Its incredibly easy to use points at Marriott. Over the past 5 years I've blown over 1m points in places like Egypt, Moscow, Monte Carlo, London, Paris and New York as well as many more mundane places where prices reached insane levels due to events such as Marathons or football, or just for the night before a flight. Yes, sometimes demand can be high, then if you don't book early, you lose out. Sometimes values can be appalling in which case I choose to pay cash and accumulate in the full knowledge that a better redemption opportunity will come my way another time. The secret is flexibility.
As for Platinum being a sham, sure the scheme has issues, lack of almost all bennies at resorts, lack of breakfast at Courtyards, closure of lounges at weekends, sudden withdrawal of the BOGO offer, but it also has real bright spots, guaranteed lounge access, 7 day week breakfast, free internet, and at least internationally, a good upgrade policy, and of course the extra points and welcome gift. Certainly not a sham from my point of view.
If you want to sample a sham platinum see IHG, a true benefit free zone, and try redeeming points there too, by no means easy at decent values, then again it does do easy pricing, 5k pointbreaks, and bonus offers that can be insane. Or if you prefer real platinum recognition with a great upgrade record and even points-redeemable suites, then try SPG, though beware, it's earn and burn rate is atrociously poor, though once you've got those points they're easy-peasy to redeem, with last room points availability.
It all comes down to balance, loads of points at IHG, but redemption and benefit issues, real plat recognition at SPG, but hugely expensive redemptions against the earn-rate. Basically, I prefer Marriott which I think has has a good balance of pointearning vs benefits vs availability.
In any event, No, Marriott Rewards is not a sham. Not at all!
What Bob said. But adding my input.
Being part of Marriott Rewards means that I earn points or certificates which I've redeemed in cities like London, Vienna, Los Angeles, Chicago, and other large, expensive cities. I rarely have trouble booking award stays.
Being Platinum I get 50% bonus points, free internet, free arrival gift, guaranteed exec lounge access or breakfast if the lounge is closed or there is no lounge, upgrades, and a 48-hour Platinum override.
So no I don't consider Marriott Rewards or Platinum membership to be a sham.
Re: your frustration with trying to use your points. While they might not be available today, award inventory can open up so you might want to keep checking. Good luck.
Couldn't disagree more. Marriott's program is by far my favorite! The key with any program is knowing how to use it, and more importantly...when to use it. I just stayed in Munich for Oktoberfest on points, and while I had to book the stay early, it was well worth it. If I had used the same amount of points in the US, it would be worth $75-$150 per night. But in Munich during Oktoberfest, that room rate is over $500 per night at the current conversion. I booked 2 rooms for 3 nights so I saved nearly $3K!!!
In addition to the points program, I have been able to use the override in some really key situations, and have had many upgrades over the years. (I have found that if you don't ask for an upgrade, you usually don't get one though). I'm sure that like with any program, there are situations where things don't work out for you, but more often than not I have been happy with this program.
When you're trying your booking, you might want to click "my dates are flexible" as I believe that will show you the entire month & you'll be able to see if a single night is interfering with your ability to book. If it is, then you can potentially book the point stays around that & pay cash for the single night, or contact Marriott Reward customer service & see if they can contact the hotel to open up the single night. Alternatively sometimes if you do a night by night check for your preferred dates you can put them together that way & then have reservations merge them into a single reservation.
I think the "when available" is a real sham when there is also "No Blackout Dates" - it is an oxymoron to say the least. Though I would not really call it a sham, I do believe there are many times I wish to use points but cannot - and unfortunately, my dates are usually not flexible. Example - attend a ND game - either there are rooms available game-day or there are not, no flexibility there.
yes I know about the ND games and the rates the Fairfield inn charges for game weekends but they are in business to make a profit. I haven't had a lot of trouble redeeming point sin many places in the US and overseas but I am sure when here is a big event it most certainly will be tough. I do like platinum esc lifetime
No blackouts is not the equivalent of last available room (ala Starwood). Short of an exemption by HQ, rooms are made available for awards but it does not mean all rooms are available for awards, just a certain amount.
For dates like ND or other major football games (or any large event such as NYC on NYC), booking way in advance is usually the only way to snag one of the award rooms (or hoping one opens up game day, but the latter doesn't help much if travel is involved). It's not uncommon for all chain hotels (not just Marriott) to be fully booked on certain big football (or event) days.
Yes, I have used them in Napa Valley. You can't expect to always find a room on every date at every hotel. For one thing, hotels get completely sold out to both cash and points customers. As others have said, be flexible on dates, properties, and book popular destinations well in advance. (Compared to booking award travel on Delta Airlines, Marriott's program is a breeze!)