81 Replies Latest reply: Nov 9, 2015 8:59 AM by CANADIANCASTAWAYS RSS

2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips

jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
Currently Being Moderated

The 2015 category changes have been announced.  The announcement can be found here: First look at 2015 hotel category changes – Book before March 19, 2015 using the current hotel categories  Some like brightlybob have touched briefly on European hotel category changes.


A few observations about properties here in the US (please feel free to share other observations about US or international properties):

 

Nashville is looking at 12 hotels going up in category; Baltimore Inner Harbor is seeing five properties go up and will no longer have a Category 5 within walking distance to the Inner Harbor; Charleston, SC is seeing 11 properties go up; Denver and its suburbs (including Boulder) has been hit hard with 30 properties going up

 

The following properties are ones I felt were good or decent uses of Category 5 and will be moving to Category 6:

 

FFI Ithaca, NY

Sawgrass Marriott - Florida

Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa - Florence, AL

Renaissance Charlotte South Park

Renaissance Arlington Capital View (already noted by both vaboywnder and pluto77)

 

I am happy to see the Dearborn Inn is staying a Category 5.  It is a really unique property and in my opinion continues to be a good use of Cat 5 certs. (jerrycoin is a big fan and bejacob stayed here in 2014).  Dallas while also not a resort destination also seems to still be a place where you can get value from a Cat. 5 certificate with three full service properties at category 5 or below.  Where else can we find a sweet spot for using the Cat 5 certificates?

 

Related to the Cat 5 certificates - a question that has been circulating on travel boards and blogs with airline devaluations is whether or not the co-branded credit cards are becoming less valuable (i.e. Delta Airlines).  Anyone planning to or considering cancelling their Marriott CC?

 

For information on previous years category changes see links below:

 

2011 Annual Hotel Category Changes

 

Marriott Rewards 2012 Hotel Category Changes

 

2013 Marriott Rewards Hotel Category Changes List

 

First look at 2014 hotel category changes – Book before April 8, 2014 using the current hotel categories

 

We were also lucky to have pingreeman provide us a great analysis of last years changes which can be found here: The 2014 Categories Announced – the Numbers Crunched

 

One thing that we have found out over the years is that we can not control which properties change, but we can share our tips on properties to book before changes go into effect.  Which properties should be on people's lists?  IAHFLYR, ks77, arkwright, Sledchick, razorbackfan, lakersfan, foxglove, bejacob, pluto77, vaboywnder, brightlybob, superchief1, ssindc, psudad, shoeman1000, kharada46, jasper100, zukracer, jerryl, nuhusker, fschumpert and anyone I may have forgotten give us your thoughts and recommendations.

 

Mark March 18 on your calendars to get those bookings in.

(For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

Location Brand Hotel
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA Renaissance Hotels Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark Hotel
Dallas, Texas, USA
Denver, Colorado, USA
Boulder, Colorado, USA
Dearborn, Michigan, USA Marriott Hotels & Resorts The Dearborn Inn, A Marriott Hotel
Ithaca, New York, USA Fairfield Inn By Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites Ithaca
Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, USA Marriott Hotels & Resorts Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa
Florence, Alabama, USA Marriott Hotels & Resorts Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa
Arlington, Virginia, USA Renaissance Hotels Renaissance Arlington Capital View Hotel
Categories
  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    slamwise Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    I'm disappointed to see the FFI in Ithaca getting bumped up to a Cat 6 as well. It was one of the only Cat 5's in the Finger Lakes area that we were able to use our CC cert at for a quick getaway.. I believe the only Cat 5's now that are even remotely close are in the Horseheads/Elmira area which is unfortunate. Still think I'll be holding on to the CC though - those 15 extra nights are usually just enough to get me to the Plat plateau.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    superchief1 Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    I've noticed the following cities to be severely impacted. If you plan trips to these areas, reserve before the points go up.

