I was goofing around on the Marriott website pondering/dreaming of where I might go next and how I could experience more of the Marriott brands (Marriott now lists 18 Brands. How many have you visited?). As I did, I decided to look at the current rewards category and found the following (subject to change as new hotels open and during the yearly reset).
I was surprised that the largest grouping was Category 3, followed closely by Category 2 and 4. With the all the discussion on this site, I anticipated a much larger showing of Category 6 and up.
I acknowledge that in larger cities, finding anything below Category 7 is becoming difficult, but I was shocked at how the numbers came out. The 3125 Category 5 and below properties might not be in places all of us want to visit, but with so many to choices, I say "Bring on the Category 1-5 promo certificates for the fall MegaBonus."
At least until next year, when the categories rise again, 80% of Marriott properties should be within reach of a free night certificate.
I think certainly location is an issue but you have Fairfield, residence inn, town suites that are usually all less than 5 courtyards are a mix and most full service Marriott's are above 5 but good point if you want to use a cat 5 cert you usually can find a place to take it
Spot on jerryl. Brand has a lot to do with category. When you start looking at the full service brands, it appears that closer to half are category 6 and higher (I haven't done the calculations). Perhaps I'll do a bit more research some afternoon when I'm bored (or someone else can crunch the numbers ).
Keep in mind this covers everything on the Marriott website (expect the Ritz), so the range is from FFI to JW all over the world. There are 1002 CYs, 682 Res Inns and 743 FFIs on the list. One would expect most of those to fall in the lower end of the spectrum.
I just found the details interesting even if they turn out not to be all that useful.
I Disagree that brand is what determines category. I believe desirable location to be more important. As noted above, CY Waikiki is Cat 7 simply because it's in touristy Honolulu. Many examples of full service, like the Waterford Marriott in Oklahoma City (Cat 4), Racine Wisconsin Marriott (Cat 3), being lower categorized because they arent in as chic an area.
But the the FI Manhattan Fifth Avenue is a Cat 8 & CY Boston Downtown (Cat 7) are highly desirable, once again
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
As Hawaiians, Alaskans, Manhattanites and Ocean City Md. beachgoers (threw that in for you tker ) will tell you.
YES! My OC Courtyard Category NINE pet peeve!
Plus, so many of the lower categories are skewed by Fairfields etc along non destination routes. Look, I expect that premium locations to be higher categories, but the Cat 5 Certs used to have real value. I do not think anyone can look and see that his dwindled considerably. Cat 4's as well!
bejacob, you make a good point.... I sympathize with the folks who want to use points at the best properties in the most desirable and expensive cities - I do too (and more on this below)....
But I find that I frequently end up in lower tier hotels, not only in the U.S. but abroad as well - indeed, just this morning, I checked out of a Category 3 Courtyard in Munich (and posted a very favorable review: Excellent value, decent location, pleasantly surprised) - and a couple of weeks ago, I was in a Category 4 Residence Inn in Reno (and, again, posted a favorable review: Residence Inn Reno).... Later this summer, we're really looking forward to spending a week in Italy on points at the highly regarded Category 5 Renaissance Resort in Tuscany (see http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/photoAlbums/1353)....
Which is why I always tell our fellow Insiders that, if they can't find a way to burn their lower-tier free stay coupons, they should send them to me....
p.s. I just did a quick check and, on the other end of the spectrum, it looks like I've only stayed at:
Agreed. I find it hard to believe, that so few properties are Cat 5 and lower. Then again, the properties that most of us want to stay probably comprise a very small handful. Marriott says category ranking are based upon popularity of a property, but then that raises some questions for me. Take the CY Waikiki for example. The property is descent, but has a lot of deficiencies, the on-site amenities are few and substandard, and the area is very noisy (closing sliding doors don't do much). Despite this, the property is a 7! And this is with rates that can be as low as $169/night, though it can climb to be over $500/night... no idea who'd pay that much to stay there, but I guess people do!
ssindc, if I could, I'd give you my cat 5 certificate. It's very difficult for me to use since there's no such thing as a cat. 5 or lower property in the State of Hawaii.
You do a good job providing information that of explains why the CY Waikiki is a Cat 7, and that ranking being based on popularity. Despite it not being in good physical order, nor it being a swank retreat, and despite it often being inexpensive, the property is Cat 7. For what reason other than desirability for reward redemption would it be Cat 7? Based on what you say, it's not because it's a nice hotel. It's obviously not based on what it costs to stay there per night, per your post. Heck, I've spent much more a night on the Marriott Addison (Cat 3) and Courtyard Altoona (Cat 4), both of which are clean, nice well maintained properties. Neither, though, is in Waikiki. Nobody vacations in Altoona, or wants to stay in Addison on a leisure trip to Dallas. How does the CY Waikiki being Cat 7 make you question that categories are based on redemption popularity?
