First off, I know that has been discussed before but a recent trip has put me on a path of not using the RC relationship any longer.
As we all know, RC does not recognize Marriott rewards status for access to club lounges, upgrades, etc. My wife and I stayed at the Ritz Carlton in St. Thomas (USVI) which BTW, is an excellent property. We already had an "ocean view" and were told we were upgraded to a better/higher room (1st floor, not sure how that works). I was also told that was all that was available (last week of November). Let me tell you, there were plenty of upper floor rooms and suites available as evidenced by no lights/activities for the entire 5 nights we stayed there. So, while they say we received an upgrade, we obviously did not. It was also our 30th anniversary so something would have been nice.
Secondly, and most annoying, is being denied Club Access (Concierge Lounge for Marriott chains). We were offered Club Access for another $150/night PER PERSON. $300/night, really? Lack of access has been an issue at every RC we have stayed at in the past
I think I am done with RC. Yes, you can use MR points for stays but every other loyalty perk that we work so hard for (I stay 150+ nights in Marriott's throughout the year) is worthless.
Is anyone else as frustrated as I am or am I asking too much?
As for the property itself, I think the best on St. Thomas. Removed from the bustle, spread out, close to Red Hook ferries, decent beach, excellent staff, good access to catamarans/snorkel equipment/kayaks/wind surf boards (all included in resort fee), and excellent view of St. John.
I agree with you boldie. The service is often top notch, but l view Ritz like I do wines, there are so many excellent, less expensive Marriott properties out there, why pay extra for the Ritz/Rewards aloofness until I've tried all of the Marriott brands who value (and demonstrate it) my business.
The fact is that MR members who stay 75+ nights at cheaper Marriott Properties on business, ie not their own dime, is not RC's target market. They want to attract folks who are willing to pend top dollar for their room and food, beverages, spa services, etc. while on their property.
To be clear, my beef is not only with Ritz Carlton but also with Marriott as the RC Hotel Business is a wholly owned subsidiary of Marriott International. To me, you are either all in with your offerings or not. So the fact that RC originally benefited greatly from access to Marriott users through the reservation system and cross acceptance of points for stays, they refused to recognize any reciprocal status of those newly available customers. Now that they are owned by Marriott, the same culture remains and quite frankly, I think it is the responsibility of Marriott to remedy it. You can maintain higher rates, standards, and service and recognize a members loyalty to the total brand.
BTW, whether someone gains status staying at "cheaper Marriott Properties" on their own dime or on business is irrelevant. Customers have a choice, loyalty is loyalty and it should be recognized. I personally stay at high end, full service Marriott's whether on my dime or on business.
Here's the issue- when a FS Marriott comps a Plat lounge access- the cost to them is pretty minimal. They do NOT get reimbursed from Marriott for that cost. You eat a little breakfast, a few snacks at night, drinks are not usually comped. A family on vacation at a Ritz who is comped club access could eat breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and late night snacks and unlimited drinks in the club and conceivably not spend a dime on food or alcohol for a 7 day vacation. The Ritz has now lost all potential revenue from that room and fed them free all week, which they do not get compensated from Marriott for. I could see RC getting reluctant to give us rooms on points at all if in exchange they just get boatloads of moochers.
Those are excellent points and I can see why they would be reluctant to give that away, that's a different animal. I also believe your notes aptly make my point - I'm not the target audience of the Ritz and paying the $50 or more per night for just the room giving up my JW, Marriott, or Renaissance CL would be of less value to me than a room and a great meal or a show. Having said that, a more effective customer oriented Ritz during a low occupancy period, would have moved boldie to a nicer roomview under the same parameters as you regarded the CL perks - little cost to the provider. This is where I agree with boldie that it's almost as if some RCs go out of their way to demonstrate to plats - "nothing special to see here, move along".
I was planning to book the RC, Jakarta today but now that I see we don't receive any additional benefits, I would have to think twice. As alluded to by others, there appear to be 2 possible explanations. 1) There is an administrative and corporate challenge in converting benefits which has not been quite figured out yet, or 2) Loyal Marriott customers are not really the target market and therefore not actively encouraged to stay.
To my mind, offering lounge access to Platinum members (and above) is a reasonable response to the first possibility. The cost of offering this is fairly small (in light of loyalty provided) and members are unlikely to take advantage by planting themselves there all day to take advantage of a few drinks and snacks (no more likely than in any other hotel, and no more likely than any other guest). If the problem is reimbursement/ transfer of payments between Marriott and RC, then this should be reasonably easy to overcome. If I can use the lounge at the JW but not at the RC, the question of "why" has to be asked. From a relationship management perspective, Marriott should be trying to encourage customers to progress through the brands or use different brands for different occasions. I'm happy to book a few stays with RC but if my loyalty is not recognised, there are plenty of alternatives.
The second possibility is more worrying. The thought that our spending with Marriott is valued but that they don't want us cluttering up RC properties or pigging out on all the free snacks (er, I can afford to buy my own thanks).
What are the thoughts of other MRIs?
We had been considering the RC @ St Thomas for our family vacation this year. It was really between there and the Frenchman's Reef, as those were the only two available online to book. I knew we wouldnt likely get any perks but the location, amenities and what you get for the resort fee at the RC vs FR, even with a higher cost was really leaning towards the RC. I called the rewards line and they actually got me into the Frenchman's Cove on points by changing my stay by one day (still 5 nights but starting +1d later). In the end, we are hoping to have a great vacation at the Cove and the money we would have spent on resort fees alone covers our rental for the week
I think the RCs are probably pretty nice, I have not been at one. I have looked at them for booking various trips for work and pleasure but for my money, I dont need to come out of pocket at those higher levels with less recognition for my loyalty. For me, if I got the same level of access, perks, etc at the RC properties as I do at the other MR properties, I would very likely add them into the mix in my 120+ nights/yr
We have stayed at the Cove twice, and you are going to love, love, love it. The villas are spacious, comfortable, well equipped, and many have great views. You might want to make a call or drop Heather an email and ask her to help you identify a preferred building. Some are closer to the pool than others, some are closer to outdoor cooking facilities than others, some have lots more steps, some have really wonderful views. So figure out what is important to you, and ask for a little help in getting it. Staff are wonderful, but he/she who asks more often receives than he/she that doesn't. Have a wonderful time, and go ahead and avail yourself of the facilities (especially the infinity pool) at the Reef. If you walk there from the Cove, and traverse the rather funky corridors, I think you will be VERY happy with your choice! P.S. Have stopped by the R.C. and it is lovely, but WAY out there. The Cove and the Reef are much more conveniently located IMHO.
I am in agreement with Vickisocal. The RC is an upscale property with amenities and service to match. You cannot even compare their lounges to a full Marriott lounge. It's like comparing a fine dining establishment to a fast food restaurant. While I think it would be wonderful to receive comped RC lounge access as a Platinum member, do I think it's unfair? Not at all. Would I pay a nominal upcharge (and not the going rate) to receive that access as a Platinum rewards incentive? Absolutely.