Marriott Has A Different Definition Of Free Breakfast Than I Do. What About You?

Marriott has been busy the last few weeks formalizing their new loyalty program.  As yet unnamed, we still have lots of details about it.  After the announcement, I spent some time with travel guru Gary Leff discussing the changes on my podcast.

At the outset, Marriott initially announced that they would be grandfathering existing Marriott Platinum members into Platinum Premier status.  They also tried to stick it to SPG Lifetime Platinum members in the new program.  Marriott pivoted and finally did the right thing.  That follows an earlier pattern where they appeared to half-heartedly roll out guaranteed late check-out for elites.  Shortly thereafter they appeared to pivot and make it a guaranteed benefit.

These sorts of changes make members nervous.  They certainly make me nervous.  Look, I never want to lose a benefit I once had.  But, I understand that’s par for the course.  It’s the back-and-forth that gives me pause.

What Is Free Breakfast?

Marriott originally announced a pretty broad expansion of the free breakfast benefit.  Frequently, the devil is in the details.  And, we appear to have found one hiding in the details on this one.  It seems Marriott plans to offer a $10 credit per guest per day (up to a maximum of 2 guests) at Courtyard, Moxy and AC Hotels.  For the purposes of this discussion, I’m focusing on Courtyard.

Courtyard is a big brand for Marriott.  Frequented heavily by business travelers, there are almost 1200 Courtyard hotels nationwide.  That means over 20% of all the combined Marriott hotels consider $10 enough to cover breakfast.  For comparison, here’s how the Hyatt website details the free breakfast benefit for top-tier Globalist members:

  • Relax in the Club lounge with continental breakfast and evening hors d’oeuvres daily. Or, enjoy complimentary full breakfast daily for each registered guest (up to 2 adults and 2 children) at Hyatt hotels and resorts without a Club lounge.

Courtyard hotels don’t have Club lounges, so the only choice is the $10 voucher.  And, it’s only for 2 guests.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that one of the largest brands Marriott manages sees a pretty lean breakfast benefit.

Here’s a look at the free breakfast at one of my favorite Hyatt hotels, Park Hyatt Sydney:

Park Hyatt Sydney

Breakfast Buffet At Park Hyatt Syndey

Breakfast Buffet At Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney

Park Hyatt Sydney

The Final Two Pennies

There’s two separate points I want to make before you move on with the rest of your day.  The first is on Marriott’s process here.  This breakfast benefit may always have been the plan.  Or, maybe they just got around to figuring out the math.  If this was the plan when the original announcement was made, I would have expected more clarity around this benefit.  I find it hard to imagine Marriott didn’t field a question about the specifics of the Courtyard breakfast benefit from a blogger or three.  I would have hoped for at least a bit clearer description early on.

My second point is on the relative value of the benefits across various chains.  Hyatt’s breakfast benefit is much more rewarding for their top elites, especially for elite members who travel with their families.  You could argue that some folks would rather have the option of a few points or the ability to use the credit towards an appetizer or drink in the bar.  I see some truth there.  I’d guess there are quite a few more folks interested in bonus points than an appetizer.

Still, I prefer a breakfast benefit.  And, a generous one.

What about you?  What do you think of Marriott’s new breakfast benefit strategy?

The post Marriott Has A Different Definition Of Free Breakfast Than I Do. What About You? was published first on Pizza in Motion


  1. Actually there are many Courtyards with lounges in Asia, and if they don’t have a lounge, they at least offer full free breakfast in the restaurant. If the intent of your post was to only discuss U.S. Courtyards (as suggested by the beginning of your post), then I’m not sure why you pivoted to the Park Hyatt Sydney breakfast.

    1. Daniel, my intention was to speak to Courtyard hotels in the US. However, to your point about Courtyard properties without lounges in Asia, it’s my understanding that full breakfast in the restaurant will no longer be a benefit. Given the frequent adjustments lately, that could change. 🙂

  2. How can you possibly compare Courtyard to Hyatt more in particular Globalist status? Really? Did you just read that Hyatt Place is changing their policy with regards to breakfast? And then you display Park Hyatt breakfast?

    You should click over to Gary’s post along side yours. One is fake news which one?

    1. Ghostrider, I actually have a post going up in just a few minutes about the Hyatt Place breakfast changes. But, I don’t see any correlation here. Courtyard offers a $10 voucher, Hyatt Place will continue to offer free breakfast for up to 4 people per room as long as you’re a member of their loyalty program. It’s possible that will also mean booking direct (we’re not sure yet). But, I’m certainly fine with that, since I prefer booking directly. Member rates mean most of my stays are cheapest when booked with Hyatt, and I value my elite status.

  3. Ya, what you can expect is about as clear as mud. Keeping you in the dark and feeding you crap. We’ll all need to carry around a cheat sheet to determine what we might expect for each hotel in the chain for benefits, breakfast in the restaurant, some breakfast in the lounge under $10, or continental breaskfast in the lounge but not the main restaurant, and you can’t access the lounge because you chose the main breakfast, and on and on and on. At the end of the day, it’s all about revenue but making the guest feel like he came away with something, an apple, an orange, or a banana that will be trashed if not eaten today. A welcome drink of kool-aid will become the new, free $10 “welcome” cocktail, if it isn’t already. The “Rewards” are slowly turning into crumbs. No more loyalty here. Independent hotels and B&B’s are in my future and saving the extra $70-$100/night to spend somewhere else. Tired of chasing points and “working” for “loyalty”. Same goes for airline seats, where the cheapest non-stop or one stop business seats will get my dollars. No more loyalty. You hear me United, American, Delta, Alaska?

