I was happy to see the new "No Black Out" rule for rewards which I believe went into effectin in 2009. My pleasure was short-lived however, when I discovered the new "Category 8" hotel designation. I was upset to see that all of the full service New York City hotels like the Marriott Marquis, Times Square Renaissance, etc. and the South Beach Marriott have all been placed in this category and now require 240,000 points for 7 days. Does this not amount to a permanent black out for almost all Reward members? The "no black out" announcement seems like a smoke screen hiding a major retraction / restriction in benefits to Marriott Reward members. I would rather Marriott have simply limited the number of rewards available at these hotels and/or kept the black out dates!!!! At least I would have a chance at getting them with a reasonable number of points. Access to these hotels is very important to me as NYC and South Beach are my favorite places to visitl Also, most of the London hotels are now Category 8.
I have been a loyal Marriott customer for 22 years and this is the first time I've actually started looking at other hotel chains and begun to compare programs.