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I’ve had mixed fortunes with Marriott’s Suite Night awards this year with great success at stays in Sydney and, most recently, in Venice, but I’ve also had my fair share of frustrations with various properties choosing not to allow me to apply a Suite Night award to my reservation because Marriott allows them to opt-out of offering that particular benefit (the London Edition and the Langley both spring to mind).
Now it looks as if Marriott has officially made Suite Night awards officially harder to use.
Marriott Makes An Unofficial Policy Official
There are few things that annoy loyalty program members more than when a program employs rules that it doesn’t bother to publish, and a good example of this has been Marriott’s policy of not allowing Bonvoy members to apply Suite Night upgrades to prepaid reservations despite no such restriction appearing in the Marriott Bonvoy rules and regulations…until now.
I’ve been of the opinion that the inability to upgrade a Marriott prepaid reservation with Suite Night awards has more to do with Marriott’s IT systems not being able to handle the request than it being a Bonvoy policy as I know a number of people who have successfully had upgrades added to prepaid reservations by phone agents…but it looks as if I was wrong.
In a recent update to the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions, one of the clauses relating to Suite Night awards was changed to expressly prohibit the use of Suite Night awards on Advance Purchase Rates (bolding is mine):
(1) Suite Night Awards may be used only on Loyalty Program eligible paid stays (excluding Advance Purchase Rates) as well as Free Night Award stays and Cash & Points stays.
I really, really resent this.
While there are a good number of Marriott properties that don’t actually offer Advance Purchase rates, some of the better deals I’ve booked (in locations like Singapore, Hong Kong, and London) have all been Advance Purchase rates and I don’t see why I should have to pay a higher room rate to use a benefit that’s supposed to be a reward for my loyalty to Marriott.
Just as an example, on a randomly selected night, the difference between the cheapest Advance Purchase rate and the cheapest Standard Rate at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach is almost 18% …
…and I don’t see why I (or any other Marriott Bonvoy member) should have to pay 18% more for a room just for the chance to use a Suite Night award (don’t forget that the upgrade isn’t guaranteed regardless of the room rate you pay).
As we approach the end of the calendar year more and more Bonvoy members will be reaching status levels where Suite Night awards are one of the benefits on offer for next year and, if you happen to be one of these people, you should think long and hard before you choose Suite Night Awards as your benefit of choice.
Yes, if you’re staying at a property that will honor Suite Night Awards and you’re not paying an Advance Purchase rate then it’s great when you get upgraded to a nice big suite…but that’s not how things are always going to be.
Not only do a lot of overseas Marriott properties offer good rates that are now officially ineligible for Suite Night award upgrades (so you’ll have to pay more just for the chance of being upgraded – there’s no guarantee the upgrade will come through), but we still don’t have any way of knowing which Marriott properties will honor Suite Night awards when we’re booking online (even if we book an eligible rate)
I’ve had the option of choosing 5 Suite Night Awards for 2020 (for spending 50 nights at Marriott properties this year) for over a month and I still haven’t committed to selecting them as my benefit of choice for next year. That should tell you all you need to know about how easy and economical they are to use.