Update: according to latest announcement, the programs will officially merge on August 18th.
Yesterday we finally got to see the new combined Marriott award chart that is supposed to go live in August (exact date unknown). Link to page To quickly find what you are looking for, type in city or property name:
You’ve probably noticed that most bloggers are over the moon with excitement right now. And I get it (no snark). It looks like all fancy SPG properties will cost just 60,000 Marriott points per night (or 20,000 SPG points), as long as you book them before 2019. This represents a sizable discount compared to current rates, so if you’ve been hoarding your SPG points in hopes of going big on top-end properties, this is it. Sell sell sell!
Here are some expensive hotels that for a short time will cost just 60k Marriott points, with every 5th night being free:
A good deal? You bet, especially if you are heading to Maldives or Bora Bora. Most of these properties will set you back at least $1,000 per night, so the potential upside is huge. Emphasis on the word “potential.” Not trying to be a party pooper, but our brethren will descend on these hotels like locusts as soon as new award chart goes live.
I predict that ALL standard availability will be gone within few days, especially for places like Bora Bora and Maldives. You may have better success with European properties, but those are not as much of a bargain since you can usually book a nice non-chain hotel for $300 per night or less.
To get an idea on what it will be like, try booking Intercontinental Bora Bora Thalasso resort and spa with your IHG points right now. Good luck! Like I said, I’m not trying to be a Debbie Downer or anything like that. This is a fantastic deal. I simply hope that people have realistic expectations on the difficulty of securing their desired dates at some of these locations. It also wouldn’t surprise me if Marriott decided to sneak in a cash co-pay for all-suite properties and overwater bungalows. May the odds be ever in your favor.
On to the bad news.
Many low-end hotel redemptions will be gutted
While everyone was busy celebrating limited-time pricing for top-end SPG hotels, I decided to take a look at current bargains for normal families. Here are just a few examples of the upcoming changes:
Walt Disney World Dolphin Current rate: 36,000 Marriott points. New rate: 50,000 Marriott points.
Walt Disney World Swan Current rate: 36,000 Marriott points. New rate: 50,000 Marriott points.
Four Points by Sheraton Orlando International Drive Current rate: 9,000-12,000 points. New rate: 25,000 points.
Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort Current rate: 9,000-12,000 points. New rate: 25,000 points.
Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Current rate: 9,000-12,000 points. New rate: 17,500 points.
This is a small sample, but it doesn’t look good. Lets’s face it, if you like to stretch your SPG points, this is a major devaluation. If you are interested in a hotel that will increase in price when the new award chart goes live, make sure to book it before August 1st.
Hotel+ air packages will be gutted
This is what the new and simplified structure will look like in August:
So, in order to get 100,000 miles (the most lucrative option), you will need at least 330,000 Marriott points. You’ll also receive 10% more United MileagePlus award miles, up to 12,000 more miles.
Here is a current rate for United:
Certain airline programs including Alaska Mileage Plan (considered the most lucrative by many in the hobby):
If I had access to 90,000 SPG points or 270,000 Marriott points, I would be very tempted to redeem them on either United or Southwest package right about now. The hotel voucher would be more of an extra, and I would be fine using it for only 4-5 nights or even giving it away. Alas, I don’t have any SPG or Marriott points, so it’s not really an option.
It doesn’t mean you should go for one of those packages, but it is something to consider before August deadline. If you need to top off your account, you can buy SPG points at 35% off through July 20th. Keep in mind that you can combine points for free between members of the same household.
It’s not all doom and gloom for an average Joe. If you have a Marriott or SPG co-branded credit card, your annual certificate should provide good value, at least for the foreseeable future. I suspect that Marriott will eventually shift all decent properties outside of your reach but for now, there are good deals to be had.
Quite a few decent properties in NYC, Hawaii and Florida will cost 35,000 points per night, making them eligible for renewal certificate.
Sheraton Sand Key that will cost 35,000 points in the new program
It’s still not clear if Marriott will bump the certificate value to 40,000 points in 2019. I hope so. Otherwise, it will only be valid at Category 5 hotels during off-peak season.
A quick reminder: current increased offer on Marriott co-branded card will expire on July 12th. It is subject to 5/24 rule. Of course, if you apply right now, you most likely won’t get the bonus before August 1st, so keep that in mind. You may also want to look into Chase Ritz-Carlton card.
As I suspected, many current SPG hotel bargains will disappear in August. Ditto to value in Hotel+Air packages. SPG and Marriott cardholders who renew their cards will come out ahead, but that too probably won’t last. I expect that in a few years the only hotels eligible for annual certificates will be those near an airport or in the middle of nowhere.
Unless you are heading to Maldives or Bora Bora in a near future, there is very little to celebrate here. It doesn’t mean that Marriott points will be worthless in August, but they will probably be worth less for someone like me.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.