FREE STAYS FOR LESS POINTS IN POPULAR DESTINATIONS
Marriott Rewards Points Increase In Value By 30%+
Marriott made a startling announcement yesterday that should turn a few heads. While competitors struggle to seize HHonors guests lost by Hilton's recent devaluation, Marriott makes uncompromising strides in ways that elevate the status of Marriott Rewards Elite that will compel elite from other programs to rethink where to assign their loyalty.
Rather than jump on the IHG 'Luckiest Loser' bandwagon, Marriott steps-up to the plate and responds to what loyal Elite members have been asking since the 2009 program changes were unveiled in October 2008. Instead of devaluing points 20% as Hilton has done, Marriott is making changes that will increase the value of Marriott Rewards points by 30% or more: 2010 Hotel Category Changes. Here are a few scenarios to illustrate the impact:
Scenario 1: Thinking of Europe? Why spend 40,000 points/night or 160,000 points for 4 nights at the Renaissance® London Chancery Court Hotel? How about 35,000 points/night or 140,000 points total? Combined with Redeem 4 Get the 5th Night Free, the points required comes down to 28,000 points/night or a net increase in value of 30%. (40,000-28,000)/40,000 x 100=30%
Scenario 2: How about a vacation on a tropical island in the Pacific? Instead of spending 35,000 points/night or 140,000 points for 4 nights at the JW Marriott Ko Olina on Oahu in tropical Hawaii, try 30,000 points/night or 120,000 points total. Combined with Redeem 4 Get the 5th Night Free, the points required comes down to 24,000/night or a net increase in value of 31.4%. (35,000-24,000)/35,000 x 100=31.4%.
Scenario 3: What about relaxing in the tradewinds of the Caribbean? Instead of 30,000 points/night or 120,000 points for 4 nights at the Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino, try 25,000 points/night or 100,000 points total. Combined with Redeem 4 Get the 5th Night Free, the points required comes down to 20,000/night or a one third net increase of 33.3%. (30,000-20,000)/30,000 x 100=33.3%.
The good news is that approximately 350 Marriott hotels will slide into a lower Hotel Category. Is it grandfathering? Not really. Who cares? The bottom line is that free stays will be available for fewer points at many popular destinations worldwide.
Kudos Marriott, and thank you in advance for increasing the value of our hard-earned Marriott Rewards points.
-- Updated by TJCNewYork at 03/12/2010 2:10 PM EST - The 2010 Hotel Category Changes announced 2/24 are implemented! In lieu of a published list, authors at FlyerTalk are compiling a list.
It is definitely a great announcement, but lets not loose sight of the fact that some hotels are increasing their levels, making them already impossible to get into with points but now they will need just that many more. Overall the news is great as more are sliding down than up, but there are those few going up.
"lets not loose sight of the fact that some hotels are increasing their levels, making them already impossible to get into with points but now they will need just that many more"
I've stayed at two of the hotels that are taking a notch up. On ~points~, I might add.
Marriott's Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Newcastle, New Hampshire is the only full-service Marriott in the state. Opened only 7 years ago after falling into disrepair for 20 years prior, the hotel is a historic landmark because the Treaty of Portsmouth was signed there. In addition to the main hotel, the Wentworth features the Little Harbor Marina Suites which are duplex villas with fully equipped kitchens much like one would find in a Marriott Vacation Club. At 30,000 points/night in 2009 for the Memorial Day weekend, the stay was among my most memorable and an extraordinary value. I would not hesitate to spend 35,000 points to stay there again in 2010.
The Courtyard by Marriott Ocean City Boardwalk struggled to open and finally did the last week of August 2009. I booked a paid reservation to secure a spot for the coveted Labor Day weekend confident that something would open up to switch to points. Sure enough, after two weeks persistently calling Platinum Elite, I booked for 25,000 points. This property is the only Marriott on the Maryland coast and the newest hotel situated on the Ocean City Boardwalk overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The owners also operate The Captain's Table well-known in the area. This property is among a handful of Courtyards with Room Service. Again, I would not hesitate to burn 30,000 points/night to stay there in 2010.
Since my experience using Points exceeded expectations at these properties on two ~peak~ holidays that define the opening and closing of summer, I think they fully deserve the distinction of being elevated.
HEY, HEY TJ.. Don't get too excited, these decreases in category still leaves the relevant hotels as being more expensive than they were pre January 2009.
