Hotels

Marriott Bonvoy hotel category changes coming in March 2019

The looming spectre of Category 8 pricing descends on 5 March, as do 383 hotel category changes, 90% of which are increases.

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 awesome St Regis Bali will increase from 60,000 points to 85,000 points per night

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.

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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.

Hotel Name Country
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 Maldives Maldives
W South Beach USA
W Verbier Switzerland
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.

Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit
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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.

JW Marriott South Beach Singapore will now cost 60,000 points a night

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.

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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.

Conclusion

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.

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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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