Hotels

Marriott announces new hotel award categories and they’re awesome

Amazing opportunity to redeem Starwood's top tier properties at 20,000 SPG points till the end of the year.

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest will be merging into a unified loyalty program in August 2018. So far, we know how points will be converted (1 Marriott Rewards Point= 1 point in new program, 1 SPG point= 3 points in new program) and how elite status will be mapped in the new program.

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What everyone’s been waiting for with bated breath is which hotels will go into what categories. We already know the categories: 

And now we know the hotels too. And it’s amazing.

Click here to see how every single Marriott + Starwood property will be classified come August 2018.

My first impressions are that I’m over the moon because my prediction came true: Starwood’s hitherto affordable Category 7 hotels such as the St Regis Maldives, W Maldives, W Koh Samui, and many more will see a drop in price from 270,000 points (90,000 SPG points *3 in the new program) to 60,000 points if booked before the end of 2018.

In early 2019, the new Category 8 will be introduced, after which these properties will cost 85,000 points (70,000 in low season, 100,000 in high season), which is still much lower than they would be under the existing Starwood regime.

This means that Starwood’s current points sale has taken all the more urgency. I’ve already maxed out my purchase for this year, but I’m thinking of getting The Milelioness in on this as well, because buying points at 2.275 US cents each and burning 20,000 of them per night (remember, SPG points get multiplied by 3 in the new program) at the St Regis Maldives is like buying a room for US$455 a night (or US$364 if you redeem 5 nights with the 5th night free)

Click here to buy SPG Points at a 35% discount

Given that the rooms normally retail upwards of US$3,500, well…let’s just say we won’t see this anytime again soon.


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I’m going to give you the pleasure of exploring the list yourself, but I wanted to point out a few things…

Bangkok

Image result for four points bangkok
Four Points Bangkok

My favourite haunt, the Aloft Bangkok, increases in price to 17,500 points (for the purposes of these sections, think of everything in terms of points in the new program. We’ve got to get used to it sooner or later), but the good news is that the Four Points Bangkok (which is really near the Aloft) moves down to compensate at 12,500 points.

In fact, the Courtyard by Marriott Bangkok and Le Meridien Suvarnabhumi (near the airport) all drop to 12,500 points a night, with the Bangkok Marriott Sukhumvit dropping to 17,500 points. Bangkok is already a pretty cheap market for good quality hotels, but it means those of us who have points will see them go further now.

Tokyo

Image result for ritz carlton tokyo
Ritz Carlton Tokyo

The Ritz Carlton is supposed to be one of the finest hotels in all of Tokyo, if not the world. Their concierge can pull ridiculous strings to get you into booked out restaurants. You’re going to get the classic Ritz Carlton attention to detail combined with the over the top service culture in Japan. And it’s going to cost you 60,000 points till the end of the year, down from the usual 70,000.

Image result for The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho
The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho

An even bigger deal is The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, which is normally 90,000 points but will be priced at 60,000 till year end.

We’re seeing small drops in some of the other properties in Tokyo, such as the Courtyard Tokyo Station dropping to 35,000 points and The Westin Tokyo and Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel both dropping to 50,000. On the flip side, it appears that the Marriott properties will increase in price.

Maldives

Image result for w maldives

I’ve said enough about the St Regis Maldives, but what about the W Maldives? That property drops to 60,000 points too till the end of 2018. The word is that the W Maldives has a gorgeous house reef and the beach is in much better condition than the St Regis (because the St Regis dredged their beach and left a lot of pokey coral bits behind), so I’m going to be hard pressed to choose between these two for my upcoming honeymoon. Ah, first world problems…

New York City

Image result for ac hotel new york downtown
AC Hotel New York Downtown
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Starwood’s cheapest options in Manhattan used to start at 36,000 points, but with the new award chart it’s possible to get a room for 25,000 points. The AC Hotel New York Downtown won’t be winning any “best of” prizes anytime soon, but at those prices I’m not going to argue.

Also at 25,000 points now and in Manhattan- Courtyard New York Downtown, Fairfield Inn and Suites New York Downtown, New York Manhattan Downtown East, New York Manhattan Financial District, Four Points New York Downtown (sensing a trend here?), Residence Inn New York Downtown Manhattan. I get that Downtown may not be the most prime of places to stay, but if you want to do all the touristy stuff you’re still near the WTC Memorial and it’s always better to be on Manhattan than off it.

Image result for st regis new york
St Regis New York City

On the aspirational end, the 11 Howard, Chatwal, Ritz Carlton New York and  St Regis New York will all be available for 60,000 points till the end of the year.

