I am a long-time Marriott Vacation property owner and collector of Marriott Reward Points. My family and I have had many wonderful interchanges with Marriott hotels and resorts over the years. HOWEVER, I am beoming increasingly frustrated with the Marriott Rewards system and what I perceive as a lack of concern in regard to customer satisfaction with this product. For example: I am now in possession of 2 free nights at a Category 4 hotel. I thought "wonderful!" until I discovered that most of the hotels I would consider using this certificate were all category 5 and above! (And why on earth do you need 8 categories of hotels?) If you truly wanted to "reward" your customers, why not give something that all customers could use? Like giving a point bonus. I just got back from a trip to Hawaii where a friend I referred bought into the Destination Program. I expected to receive a bonus of Reward Points for the referral. I have yet to get a response from the sales person regarding this bonus. Also, at the sales office, Marketing tried to substitute a $50 gift certificate for the 10,000 points they had promised for me to attend a showing of their Kauai Lagoons property and listen to a presentation of the Destination program. (I did protest that and got my points.)
The icing on the cake came today when my son tried to reserve a suite at a Courtyard hotel in Bloomington IN (for he and his wife and child) using Reward Points. They were perfectly willing to kick in additional points to do this. They were turned down because "you can't reserve suites using reward points". Why not, if you have the points? He then asked for two adjoining rooms using Reward points. The reservation center told them they had adjoining rooms but they could not guarantee the the rooms would be next to each other. What, pray tell, are adjoining rooms if they are not next to each other? Ridiculous. Is it just me or is Marriott losing their customer focus?
I share your growing frustration. Marriott keeps creating new higher categories of hotels, and you need more and more points to stay a night there. Even a Cat 6 hotel in many places is just a basic Courtyard. Just please stop that, Marriott! Are you trying to drive your most loyal customers away? As recently as 2007 we stayed in central London for 6 nights with a package we got with points, at the Regency Chancery Court. It was spectacular. They didn't used to restrict your choices by category! Now the same points get you a Cat 5 Marriott (there are none in London) and you have to spend even more points to buy up to a Cat 6 miles from the center (but probably "tube" accessible to the center). It's just frustrating. So what do you do? You don't stay at a Marriott.
And then there's the inability to convert Marriott points to airline points. All but United convert points at a 3 to 1 rate, so it isn't worth trying to use Marriott points for flights. It's harder and harder to find value in the system.
With the Marriott Rewards credit card, they charge $85/year now, but you get 1 night in up to a Cat 5 hotel and you have to use it within 6 months. That's cool. I tried to make a reservation at a "busy" time in a certain location recently, and was told they would not allow use of the "free night" at that Courtyard. I was able to get Marriott customer service to extend the expiration date so we can use the night on a trip that is planned 1 month after the original expiration. I went "Phew!" Finally, they did something nice for this long-time member. But it sure was a lot of trouble to go to, and I kind of resent that...
Thinker. Regarding your son's reservations, you might have better luck calling the hotel directly, to see if (depending on his status) they would upgrade his room to a suite or if they could lock down adjoining rooms. I don't believe the reservation (800) folks have the ability to guarantee adjoining rooms because they don't have the ability to allocate them, but I would think a manager could. Might work out that he could book jus one room and then, if he is a platinum or gold, get the manager to set aside a suite.
I have had more good luck than bad when calling a manager directly.
It seems like it is becoming much more difficult to just book rooms using points. I recently booked 2 nights at the new Autograph Lake Arrowhead CA resort on July 26/27 before the hotel even opened. When I tried to add another room for 1 night for my sister there were none available for points. OK, I thought I would switch to the Marriott Dana Point. No rooms available for points. (That does not seem unreasonable, considering that is the high season for Dana Point. OK, I thought I would book at the Renaissance Palm Springs since late July is NOT the high season in Palm Springs. No rooms available for points. Not an encouraging trend to me.