I had searched for award availability at the Hollywood Beach, FL hotel for several dates in March and early April 2010, and found no rooms available. I sent an email to Marriott Rewards regarding this issue and how it challenged the credibility of their 'no blackouts' policy. After an initial reply with a lot of excuses why no rooms were available, I received an email today stating that the hotel had made available 'cash upgrade' award rooms. As I tried to book a room for 3/20-3/27/2010, I was presented with a Cash Upgrade award opportunity for 180,000 pt. (category 6). Upon reading the fine print, it appears the hotel will charge an additional amount (only determined if I call the hotel directly) for this award. I checked all of March and April and found this to be the only award option available for any date.
This is another example of abuse of the 'no blackout' claim, and trying to take advantage of loyal customers. I am sure many people will book this award only to be surprised by room charges when they check out. I am a lifetime platinum member and feel betrayed. Marriott appears to be following the path of Delta airlines, who lost my loyalty a few years ago (after 20+ years). I hope management recognizes the impact this program abuse will have on its customers and remedies this issue.
In the interest of being diplomatic, this is the second time in a week that the new rewards program INFRINGES upon Elite loyalty and confidence.
In her post, BEWARE Booking with points UNCLEAR & UNFAIR, Sophiegrace was the first to point out the impact of a highly deceptive and misleading combo award. The award combines two payment methods:
Drawing upon Superchief's and Sophiegrace's posts, the REWARD RULES are shown below for easy comparison:
In the case of the Hollywood Beach Marriott, the only rooms ever available required the upgrade. There were no 'non-upgrade' rooms available. In my mind, this makes the 'no blackout' claims totally meaningless. We were better off when we could use double points (at lower point redemption rates) to override the blackouts. I believe that this hotel is also one that changed from a category 5 to a category 6. I plan to boycott any Marriott property that uses misleading practices like this, and will continue to share my concerns with customer care. I hope that other members complain so this situation is rectified.