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!

You Can for Sure Book Standard Room Rates at Hotels That Are Considered “All-Suite”

The Hurrah

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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.

This Blurb at the Bottom of the New Marriott Award Chart Indicates the Opposite

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!

Entrance to the St. Regis Bali

The Ew

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 6Category 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.

Bottom Line

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.

If you want to stay on top of other miles & points deals, then subscribe to our newsletter.  And be sure to follow us on Instagram!  Plus, check out our Hot Deals page for a current list of the top credit card offers!

Joseph Hostetler is a full-time writer for Million Mile Secrets, covering miles and points tips and tricks, as well as helpful travel-related news and deals. He has also authored and edited for The Points Guy.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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