Even Hotel Employees Are Confused Following the Marriott-Starwood Loyalty Program Merger

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Even Hotel Employees Are Confused Following the Marriott-Starwood Loyalty Program Merger

KeithEven Hotel Employees Are Confused Following the Marriott-Starwood Loyalty Program MergerMillion Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

I recently had my first Marriott stay following the merger of the Marriott and Starwood loyalty programs.  My wife and I spent a few nights in Portland at The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel.  We used points for 2 nights and booked the 3rd night through AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts.

As many folks have already noted, the technical glitches during the Marriott-Starwood integration were annoying.  But I figured once we got past the IT upgrades, things would be back to normal and I could continue enjoying my free award stays and Platinum status perks.

It Might Be Time to Reconsider Chasing Marriott Elite Status Based on My Recent Experience at The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Portland

Unfortunately, I think the merger of the loyalty programs has created confusion for hotel employees as it relates to what perks elite status guests can enjoy.  Specifically, I’m referring to lounge access.

As a guest with Platinum status, one of the benefits I enjoyed most in the past was access to hotel lounges.  Instead of eating outside of the hotel, it was nice to enjoy a free hot breakfast in the lounge.  So I was somewhat surprised to learn I couldn’t use the lounge at The Nines.

During check-in, I was advised by the front desk associate that following the loyalty program merger, lounge access was reserved exclusively for Platinum guests staying on the same floor as the lounge.  And because no lounge floor rooms were available during our stay, we’d have to miss out on the benefit.

I certainly realize missing out on a croissant and cappuccino in the lounge is not the end of the world.  But what frustrates me is that the changes to the newly integrated loyalty program do not appear to be properly communicated to hotel employees.  For example, the Marriott webpage dedicated to summarizing Platinum status perks clearly states lounge access is a benefit.  And the fine print doesn’t have exclusions about which floor you’re staying on.

Hmmm…According to the Marriott Website, Platinum Guests DO Get Lounge Access. And the Terms & Conditions Don’t Seem to Be as Restrictive as What the Front Desk Associate Told Me.

Even more irritating was the fact the hotel did actually have available rooms on the lounge floor during our stay as the below screenshot shows.  If I wanted, I’m sure I could have made my case to the hotel manager.  But my wife and I didn’t plan on spending much time in the hotel anyway.  To me, it was more about the principle.

The Front Desk Told Me Rooms on the Lounge Floor Were Unavailable, but That’s Not What the Marriott Website Showed

I’ve reached out to Marriott for clarification regarding the lounge access benefit.  Perhaps I still have a bit to learn about the lack of benefits for guests with status.

In any event, I’m definitely rethinking my hotel elite status strategy moving forward.  As my colleague, Joseph, recently wrote, switching to Hilton certainly seems compelling.

Have you had any negative experiences after the Marriott-Starwood integration?  Let me know in the comments below.

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

  • Enjoy a one-time bonus of 50,000 miles once you spend $3,000 on purchases within 3 months from account opening, equal to $500 in travel
  • Earn 2X miles on every purchase, every day. Plus earn 10X miles on thousands of hotels; learn more at hotels.com/venture
  • Named ‘The Best Travel Card' by CNBC, 2018
  • Receive up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • Fly any airline, stay at any hotel, anytime; no blackout dates
  • Miles won't expire for the life of the account and there's no limit to how many you can earn
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year; $95 after that

More Info

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! :)

Add comment

E-mail is already registered on the site. Please use the Login form or enter another.

You entered an incorrect username or password

Sorry that something went wrong, repeat again!

27comments

by Newest
by Best by Newest by Oldest

I stayed at SPG property using miles, which had I booked pre merger would have been 12k SPG points, but instead I booked at an astronomical 50k Marriott points. I was gold, now gold elite, and found the upgrade to be meager, compared to prior stays, but it was an upgrade nonetheless. The more important issue was I cancelled a SPG hotel that I booked using SPG points pre merger and the points never returned to my account. It took a tweet and a few DMs to resolve the issue.

