This is my first post to the "insiders"!
We would like to book three different Marriott hotels in May 2016.
One in Las Vegas, Monterey and San Francisco California!
The month of May has not opened up yet. However, how does the point
system really work? Is it best to book way ahead, do the points drop?
Any information would be so appreciated and thanks so much!
Book your hotels with points NOW.
The points required to stay at the given hotels will NOT go down as time goes on. The required points needed to stay at hotels may even go up as each year in early March, Marriott re-asses the Category Levels for all of their properties, but once you have reservations your points required to stay at the hotel are locked-in.
If the hotel Category Level goes down, you will need less points and that will be adjusted automatically, but in the three locations you selected the Hotel Categories have gone up in the past few years.
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blava007 is on point - hotel category changes occur each year and sometime change the number of points required for staying at specific properties. I'm going to reach out to our team to see if there's a time this year that you can expect the points for properties to change in the system. Stay tuned!
Totally agree with the above, book with your points ASAP.
Marriotts points availability is pretty good, and it's usually possible to make a points reservation anywhere just a few weeks prior to departure but heavy demand locations such as LA, NYC, London and Paris can have less choice close to departure dates.
Points rates are static and don't go up and down like cash rates. Marriott may however re categorise but even that's statisically unlikely. Of a 7 hotel roadtrip I'm doing later this year just 1 hotel went up in cost. Even so, there's no need to risk it if you already know where you're going and when youre going there. And if you do change your mind, or your dates, no worries,all point redemptions are cancellable, with your points instantly returned to enable you to spend on your new choice.
Just to echo what brightlybob and blava007 have posted here, I would recommend booking a redemption reservation sooner rather than later. Our team confirmed that Marriott usually reassess hotel categories about February of each year, however; categories can change anytime. If a reservation had been made and the category increased, the original point requirement would stay the same. If a reservation had been made and then the category went down, the lower point requirement would be honored.
I agree with others in recommending that you make your point reservations as soon as possible. There is no penalty to change or cancel them, so the only downside is committing your MR points to the reservation, but I've read that others have been able to hold the reservation without immediately committing the points.
I'm a long-time MR member and have enjoyed many great vacations using my MR points. However, I have noticed the following over the past five years:
1. MR category levels for hotels in popular destinations have increased almost every year. Some have increased from Cat 4 to cat 9 in five years.
2. Although there are officially no 'blackout dates', some properties do not make rooms available for reward redemption when they are supposed to. I've noticed that some don't release the rooms at the 11-12 month time, and many block reward reservations during expected high demand periods. This appears to be an individual franchise issue. Therefore, I suggest you keep checking if you are unable to reserve MR nights at specific properties, and that you confirm a reservation at another hotel in the area in case nothing at your preferred location opens up.
When I go to SF area, I often stay outside the city near the BART line, especially if you plan to visit wine country or other locations outside the city. The hotels are typically nicer and require fewer points. Good luck with your planning and welcome to Insiders.
superchief1, I respectfully disagree, and agree!
I can't think of a single cat4 that has gone up to a cat9. I've seen this allegation on FT too, but never found anyone able to name the hotels effected. Certainly there can be some amazingly vertiginous ascents. Try the Montreal CY. A Cat4 in March 2014, it was increased to a Cat5 in April, Cat6 in October and Cat7 in March this year. Wow, it must have a nosebleed!
I do agree that some franchisees do play the redemptions by their own rules, not bothering to upload reward inventory until several months after prices. Step forward Oakville, ON FFI. Its not a common problem though and generally 6 months beforehand any and every Marriott has uploaded inventory and has availability. I've never had any real issues redeeming my points...
I have two examples of properties that went up 4 levels in the past 5-6 years because I redeemed points for each of them when they were category 5 prior to the series of increases: Wentworth by the Sea and Marriott Key West Resort are both now category 9. That represents an 80% increase in MR point cost. Marriott point increases were few and far between during the Marriott family leadership, but have dramatically increased since current management took over.
Although most competitive chains and airlines have done the same thing, this greatly reduces the value of these loyalty programs. My suggestion is to use your points now before they become worthless.