I am considering a visit to Ankara in Turkey and the astonishing-redemption-value Cat2 JW Marriott there. With our excellent Insiders reviews now having been removed I was researching the hotel via TripAdvisor and came across a review that I felt was as damning of the reviewer as the hotel.
Essentially the guest was making a single 14 night stay there in June 2015 booked via 2 reservations, one cash for 2 nights and a second redemption stay for 12. The hotel upgraded the reviewer for the first 2 nights but insisted they wouldn't be upgrading the last 12 nights and she'd have to switch rooms which so infuriated her she checked out after the paid element of the stay and cancelled the redemption entirely. Although this guest seemed to have a case of DYKWIA, I could see some of her point of view, but it was the response posted by Albert Helms (the GENERAL MANAGER, no less) defending his hotels position that caught my eye:
[Snip/Snip] As you are one of our most valued Platinum Elite member guest, you are entitled to get the next available upgraded room category which you were honored for the first two nights of your stay. As a reminder, Marriott Elite benefits clearly states that the upgrade is not available when guests stay with their points [Snip/Snip]
So is there really a new Marriott policy concerning elite stays that:
A. Limits upgrades to next available room category; and
B. Mandates that redemption stays no longer qualify for upgrades
Now I took another glance at the MR T&Cs and couldn't find either of these changes so is this a case of a General Manager who doesn't understand the Marriott Rewards elite benefits? And if so, then why not? I understand them, and I'm not being paid to. And then posting this misinformation on Tripadvisor of all places effectively advertising "Join Marriott Rewards and become our most valued guest receiving minor upgrades when you pay, dumpster views when you redeem" Attractive... Not!
So, is this to become our experience of redemptions in future, elite benefits denied at checkin with battles necessary to above GM level to obtain them?
Not so rewarding, methinks.
I've never encountered this situation and have received frequent upgrades when redeeming reward points. If Marriott has recently changed this policy, it would be greatly disappointing. I hope one of the community managers will look into this and let us know what they learn.
I think one of the problems created with Marriott's massive acquisition and expansion is that many of the standard elite benefit policies are no longer well known and respected by hotel GM's and staff. Hopefully, this is the case in this instance. Marriott management should definitely follow up and 'educate' the GM at this property.
Frankly, I think I would have done the same thing as the reviewer. In my case, it is not DWKWIA, it is a matter of principal regarding being respected as a loyal customer. (If the hotel staff had communicated an upgrade wasn't available for the remaining days due to capacity, I would not have had a problem).
The DYKWIA bit was about other stuff. I get the feeling this guest probably wasn't the easiest person to deal with! But nothing excuses the GMs ignorance of the basic tenets of the Marriott Rewards program, unless of course he's had the heads up on a change, in which case that needs exposing...
For those who don't search, here is the link to the actual post:
Marriott terms do NOT state what the general manager says. May I ask that somebody from Marriott report this to impose punitive damages on the property for sullying Marriott reputation, please?
Thanks for managing to attatch that URL, ndn. I can't work out how to do that, especially as I'm using an iPad.
This isn't the first time I've seen such misinformation posted on TripAdvisor by the hotels but this is a particularly bad example as:
1. The response is wrong not once but in 2 very significant ways suggesting a failure to understand the scheme; and
2. It's the General Manager who posted this, the very person we look to to resolve elite issues at the hotel. He's no doubt spread this misinformation across all ranks at the hotel. Clearly Marriott Rewards and the chains most loyal customers means little-to-nothing at the JW Ankara with such leadership.
So I'm looking forward to carats response
I'd go further jerryl - my upgrade record on redemptions seems better than the already good record I have on paid stays.
Mind you if Albert is given sway, that will clearly end, and that's really the point of this post. And also to find out if the aforesaid Mr Helms does in fact have the "heads up" on a policy change. Which is of course perfectly possible!
Thanks for that. I am still interested in redeeming at this hotel but the idea of battling out for benefits is offputting. Perhaps you could reassure me following your consultations that this hotel is aware, from front desk upwards (and especially the GM Albert Helms) that in the case for Gold and Platinum guests:
1. Room upgrades are a MANDATED benefit, subject only to availability on checkin
2. Room upgrades are NOT limited to one level only
3. Lounge access is a MANDATED benefit
4. Breakfast 7 days per week is a MANDATED benefit, so if it is not served in the lounge for whatever reason the hotel must make alternate arrangements
5. All the above applies to BOTH paid and REDEMPTION stays
I particularly don't want the fight for numbers 1, 3 & 4 which I particularly value, and since I'm redeeming #5 is also very important. It would be nice to think the hotel might consider better upgrades too (#2) when available. It might be a good idea to check they're properly aware about other benefits, PAG, late checkout, appropriate points etc, etc.