    Boston

    Washington, DC

    Baltimore

    Many Florida cities

    Seattle

    Portland, OR

    New Orleans

    Indianapolis

    St. Louis

    San Francisco

    San Diego

    LAX

    It appears that most of the increases are at category 5-7 hotels.Several went up a category last year.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    john_thai Platinum 8 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    I see a whole bunch of cat 9 on the list. I didn't realize it went that high.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Many of us here on MRI, started thinking last year and possibly even sooner, that it is only a matter of time before a category 10 is created. I just wish there was some sort of explanation or reasoning behind the categories. Aside from the redemption points needed for nights, I don't understand what makes a property for example a 5 vs a 6. For a FFI to be a cat 7 I find ridiculous. Even in a desirable location, a FFI is not worth a huge number of points (at least to me). It does not have the same amenities and services that FS Marriotts have and therefore IMO should not be high category properties. For example, the FFI Anaheim is near Disneyland, okay that's fine, but there is no restaurant or bar on property, obviously no Concierge Lounge, and parking is $15 a day. I personally don't see how a FFI is worth 35k points a night but that is just my humble opinion.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    californian Platinum 37 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    I will probably be getting rid of my Marriott credit card in the near future.  Once I can't find a cat 5 hotel to use the certificate, it is time for it to go.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I agree. Chase really should negotiate a higher category for it. Even for a cat 6 I could certainly find some properties to use it. But at 5 I REALLY have to look now.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        west_mi Gold
        Currently Being Moderated

        Same thought here.  There was only 1 cat 5 in my area left that I could use the CC cert at and it just went to a 6.  I will be dumping the card for something else.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jerryl Platinum 2 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I would agree with you . the only reason to spend the 85  dollars on the card is the free night( to me at least). If you cant find a hotel you want to stay in why keep the card .

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        californian Platinum 37 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        I pay $85 for the card that I only use at Marriott's.  It has been a good deal since the value of the free night has been more than $85.  I checked and one cat 5 in my area has a price of $84 for some nights.  At this time, the card costs $1 but I would not drive to this hotel without spending more than 1 night so there is still a cost but acceptable.

         

        At this time, I think everyone can see that 1 Marriott point is worth about $0.005 and definitely less than $0.01.  I have other cards where I can get $0.015 and another that gives $0.01 per dollar spent.  I am staying at Marriotts less and less so the card is no longer a good deal for me.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      bejacob Platinum 38 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I am still able to find plenty of places to use my certificates. I'll admit that my travels take me to less frequented areas, but my overall history with Marriott looks like this

       

      categories.PNG

       

      For me, the promo certificates still offer great value. Naturally I prefer to use them at category 5 locations than category 1.

       

      Even better are the points and nights earned from using the card. While I can envision scenarios where I might drop the card, I'm nowhere near that point now. 

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    OK, jakeal, I'll take the bait.

    • I understand the frustration that folks voice, but it's always seemed to me that there is a certain logic to
      • having lots of levels, and
      • adjusting the levels periodically.
    • Also, 9 pages of downward adjustments versus 22 pages of upward adjustments doesn't seem out of line with the economic recovery and what we're seeing with hotel (and airfare) prices.
      • It looks (again) like most of the downgrades are in the mid-to-low category ranges - but, if you travel to those locations, those savings are significant.
      • And, yes, most of the downgrades are out of the most attractive domestic urban centers, but that seems consistent with the market.
      • And, it's true, over the last few years there's been a lot of movement in the highest categories (including the addition of a new top tier).
    • I'd rather have the categories reflect market conditions - or in other words, reflect appropriate "price" or point premiums - than have the best properties blacked out.  Better to pay a point premium than to not get access (as is what frequently happens with air miles.)
      • I've read many horror stories over the years about folks who couldn't use the Marriott points, but I have never had that experience.
        • We've used points for extended stays in extraordinary (top tier) properties in fabulous cities - including Barcelona, Berlin, Florence, London, Paris - as well as exquisite resorts in more isolated spots (our favorite being the sublime Renaissance in Barga, Italy - wow)...
    • In other words, I continue to believe that points have no more absolute value than any other form of currency - they have a relative (variable) value - and, just as your dollar or Euro fluctuates in purchasing power, so should your points, particularly within a closed market.
      • So, sure, I'm disappointed when the property I covet costs more, but I'm still ecstatic that I can stay there if I've accumulated enough points.
    • Personally, I found the PDF chart difficult to use - the web's search feature helps, but the order is weird, and most of the non-US properties lack the name of a country (and, frequently, a city-specific search may not paint the entire picture).
    • The good news is that it sure looks to me like a lot of interesting properties went down a category, particularly in exotic, non-US-destinations;
    • it looks like 28 Autograph properties went up a category, 3 Autographs went down - that's a shame - I've been impressed with (relatively small number of) the Autograph properties I've stayed at
    • NYC has been a lost cause for some time - so I don't see any relief there....

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      You make a good point that I hadn't even considered. The idea of blacked out properties is awful. I agree, I would rather be forced to pay a premium for what I want that have no option at all!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ndn Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      It looks like San Francisco took a HUGE hit, too. Every cat-8 there except the Adagio just went up to a 9. That is a real shame.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Great commentary ssindc.  You make great points about the economics of "points". 

