Marriott is in the process of creating a brand new combined Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program.
This has created an incredible opportunity for booking hotels ‘on the cheap’.
From August 2018 until early 2019, every hotel in the Marriott hotels portfolio can be booked for 60,000 Marriott points or less!
And there are certainly plenty of options to choose from. Marriott is now the largest global hotel chain and includes brands like St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, W, The Edition and JW Marriott hotels.
As part of the new program Marriott is introducing new off-peak and peak points redemption levels as well as a new top-tier Category 8, but this won’t be rolled out until early 2019.
Until then, all hotels across the Marriott portfolio are subject to a maximum cap of 60,000 Marriott points (equivalent to 20,000 SPG points*) per night.
For example, top-end Category 7 Starwood properties such as the St. Regis Bali or W Verbier previously cost up to 105,000 Marriott points per night. And they’ll cost up to 100,000 points on peak dates from January.
But here’s what it costs currently:
* All legacy Starwood (SPG/Starpoints) points were converted to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio in a one-off conversion in August 2018.
‘Off the charts’ hotels are included too!
A cluster of legacy Starwood hotels were traditionally classed as ‘all-suite’ hotels.
- St. Regis Resort Bora Bora
- Le Méridien Bora Bora, Bora Bora
- W Maldives
- The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
- W Koh Samui
- Vana Belle Koh Samui
- Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort, Key West, Florida
- Mystique, Santorini, Greece
- Pine Cliff Residences, Albuferia, Portugal
- Cala Di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza
- Hotel Romazzino, Porto Cervo, Italy
The number of Starpoints required for a free night at these hotels previously ranged from 40,000 to 140,000 Starpoints (120,000 to 420,000 Marriott points) per night!
Marriott revealed that these properties will no longer be ‘off the charts’ and they are currently also bookable for just 60,000 Marriott points per night.
Combined with the fifth-night free benefit available on points stays, you can pay as little as 48,000 Marriott points per night at hotels such as the St. Regis Maldives. Previously, this hotel cost 216,000 points per night.
So what have I booked so far?
The short answer is, not nearly enough.
After many tries, I booked a three-night stay in a Grand Luxe Room at the St. Regis New York for just 64,000 Marriott points per night. Cash rates for a base-level room on my dates were $1,200+ so I was pretty pleased with that.
I also booked, but unfortunately had to cancel, a night in a Junior Suite at the St. Regis Bal Harbour (64,000 points) and a night at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel de la Paix, Geneva (60,000 points).
There are two reasons I haven’t booked a whole lot more just yet:
1.) The Marriott integration was incomplete – until today!
You’ve been able to use Marriott points to book SPG properties and vice versa for some months. However, some luxury properties appear to have been playing games with their reward availability. Gary at View From the Wing notes a couple of reasons for these issues surfacing mainly among ex-Starwood properties. As of today – 11th December – all ex-Starwood hotels should have transitioned to Marriott’s booking platform.
This should mean a lucrative short-term window where, as long as a base-level room is bookable with cash, you should be able to redeem your points. Having experienced some frustrations with award availability, I’m banking on this period to lock in my awards with (hopefully) less hassle.
2.) Many of the most aspirational properties aren’t that practical with two young kids
As much as I’d love to tick off the St. Regis Maldives/Bora Bora and numerous other aspirational Ritz-Carlton and Luxury Collection hotels at these super-low rates, my feeling is that many of them are just not practical/ worth it with young kids. So as much as I’d love to take advantage of the reduced pricing, I’d rather bide my time to enjoy the experience fully.
I’d love to hear from you though if you’ve done some of those hotels with kids and still enjoyed the experience.
How to earn 60,000+ Marriott points easily
The easiest way to earn a large amount of Marriott points quickly is via credit card sign up bonuses. These cards will get you a good part/all of the way to a free night:
American Express Platinum Card – This card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points worth 45,000 Marriott points when you sign-up and spend £2,000 in the first three months. My full review of the Amex Platinum card is here. You can apply here
American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card – This card offers 33,000 Marriott points when you sign-up and spend £1,000 in the first three months. My full review of this card is here. You can apply here
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (Amex Gold) Credit Card – This card offers 20,000 Membership Rewards points worth 30,000 Marriott points when you sign-up and spend £2,000 in the first three months. My full review of the Amex Gold card is here. You can apply here
Assuming hotels aren’t playing games with their reward night availability, this window remains a great chance to tick off some bucket list hotels at ‘bargain’ prices.
Remember, there’s no requirement to complete your stay by January 2019. You simply have to book within that time frame to lock in the reduced rate!