EG CAT Now Was
7 140 k 130 k
6 120 k 110 k
5 100 k 95 k
Don't forget, because of Marriott's meaness we Marriott timeshare owners are on a 'Fixed Point Income' when we trade our timeshare apartments for Reward points. So even at the reduced categories we still have to 'pay' more for our vacations. Marriott never said anything about this when they were trying to seduce us into buying their timeshare. I remember they used the phrase " Travel around the world at bargain prices - you are occupying empty seats and empty beds."
"Fixed Point Income"
According to Owner Services, Interval International developed the Short Stay Exchange program in response to MVC owner feedback and implements the program in conjunction with welcome MVC cooperation. Under the program, MVC owners can deposit a week with Marriott and exchange for 2 short stays. The duration of the short stay is 2 to 6 nights.
In essence, your 10 weeks of timeshare or 70 nights can be exchanged through Interval International for up to 20 short stays of 6 nights each or a total of 120 nights. In your case, that's a substantial increase in value of 50 nights over and above what Marriott Rewards points could ever deliver.
If the 120 nights are at a MVC villa (and they do not have to be), the nights are eligible as Elite Qualifying Nights. Let's not lose sight of the fact that MVC properties where recently integrated into a Hotel Category in July 2009. Less than six months after doing that, some hotels are rolled-back a category like Ko Olina, Kaua'i and Grand Chateau.
That's ~huge~ and shows that Marriott and Interval International are agile and resilient in responding to market conditions with innovations to increase value and owner satisfaction. Owners and loyal Elite deserve that and the recent Marriott announcement about Hotel Category changes demonstrates thinking in the right direction. So, Hooray for Marriott Rewards!
Perhaps shifting energy towards enjoying the 50 additional nights might be a better use of time than chasing after points? Just a thought.-- Edited by TJCNewYork at 02/27/2010 7:09 PM EST Correct the duration of the Short Stay from 3 to 6 nights to 2 to 6 nights.
TJ, That is most certainly a 'good thought!'
I never realised that I could do what you have suggested. I did know that I could cut the 7 nights into smaller segments, but I thought that those small segments would have to add up to 7 nights. And therefore be suitable for members to take really short vacations.You appear to be saying that I could take 10 x 6 AND another 10 x 6 . Wow! 120 nights
I would sure like you to be correct on that one. I can only guess that you are, as you are the man with all the knowledge!
Now that I am a retiree I like to take long vacations. My MVCI retirement plan was to take about 4 weeks MVCI time and have 4 weeks worth of points, to cover travel and associated expenses - the remaining two weeks were for a European vacation.
Now with the 'points problem' I have to take 10 weeks vacation, and pay all the associated expenses myself. I therefore like to take two vacations of 4/5 weeks duration. Interval can be exceedingly good, but sometimes occasionally very trying, and cannot always link together a span of four weeks ( In one, two or more resorts)
Do you think they might regularly stitch together 5 or 6 periods of 'short-stay six night periods????
Also - being forever cynical - Do you think that in exchanging with Interval in this way would give me a reasonable 'spread' of vacations during prime or mid time at high demand resorts, or what I get low demand time at bottom of the bucket resorts??
Happy vacations, LeslieP
TJ. You had me quite excited there. However, I have checked out 'short stays' on the Interval web page. It is not as good as it first sounded.There are simply too many hoops to jump through!
1.A £71 exchange fee is due for each segment. So it would cost me £1420 in exchange fees each year instead of £710. Ok, if everything goes well I get an extra 50 nights per year.If it doesn't I get a great big headache, and a big hole in my wallet!
2.Then to use 'short stays, a further large annual fee for Interval GOLD membership becomes due
3.There is no cancellation policy-so if you can't go, your exchange is lost.
All ShortStay Exchange confirmations are final transactions and non-refundable. Interval International’s Exchange Cancellation Policy does not apply to the ShortStay Exchange Program.
4.There is no vacation REQUESTS. All exchanges must be available on the 'Net. Check back frequently or you lose out.
5.There are no apartment upgrades. You get what you trade - or lower
6.There are no facilities to temporarily HOLD a segment whilst you checkout flights etc.
7.Short stays can only be booked on the 'net so there is no helpful advice from Interval staff
8. The majority of short stays are only available within 30 days of check-in, although some are available one year in advance (Dustbin resorts??)