       

      I agree with you about the autograph properties - sad to see 28 going up.  My stays at the Glenn Hotel and The Hotel Minneapolis in 2014 were fabulous and I have two Autograph collection stays already booked for 2015.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      superchief1 Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      I don't have a problem with adjustments for inflation, since room rates go up and points are based on $ spending. My problem is the rate of the adjustment. Most of the properties in popular destinations have increased categories in at least 3 of the past four years. That is an average increase of about 15-20% per year. These rates of increases aren't justified and greatly diminish the values of our points that we have worked hard to earn.

       

      I think the oldtimers like myself are particularly impacted because there were few increases in previous years, prior to Sorenson taking over. I had hoped to use them for trips when I retire in a few years. Now I have to spend them before they are worthless. 

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    nuhusker Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Just like many others, I am disappointed when the price of a stay, dollars or points, goes up.  But I sure like it when I get a raise.  Isn't that what Marriott is doing...giving themselves a raise?  Even my utility bill just went up, and my gasoline will cost me ten cents more per gallon starting this Sunday, but neither will keep me from doing what I want to do or what I can afford to do.  I don't travel for business very much anymore, but I won't let a few, or even a few thousand, points negatively impact my plans.  I try to keep it all in perspective. Life is fleeting. Enjoy it!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jerryl Platinum 2 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      I Just booked the aruba ren on points for april vs initially paying. Booked five days for four and beat the points increase

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        tker Alumni Steward Platinum 1 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Two years ago the Aruba Ren was a category 5. We used our Chase certs there! Now really headed up-one click/year. I do think its a expensive to use for points. AAA rates are in the $160-1$180 range. But the 5th night on points free makes it a better value.

         

        This hotel is one of my favorite in the world. We stay at the Surf Club for a week and add a few nights at the Ren. I love the island and the vibe of being in town.

         

        We will be there in May. Have a great time!

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Great outlook, nuhusker!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Jakeal and friends,

     

    A few reactions based on my own experience over the past two years:

     

    1. The obvious point - made by others - is that it is sometimes very difficult to understand how individual hotel ratings can be used as the basis of comparisons between hotels. For example, how can the AC Irla (Barcelona)and the Cologne Marriott be given the same rating - 7 - when the former, as an AC, is explicitly presented to a lower room specification, while the latter is an altogether superior establishment, with refurbished Executive Rooms, an excellent Executive Lounge and a good gym. The answer, I imagine, lies not with the hotels themselves, but with their location. Or perhaps the aggressiveness of the franchisee!

     

    2. That apart, a few sites that catch the eye for various reasons:

     

    a) AC Bologna, down to 3. The point here is that the hotel is a perfectly acceptable AC site with all that implies - e.g. modern, "cool" room decor, no Executive Lounges - but it is a mile or so away from the city centre;

     

    b) Manchester Victoria and Albert (UK): up to 7, a travesty of a rating!. This hotel does not have a Lounge or a Gym; and has a staff turnover rate, reflecting its dependence on "casual" staff, that often makes more than basic competence almost impossible.

     

    c) JW Shanghai: also up to 7. Yet this hotel has a city centre location that is truly memorable, a Lounge on the 58th Floor, etc etc.

     

    d) Berlin Marriott - up to 8, a rating that makes a nonsense of b) above. This is one of the best Marriotts in Europe: excellent location, superb building, imaginative lay-out and decor, management continuity, first-class Lounge, Gym and Bars.

     

    Best wishes and good luck,

     

    A

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      arkwright - Thanks for your thoughts.  I may include Berlin in a October trip to Europe so I will certainly book the Berlin Marriott before March 19. 

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Jakeal,

         

        I doubt that you'll be disappointed.

         

        I spend a while in Berlin, Munich and Cologne every year. Let me know if I can help your planning in any way.

         

        A

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    vaboywnder Alumni Steward Platinum 21 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Hi Everyone,

     

    I've taken the time to covert the 2015 Category Changes PDF to an Excel Document which is sorted by Hotel Name.  Here is a public link to the Excel Document which can be viewed or downloaded.  Hopefully some Insiders will find this file helpful:

     

    https://virginia.box.com/s/mp0ncuuehzmfec99tvilnsbr9jxg5avy

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      californian Platinum 37 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Nice work but might I suggest that you first sort on present category and then hotel name as an alternative for us.  Many might be interested in hotels that are a cat 5 and might be changing.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        vaboywnder Alumni Steward Platinum 21 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        Sure...I can do that.

         

        Here is a link to the Document sorted by Present Category then Hotel Name.

         

        https://virginia.box.com/s/7uukkk0hqeqt1odjeqtzhdetht3znfzy

         

        Also this excel file can be downloaded for anyone who wants to perform their own customized searching/sorting.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
          kristibgm Platinum
          Currently Being Moderated

          you did ALL of that ......work???