Thanks cjkatl! I understand Marriott's categorization of properties by popularity, which helps control demand and gives those that pay to stay the most a better chance to stay at these properties. However, if a property, especially one in Waikiki is charging less than $200/night, that says something else about demand for the property. If the highest paid rate skyrockets to around $600/night during the holidays, how can this property be popular enough to be a category 7 if the demand for the property falls by over 50% during the peak tourism season during the summer? Combine this with the fact that few people would pay to stay there, especially after experiencing it once in person, then the categorization of the CY Waikiki as a Cat 7 doesn't make sense.
Not taking Marriott's demand rating into consideration, I'd expect a Cat 7 property to be a luxurious, full service one. The JW Marriott Ihilani used to be a Cat 7, though now it's a 9. The CY Waikiki doesn't come anywhere near what the JW Ihilani is, not is it close to what the Marriott Waikiki is. So if you look at it from a quality perspective, the property ratings make absolutely no sense at all in my opinion.
I think all the properties that have business activity in out of the way places are categorized 5 and under. Anything desirable, regardless of quality is 6 and above. I have serious reservations about whether or not the demand criteria is true based on my above observations. But that's what they say, and that's all we'll ever know...
Hey, kharada46, I'm thinking we can do business here.... There's a nice convenient Category 4 Rez Inn that happens to be the closest hotel to my son's college - any time you've got a certificate that's about to expire, just lemme know - you can make a reservation (for me) there!!!
and check out brightlybob's email below - you could help him out too....
Seriously - DO NOT LET THEM GO TO WASTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
No tongue in cheek, erc - I agree that you can't transfer the certificate - but there's nothing that says I can't make a reservation for you my spouse or my boys or or my friends, right? (That's a lot better than letting it expire....) If this is forbidden, it's a much more restrictive rule than the airlines use. I burn most of my airline miles buying tickets for my spouse and boys, and - with end-of-the-year expirations pending - I've upgraded my friends on their Xmas holiday vacations.... What am I missing?
I thought you were suggesting an after market for certificates (which would have been great and certainly something I wanted to get in on).
I have seen posts in FlyerTalk (and perhaps even Insiders) of examples where some properties demanded ID verification for the certificate (again, in this property by property interpretation world). Certs are different than points, so best of luck, I'm, of course pulling for you.
I have not had luck executing certificate reservations made for others, unless I am able to be physically present at check-in. They will not allow a name change on a certificate reservation (except for maybe a spouse), and id is required at check-in time. I believe some members have gotten away with it at some properties, but I never have. And one time just last Spring when I mentioned it to a Marriott customer support associate when calling to get an expiration date extended (regarding a Cat. 1-5 certificate reservation that I had made for my sister and her husband), the associate very politely reminded me that I could not use the cert for someone else (and since I could not be at the location to check them in, we had to make other arrangements - canceled my cert reservation and made a new one in my mom's name with one of her certificates and as she was close by, checked them in .) The point is, the person who owns the cert has to be physically present. Points, like miles are a different animal.
ssindc, can definitely give it a shot! It is better than letting it go to waste. The likelihood of me being able to use it is extremely small for 2015, as the destinations I'm looking into don't have any Cat 5 properties! Let's talk
I think most people save the points they get staying at a roadside CY/FFI to use at "go to" leisure destinations like New York, Vegas, London, Paris, Tokyo. These places have expensive hotels and lots of leisure activities. All the big chains are focused around the prolific travelling of the business customer. Roadside hotels are popular with business travellers, but really, who wants to spend a family vacation in a hotel overlooking the freeway? On an industrial estate? Next to a distribution centre? Pity, they're all pretty cheap places to stay $60/$100 night. And at Cats 1-4 only 8k-20k per night.
Now who wants to spend a night in the very beating heart of New York, Paris, London, Tokyo? Marriott has properties there of course but the rates are hideously expensive $500/night+++. I've recently booked a few nights in Paris on the Champs Élysées at €650/night ($850) cash rate, or 45k points. Likewise New York at $500 night has instead been booked at 45k/night The price of the room represents the demand, and the points likewise. I chose to redeem, the NYC Marriott at just over 1cpp is fair value and the Paris Marriott at almost 2cpp represents cracking value.
