3 Big Positives and 2 Big Negatives of the Marriott-Starwood Merger
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Thank heavens the speculation surrounding the Marriott Starwood merger can cease.
The 2 hotel giants merged on August 18, 2018, and we’ve learned just about every mysterious detail. Some are good and some are bad. Here’s what you need to know! And to stay on top of the latest travel news, subscribe to our newsletter!
1. All Hotels Have “Standard” Award Rates
We’d already heard that Marriott would put all hotels into their new award chart. Meaning NO hotels would have a different (outrageous) price than other hotels in their category. We’ve seen some contradictory evidence to that.
But fortunately, Marriott has confirmed you’ll be able to book standard rate rooms for every category of hotel, with no exceptions.
If you remember, several of the greatest Category 7 Starwood hotels cost MANY more points than a Category 7 hotel is supposed to cost. That’s because some hotels were considered to have all suite rooms (and therefore no standard rooms).
For example, Al Maha Desert Resort used to cost 60,000 Starwood points per night (the equivalent of 180,000 Marriott points!). But you’ll now be able to book that hotel for only 60,000 Marriott points per night until 2019! And even once it becomes a Category 8 hotel, it will still only cost between 70,000 and 100,000 Marriott points per night.
2. Room Upgrades for Platinum Elite Status
It’s been long speculated that Marriott’s room upgrade policy would mimic Starwood’s old policy of upgrading folks with Platinum Elite status to the best available room, including a standard suite when available.
One Mile at a Time reports that a Marriott spokesperson has now confirmed this! So if you have Marriott Platinum status, you should be able to book a standard room and be upgraded to a standard suite as long as one’s open when you arrive!
3. Ability to Book AMAZING Hotels at a Huge Discount Until 2019
While Marriott and Starwood get everything ironed out in their new program, they’re throwing all the most expensive hotels in with the Category 7 hotels until 2019. So you have ~4 months to book bucket-list hotels at an unbelievable discount.
For example, the St. Regis Bali will become a Category 8 hotel, which costs 85,000 Marriott points per night. But until January 1, 2019, you can book it for just 60,000 Marriott points. Not to mention the 5th night free when you book 5 consecutive award nights!
1. Technical Difficulties When Redeeming Points
Marriott reported there might be some technical quirks through August 19, 2018. But a few are just not going away.
Some hotels aren’t showing any available award nights on the Marriott website when there definitely are. You’ll also occasionally receive an error when you try to book your hotel, either through the site or the app. So don’t give up hope if your hotel looks sold out. Check again in a couple of days!
Jon from No Mas Coach reports that this is only a real problem with Starwood hotels. If you’re looking for a Marriott hotel, you should be alright.
Jon also reports that a phone rep said, “Points reservations may or may not be honored as we are still merging the 2 systems. I can’t guarantee that those reservations will be valid.” So if you’re able to book an award stay, get the confirmation number!
2. Marriott Hotel + Air Package
As we outlined earlier, the way Marriott converted the old Hotel + Air Package into the new award chart left a lot of people upset. Folks who bought a Category 6, Category 8, or Tier 1 to 3 package spent 30,000 more points than they had to for the exact same package.
Update: Marriott is allowing anyone who bought travel packages in these categories to downgrade 1 category and be refunded 30,000 Marriott points. EXCELLENT NEWS!!
Also, it looks like you can NOT book Category 8 hotels with a converted package once they are introduced in 2019. Even if you booked the most expensive package before! You’re only allowed to reserve Category 7.
Here are the initial pros following the merger on Saturday:
- We can book top-notch hotels at a discount
- We can book all-suite hotels at standard room rates
- Platinum Elite members will be upgraded to a standard suite (when available)
And here are the cons:
- Folks are still finding technical difficulties when trying to make a reservation (especially with Starwood hotels)
- Lots of people got screwed with the Marriott Hotel + Air Package conversion
Let me know if there’s anything I missed.
Don’t forget, August 26, 2018, marks the start date for new Marriott card restrictions. You need to figure out your application strategy soon to get the Biggest Travel! Check out this post to help you along.
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