          That is CRAZY AWESOME.... Thanks I got it SAVED in a file to refer back to

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
            vaboywnder Alumni Steward Platinum 21 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            It didn't take too long.  I found an online tool that was able to convert the pdf to an excel file and then it was just a matter of sorting the data in excel.

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
          californian Platinum 37 Reviews
          Currently Being Moderated

          Thanks.  Much more useful.  It would help if Marriott had standard naming.  The CY and FFI are easy but not the Marriott's but we can't do anything about that.  I will be getting a lot of points later this year and am not sure where to use them but know it must be soon.  Where will you visit in Australia?

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

          • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
            vaboywnder Alumni Steward Platinum 21 Reviews
            Currently Being Moderated

            I have a 7 night Cat 8 Cert from a travel package that we are planning to use for the Sydney Marriott.  We also plan to visit Melbourne for 2-3 days as well.  Originally we were thinking of taking the trip in November after the "big event" but we may wait till January that way we can enjoy all of the holidays at home with the family and not feel rushed.  Plus if we go in January we maybe able to avoid some of the nasty winter weather here in Virginia. 

            (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

            • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
              californian Platinum 37 Reviews
              Currently Being Moderated

              Jan should have good weather but could be hot.  Nov probably would be better but who can predict the weather.  The last time I went was in October because of availability of flights and hotels using miles/points.  It was a little cool but doable.  I like Melbourne.  It is a friendly safe feeling city.  I walked about a half mile to a Starbucks at midnight and felt safe and the Starbucks was really busy.  They have a different lifestyle than we do.  I think you will enjoy it. 

              (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Nice work, vaboywnder - thanks!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ssindc Platinum 42 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      vaboywnder, that's awesome....

       

      now, in the "no good deed goes unpunished" category, if you could add a column for countries (or states), well....  sorry, I couldn't resist...

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    panusr Platinum 1 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Nice job buddy. It is amazing how Cat 2 hotels have blossomed into higher categories.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    Location Brand Hotel
    Categories
  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    vickisocal Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    The Courtyard Goleta at a Cat 8!! Goleta!!!

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      californian Platinum 37 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      The FFI in Orange Beach, a low cost vacation area is moving to a cat 7.  The last time I stayed there I paid under $100.  This makes the points use worth about 1/4 cent each.  Not good!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jjordan Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      I agree, category 8 for Goleta is too high!  They'll get away with it because it's the closest Marriott property to Santa Barbara.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    superchief1 Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    Many of the hotels that have very high category designations are in areas that are highly seasonal. The assigned category reflects the high demand season. In previous years, pointsaver awards were often offered at these properties in off seasons. It seems like pointsavers have basically disappeared. 

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jakeal Gold 15 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      superchief1 - great point about PointSavers.  I have noticed it as well and it seems (Seasonal Awards) also have ceased to exist.  In Nov 2013 NathalieF announced Seasonal Awards through February 2014, though I have not seen any announced since (though I could have missed it).

       

      Any comments you can providejoshm, KatieC, lindseyh, melissaerb, and CariJ?  What is Marriott's plan going forward with PointSaver and Seasonal awards?

       

      Thanks!

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        jerryl Platinum 2 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        a point saver approach should be good for the hotels too. Guest will still spend money on restaurants and other things. By the way they do increase point requirements when busy. I am going to a Notre Dame game in October and the hotels in the area that do accept points have raised the number of points to use on a football weekend so we will stay just outside the South Bend area.

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      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        lindseyh Community Manager Marriott Associate Member
        Currently Being Moderated

        Looking into this now, jakeal and superchief1!

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      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        lindseyh Community Manager Marriott Associate Member
        Currently Being Moderated

        Hey all, it looks like PointSavers and Seasonal Awards programs are still up and running. Here are links to each of the webpages.

        Marriott Rewards PointSavers

        Seasonal Awards

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        • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
          superchief1 Platinum
          Currently Being Moderated

          Lindseyh,

          Thanks for providing the information. I only noticed a few pointsavers offers even thought this is low season for many areas. I recall a significant number of pointsavers offers in the past, so it appears these offers are relatively rare today.

          (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    brightlybob Platinum 10 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    In understanding these annual category shifts it is important to realise the fundamental difference between airline programs and hotels. Airline miles redeem for seats airlines actually own. Unoccupied, that seat is worthless, hence it can be given away. Most redemptions "cost" airlines nothing, it's just frequent passengers filling otherwise empty seats. The airline owns the miles AND the seat. Conversely, the big hotels are franchised out, Marriott may own our points but it DOESN'T own the hotel room, meaning when one of us books a redemption night Marriott gives the franchisee money, though not much if the hotel isn't full (rumoured to be around $10 for a FFI to $50 for Ritz) but an awful lot (rumoured to be based on 90% REVpar) if the hotel is near capacity.



