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Marriott Bonvoy is live and why 5th March is the deadline you don’t want to miss

The Royal Blue Villa Private Pool at Blue Palace Resort, Crete

The transition is complete. The official launch of Marriott Bonvoy today means Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards are now a thing of the past.

The following message appeared when I logged into the SPG mobile app this morning:

The American Express website has been altered to reflect the new Marriott Bonvoy program and logo…

Transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy

…although rather strangely, the SPG Amex card (which earns Marriott Bonvoy points) retains the old Starwood Preferred Guest branding.


Don’t wait – the best opportunity from the SPG/Marriott merger is still available

As part of the new program, Marriott is introducing off-peak and peak reward redemption levels as well as a new top-tier Category 8. This created an incredible opportunity for booking hotels ‘cheaply’.

Until 5th March 2019, every hotel in the Marriott hotels portfolio can be booked for 60,000 points or less per night!

And there’s no shortage of options to choose from. Marriott is now the largest global hotel chain and includes brands like St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, The Edition, Westin and JW Marriott hotels.

Category 8 pricing arrives on 5th March

After various pushbacks, it seems Category 8 will be rolled out on 5th March 2019, although it doesn’t look like we’ll be seeing off-peak/peak pricing until ‘late 2019’.

Until then, all hotels across the Marriott portfolio remain subject to a maximum cap of 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.

Top-end properties such as the W Verbier and Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai will cost 85,000 points from March, but currently cost:

Pay just 60,000 points a night at the Al Maha Resort in Dubai

‘Off the charts’ hotels are included too

As a reminder, various legacy Starwood properties were traditionally classed as ‘all-suite’ hotels.

These included:

For perspective, a free night at these hotels previously cost anywhere between 120,000 to 420,000 Marriott points per nightThese properties are no longer ‘off the charts’ and are also currently bookable for just 60,000 Marriott points per night. 

St. Regis Bora Bora – a bargain at just 60,000 points per night!

Combined with the ‘fifth-night free’ benefit available on reward 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.


You don’t even need to have enough/any points to book

One of the best features of Marriott Bonvoy is their Points Advance feature. This allows you to reserve your room using points, but you only need to accumulate the required number of points 14 days before your check-in date.

There were concerns that booking discounted rates before 5th March for stays later in the year using Points Advance would result in the awards (and required number of points) being repriced when it came to payment. However, View From the Wing writes that Marriott has confirmed this will not be the case.

Reward stays booked before 5th March using Points Advance WILL successfully lock in the cheaper rates.


What have I booked so far?

After much aggravation, I booked three nights 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’ve also locked in hotels in Milan, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Phuket. I definitely won’t use all of these but I’d rather lock in the low rates now and cancel if necessary with no fee – which in most cases can be done until a couple of days prior to the stay.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’ve resisted the urge to join the hordes of people booking their cheap stays at the St Regis Maldives etc.  While I’d love to stay at the likes of the St. Regis Bora Bora at these low rates, my feeling is that many of them are just not worth doing with young kids. I’d rather bide my time and enjoy the experience fully.

I’m sure there will be others who will disagree with me here, so if you’ve stayed at these sorts of hotels with kids and still managed to enjoy yourself – let us know what it was like in the comments section below. 


How to earn 60,000+ Marriott Bonvoy 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 30,000 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.


Verdict

This remains a terrific opportunity to experience some phenomenal hotels at seriously reduced prices. Once peak pricing comes in, some of these hotels will cost 100,000 points per night –  or you can book them now for 60,000 points. No brainer!

Remember, there’s no requirement to complete your stay by 5th March. You simply have to book before then to lock in the reduced rate!

Have you booked any bargains yet?

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