9.Check-in and check-out is restricted. If a member wishes to LINK any 6 day vacations together with other 6 day vacations. I.E. First segment check-in on Sunday, 2nd segment check-in on Saturday, next Check-in on Friday, then if you are lucky on the fourth time check-in on Thursday. Then that's it , most resorts don't have check-in available on Wednesday, Tuesday or Monday.
TJ, I can see that these short stays might be very useful for one week owners, who live close to a resort. However I cannot see it being of any value to International owners, and those who have a long way to travel.
I really would like to praise Marriott ( like I did in my first 20 years of ownership) however I cannot agree with the view expressed below. I simply believe that the whole idea of Short - stay is a profit generating exercise.
This shows that Marriott and Interval International are agile and resilient in responding to market conditions with innovations to increase value and owner satisfaction. Owners and loyal Elite deserve that.
Always good to exchange ideas with you,
I like Short Stay Exchange and the benefits offered a lot. There are some shortcomings, like the $59 fee to upgrade to Interval Gold, but that's not over-the-top, IMO. The exchange fee is a given.
For the international owner, I agree that Short Stay Exchange may not be the best solution. The short lead time and the disconnected check-in/check-out availability works presents a disadvantage.
If an owner can't travel, there needs to be an option to cancel and recoup - it can happen to anybody. That's where the Guest Certicate capability may work. About 2 years ago, a family member passed away suddenly and obviously we had to bail. Luckily, we were able to find a neighbor willing and able to rent and II added the guest party to the reservation for a nominal $40 Guest Certificate fee.
The FAQs state that Guest Certificate does apply to Short Stay Exchanges. Herein lies the opportunity to possibly rent and gain.
Good for Marriott for recognizing some past mistakes and making some minor adjustments. The 120,000 points now required instead of 140,000 points previously required for four nights at some prime locations is now only 20,000 more points than the 100,000 that would have been required prior to Marriott devaluing our points. Maybe I am confused, but I believe Marriott was the first to make a decision to devalue points, thus Hilton decided to try it as well.
TJ, I'm glad that you enjoy Short-Stays. I guess that many members might share your pleasure. However, as a multiple week, international owner, I find that the costs do not stack up for me. I asked the advice of Interval International at Cork, and they sent the below reply. Text in colour represent my own additions,
Dear Mr P
The Short-Stay Exchange Program is a new exchange service offered by Interval to members of the Interval Gold membership programme,* Each Short-Stay must be between 3 – 6 nights so potentially; you could securetwoShort-Stay exchanges of 6 nights each for your 7 night deposit.
Please note that all Short-Stay exchanges must be booked online at Interval’s Web site. (No personal advice from Interval)
Generally, the resort accommodations available to the Short-Stay Exchange Program will be available up to 30 days prior to the first date of occupancy on a first-come, first-served basis. Bank holiday, summer, and other high demand weeks usually will not be available through the Short-Stay Exchange Programme.
Please be advised that the Marriott / Interval exchange fee does not apply to the Short-Stay Program. Instead, you would have to pay the current applicable processing fee**The exchange fee has to paid twice, once for each of the two segments
This exchange fee is non-refundable and cancellation of a Short-Stay Exchange Confirmation results in the loss of the Home Resort Unit Week. (Quite a frightening prospect. Can a member rent the Short-Stay to someone else if his family cannot travel? )
To my knowledge, there is no rule to prevent 5 x 6 nights Short-Stay bookings back to back, however as the availability is only last minute,*** this may be difficult to achieve.
Interval International Customer Services
· With 17.5 tax, this costs an average of £41 p.a. ($65) Remember some years you might not use Short-Stay, but you still pay the Gold membership.
** In Europe this is £128 ($202) and international £163 inc. tax ($258). Therefore both segments would cost £256 ($404)in Europe or £326 ($515) International
*** Last minute, involves booking flights at a time when they are usually more expensive.
I champion the old Interval Getaway. The cost may be a little greater than £297 - $469 that a Short-Stay would cost, but the conditions are far more favourable.
"Can a member rent the Short-Stay to someone else if his family cannot travel?"
Thanks for checking with II in Cork, Ireland and posting back the correspondence. With 3 MVC locations in Spain and 1 in France, would Short Stay combined with intra-European flights be more accomodating and cost efficient?
