For any of you who have followed my posts for many years, this won't come as a surprise, since I have been a minimal presence on MRI lately. I tried to stay involved even when I no longer stayed at Marriotts, which started with the devaluations in rewards, diminution of CL privileges, and the lack of hotels in European and MIddle Eastern hotels where I do my research. Even more for me, MRI itself changed. I probably no longer matter to most of you, or jerrycoin, or so many others who never knew us but who traveled internationally all the time and -- I think -- offered valuable information on places to visit, where to stay, where to eat, etc.
All that seems to have changed with the new MRI site, and I want to emphasize I am not singling out MR moderators. But every time I check in and click on INBOX, which is where I found most of my useful info, it was empty or filled with corporate info and supposed values for MRIs. Sometimes I tried checking activity, but too often it was way too specific to be of any interest.
I will continue to check in occasionally though I no longer consider myself a Marriott member, even though I have Silver LIfetime status (whoopee). Three years ago I made a decision based on devaluation, higher rewards thresholds, and fewer Marriotts where I travel to cut my ties. (Venice is a perfect example -- even though I stayed at one (Boscolo) it was so far out of the way I'd never stay there again since I practically live in Venice several times a year. The second is apparently on an otherwise uninhabited island. I cannot understand why if someone goes to Venice they would not want to stay in San Marco or on the Grand Canal. But maybe that's me.)
At any rate, it was the best hotel decision I ever made when I cut my ties to Marriott. I never thought I would cut my high elite status to Delta, but that is exactly what has happened this year to me and so many others with their unbeatably arrogant attitude, constant unannounced changes, and utter devaluation. I've used my remaining half million miles for three 'free' business class tickets to Greece and Venice before 2016.
I was always loyal. Then I learned loyalty didn't matter. Guess what? The result, as I learned when I stopped staying at Marriotts and now am learning thanks to Delta's arrogance and greed is that I am better off. I am no longer chasing the unattainable. For years, I've found the best hotels with best rates, best breakfasts, wifi, etc and when my Delta Platinum runs out on January 2016 I will fly the airline that gives me the most for the best fare.
Loyalty should ALWAYS be a two-way street. I give hotel brands more credit than airlines, especially Delta, but I also feel liberated. I was chasing something that was ultimately stupid for me since I am at best middle to upper middle class and will drop radically upon retirement.
We miss you all, jerry, steppingstones, nuhusker, pluto (a lot of the time), and so many others who made this a great site. Now when I check in, all I see are supposed Marriott bargains. Sorry, not interested.
I know some of us old geezers very much miss you profchiara, jerrycoin, Steppingstones and now erc has recently been among the missing even though lurking still. All of the above mentioned along with GemPrincess gave me and so many others numerous travel tips and excellent local information.
While Insiders for me has turned a bit into a bit more complaining rather than providing special travel insights I still find value in some of the threads, so I will continue to participate until they run me out for old age, unlike the kids here such as pluto77, foxglove, bejacob and the real kids ks77 and kharada46 that we love so much. So don't be a stranger as you've got so much insight to share and maybe someone will gain valuable travel tips.
Thanks for the "Shout out". But like Prof says, this sight has changed dramatically and for the worse. Although I continue to post my experience travelling the world so that it can help others make a educated decision on where they might want to travel, it seems these type of posts have lost the interest to Insiders and they are looking for something else or different!! It is good and nice to know that you continue to value the contributions of us old timers.
If you feel like sharing which hotel chain do you now frequent?
I also severed ties with Delta and now only fly the gulf airlines( primarily Emirates). I actually would have benefited from Delta's policy changes as I fly First/Business but like you it's their arrogance that rubs me the wrong way.
Even though you no longer stay with Marriott I'm sure the community as a whole misses you. We would love to hear your advice and experiences
I don't stay at any hotel chain. I book the best hotel I can find (for what I want) on hotels.com or booking.com and have been very, very happy with the results. I get great prices, free breakfasts, free wifi, a location and amenities I want, etc. Plus they have their own rewards program that is not tied to a particular place or hotel chain. I think the only hotel that is part of a chain aside from 2 Marriott airport stays in the past year was a Hyatt in Nice, FR.
As someone on Flyertalk said of leaving Delta because of the awful and ongoing 2015 devaluations/enhancements, it's proven a blessing in disguise. I will fly Delta when it is the best option but I no longer will pay more to do so. Same with Marriotts.
It's always a treat to read your posts and thanks for the mention. "Chasing the unattainable" is an apt phrase for me as well in relationship to travel loyalty programs, not being a business traveler or yet having the luxury of lots of time for leisure travel. This year most of my leisure travel is on points and the rest of my travel is family related, so my Marriott loyalty portfolio will be pretty dismal come the end of the year. I am sitting here in the most lovely boutique hotel next door to la mairie (city hall) in an absolutely delightful french village, Langeais in the middle of France. Our hostess is amazing, set us up with a two star Michelin restaurant just a two minute walk away last night (incredible meal for 110 euros for two and we had - the works), then this morning she created the most beautiful breakfast table for us that you could ever imagine or hope for. The building is very old, but beautiful and charming with all modern upgrades, lovely room, comfortable bed, up to date bathroom, all for 85 euro, breakfast included. This - THIS - is what true full service is all about. This is the future of my travel. Full service luxury hotels are fine, and indeed I know I will enjoy the Marriott Ambassador Opera later this week and London Couny Hall the week after, but I am enjoying this like nothing else. Having the time of my life here, just like you at your boutique properties in Venice and Luxor. This is my favorite kind of travel accommodation.
