I was under the impression "No Blackout Dates" really meant I could vacation using my Marriott Rewards point "when and where I want". However, I have learned this is not the case. There is a limited supply of rooms available at participating Marriott properties for use with Rewards Points. When these rooms get booked, you can no longer use Reward Points, even if there are available rooms at the property. The new Marriott Rewards advertisements suggest more flexibility than the system actually allows.
Welcome to Marriott Rewards Insiders and thanks for your candid post about your experience with the No Blackout Dates policy and redeeming points.
With over 3,000 properties, Marriott's promise, "Our Calendar is Wide Open" typically rings true, but factoring in supply and demand, it may take considerable planning when using points.
The No Blackout Dates policy is a year old now. For the most part if a room is available for a paid stay, you should be able to use points. That said, it can be challenging in London, Paris, Rome and New York among other popular destinations but it can be and has been done - as many posts at Insiders make evident.
One strategy to consider is to combine a paid reservation with points. Or, reserve as paid and convert to points. The folks at the Gold Elite desk should be able to help. So that we can offer more tips, it would help to know which properties you are thinking about.
A Courtyard Marriott recently gave me a hard time when trying to redeem a $100 Marriott Cheque, telling me I should have notified them when checking in. After scrutinizing it for several minutes, then calling over a manager, they finally accepted the cheque and took the amount off my bill. I am now nervous about using my points to buy the $1000 Marriott Cheque. Anyone else have any other stories on the ease of using one?
"Yes, this seems to be the rule, not the exception, in my experience. Especially true at resort properties."
Greetings pharmatomedrep and jivetalker:
There have been several reports here and on FlyerTalk about hotels using evasive rate tactics to package standard rooms under Breakfast for Two or Global Rate Break or other rates which in effect reduce the number of rooms available for point redemption. Only recently did it become clear that there is recourse. Marriott has an internal audit team that monitors hotel compliance with the No Blackout Dates policy. There is an e-mail address you can use to report a property. Consider reviewing an earlier post: More Blackout Police Please and adding your thoughts to that discussion.
The No Blackout Dates policy is more than a year in the running. Most Marriott Rewards Insiders do not encounter a problem, but occasionally, a rogue hotel can present a problem. For this reason, Marriott audits hotels to maximize compliance. If a hotel is not in compliance, Marriott will make sure they come back into compliance, book your reservation, and award you 5,000 points for the inconvenience.¹
Email MRW.Redemption.Questions@Marriott.com with the specific hotel and dates in question. Post back the outcome. Thanks