    1. Rick, my loyalty to airlines kinda died when the Big 3 all adopted the same program and weakened benefits. Now, it’s who gets me there cheapest and quickest.

      I agree that the Marriott breakfast/amenity chart is a mess. I’m guessing at least part of this is due to the franchise agreements they have with folks who operate their hotels. There’s probably only so much they could institute without widespread negative pushback from franchisees.

      I really wish “free breakfast” meant “free breakfast”. Let’s hope that the strings attached at least taste good.

  4. Sigh. Really? Marriott’s integrity, dubious before, is now officially in shreds. I’m just finishing my final stay to insure 75 night status right now, so while I’m doing this, they show that their promises for that status are pretty much worthless. The new program is not even in place yet, and already it’s getting old.

  5. The Park Hyatt Sydney offers rooms at over $1000/night. I think they’re going to have a more extensive breakfast selection than Courtyards, which don’t even offer “Free” breakfast like the other Marriott brands but just a restaurant.

    1. Xyeanthony, Hyatt doesn’t need a 2-page chart to offer me free breakfast. When I’m staying at “regular” hotels in the US, they feed me breakfast without a bunch of rules I need to remember. When I’m staying at a luxury hotel like PH Sydney I get….free breakfast, unlike some of the top Marriott brands.

  6. I don’t think this is correct. My understanding is Courtyards WILL offer free breakfast to Elites. If the CY has a bistro you may select one entree and one beverage at no charge. That $10 F&B credit is one of the amenities you can choose IN ADDITION to the free breakfast.

    The 2-page chart you refer to shows this: the brands which offer free breakfast do not show the “•” in the breakfast column. This includes CYs.

  7. You have got to be kidding. You compare a US Courtyard breakfast with the Sydney Park Hyatt (with pictures).

  8. Points lost for your comparison choices and for expecting ANY hotel to give free breakfast to the whole family. I want my benefits -Yes – but don’t want them watered down because some expect freebies for the whole entourage.

    1. Kevin, I’m clearly doing a bad job enunciating my point here. Hyatt tells me I can have free breakfast for up to 4 people at their most expensive properties (and all the other ones). Marriott says I can’t have free breakfast at some of their most expensive properties, but that I’ll get free breakfast at all the others. And, then, they say I don’t even get that. To me, one of those is clearly more “beneficial”.

  9. Just called the Courtyard, Page, Arizona, where my wife and I are contemplating a three-night stay in October. This is not a resort and breakfast is NOT included for Platinums. How’s that for status? Ya, breakie will be $12.95/each plus taxes and it consists of the limited “bistro” offerings. Will be heading over to the Holiday Inn, where the breakfast like above is included and the hotel is rated higher and the three-night stay is less expensive. As a IHG Platinum Ambassador, which also doesn’t mean much, I can probably score one of their better rooms as well. “Status”, what a laugh.

    1. Rick, I believe you should be entitled to a $10 certificate for both you and your wife in October. Maybe I’m reading it wrong and it’s January, but I don’t think I am.

      1. Maybe you’re right but the front desk didn’t know about any $10 cert. This is how bad the communication is within the brand, treat you like a mushroom, keep you in the dark and feed you s..t. Terrible!

  10. I’m just glad I’m not one of those suckers that spent 75 nights a year to gain status, as Marriott begins to dismantle it. While they are going to pickup a huge number of beds with the merger, they can’t control all of them. Platinum for life and you have to pay for breakfast at Courtyard? Hehe, not me.

    1. I’m one of those suckers. I was naive enough to think that Marriott wouldn’t go out of their way to remove a benefit that they just explicitly promised.

      1. Christian, I do have to wonder why they even bother billing the benefit as “free breakfast” if this was the path they were going to take. Wouldn’t it have been easier to say that they’ll be rolling out an “additional breakfast benefit” at Courtyard, etc?

  11. It’s a shame when a hotel program gets so big that they make changes that are exactly opposite of the behaviors that helped them get so big in the first place.

  12. I was trolling for answers to this very question….outside of the full service Marriott, what do I get for staying at a Courtyard, for instance. I have recently became Platinum recently and greeted the poor receptionist with a WTF? look. I digress, it’s been a long year and was on the last week of work. I loved the breakfast vouchers (tell people you like about this and not do what I did…the week became an excruciating game of hide and seek) and kind of bummed out at the one-time $10 off coupon.
    So today I am to move from my Renaissance hotel to a Courtyard, do I dare mention this little benefit if they are ignorant about it?

  13. Maybe I’m just cheap but so be it. This morning when we went down for what we thought would be a free breakfest at the Courtyard by Marriott on S. Metcalf in Kansas City ks we found a Bistro that not only was the highest priced menu I’ve ever seen the food was just frozen microwaved items. Will never stay here again.

  14. I don’t care about a free breakfast. I’d rather go to a local Starbucks for a good cup of coffee and sustenance; which we do 90% of the time even if a truly free breakfast is available. Interestingly, a Holiday Inn in Washington DC has a Starbucks attached to the lobby. Yum!

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