     

    So the Marriott Rewards program has to be understood as a separate business which because it pays out real cash to 3rd parties has to balance its books. Marriott charges franchisees for the points hotels give us on stays and a proportion of the franchise fees received from hotels are directed to the scheme as a marketing tool. Marriott then "creates" the megabonus points we receive every year. The loyalty scheme thus has a budget and must ensure outgoings do not outstrip incomings. The Rewards program is designed to encourage us to redeem at hotels that seldom fill (ie roadside FFI/CY) where the loyalty scheme pays the franchisee only $10 for the room, rather than popular, regularly-over-90%-full city centre and resort locations. Of course our families don't want to vacation at a roadside FFI, they want to vacation in resorts, or major exciting cities like London, Paris, New York, Tokyo etc. Alas for the loyalty scheme these hotels often run close to capacity, meaning instead of paying only $20-$40 for a $500 room it's stuck with paying $400, or more.



     

    To be blunt, if we all redeemed all our points only in 90%-full hotels the scheme would go bust. Marriott has to encourage us to go to less well-occupied properties and discourage us from the expensive ones. Hence the categories. The category 1 hotels either seldom fill or have lowest REVpar. When we redeem our 7,500 points here Marriott Rewards pays out maybe $8 to the hotel (Payout = $1 per 1k). Conversely category 9 hotels frequently fill and have the higher REVpar, so when we redeem our 45,000 points there Marriott Rewards prays to the gods of luck! If the hotel isnt running at near capacity, Marriott pays out maybe $40 to the franchisee ($1 per 1k) but if it is nearly full then Marriott has to pay 90% REVpar, maybe $450 to the hotel ($10 per 1k) for every redemption room that night. These figures are fictitious but, I think, representative.



     

    So to the annual category changes. They have a dual purpose. One is stated, the other is not.



     

    The first purpose is to adjust rates to reflect Marriotts exposure to redemptions. This is the stated purpose and can be easily seen at work in 3 examples, Egypt, Moscow and London.



     

    EGYPT



     

    Prior to the "Arab Spring" Marriott's inventory in Cairo and the Red Sea was mainly categories 4 and 5. These were middle categories because although Cairo is a capital city and the Red Sea resorts are, well, resorts (and I've already identified these as likely upper categories) they are situated in a 3rd World country where hotel rates are low, even at 90% REVpar AND its an expensive flight for most of Marriotts membership in the USA where the main majority of Marriott points are earned and held. Hence these hotels saw relatively low redemption levels in comparison to other capital city/resort locations. However during the Egyptian revolution and it's messy aftermath tourism to the country collapsed. As a result Egyptian redemptions collapsed so Marriott Rewards applied the only tool it had to try and encourage redemptions, category reductions, year after year of them. Now all the Egyptian hotels are bumping along the bottom at categories 1-3 only.



     

     

    MOSCOW



     

    SInce the end of the 1990's Moscow has been a city of considerable growth and tourist interest, in a stable part of the world. Like other hotel chains Marriott has encouraged franchises to open. At the fall of Communism there were no quality hotels there, but by 2005 every major chain had several properties. The central Marriotts there were all at Cats 4 and 5 but as Moscows popularity increased so did redemptions and by last year the Marriott Aurora was a Cat 8! However Russia's involvement in the Ukraine has made it unpopular in the west, less tourists are visiting and redemptions are down. As a result the categories have been reduced to try and attract redemptions there again.



     

    LONDON



     

    London is on most people's bucket list and is a very popular destination for Americans. The city is abundant with the offerings from the major American chains and Marriott has its share. All of its Marriott branded city centre hotels are 5 star top-Category destinations. All except one that is, the 4 star, fine but otherwise very straightforward Marriott Marble Arch. It's was category 8 last year, when all other Marriott branded central London hotels (Grosvenor House, County Hall, Park Lane and Grosvenor Square) were cat 9s. So the Marble Arch Marriott was 20,000 points cheaper on a 5 night stay. Whilst at that differential I'd stick with one of the Cat9 selections, it's obviously getting redeemed beyond its weight, so now it's been elevated to a punishing Cat9. In reality what Marriott would like to do is raise the other 4 up a category but as they're at the top so the only way to curb the excessive redemption activity at Marble Arch is the blunt instrument of a category rise. Marriotts problem is that as a redemption choice the Marble Arch is now rock bottom value compared to the other 4 and redemption activity is likely to fall off the proverbial cliff. Thus its likely to fall back to Cat8 next year, whilst in the meantime, unsupported by the Marble Arch pressure valve, redemption activity will now centre on the other 4.