Mind you, bearing in mind this post, I suspect I may not be too welcome there any more - not that I'd have been made that welcome as a redeeming moocher (sorry, member) anyway!
I have been working with Cara on this and we have heard back from our team. They have confirmed that the method of payment does not matter when it comes to upgrades. Upgrading a room is at the hotels discretion and is based on availability. They have also advised that a hotel should not be changing an upgrade mid-stay because of the method of payment, so they will have someone contact this hotel to make sure the staff is clear on this policy. Thank you for finding this review and posting it on Insiders so we could clarify this for you and other members!
Thank you for your follow-up and I'm happy to see that someone will contact the hotel regarding the policy. I would also appreciate clarification of your statement 'upgrading a room is at the hotel's discretion...'. I thought that the upgrade benefit is supposed to apply at all hotels based on availability. Your comment makes me think that hotels don't have to offer upgrades even when rooms are available. What value does the upgrade policy provide if it is left to individual hotel's discretion?
I think the response from the MR team regarding hotel's discretion refers to the MR Elite Terms & Conditions regarding upgrades:
Complimentary Room Upgrade: Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member's personal guestroom. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis, as determined at the time of check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability and identified by each hotel. (bolding added) Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.
Yes, but the hotel manager's response that Marriott policy clearly states that it is NOT available on points stays is clearly false and should be corrected. The manager should not be citing Marriott policy with it's own. He should instead have said that Marriott ALLOWS the hotel to define the availability of upgrades and that his hotel defines them as for paid (not award) stays only.
Hey, superchief1. I've heard back from our team regarding this and they had basically reiterated the policy and said that it is left up to the hotels discretion. However, the policy is in place for the individual hotels to base their available upgrades off of. Again, it comes down to what is available upon check-in and what the guests preferences are. Hope this helps!!
carat, we understand that the policy allows the hotel to not upgrade the person. However, the POLICY does not DICTATE that award stays are ineligible for complementary upgrades. The latter is what the hotel manager stated. It angers me quite a bit that your team failed to see this error. Nobody is saying that the hotel manager should be corrected for not making an upgrade available. Everybody IS SAYING that the hotel manager should be corrected for stating a false policy.
Somebody needs to contact the hotel manager, who publicly gave false information about a Marriott policy. Failure to do so legitimizes the false policy. Please have somebody from your team do this.
MY point exactly, this manager stated the Marriott policy as:
1. A 1-category room upgrade; and
2. That no upgrades are given for Reward stays.
AS statements of Marriott policy these are both wrong, and Marriott Corp seems now to be smiling on this approach with weasel words and a lack of clarity.
Time for Corporate to "man up" otherwise those hotels in your portfolio disinterested in the loyalty scheme will take those weasel words and cut even further. Marriott needs to remember that the Marriott flag offers franchisees a variety of benefits such as it's houshold name, booking engine, its corporate and government relationships and its extensive list of loyal members. Not all franchisees are interested in all of these and those disinterested in the loyalty program, such as the JW in Ankara, will clearly try and limit its cost. Marriott needs to communicate that IT values all of the advantages IT has spent decades building.
Corporates response has so far proved disappointing, and with Mr Helms view clearly prevailing here, I've struck the Ankara JW off my list. No doubt Mr Helms will be relieved, one less irritating elite redeeming moocher for him to accommodate!
Your comment is interesting regarding mid-term stay change. Two years ago, after talking with the manager off and on for six months, in advance of our stay in the Ghent Marriott, requesting an upgrade, upon arrival, we were not offered an upgrade and told they could have upgraded me a few nights, but would then have had to move me to accommodate someone else in that room. It is a wonderful hotel and the people and accommodations where nice, but this was pretty disappointing. After leaving Ghent, we went to Brussels, where they upgraded us to a junior suite with a view of the Bourse, no questions asked.
As we both know, the sccheme does allow redemprtions to be upgraded using cash or points. This was something that was widely publicised when I joined the scheme 10 years ago, but no longer, and whereas it was commonly offered before the downturn, it virtually disappeared afterwards. It does seem to be experiencing a renaissance however as my searches over the past few months have shown results where several hotels are offering upgraded rooms at 5000 points per room category upgrade, or cash, usually around $50,
The problem for Marriott suite redemptions remains unchanged however, the Marriott ethos is unfavourable to suites, so Marriotts generally have very few and hence little opportunity to upgrade to them, whether beforehand using points or on arrival.
B-bob - I agree that overall, the Marriott schema does not have lots of suites - relatively speaking. However, my comment was more geared towards vacationing (where I wish to burn my points) and most often these are resorts or top-notch venues that have a greater number of suites than the "typical" Marriott venue. Regardless of whether or not a venue has no suites or 75%+ in suites, if there is a suite available during anyone's stay, why not simply offer the upgrade even if it requires points?