador level, and have been for several years. SNA’s used to clear at a pretty good clip (guessing 75%) under SPG. Since the takeover by Marriott my SNA’s rarely clear, and every year some expire. When they are denied I go online and often find low-level suites are available. I’ll call my Ambassador but she’s powerless to help me. Once when checking in I even pulled up available basic suites and showed the front desk person they were available. Nope. No soup for you!

    I also find it (sadly) humorous that now you can use SNA’s to downgrade your room. I know this because sometimes when looking at the SNA room choices I’ve noticed that some of the choices are rooms that are not as nice (and definitely less expensive) than the room I already have. How dumb does Marriott think I am? (I mean, besides continuing to give them money).

    The good news that Marriott has ruined all the good will SPG had with me, which frees me to stay all over the place. Tonight I’m at the Joule for example, when in years’ past I would have only considered the W Dallas or Le Meridien Dallas. Marriott loses $300 and I get some variety. That’s a win-win for me!

  18. My problem is not with SNA clearing. It is inability to apply them online in multiple cases and having to call or email

  19. Nice article. I wish there was some.. any.. transparency to this process. No mention of any of this when booking SNA. What is the point of loyalty??

  20. @Ac – there is nothing in high demand in HK at the moment. Thus your likely success.

    Be grateful you now have better benefits due to Marriott ruining SPG.

  21. I would like to second the comment from Kacee – lots of properties taking away confirmed upgrades after emails have been sent and the new room type shows in the app. There is a story there. Dig a little deeper, Gary.

  22. None of my SNA cleared all year after 112 nights until the last 2 I used on my last stay of the year. They were accepted several nights before. When I got to the room it was just a standard room. I called downstairs and they’d said we only have 2 suites. But I was confirmed for one. “We don’t know what you are taking about sir”. At that moment I realized I’m done with Marriott. I cancelled several stays for 2020 and have moved them elsewhere. I’m hoping to stay at as few Marriott properties as possible in 2020 but will need to burn my last 500k of points. Then I will be officially done.

    2019 my ambassador never contacted me. I was $1000 short of spend and decided that there are no real benefits with Marriott after 75 nights. Your 24 is a joke now just like my ambassador. Not an email thanking me for my business or wishing me a happy holidays. I just want to feel like the hotel appreciates my stay since there are a million options. I never feel that anymore with Marriott.

  23. Good article and good explanation of a Sketchy benefit from Marriott Bonvoy. I’m tired of applying for a SNA and receiving “proposal emails” from those hotels or resorts offering paid upgrades instead. Of course, the SNA is always denied, but the emails offering upgrades for the GRIFFIN CLUB in JW Marriott is still available (even offered at check in), also now in Aruba Marriott Resort I have just received two emails about an upgrade to Tradewinds club for USD200 extra a night. I’m not sure if this was bad luck or just the resorts in the beach are not giving the SNA, but both hotels were terribly empty with all suites available to buy in their websites, so I’m wondering if these SNA are actually real or only a myth? Maybe you can use them when travelling to lower category hotels in small towns in the US on non-peak weekdays… but as a solution it would be perfect to do it as CONFIRMED upgrades. That would work much better, just as the airlines, Ambassador get the confirmed upgrades one week before, titanium 5 days, platinum 3 days, etc… but confirmed upgrades, not like this. Like this is useless, I won’t ever choose this “benefit” again. I’m even considering moving to HILTON with those nice Confirmed Upgrades or Hyatt. Thanks for the article!

  24. @Mattias Maggi: tradewings hasnt ever been an option for Aruba Marriott (it is juts a place where you can have food all day). But I have gotten a junior suite on the front of the beach several times. Ask.

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