The Bad & the Ugly – Marriott Hotel + Air Packages Have Converted

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Update:  Marriott has taken some steps to take the sting out of the Travel Package conversion

Marriott and Starwood officially merged a couple days ago.  That means we’ve got answers to some of the questions that had been plaguing our minds for months.  Like what would happen with Marriott Hotel + Air Packages!

Honestly, a lot of people will make out okay.  But the folks Marriott fleeced, it fleeced them good.  Here’s the latest.

Bought the Most Expensive Travel Package Before the Conversion?  You Won’t Be Able to Use It for the Most Expensive Hotels Beginning in 2019

Marriott Converts Travel Packages

According to Marriott:

No certificate is losing value in terms of points, and with the new free night award chart that goes live today 70% of our properties either stayed at the same threshold or moved down.  As we structured the conversion chart, we took into account the introduction of peak and off-peak redemption rates which will be introduced in early 2019.  This means, that if you have an existing Category 9 certificate which maps to Category 6 starting today, holders will still be able to attach a stay when rates within that category are at their highest.

Here’s how the old Marriott Hotel + Air Packages converted to the new program.

Old Travel PackageNew Travel Package
Category 1 to 5Category 1 to 4
Category 6Category 1 to 4
Category 7Category 5
Category 8Category 5
Category 9Category 6
Ritz-Carlton Tier 1 to 3Category 6
Ritz-Carlton Tier 4 to 5Category 7

These changes look like a bloodbath.  And while it IS pretty bad for many, a lot of you can book the same hotel you were eyeing before this changeover.  However, many folks could have booked the same exact travel package with far fewer points!  So they’ll definitely feel bamboozled.

Just look at the above chart.  If you booked a Category 6, Category 8, or Tier 1 to 3 package, you spent more points than you had to.  You would have received the same value for booking a category lower!

That’s messed up, and severely disappointing that Marriott wouldn’t disclose this information earlier to help folks save points.  It would be fantastic to see Marriott refund them the difference.  Then again, if you’re still able to book the hotel you originally were after, you should have more of a smile than a frown.

Old Travel Packages No Good for the Best Hotels After 2018

One of the worst parts of this Travel Package conversion is it appears you can NOT book Category 8 hotels (with your current Tier 4 to 5 certificate) once they are introduced in 2019.  Even if you booked the most expensive package before!  You’re only allowed to reserve Category 7.

Marriott’s New Travel Package Prices

The most expensive Marriott Hotel + Air Package USED to cost 540,000 points.  So from a cost standpoint, I understand why you can only use it for Category 7 hotels.

For example, if you spent 540,000 Marriott points on a Travel Package for a bunch of airline miles and a 7-night stay at the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, you won’t be able to book that hotel with your certificate once it becomes a Category 8 hotel in 2019.

The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch Is Jumping From a Tier 5 Hotel to a More Expensive Category 8 Hotel

Fortunately, all those amazing Category 8 hotels are currently Category 7 until January 1, 2019.  So you can book those hotels with your Tier 4 to 5 Travel Package until then.

Starting in 2019, when Marriott puts their peak and off-peak prices into action, Travel Package certificates will be worth a certain amount of points.

Bottom Line

Very very rarely does the travel industry surprise us with a generous move.  There wasn’t much reason to believe this Marriott Hotel + Air Package conversion would be any different.

We mused about strategy to get the best deal from this mysterious conversion, and recommended that most people book BEFORE the merger.  If you wanted the current (safe!) prices and if you knew where you wanted to stay, it was best to book before August 18, 2018.

How did you fare with this conversion?

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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