Singapore

Image result for wanderlust hotel singapore
Wanderlust Hotel

Closer to home, those of you who fancy a staycation might like to know that Singapore will have two potions available at 25,000 points a night- the Wanderlust and the Four Points. The Four Points is a bit of a dive, but the Wanderlust looks nice, at least in the publicity photos.

Image result for w sentosa
W Sentosa

The Westin and W Sentosa also see decreases to 50,000 points, but unfortunately the JW Marriott South Beach increases to 50,000 points.

Conclusion

The important question: will space be available? That’s a tough one. Starwood’s policy has always been that “if there’s a standard room available for purchase, said room will also be available for redemption”. That policy will carry over to the new unified program. The problem is that some hotels like to play games with this rule- they’ll designate a very small number of rooms as standard, and when those are gone they’ll insist you spend additional points for “upgraded” rooms, which could just be standard rooms on higher floors or with a coffee machine. It’s disgusting, but it happens. Let’s hope Marriott takes action against errant properties.

The second problem is the Americans. Yes, you Americans, you with tons of SPG points from easy credit card bonuses and MS. Many points-rich SPG members will already have made pre-emptive bookings of Category 7 SPG properties with the objective of recovering the excess points through a price adjustment once August comes round.

On Flyertalk there are stories of some people making multiple speculative bookings, just because they can. I have no doubt this will present a problem to the rest of us, but we’ll just have to cross our fingers and hope for the best. I want to book either the W or the St Regis Maldives, but with ~250,000 SPG points right now can’t do the “book 5 nights at 360,000 SPG points and wait for the refund” strategy.

I’m barely skimming the surface here- there is a lot to read and analyze and I’m sure you’re already pulling up your favorite cities to see how you can score some cheap stays by purchasing points.

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Jon Lee
Member

he/she wins with the fastest fingers and points in the pocket

Jason
Guest
Jason

Hi Aaron,

Shouldn’t the point costs 2.2275 US cent each after the 35% discount? With the cap of 30,000 points purchased per year, we can only redeem for 1-2 nights even with the drop in points?

VK
Guest
VK

I feel that they will reduce award availability (as you mentioned) by messing about with the ‘standard rooms’. Just like how I expect Iberia to mess around with awards give the huge attention they will get once the 90k avios hit everyone’s accounts. talking about huge amounts of SPG – tell me about it. Here in the UK we have 1 card that gives a 10k bonus on spend of £1000. hahaha. hilarious. but I guess something is better than nothing. I am waiting for Marriott to announce what they will do with the current travel packages that have been… Read more »

Deb
Guest
Deb

Hey MileLion! Just because you’ve maxed out your limit doesn’t mean you can stop gifting. Apparently there is no limit on how many points you can buy as a gift (for MileLioness perhaps?)

EB
Guest
EB

E.Blackadder
Correct me if i’m wrong but i thought an account can only receive 30K pts a year whether self bought or gifted? The only exception is family transfer. I want so much to be wrong cos the 30K limit is really er.. limiting.

freedom
Guest
freedom

As Long as two member share the same address, it is free to transfer between them.

I have done it for my wife and my mother. Bought 90k starpoints. It takes a week to transfer.

Baguette
Guest
Baguette

However, there is a limit to how many points you can buy as a gift at any one time right? In which case is 30k SPG points.

freedom
Guest
freedom

You can gift as many people as you like

freedom
Guest
freedom

Eying W Koh Samui for 60K points. Wonder whether the resort has any standard room for redemption.

Christian
Guest
Christian

I purchased a Marriott level 6 air & hotel package recently. Will that be valid for level 6 hotels in the new program?

sheryl
Guest
sheryl

hey aaron, thanks for the insightful article.

to enjoy the reduced redemption costs, can we only make the redemption after august?

thank you!

Gary
Guest
Gary

Noob question: can we confirm if we get 4mpd if we buy spg points using Citibank Rewards card? The t&c are worded ambiguously. It sounds like 4 mpd only apply to online purchases of clothes n shoes

freedom
Guest
freedom

Just noticed that Marriott travel package is going to be devalued so much.

Booked myself a package to get 120K Alaska miles.

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[…] all the hubbub about the upcoming Marriott category changes, I’ve been getting a lot of questions from people about whether they should be buying SPG […]

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[…] I don’t buy points speculatively, but given what we know about the new Marriott award categories, I couldn’t resist pulling the trigger for myself and The Milelioness for 60,000 SPG points […]