Thanks, jerryl, my next door neighbor ! If my health holds I'm using up 2/3 of my Delta miles on business class flights to Greek islands in May and August. If I get a research grant from Colby, I may travel a bit more, though summer is usually the worst time to try and stay in Europe for research. I've used the final third of my Delta miles for a business class trip to Venice in December (when it is amazingly delightful -- few tourists, no cruise ships, the real people of Venice, and beautiful decorations. I've done it in December the past two years and it's both inexpensive, you get into sites right away and can even take photos when they're not usually allowed, like Basilican San Marco).
Of course, as a Platinum Elite Plus till next January I can cancel (for now -- who knows what Delta will spring on us next?) within 72 hours and keep my miles. However, I doubt they will be worth much in 2016 and beyond.
There’s always a dash of sadness whenever I read another post by yet another long-timer saying “Good bye” to MRI, though I can understand the reasons behind the decision. As others have noted, MRI is becoming ever more frequently a place to air grievances—and ever less so a place to share tips and experiences and to celebrate travel. I think this may be, in part, a result of Marriott’s campaign to attract younger travelers, some of whom have a sense of entitlement most codgers—and I include yours truly in that group—seldom grew up with. It seems that many of the most vociferous complaints are from young MRI “Visitors” or “Day Trippers” who’ve joined simply to express displeasure over slow internet speeds, a perceived snub at check-in, etc. In my job, I’ve become somewhat accustomed to that entitled persona: “You mean that due date applied to me, too? But I had two exams this week!”
And I certainly don’t mean to paint with too broad a brush here. Some of our most valued contributors are of a younger generation—you know who you are—and I thank you for your keen insights. Those of us who lived more years before the advent of the web and cell phones than we have since then appreciate your guidance in negotiating the seemingly endless stream of innovations, apps, and upgrades coming out of Silicon Valley, as well as your travel tips and knowledge of distant destinations. And I’m heartened by the fact that new, younger members like chris0311, who can appreciate the value of the camaraderie and knowledge shared, are coming on board.
I’m by no means a road warrior. Well, on second thought, perhaps I am, since most of my travels are courtesy of Air VW at an altitude of, oh, 3 feet or so. (If airline seats could match the fun of a turbocharger and a 6-speed manual transmission, I might fly more often.) But even with my limited travel schedule, I find the tips freely given on MRI invaluable. So like IAHFLYR, I’m on here for the long haul, and I thank you all for your kind-spirited tips, advice, and travelogues.
I apologize for this slight bout of melancholia—my good lady wife is out of town, and my Bulldogs went “one and done” at the big dance. But truth be told, just putting these thoughts out there has given my spirits a lift. In closing, as a salute to one of our missing—but certainly not forgotten—comrades, I say keep on keepin’ on Insiders!
Thanks, razorbackfan. Hey, I was pullin' for 'em in the SEC finals. And I'll definitely be backin' 'em tonight against the 'Heels. And honestly, having already seen Kentucky twice this season and since we were already pretty much assured of making the dance, I wasn't too upset when y'all took it to us in the semis. Best of luck to the Hawgs the rest of the way!
Sorry about the Hogs getting out run by UNC....GO HEELS!!
foxglove back the Heels against the Badgers on Thursday night.....the Heels can run them out of the gym with fresh players coming in and out, but they need a healthy Meeks and Tokoto as JP goes up against his home state kids.
I'm a worse codger than you, since I put myself through college and grad school working at Mass General using a TYPEWRITER. I wonder if it is still in the dictionary? What has turned me off most about the site is when I go to Insiders and constantly see promotions rather than travelers' insights. This is in no way intended to disparage the wonderful community managers -- I imagine they are doing what they are expected to do, and what some -- as you say -- younger members want.
But I remember the days when this really was a travel site, and a much better one than FlyerTalk. I'm finding some of the same capacities with Barclay's World Arrival Platinum Card site especially since you actually get paid for serious commentaries and photos, plus can win awards. It's a bit clunkier, since Marriott has been doing this for a longer time, but it's a fabulous card and travel site.
I'll still stop in now and then - alas, unfortunately when I get upset
"I'll still stop in now and then"
profchiara I'm so glad to hear that! Your willingness to share your knowledge of Europe and all things medieval (as well as your recipe for scarafaggi and mushrooms) has added so much to this site. I look forward to future posts, whenever you get the chance.
Btw, my news-writing classes at J-School were all on electric typewriters, the first I'd ever used. Having learned to type on manuals and being somewhat "heavy fingered," my spppppelllllinggggg took a major hit. When I'd turn in my story, there'd be as many cross-outs as whole words, and my profs would simply shake their heads. No one was happier than I when word processing (and the magical backspace key) came about.