     

    The second purpose of category adjustments is the one not stated; to devalue points by effectively increasing the average redemption cost.



     

    Inflation exists in the real world outside the program and this has to reflected within it. This can be done by making a straight across-the-board small percentage increase to every hotel. But it wouldn't be popular and would be complicated as odd figures piled on odder figures still. So the simplest way to deflate the value of our points is to increase the cost of redemptions by moving more properties up a category than down. That is the route Marriott has chosen this year.



     

    To examine this a good starting point is our experience. Some members will be more effected than others. For instance this year I'm planning a Roadtrip during which we will visit 5 Marriott hotels for 37 room nights all on points. The cost is 600,000 points. Only 1 of the hotels on our itinerary is effected and it's an increase. Its only for 3 of our room nights. The extra cost is 15,000 points, or 2.5%. More than current inflation but nothing to lose sleep about. Of course my experience could have been different, a hotel where I'm staying longer could make a bigger difference and as it happens we're spending a long time with relatives so choosing instead to inflate the hotel we are staying at in Oakville, ON could have increased my 600k budget by 120k, that's 20%.



     

    The current adjustments saw 64% of hotels untouched, but of the 36% that changed, 75% increased. Logically, if the purpose of the annual change was to rebalance hotel redemptions then roughly the same number would decrease as increased. In fact out of 100 hotels 64 stayed the same, 9 decreased and 27 increased. The difference between the 9 decrease and the 27 increase represents the inflationary devaluation of points. That figure is 18, suggesting a net inflation of 18% but that of course isn't the case. Whilst 18% of hotels are artificially inflated, each hotel only inflates in price between 12% (cat 8 to cat 9) and 50% (cat 2 to cat 3). The mathematical outcome is that increases have a greater inflationary effect than decreases deflate. For instance the reduction of a 15k cat 3 to a 10k cat 2 is a 33% deflation whereas an increase of a 10k cat 2 to a 15k cat 3 is 50%! I've swapped 2 hotels but mathematically I've inflated more than I've deflated, despite the fact that if I stayed at them both the week before the adjustment it would cost 25k, and it would be the same the next week! Lies, damn lies and statistics, eh?



     

    The real net redemption inflation is only known to Marriott as only Marriott is aware out of the list of increases those that were purely to balance the redemption books and those that weren't, and hence represented inflation. We can nonetheless use averaging to get some idea. Say I stayed 100 nights at 100 different hotels, 11 in each category, making 99 and the last extra one at a cat5. My trip would cost me 2,527,500 points. Assuming these hotels reflected the fact that 36% changed and followed the percentages evenly across the board, then 64 would remain unchanged, 9 would go down in cost and 9 up which is cost neutral, but 16 of the other 18 would go up by 5000 points each without any offsetting decrease. The other 2 would be Cat1s increasing by 2,500 points each, giving a total increase of 85,000 points. This is our inflation, the new cost to us is now 2,612,500, an effective 3.33% increase.



     

    So there we have it. 9 pages of hotels going down and 26 pages going up is a 3.33% increase.



     

    So, not so bad, after all.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      californian Platinum 37 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      This is a really good explanation.  I had the occasion to speak to the GM at a hotel that I stayed at.  He told me how he hated to get redemptions since he only was paid $45 for the night that about covered cleaning cost.  He said that the first thing he looked at each day is how many redemptions and the occupancy that day to see if it were over 90% and said the same thing that then he was paid considerably more.  From this, he didn't make any money on a redemption stay but it didn't cost him anything since the room would not have been sold anyway and Marriott covered the cleaning.  If the occupancy was high, then he might have been able to sell the room and so was paid a fair price.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        ndn Platinum
        Currently Being Moderated

        This is called transfer pricing.     

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    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      superchief1 Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      Although Marriott doesn't own these properties, they benefit from Marriott affiliation and the loyalty of Marriott Reward members. A core element of the loyalty is earning points in Marriott Rewards and the ability to redeem those points for free hotel stays. If Marriott continues to increase the cost of reward redemptions 15-20% per year for properties people really want to stay, there will be little incentive for members to have loyalty to Marriott and stay in these properties. The cost of room redemptions is really a marketing cost.

