A few days ago, Marriott announced its annual hotel category changes for 2019. These will take effect for bookings made from 5 March 2019 onwards.
Category 8 pricing is coming for Marriott’s highest tier hotels
The most important takeaway is that about 60 of Marriott’s most luxurious properties will increase from 60,000 to 85,000 points per night when Category 8 pricing comes into effect.
There is some good news, however, in that off-peak and peak pricing will not be introduced just yet (HT to VFTW for confirming this). Peak pricing would have increased the cost of a Category 8 property to 100,000 points per night during certain times of the year, still cheaper than what Starwood used to charge for its highest tier resorts but difficult to swallow all the same.
If you’ve been holding off on booking one of these properties, now would be a good time to do so. It’s been confirmed by VFTW that you can use Points Advance bookings to lock in Category 7 pricing on these hotels, which allows you to make speculative reservations that you can confirm closer to the stay itself. I’ll write more about this in a subsequent post.
In the meantime, here are the hotels which are going up to Category 8. Note that the St Regis Osaka was originally supposed to increase to Category 8, but will now stay at 7. Also note that there are some additional original Category 8 listproperties which weren’t in the which have since been added, such as the Ritz Carlton Dubai and W Hong Kong. I’ve colored these in red at the bottom.
|Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai||United Arab Emirates|
|Blue Palace, a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa, Crete||Greece|
|Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo||Italy|
|Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection||Greece|
|G-Rough, Rome, a Member of Design Hotels||Italy|
|Giardino Ascona, A Member Of Design Hotels||Switzerland|
|Giardino Mountain, a Member of Design Hotels||Switzerland|
|Gramercy Park Hotel, New York, a Member of Design Hotels™||USA|
|Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Italy|
|Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice||Italy|
|Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Italy|
|Hotel President Wilson, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Geneva||Switzerland|
|Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda||Italy|
|Hôtel de Berri, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris||France|
|Kenoa Exclusive Beach Spa & Resort, Barra de Sao Miguel, a Member of Design Hotels||Brazil|
|Le Méridien Bora Bora||French Polynesia|
|Mystique, A Luxury Collection Resort, Santorini||Greece|
|PalazzinaG, Venice, a Member of Design Hotels||Italy|
|Parklane, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Limassol||Cyprus|
|Phoenician Residences, a Luxury Collection Residence Club, Scottsdale||USA|
|Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris||France|
|Santa Marina, a Luxury Collection Resort, Mykonos||Greece|
|Schloss Fuschl, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Fuschlsee-Salzburg||Austria|
|Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto||Japan|
|The Canyon Suites at The Phoenician, a Luxury Collection Resort, Scottsdale||USA|
|The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City||USA|
|The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Venice||Italy|
|The Miami Beach EDITION||USA|
|The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel||Japan|
|The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour, Miami||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman||Cayman Islands|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong||China|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto||Japan|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Naples||USA|
|The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas||Virgin Islands (US)|
|The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo||Japan|
|The St. Regis Aspen Resort||USA|
|The St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort, Puerto Rico||Puerto Rico|
|The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort||USA|
|The St. Regis Bali Resort||Indonesia|
|The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort||French Polynesia|
|The St. Regis Deer Valley||USA|
|The St. Regis Florence||Italy|
|The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort||Maldives|
|The St. Regis Mardavall Mallorca Resort||Spain|
|The St. Regis New York||USA|
|The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort||Mexico|
|The St. Regis Rome||Italy|
|The Wellesley Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel, London||United Kingdom|
|The Westin Golf Resort & Spa, Playa Conchal||Costa Rica|
|Vana Belle, a Luxury Collection Resort, Koh Samui||Thailand|
|W Koh Samui||Thailand|
|W South Beach||USA|
|W Hong Kong||China|
|Ritz Carlton Dubai||UAE|
|Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina||British Virgin Islands|
|The London EDITION||UK|
|Las Alcobas, Napa Valley||USA|
|Pine Cliffs Residence, Algarve||Portugal|
|Ritz Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach||UAE|
|Westin Europa & Regina, Venice||Italy|
Breaking down 2019’s category adjustments
In addition to the Category 7 to 8 movements, 383 hotels will be changing categories. 37 will be decreasing in price, and 346 will be increasing in price.
It’s not all bad news, as a handful of high end properties are coming down in cost such as
- Naka Island Phuket going from 60K to 50K points
- W Hollywood going from 60K to 50K points
- W Los Angeles going from 60K to 50K points
- Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa going from 60K to 50K points
Closer to home, the Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit is going from Category 3 (17,500 points) to Category 2 (12,500 points), providing yet another low-cost redemption option for Bangkok stays.
However, everything else is pretty grim. Going to New York? 11 properties are changing, and all are going up in cost. Seoul? 5 properties all going up. Paris? 3 properties all going up.
TPG’s analysis notes that lower-tier properties are getting hit hard, so if you’re hoping to burn your Marriott points at the low end, this may affect you too
- Of the 55 Courtyard properties changing categories, 52 are moving up, 3 are moving down
- Of the 25 Fairfield properties changing categories, 25 are moving up
- Of the 32 Residence Inn properties changing categories, 32 are moving up
In Singapore, both the Four Points by Sheraton Riverview (4 to 5) and the JW Marriott South Beach (6 to 7) will be increasing in price.
Booking reservations in advance
Marriott allows you to book award nights ~350 days in advance, and redemption bookings are generally refundable (though do watch out for awards redeemed at high-end resorts, which may impose up to 30 day cancellation windows during peak periods). It’s therefore wise to lock in reservations at any property which is going up in price now.
If you’ve already made a booking at a property that is going down in price on 5 March, you’ll want to get the award repriced by customer service to get the additional points back.
If you’ve made a booking at the pre-devaluation prices but subsequently need to change your dates on/after 5 March, you’ll need to pay the new prices.
2019 has been a very frenetic start for holders of hotel points (and I’ve not even started on Hilton’s 120,000 point award shenanigans), and now would be a good time to catch your breath and plan your upcoming stay strategy.
If you’ve always been curious about how to score better hotel stays for less, do consider checking out Hotel Hacks, the workshop where we learn exactly that. In addition to covering shortcuts to elite status, the ins and outs of buying hotel points and getting opaque/wholesale pricing on hotels, we’ll be covering all the recent changes to programs like World of Hyatt and Marriott Rewards as well.
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