Good luck and safe travels, and as others have stated, don't be a stranger.
Me too -- I learned and had my first jobs on non-electric typewriters (which has probably contributed to my arthritic hands). But I also agree that changing to computers was a problem because of the speediness of the typingggggggg. Now I've found another issue: auto-fill. I haven't turned it off because it does help my hands especially on my phone, but it causes some hilarious bloopers. So proofreading is a must.
I made the whole thing up! To my knowledge, any Italian chef who served scarafaggi (con o senza funghi) would be shut down immediately. I was learning Italian back then and it struck me that it's exactly the kind of word you might find on a fancy restaurant menu, especially if you don't know the language.
(For those in the dark "lo scarafaggio" is "the cockroach" and scarafaggi its plural )
90% of my travel is for business, and most of the time I get to choose my own hotel. The CL access is really what keeps me at Marriott even though there are better deals to be had elsewhere. Having said that, if I were traveling on my own dime, I'd definitely be looking for the best price/location possible. And I definitely will not choose a Marriott if it's not located where I want to be. Marriott has excellent coverage in the places I typically go, so that has not been a problem. Airlines, however, are another story. I don't live in a major hub, and I'm really at the mercy of whatever airline happens to fly the route I need in the most direct manner possible for the best fare. A recent trip involved 2 legs on United, a leg on America, a leg on Delta, then 2 more legs on American. I wish I could build some loyalty on an airline, but I'm sure as heck not stopping in MSP or ATL on my way to ORD or DEN when United flies there direct, etc.
A brilliantly written monologue, a la "Talking Heads". Very thoughtful.
Allow me to reply in favour of loyalty hotel travel. Alas I cannot in relation to Airlines as I've never been a member of an airlines scheme, though I fly a few times a year its mostly short hops around Europe and the no-frills-airline competition is so intense that frequently the no-frills airlines whole price is around the cost of the big-boys "taxes-and-fees". For accumulation purposes the big boys simply don't compete on price and when redeeming the taxes and fees mean the value on redeeming a thousand miles is often measured in pennies. All my air travel is leisure. I'm content to pay a reasonable premium for a better experience but since that experience is only an hour or two per flight, not the huge premium demanded by the legacy carriers, for which I'm "rewarded" with virtually-worthless airmiles.
The contrast with hotel loyalty is like chalk and cheese, however. Firstly my work takes me away anything from 15 to 50 hotel stays each year. As I'm self employed I get to choose the hotels I stay at. I use hotels to enable me to awake in the locality of my days work and not for conferences, so am never stuck with the dilemma of staying at a Marriott OR the hotel hosting my days work. I pass on the entire hotel bill to my client and pocket the points, the platinum points, the welcome points, and the megabonus points, usually combining to around 5000 points per night. So 4-9 nights stayed on someone else's dime gives me a free night at some very decent hotels in very interesting locations around Europe. Last year I made about 40 business nights accumulating over 200,000 points, sufficient for a weeks stay in many of Marriotts full service hotels in most of Europe's capital cities.
From my clients point of view, They're paying to guarantee my presence in court, rested, prepped and ready to do battle. Whilst Marriotts are not the cheapest option, they are very quiet and their beds supremely comfortable ensuring I'm wide-awake and ready to go the next morning. Furthermore, as a result of diverting my regular stays to Marriotts I'm routinely upgraded, which gives me more space to prepare the next day's work and have free access to the exec lounge ensuring my clients don't have to pay for breakfast as all my Marriott room-only bookings are effectively B&B. Finally I am able to secure Marriott accommodation on very short notice thanks to the Plat over-ride, ensuring I can be where needed at short notice.
Then theres my personal travel. If im away for leisure at the weekend I routine newly find Marriotts very competitive with similar local offerings, but with free breakfasts, lounge access and the points that effectively represent a 20% rebate anpginst future stays, that value can be very strong. Take a forthcoming family stay we have booked. 3 rooms for one weekend at a cost of £500. That includes 12 breakfasts (say £10pp) and 12 entries to the exec lounge where the 4 hour each night beer offering, and evening snacks has got to be worth at least £30pp. This gives Plat benefits of £480, the same as the rooms cost, and don't forget I also get points on that, representing a 20% rebate! Even as a couple with my teetotal missus in a property without a lounge still produces about £10/night from the drinks vouchers, £10 from the arrival amenity and £20 from the breakfasts. That's before adding in the routine room upgrades. Even though those upgrades may seldom be suites, we both always know when we're not at Marriotts as we look around the standard rooms we walk into.
Now now there is an "authenticity" cost to this, that's true. For business stays, as long as a Marriott is available at a reasonable cost, I always go for them, I need a good work stay. But for leisure sometimes I want an authentic hotel right in the middle of it all. I don't stay at the York Marriott, nor in Venice, Athens or Istanbul. Even if Marriott had the option I doubt I'd choose it in Marrakech or Bruges. I enjoy the Autograph options in London and Edinburgh and sincerely hope that brand improves its numbers. I chose the Autograph for Edinburgh, London and Budapest and would do so again.
So that's my position. Hotel loyalty is still worth the effort, though airline loyalty is more questionable...