I was wondering how common it is to receive a room upgrade as a Gold elite member. I've stayed a couple of times now as a new Gold elite member, but no dice. Most recently (this past weekend),I stayed at a Courtyard with a half-empty parking lot, and with a number of upgraded rooms showing on the reservation site... however, when I asked if any room upgrades were available for the night, the reply was a firm "no". What gives? Is it at the discretion of the hotel, or is it supposed to be automatic (assuming they have rooms)?
It depends on the property. It's best to ask at the desk when checking in if they have an upgrade available for your gold status. I've found most front desk associates will give you the upgrade when you are friendly and kind to them (a tip helps too!) I've had a rare hotel just flatly say no and also not offer any amenity for your status/loyalty... I don't go back to those (ie, I will never ever stay at the courtyard in Boyton Beach again!) Resorts are a little tighter with the upgrades and really depends on occupancy, but usually offer some type of ammenity.
Remember, most properties are not Marriott owned, but Marriott managed so it is difficult for Marriott to ensure the same exact standard at every property. My experience has been that most of the time I am given an upgrade as a recognition of my gold status. It is not automatic though, you have to ask almost every time.
sometimes I check online to see if an upgrade is available (depends on property type too). If there is one available to book and I don't get an answer I expected, I'll ask them to speak to a manager to see if they have an upgrade available. It's very rare you don't get some recognition... if a property doesn't acknowledge the loyalty, I never stay there again. Our loyalty to the brand should be recognized.