Personally, I find the new point structure ridiculous. Where I could earn a free night at a premium SPG property after 2 months spending on my SPG Amex, I’m now finding it could take 3x as much to stay at same property under Marriott points. No worries though, I’m happily using new Hyatt Visa and look forward to a promising future.

Author

It’s hard to beat Hyatt’s loyalty program. The only challenge is it’s a smaller chain. Whenever possible though, I try to redeem points for a Hyatt award stay. I’ve never had a negative experience.

I sent a simple email questioning an upcoming stay and have yet to receive an answer although our stay is past. I called and really didn’t get a solid answer from the hotel re: a room available with points. The automated reply from the email was back on Aug. 23rd! “Thank you for contacting Marriott!
We have received your email. For your records, the following case number has been created: 63869830.
We are experiencing higher than normal email inquiries.
One of our team members will review your inquiry and respond to you as soon as possible with a personal reply.
Thank you for choosing Marriott!” Crazy….

Author

It’s no wonder they’re experiencing higher than normal email traffic. Even with all of the changes, it’s frustrating to not get a response in nearly a month.

Your post bothered me as a Lifetime Platinum (hoping to be Lifetime Platinum Premier before the end of the year) so I researched it. The answer you received made me laugh–I wonder if the hotel employee came from Hilton because that is exactly the policy for Hilton Gold members (no lounge access unless upgraded to Executive Floor).

However, in looking at it further (and I didn’t realize this), the hotel was actually correct that you are not entitled to lounge access because Platinum members who stay at SPG Luxury Collection hotels are NOT entitled to lounge access under the Marriott Terms and Conditions, which I’ve copied below. Hope this helps–I’m guessing many people don’t focus on the exceptions.

“Guaranteed Concierge/Executive/Club/Signature Club Lounge Access for Members plus one guest at JW Marriott, Marriott Hotels, Sheraton, Delta Hotels, Le Méridien, Westin, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, and Courtyard (outside the United States and Canada) during normal hours of operations. . . . Lounge Access is not offered at the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, EDITION, The Luxury Collection, W Hotels, Design Hotels, Tribute Portfolio, Gaylord Hotels, Four Points, SpringHill Suites, Protea Hotels, Fairfield, AC Hotels, Aloft, Moxy Hotels, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Element, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, and participating Vistana properties.”

Author

Hi DSK – congrats on upcoming Lifetime Platinum Premier. I did read through the terms & conditions and see that, but think it’s a bit contradictory to have this on Marriott’s marketing bullet points: “At hotel brands that have lounges, you’ll have full access and complimentary breakfast.”

I totally agree and the Marriott marketing statement is wrong on this and other areas (free breakfast at Courtyards, for example).

However, I was a bit sensitized to this because I heard that Ritz Carlton hotels were not changing their lounge access restrictions as a result of the combined program, so I knew that marketing statement was false. I just hadn’t realized how many SPG hotels fall into the same category.

Author

Yes, I think they’ll have to backtrack on some of these changes or loyal members like us will take our business elsewhere.

In June of 2018 I submitted a question to Marriott confirming that I was Lifetime Gold under the old Marriott program. I wanted to be sure I would be Lifetime Platinum under the new program. I received an automated reply giving me a case number (179892021), but I still have not received a reply in spite of follow-up emails. I recently called, but the lady said she could access that information – only that my current status was Platinum.

Author

Hi Jack – it seems like you’re not the only one. A few other comments mentioned the slow response time, which is definitely frustrating. I hope you eventually get a response back confirming your Lifetime Platinum status.

Staying at a property now that I stayed in the past. They did not know I had been upgraded to gold, and had no upgrades available. They used to give me upgrades when I was Elite and even gave me free water and wine vouchers most of the time. Nothing this time – I think they are even charging me for a bottle of water.

Load more