       

      Previously, I would spend a little more to stay at a Marriott property. This enabled Marriott associated hotels to earn a higher margin for their paid stays. Now, I have little incentive to stay with Marriott so my decisions will be driven by price and these hotels will no longer be able to charge a premium because they are part of Marriott. I think their overall profitability will decline without Marriott loyalty.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        vickisocal Platinum
        Currently Being Moderated

        I think the issue is that those properties where redemption is VERY high are carrying the marketing load of thousands of properties without high redemption rates. At the Marriott in Wailea over Thanksgiving a few years back the FDC told me 75% of the stays that week were redemption stays. So they raise the redemption "cost" at those sorts of properties to lessen the impact on them, and then we complain.

         

        As far as the certs- it appears the MB certs are a thing of the past. So now it's just the Chase 1-5 certs. If members continue to find using those to be hard and the mere process of looking for a hotel "cheap" enough to use it at pisses the member off, the marketing team at Chase and Marriott need to rethink their strategy.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      blava007 Platinum
      Currently Being Moderated

      brightlybob

          

      I always like reading your informative posts, but today your specific comment "These figures are fictitious but, I think,
      representative", is not correct and I feel you are making too many assumptions how the MR Rewards internal payback systems operates.

          

      At end of the day, the value of MR Rewards Points are being devaluated again, and we as MR community are  focusing on the wrong issues.         

          

      MR member since 1984, stayed at Marriott hotels in 22 countries around the World.

         

       


      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        brightlybob Platinum 10 Reviews
        Currently Being Moderated

        My information is both a mix of straightforward info, publicly available (ie the difference between airlines and hotels loyalty schemes), Marriotts own info (category shifts arise to realign redemption activity) and info picked up over the years at hotels and on the Internet. In particular litigation papers that came out in public concerning Starwood and a Marriott payment table that was leaked onto the internet. I think the principle that only a small amount is paid to franchisees for redemptions unless the hotel is close to capacity is both correct and widely accepted as so. The figures I quote are certainly guesses however. The point being made here was NOT the sums themselves but rather that these category shifts are essential to keep the scheme solvent. Seperating that essential function of the category shifts from the optional points inflation element is the tough bit.

         

        In reality this shift has had a clearly inflationary outcome, but with the exception of the EDITION shifts to RC Tiers (which is a very clearly inflationary act, egregiously so for the Miami EDITION) the general effect has been only a few percentage points. I might add that I'm disappointed Marriott didn't lay off this year, as IHG did last and both Hyatt and Starwood has done this. All the same, even after this increase, Marriott still retains top value for earn and burn rates.

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

        • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
          ndn Platinum
          Currently Being Moderated

          This is Managerial Accounting 101. To maximize overall contribution margin, a company should set the transfer price equal to marginal cost. In this case, marginal cost is either rack rate (when hotel is full) or cost to clean the room (when the hotel is not full).

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    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      arkwright Platinum 2 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      BB

       

      An excellent and enlightening analysis.

       

      Thank you.

       

      A

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      jimaruba Gold 1 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Very interesting analysis. At times there are no rewards redemptions available at a property when there are rooms available forcash. Who determines that? Marriott or the property?

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

      • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
        ndn Platinum
        Currently Being Moderated

        At times there are rewards redemptions available when there are no cash stays!     

        (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    tker Alumni Steward Platinum 1 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    My thoughts on the increase is that it really impacts loyalty. That seems obvious-let me explain.

     

    I haven't seen paid rates change much. I stay about 100 nights/year. Paid stays are pretty stable. What is the point of MR? To create loyalty. To allow free stays-mostly for pleasure. Benefits when traveling so much to add some creature comforts. The huge increase in # of points needed really devalues the program and risks loyalty. Category 7 was the highest just a few years ago. Then 8 and 9. Now there are many 7's and 8's. Plus the increased 6's.

     

    The Chase cert is nearly unusable at any property you may have considered a few years ago.

     

    Point earning should be adjusted and the Chase cert should include cat 6. I doubt that will change, but it will keep people focused on Marriott.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    nigs Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    I think the devaluation this year is worse than any year I can remember. As a platinum member Marriott makes a killing off of me as whenever my company pays for my stays I am always gearing it towards Marriott exclusively. The Edition hotel Miami jumping 55k points a night! Ritz Bal Harbour 20k! These are crazy and unjust numbers . 5-10k a year is hurtfull but this is just flat out insulting. I basically saved my points just to get spat at. Marriott is the only program this year to devalue this bad.

