Marriott Bonvoy Updates Hotel Categories
The moment that hotel loyalty program members anticipate each year has arrived for Marriott Bonvoy: the unveiling of the new year’s changes to the award redemption chart.
This year’s unveiling marks the first time the redemption chart has been updated since it was first combined in the middle of last year. As with any loyalty program update, there is a good amount of lead time, so members should review which properties are changing categories to determine whether booking before or after the cutover date is more beneficial for redeeming points.
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It’s worth noting that the current award chart is valid through March 5, 2019. Bookings before that date will redeem under the current chart. Bookings after that date, regardless of stay dates, will use the new chart.
Of most pressing note, the delayed Category 8, announced last summer but not put into immediate effect, will begin with the new award chart. A number of current Category 7 properties, which were slated to become Category 8 properties, can be booked at their lower redemption rates for just a few more weeks.
It’s also noteworthy that the majority of changes involve properties increasing in category, requiring more points for an award night. These changes tend to mirror industry rate trends, so it’s not surprising that properties with high demand and high average rates are among those with increases.
Properties in New York City, the Caribbean, and Hawai’i are hit particularly hard, with many popular properties jumping up categories. Travelers anticipating travel to those destinations should check the award charts and book before March 5 if those properties are planned for increase.
Guests who seek accommodations at Los Angeles International Airport will find an interesting trade: The Four Points by Sheraton Los Angeles International Airport hops up to Category 5 from Category 4, while the nearby Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles returns to Category 4 from Category 5. Meanwhile, two W Hotels in the Los Angeles area will decrease to Category 6: The W Hollywood and The W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills.
In Thailand, The Athénée Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Bangkok (pictured) will increase to Category 5, while visitors to the beach resort of Phuket will find The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket, reduces to Category 6.
St. Regis brand fans will find that most of the properties planned to upgrade to Category 8 will do so in March, but fans of the St. Regis Osaka will have a reprieve—that property will remain a Category 7, although the Westin Osaka will increase to Category 6.
The Westin Puerto Vallarta, long a relative bargain for redemptions, is increasing to Category 5, which may still be a relative bargain during peak periods when rates crawl into the rafters.
Travelers to Europe will find several delightful properties are decreasing in category and should wait to book until after the change. European properties dropping a category include the Westin Dublin (to Category 6), Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss (to Category 6), and Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna (Category 5).
Finally, guests traveling to some far-flung beach resorts will also see category drops at Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort (Category 4) and Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa (Category 6).