I am in the early planning stages of a trip to Canada and was just checking marriotts in Ottawa. The three days that I want to stay in Ottawa turns out to be Friday 5/23/14 to Monday 5/26/14, but there is no availability for marriotts in downtown. Specifically, the three downtown hotels have saturday 5/24/14 as Not Available for Check-In: the Courtyard, Residence Inn, and Marriott. While it is a holiday weekend for the USA (Memorial Day weekend) I don't see any Canadian holidays, and a search on Expedia for other hotels on that day in Ottawa turned up plenty of available non-Marriott hotels. It just seems unlikely to me that all 3 hotels are booked solid on that day SEVEN months out.
Does Marriott block "busy" days off far into the future? Why?
Will they unblock it sometime in the future? When?
I was able to see rates/rooms for two people at the CY Downtown for 5/23-26 ($279 for first two nights, $199 for Sunday night).
Also, both the Residence Inn downtown ($159) and the Marriott ($209) were available for Sunday night only - if you were interested in switching.
Not knowing your specifics, here are a few situations I've experienced - so yes, it's not all that rare for some rooms to be blocked out that far in advance (or astronomically priced) that eventually open up.
I've seen rooms blocked this far out and then later released (Stockholm was my most recent example), perhaps they had a tentative agreement and the hard numbers came in less than the maximum (like a wedding etc) and they open up the rooms.
I've also had rooms unavailable when I've tried "Special Rates" like AAA and then discovered that they had regular rates.
I've also have had rooms unavailable for a specific group size (like 3 or 4) but they were available for 2.
And I also was able to reserve one room, but not two in a couple of international far in advance reservations (one time, the second opened up; the other time it didn't and we went to another brand).
Bottom line - reserve your cancellable rooms now (be careful, some had Advance Pay) and watch it like a hawk for reduced prices and a more preferred location as you draw nearer your date. Good luck.