So, yes, most hotels are in cats1-5, but most vacation-type places have such high demand they're in cats 6-9.
Ironically I'm planning a 3 week Roadtrip next year, taking in both big-town (NYC/DC) and several small-town destinations, stopping off at a variety of roadside hotels and would really like to load up on cat1-4 certs now! With 7 of us travelling we'll be wanting 3 rooms, so a big stash of cat4 certs would come in handy! In total I expect us to be booking about 20 cat 1-4 room nights for the holiday...
Interesting that such a high proportion of properties are Category 5 and lower.
However, I will probably end up letting my Spring Megabonus voucher expire after letting my Marriot Visa voucher expire last year. My work travel is to major cities so no hope there. My vacations plans this year included the Category 9 resort on Singer Island back in March and Paris this summer. I live in Manhattan and visit friends in London so that's broadly a strikeout.
Overall, I guess I'm just a high rent kind of traveller, so aside from a very rare stay at a airport hotel prior to a very early flight or a family event which I don't want to drive back into the city for, I'm just not going to make special plans to stay in a Cat 1-4 property.
As feedback to the Marriott Rewards program designers, the vouchers ultimately end up feeling worse than nothing. I definitely feel a sense of loss when they expire, so even though they were free I feel like I've lost money by letting them expire. I realize that on average, not everyone will use the voucher at a level 4 (20,000 points) and some, like me, let their vouchers expire, and I also get that the intent is to motivate incremental travel, but I would take the trade at even 10,000 points instead of a level 4 voucher everyday of the week.
I noticed another trend that is not too apparent from your numbers.
Back in March, I posted The 2014 Categories Announced – the Numbers Crunched to analyze how category changes are trending. Using my data from March 23 (noted by the blue highlights) as compared to bejacob data of July 9th (noted by the yellow highlights), there are more disconcerting events happening.
Bejacob has FIVE fewer venues in his totals than what I had from March. However, note the deltas - especially how the Cat7 has grown from 119 to 264. Likewise, Cat3 is down from 1061 to 956, etc.
I thought Marriott changes categories but once a year - to me, this suggests category changes are ongoing throughout the year (well, at least in 2014).
Interesting. There is no question that properties as a whole are moving upward. It looks like the number of properties in categories 7-9 roughly doubled.
I know new hotels are opening all the time, so if the total number remains about the same, old ones must be sold or otherwise leave Marriott. If that is true, the lower category properties are the ones being sold and newer hotel open in a higher category. I hope that is what is going on rather than hotels changing categories mid-year.
There are several properties where I stayed over the last few years that are no longer in the Marriott family (FFI Charleston, WV and FFI Waterloo, IA come to mind - cat. 3 and 1 respectively).
I took your angle too on hotels being opened/sold/etc. that might affect some of the numbers. But, to have Cat7 go from 119 to 264 in roughly four months, that is a lot of acquisitions that should have made the front page of the Wall Street Journal!
I suspect more likely "ongoing re-categorizations."
I Only have XX dollars in my budget, so I tend to stay at FI, RI, TS, SS, CY. if I stay at higher end properties, I must stay fewer nights per year because I run out of money sooner. So fewer nights/more points or more nights/fewer points? I'd rather have more nights spent at lower Cat hotels.
Usually, location is what makes the hotel a higher category, not necessarily the type of property. A FI in Manhattan will have a higher Cat number that one in Lawrence, KS obviously. When I stay in Paris, I may stay at a property in the Le Defense section vs on the Champs Élysées. That way its generally less expensive, a little out of the way, yet still nice, so for me, the Cat 1-4 (or 5) certs are fine!
That is some great information you have shared with us!
Agree with you about picking our properties that save you money/points that are still reasonably located! I have always been a fan of La Defense Renaissance. For the 15 minutes it takes you by Metro, it is well worth staying there, especially on the week-ends, when you get a reduced rate.
That's a beautiful hotel. Good food, and easy access to major sights in and around Paris!
Thanks for reminding me of this place, GoldenBoy
I think the category percentage split also depends on country. I have looked for on the UK Marriott site and this is the breakdown:
Cat 3 = 6
Cat 4 = 6
Cat 5 = 21
Cat 6 = 9
Cat 7 = 9
Cat 8 = 4
Cat 9 = 6
So only 54% are cat 5 and below. Take out the airport hotels, and that leaves even less.