Marriott Rewards Announces Their 2016 Award Category Changes

The beginning of the calendar year signifies New Year’s resolutions, renewal (or not) of airline and hotel elite status, and award category changes for hotel chains.  I just got done going over the Starwood Preferred Guest category changes for 2016 and realized that I had missed Marriott’s announcement.

Marriott Rewards comprises many more hotels than  Starwood Preferred Guest, so the raw numbers look bigger.  But the percentages are actually kind of similar.  The Marriott increases (and, for the most part, decreases) are much more heavily focused in the US where SPG has a bunch of increases in Europe as well.  Marriott has some decent reductions in European countries like France.

Here’s a quick look at the Marriott award categories:

  • Category 1: 7,500 points
  • Category 2: 10,000 points
  • Category 3: 15,000 points
  • Category 4: 20,000 points
  • Category 5: 25,000 points
  • Category 6: 30,000 points
  • Category 7: 35,000 points
  • Category 8: 40,000 points
  • Category 9: 45,000 points

While Marriott Rewards members have the opportunity to earn more points per dollar than SPG members (more than double in most cases) their hotels can be more expensive, with 3 categories that are more expensive than SPG on a per-night basis.

Some key properties getting more expensive:

  • Hotel Davenport (an Autograph property) goes from Category 5 to 6.  Hotel Lusso, another Autograph property does as well.
  • Renaissance Boston at Patriot Place goes from Category 8 to 9.  45,000 points a night.  Yikes!
  • Renaissance Fort Lauderdale at Port Everglades goes from Category 6 to 7.
  • Boscolo Milano, an Autograph property in Italy goes from Category 7 to 8.

Some key properties getting cheaper:

  • Baltimore Marriott Waterfront drops from Category 8 to 7.  How the heck is that property so expensive?
  • AC Hotel Miami Beach drops from Category 8 to 7.
  • JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro drops from Category 9 to 8.
  • Renaissance London Heathrow drops from Category 7 to 6.

You can find the full list of hotels changing category on the Marriott Rewards website.  Whereas SPG gave us a bit less than 2 weeks to make reservations before category changes, Marriott is giving us until March 24, 2016.

I don’t spend as much time studying the Marriott program as I do SPG and Hyatt.  To that end, here’s a link to more detailed thoughts from One Mile at a Time.  Ben puts their changes in context compared to previous years and also has information on the rollout of cash & points bookings with Marriott Rewards.

The Last Two Pennies

My two cents?  This appears to be par for the course given how occupancy and average hotel prices have been moving up the last few years.  It’s a good thing that Marriott awards more points on the average booking than SPG, because I was utterly shocked at how much some pretty “middle of the road” hotels would cost to redeem.

It’s interesting to see some geographic differences between Marriott and SPG as it relates to the properties changing category.  While we still don’t have all the details on the Marriott merger with SPG, it’s safe to say most Marriott Rewards elite members will be happy with the transaction.  That means you can book properties going up in category for dates far off in the future without too much worry right now.

The post Marriott Rewards Announces Their 2016 Award Category Changes was published first on Pizza in Motion.



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