     

    Starwood will be getting my loyalty this year as their changes actually were for the better on 80% percent of the changes. You can trust as a starwood member that the program will remain stable. Marriott has become a third world country in my opinion.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    salem Platinum
    Currently Being Moderated

    I've stayed a a few properties in Seattle, Portland,Baton Rouge, Washington DC area and others that are going from a cat.4-5 to a cat 5-6 in my opinion for no good reason.  These properties have not had any renovations or improvements made in years let alone scheduled maintenance to the carpet, wallpaper, damaged or missing furniture or even torn bedding.  If a property has undergone a major renovatuion or improvement I might see a reason to up its category, but not when it's the same sad property.  I will find somewhere else to spend my points.  Currently I'm at the SEA-TAC Courtyard scheduled to go from at cat.5 to cat 6, my room has the same scratched furniture I've seen for the past three years except this room is missing a coffee table. So I don't get how this property deserves to jump from a stable cat 5 to a cat 6 property. The staff is always friendly and nice which is why I always enjoy staying there, but when the company isn't paying for the room I won't be using my points to stay there.

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    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      77paris Platinum 17 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      Well said salem.  Clean, fresh, updated, appealing are non-negotiables.  When needed upkeep isn't done it is unacceptable to me….to raise the hotel category on top of neglecting the property is a slap in the face of loyal Marriott guests and in the Marriott Brand.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

    • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
      ks77 Gold 23 Reviews
      Currently Being Moderated

      You make an excellent point. I agree with you 100%. With property refurbishments, and enhancements I would be okay with category increases but not when the property not only hasn't been updated in a while, but when they are arguably not even up to snuff to being with, moving up in category sounds like a "money grab" to me.

      (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)

  • Re: 2015 Category Changes - Thoughts and Tips
    Sledchick Platinum 9 Reviews
    Currently Being Moderated

    Thanks for the shout out, jakeal  -- here are my suggestions for those of you flexible enough to want to plan a trip to my neck of the woods/country with points:

     

    Book the Northeast, specifically the Boston area, before March 19th.  This was mentioned already.  If you want to do a nice tour-type of visit, start with Boston and then venture to below.

     

    The TownePlace Suites Gilford (NH) is going from a category 5 to a 6.  Boo!  Hiss!  This is the only Marriott property in the Lakes Region of the state (our wonderful Lake Winnipesaukee and its towns are true gems not to be missed).  The staff at this property is outstanding, especially Larry the GM.  There are so many things to see here (too many to list) but there is a great WWII museum in Wolfeboro for you history buffs.  And the largest indoor arcade (Funspot) in the world is located in Laconia, not too far from the hotel.  It has a video game museum in it and you can play all your old favorites that are now antiques.  This is great fun for those ages 2 to 102!

     

    The Courtyard Hanover/Lebanon in NH and the Residence Inn Hanover/Lebanon (in the same shopping complex) are both going from a category 5 to 6.  I'm actually staying there later in March.  If you have an e-certificate for up to a cat. 5, this is a great location right in the Dartmouth College area.  We have a local breweries to visit, historical sites and interesting local shopping (Simon Pearce glass-blowing demonstrations are fantastic), as well as many scenic by-ways and gorgeous lakes to drive along.  Mt. Kearsarge is a lovely hike not far from there.  Get in on this while you can, Insiders!  You can fly into the local Lebanon (LEB) airport or the Manchester/Boston regional airport (MHT) -- rent a car.  And with this trip, you can drive along the beautiful Connecticut River to the Courtyard Keene Downtown.   It's going from a 5 to a 6 as well.  Keene is home to a few smaller colleges, has a vibrant downtown, and Mt. Monadnock is a wonderful hike in that area.  This is a nice property in a great location.

     

    The Residence Inn North Conway is going from a 7 to an 8.  This is the only Marriott property in that northern region of the state and I'm going to warn you, it has high redemption.  It is difficult to even get to use your points here most of the time.  But it's a beautiful region and worth visiting if you've never been in the Mt. Washington area.

     

    To round out your stay, Wentworth by the Sea in New Castle is remaining a category 9 so with all your point savings you can splurge on at least one night here before you head home -- it's so worth it!!!!  I would anticipate this hotel being a category 10 when that awful time comes.

     

    Of note, New Jersey -- I noticed both the Residence Inn Atlantic City Somers Point and the Residence Inn Atlantic City Airport Egg Harbor Township in southern NJ are both going from 5 to 6.  These two are great alternatives to staying in Atlantic City proper, especially if you have children.  I use both of these hotels as my husband has family in this area.

     

    I myself am going to book some nights with points during summer hockey camps in the Boston area.  That's next on my list of things to do on this day off.

     

    Safe travels to all!  And if I can help you with trip planning in my area, feel free reach out.

    (For each location tag, you will be guided through a 3-step process to add (1) a city and a state or a city and a country, (2) a Marriott brand, and (3) a Marriott hotel.)