I recently tried to use Marriott points for an upcming trip to Chicago. Once I checked the box saying that I wanted to use my points, the downtown Chicago hotels were removed from the list. I would be forced to stay in a Marriott at least 45 minutes outside the city. I was so disappointed.
I've never had this happen to me before. I finally gave up, went on HOTWIRE and booked myself a 5 star hotel room, right whre I wanted to be, for much less than any of the downtown Marriotts. I am beginning to think that being an Elite member of Marriott isn't very special at all.
OK, I've also noticed this after checking the "Use Marriott Rewards Points" box when making a reservation. What (I think) the initial search defaults to is, first, any "Point Saver" options within some large mile radius, then to the lowest number of points required (in other words, lower category hotels) within that same large mile radius. To get the hotels the closest to where you want (downtown Chicago in your case) after the first search, then click the small-font "Distance from city center" above the miles and on the same line as "Compare Hotels".
That should get you what you're looking for! Anyone please correct me if I'm wrong with how this works!
I'm not sure how to correct the problem, but I also have had some issues in "sorting" hotels when looking for a reward stay. This has been a recent issue and very frustrating. The crazy thing is that after scrolling through dozens and dozens of hotel properties, i would finally come across the hotel I was looking for. strange.
Yeah, the sorting could use some improvement. It defaults to point cost. You can use the "sort by" dropdown to select distance, city, reward type, or brand. I've had fairly good luck combining the distance setting with the filter on the left side of the screen where you can choose category.
It would be nice if defaulted to point cost but had an easily accessible "limit to XX miles option".
I have had the samething happen when checking the Use Rewards box. Problem is reward nights were actually available at the properties that dropped off the list. What I do now is leave the use reward box blank and view all properties. Select the View rates for the property I'm interested in and only then do I select use rewards. Reward options then show up and I book the Hotel that would otherwise be filtered out for some reason. Marriott needs to fix this issue as it prevents members from booking reward stays that were available.
Sometimes it is because of one night during the stay. So if you really want to use points go back and check day to day to see if available and then work around and pay one night or call the hotel to see if they will open that one night up to you. Hotel have some flexibility.