Breaking Down Marriott Award Category Changes For 2019

Marriott announced their award category changes for 2019 today.  The numbers were largely what I expected.  The vast majority of properties are staying put after plenty of increases over the past handful of years.  Overall, about 5% of the properties are changing categories, with 90% of those changes being increases.  You can see the full list of changes on the Marriott website.

Even with an overwhelming number of the changes being an increase these still strike me as a moderate amount of changes.  I narrowed in on a handful of properties that were interesting to me.

Notable Properties Changing Categories

Cosmopolitan Las Vegas: Increasing from category 6 to 7.  This is an upscale property in Las Vegas that attracts a younger crowd.  The property isn’t cheap, per se.  But, there are plenty of nights where the hotel is under $300 a night.  At 60,000 points a night and a value of about a penny per point, redeeming points here won’t be a great value very often.  This seems like an inappropriate increase.

Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles: Decreasing from category 5 to 4.  This airport hotel is a 15-minute walk or short shuttle ride from LAX.  It appears to have gone through a much-needed renovation.  As a category 4, it’ll set you back 25,000 points a night.  On many nights I checked, redeeming points won’t be a good value even with the category drop.  When off-peak dates pop up here, you might find the occasional value.

Sheraton New York Times Square: Increasing from category 5 to 6.  New York can be an expensive market but this property has dates throughout the schedule in 2019 for around $300.  A category 6 will set you back 50,000 points.  Again, just not much in the way of every day value here.

Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach: Increasing from category 6 to 7.  This property seems to have moved to a 3-night minimum stay for many periods throughout the year.  Rates start in the mid-$400s.  A category 7 room will set you back 60,000 points a night.  There are definitely certain times a year where this will have value, and it’s a great location.  We’ve enjoyed multiple stays there.

Westin Europa & Regina, Venice: Increasing from category 7 to 8.  This one is a little bit of a puzzle since the Westin closed a while back and is supposed to re-open in a couple of months as the St. Regis, Venice.  Even at 85,000 points a night, this property is still probably a screaming good deal for a points redemption when it reopens.  Venice is pricey and hotel rates can quickly get close to 1000 Euro per night.  Our preference in Venice is still the Hotel Danieli.  It’s truly a special place.

Hotel Danieli, Venice. One of My Favorite SPG Hotels

The Final Two Pennies

The Marriott changes seem to be a bit more skewed to increases than the Radisson Rewards changes that were announced just a few days ago.  I can’t say I understand some of the changes Marriott is making here.  Some properties just look way overpriced from an award standpoint.  The silver lining is that it’s a small fraction of the total Marriott footprint that’s increasing.  View From The Wing notes that you have until March 4th to book rooms at the lower award prices.  And, a very small group of properties will get cheaper on March 5th.

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  1. I too have stayed at the Westin Grand cayman in January for a week for 72,000 spg points – which equals 216,000 Marriott points. I’m sure shortly January will be at peak rates, which will make this property 420,00 for 1 week- a nearly 100% increase from a year ago! Insane.

  2. Yeesh! Category 7 for the Cosmo? That’s a bit more understandable, though, than the Sheraton Princess Kaiulani and CY Waikiki Beach both moving up to Cat. 6. Both properties are pretty substandard and are probably the worst Marriott properties in Honolulu. I just don’t understand their methodology…

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