As mentioned in an earlier post, if you rent your week or short stay exchange, the Gift Certificate for $40 US allows you to transfer the reservation to the rental party. Although the FAQs confirm this, you can't lose by double-checking. This approach works extremely well, actually.
Thanks for the reply TJ, I guess that all depends on what you think of European Marriott resorts.
I'll tell you my thoughts, but you being a Marriott Ambassador, I don't expect that you will agree with them all:
Marbella Beach Resort. FABULOUS- The jewel in the crown. Superb management team!
Andaluza. A pleasant resort, in a depressed area. It is only a few miles from MMBR so it is not worth visiting for a linked vacation. Lousy beach anyroad!
Paris France. Unless you are a Disney fan, don't bother. Why do they call it PARIS? It is an hours train journey from the capital!
Son Antem, Majorca Abandoned in the middle of an island! Great Golf course though. Poor public transport, Expensive taxis. Don't use a pedal cycle - car drivers hate you more than anywhere else in the world! Should you ever wish to link this resort with Marbella in a vacation plan, the high speed ferries to Malaga, are a better bet than flying.
TJ, Thanks for the suggestion, but I don't feel comfortable with Short-Stays. I honestly believe that they have been developed to enhance the profits of Interval, and very little thought to enhancing the member vacation experience. My plan for now is to continue to use Getaways. They offer far greater security, easier advanced planning, and the cost is only marginally more than a Short-Stay. Although if things went awry with Short-Stay, then the Getaway would evolve to be considerably cheaper ( ie The loss would be far less)
I've cancelled my rewards reservation at Marriott Ihilani Hotel in Oahu because the Marriott Insider website announced this hotel was going to be downgraded from category 7 to 6 as of March 8. I was going to reserve the same nights and dates for fewer points but the category is still showoing category 7. Do you know when that will be updated?
"I've cancelled my rewards reservation at Marriott Ihilani Hotel in Oahu because the Marriott Insider website announced this hotel was going to be downgraded from category 7 to 6 as of March 8. I was going to reserve the same nights and dates for fewer points but the category is still showing category 7. Do you know when that will be updated?"
Thanks for posting and being patient. The situation is very confusing. I've alerted the Marriott Rewards Insiders Team that Marriott.com is out-of-sync with the announcement and that Platinum Reservations and Marriott Rewards Support are unable to confirm the effective date or the hotels sliding up or down.
As always, Marriott Reservations is extremely cordial. Bottom line, my plans to redeem points are on-hold, too. Stay tuned.
Andrew of the Marriott Rewards Insiders Team posted this reply earlier:
Good Morning, all.
I just checked back with our Program Infrastructure team, and, in fact, the changes began to take place March 8 as announced. It turns out these changes will not be 100% completed until Friday, March 12 - mostly related to systems/processing. Please contact customer care (as noted above) if your reservation may be affected.
Thanks all for your patience and understanding.
Andrew-- Edited by TJCNewYork at 03/09/2010 3:23 PM EST - Posted Quick Update
Information overload affects every organization and apparently Marriott is no exception. Earlier today and earlier this week, I called Marriott to book reservations at hotels slated to slide into new categories. Unfortunately, the reservations database isn't updated yet and promises to be by tomorrow.
Recognizing that no one likes to spin their wheels and waste time, apologies to anyone who is experiencing frustration because this 'Hooray' announced changes prior to full implementation.
"the marriott pattaya resort and spa upgrate from cat 3 to 4 the 8/3/2010 i book bevore the 8 of march 10 nights for 80000 points from the 26/3 to the 5/4/2010 i have luck now withaut the point saver programme its cost 100 prozent more 160000 points TJC new york you see only the good news?? 100 prozent more ou double is not formidable" Insiders Lobby Re: 2010 Hotel Category Changes
To the contrary, recheck the math. Under the Redeem 4 Get the 5th Night Free program, 10 nights requires that you redeem two 5 night awards or (160,000-120,000)/120,000 x 100 = 33.3% increase.
As illustrated above, the Marriott Pattaya is a beautiful seaside full-service Resort and Spa in a tropical area in Thailand, a short walk from the beach! Sliding the Pattaya Resort from a Category 3 to 4 seems quite reasonable and an incredible value.
To me, that is 'good news.'