We are new members and even with close to 130000 points, we are kicking ourselves for even thinking we'd get something out of this program. Weekend in Chicago? Nope, rewards not available on the weekends (for any Marriott property in the city). Any Marriott Vacation Club? Go fly a kite! Why do they even list points for the vacation clubs when its basically a zero chance that you can use rewards? We like suites or upgraded rooms. Nope, not allowed to use points. So basically, if you want to go to a suburban low-end hotel from Tuesday to Thursday - you'd be satisfied with Marriott Rewards.
Unfortunately, your experience is more the rule than the exception. I have 800,000 stranded points which I am unsure when I will be able to use.
I switched to Hilton in February due to Marriott's deceptive change in its awards program which falsely advdertises no blackout dates but fails to fully disclose that this means the hotel only needs to provide one single room for standard award availability.
Bottom line there are better programs out there until Marriott rethinks its program.
It has been my experience that booking reward rooms in the new 'no blackout' program is much more difficult than it had been previously. In my opinion, this program is a 'joke'. I have tried to reserver rooms using rewards points 300+ days in advance and have found many hotels to have no reward rooms available. Using the search for alternative dates function, these hotels have no reward rooms available for months at a time. I have also noticed that many hotels only have reward rooms available if you are willing to pay a significant cash upgrade fee.
In the old program, I was always able to find the rooms I needed as long as I planned in advance. The devaluation of points combined with the unavailability of rewards has diminished my loyalty with Marriott, and I am one of the original Marriott honored guest members. I only hope that management is listening.
With minor exception, Marriott.com is Rewards Points UN-friendly. Trying to reserve a room using points is frustrating. Marriott Associates are excluded from participating in the points program so it is highly unlikely, there is a true understanding of what it is like to design Marriott.com from the perspective of a guest who is trying to redeem hard-earned points. Plain and simple, the awards redemption process needs rethinking with the guest in mind.
In the meantime, Silver, Gold and Platinum Elite are best advised to rely upon their special reservations lines. Call and ask for help. The agents will contact the hotel properties on your behalf and work with you to get the days you need. You may need to call repeatedly. It's A LOT of work. It's HARDER. But it gets RESULTS.
Superchief -- Although I have had zero problems making reservations with points, I can see your frustration...no black-out dates is foreign to you. I almost always use marriott.com for making all reservations, but agree with TJC...why not put the monkey on the platinum desk to do the work, and provide an acceptable explanation if they can't seem to get it done. With rare exception, you ought to get the reservation you want. At least that's the way I read the program.
Can anyone confirm whether points can be used on any downtown Chicago Marriott property? I've spent the past 30 minutes trying different dates with none showing points could be used as far out as Sept 2010.
We're interested in Chicago and would even settle for any period of time.
In a test scenario where, the option to use Marriott Rewards points was selected:
City = Chicago
State = Illinois
Check-in = October 9, 2009
Check-out = October 10, 2009
The results listed full service and limited service brands suggesting that booking online using points is available. If you are aiming for Redeem 4 Get the 5th Night Free, consider booking individual nights desired and then ask Reservations to place them under one confirmation. You may encounter gaps in availability which is a good opportunity to request Reservations assistance. The Silver Elite Reservations line will be all to happy to help and even contact the hotel for you. Good luck and post back the results.
I visit Chicago frequently and prefer to stay in the suburbs. The Renaisance in Schaumburg is an absolutely terrific hotel and a short drive to the city. If you are intent on staying downtown prepare to pay a high amount for parking and try any of the downtown Renaissance properties