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A little under a month ago Marriott added gas to the Bonvoy dumpster fire when it announced its hotel category changes for 2020. We could have been forgiven for thinking that after all the recent Bonvoy devaluations (and the poor service from Marriott) we may be spared any significant price hikes in 2020 but that’s not how things have played out.
As of tomorrow, 4 March 2020, almost a quarter of all Marriott properties worldwide will be moving up a category (and seeing award night cost increase) while only 7% will move down a category (and see their award prices drop), so travelers have less than 24 hours left in which to book their favorite properties that are about to get significantly more expensive.
With so many properties soon to cost more, it would be impossible for me to list them all here in this post or to select all the properties that readers will be interested in. Instead, I’ve chosen to highlight 5 popular properties across a number of Marriott brands to illustrate just what some of the changes will look like when tomorrow comes.
The Marriott Award Chart
As a reminder, here’s what the current Marriot award chart looks like:
This will be key to understanding just how much standard rooms will be costing at the five properties highlighted below.
London Marriott County Hall
The London Marriott Couty Hall could not have a better location for anyone looking for a base from which to explore the history of London – it sits diagonally across the Thames from the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben, directly behind the London Eye and within an easy walk of a whole host of famous London Landmarks.
Form 4 March 2020 the London Marriott County Hall will be joining a number of fellow London Marriott properties as a member of Category 8 and will cost between 70,000 and 100,000 points per night.
Considering there are still numerous dates available where the property can be booked for 50,000 points per night, and considering how many dates at the property are currently classified as “peak season” dates (and will, therefore, cost 30,000 points/night more from tomorrow), this is a property you should be booking right now if its one that suits your London travel needs.
The Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
As of tomorrow, the Aruba Marriott Resort will be moving from Category 6 to Category 7 and will see award prices increase between 17% and 25% depending on the season.
Situated on Aruba’s West Coast the property has had a noticeable makeover in the past few years and with its well-proportioned rooms and excellent location on Palm Beach it’s one of the best hotel options on the island…it’s just a shame that it’s getting more expensive.
Bearing in mind that at this time last year we could still book the most expensive Marriott properties in the world for what the Aruba Marriott Resort will cost during peak season from tomorrow, you should really be locking in the current rates while you can if you plan on visiting “one happy island”.
Note: The Aruba Marriott Resort is one of three Marriott Aruba properties which are going up in category but, overall, I consider it to be a better property than the Ritz-Carlton Aruba (which sits next door) and a much better property than the Renaissance Aruba Resort which sits on the Island’s south coast.
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
All in all, it’s a bit of a bloodbath on the island of Maui as Marriott is increasing award costs at of 5 of its 10 properties on the island from tomorrow. Unsurprisingly it’s mostly the super-popular properties that are seeing award prices increase and, of the five properties that are about to get more expansive, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua stands out for me.
The Ritz-Carlton is located on the north-west shore of Maui and is set well away from most of the more popular (and crowded) locations in Maui (Ka’anapali, Wailea, etc…). It doesn’t have access to a beach as large as Ka’anapali Beach but it’s a location that works incredibly well for anyone who’s looking for a bit of peace and quiet and a lot of relaxation. This is probably my favorite Ritz-Carlton resort.
Sadly, from tomorrow, the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua will be moving up to Category 8 and will join the other Category 8 properties as one of the most expensive Marriott properties at which to redeem Bonvoy points. Currently, a standard room will cost between 60,000 and 70,000 points per night on most nights of the year so, with those prices about to jump to 85,000 and 100,000, now is the last chance to book this great property at an acceptable rate.
This may be a property that’s only a few miles from Heathrow (I actually quite like that) but it’s nestled in enough parkland and woodland to make guests feel like they’re miles away from any major centers of civilization and it’s a fantastic place to relax…especially if the weather is good.
From tomorrow, however, the Langley will be moving up to Category 6 and will cost between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night. Not only does this mean that the property will soon cost up to 50% more than it does today, but it also means that it will be completely out of the reach of the free night certificates that come with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card, the Marriot Bonvoy Business American Express Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Amex card (no longer open to new applicants).
If you’re looking for a great place to relax for a few nights or if you’re just looking for somewhere different (and great) at which to burn a free night certificate, the Langle would be an excellent choice…as long as you book today.
JW Marriott Venice Resort & Spa
The JW Marriott Venice isn’t like most Venetian hotels because rather than being situated on the banks of one of the city’s canals it’s actually located on its own island in the heart of the lagoon.
If you just want to walk around Venice this probably isn’t the property for you but if you’d like the idea of a vacation resort that allows you to mix a city stay with a more relaxing stay then the JW Marriott Venice may be a good choice for you.
The property’s own grounds offer ample areas in which to relax and get away from it all (including a large park) while regular services to the center of Venice allow guests to explore one of the more incredible cities I’ve ever visited.
For the rest of today, you can book the JW Marriott Venice for between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night but, with the property moving up to Category 7 from tomorrow, prices are set to shoot up to between 50,000 and 70,000 points per night.
If you hold free night certificates from either the Ritz-Carlton Credit Card (not open to new applicants) or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card from American Express you can currently use those certificates to book rooms in offpeak and standard seasons. As of tomorrow, those certificates will only be valid for off-peak bookings.
Note: With northern Italy currently in the grip of the coronavirus scare a trip to Venice in the next few months may not be advisable…but that doesn’t mean that you can lock in the better rates for much later in the year.
Key Things To Remember
Points Advance bookings no longer lock in the current award night cost (another devaluation you can read more about here) so you’ll have to have enough points in your account for whatever reservations you’re going to make otherwise you won’t be able to lock in the lower rates.
If you’re short of points it may be advisable to book as many nights as you can now and then add to those nights later when you have more points available (albeit at the increased price).
Considering some of the price increases we’re seeing, it may also be an idea to consider buying some Marriott points in the current sale (which is offering a 50% bonus) to allow you to make the bookings you need…although you should always check the math before making any such purchase.
A lot of great Marriott properties will see the cost of an award booking increase significantly from tomorrow, 4 March 2020, so I urge anyone considering a Marriott booking to check this page of hotel category changes very carefully to see if the property (or properties) you’re considering will be going up in price in a few hours time.
We’ve had a month to think things over so the time for procrastination is over – if you think you’ll be needing to book a property that’s moving up a category you should book it now in the knowledge that you can cancel for free down the line (just be sure you read the cancellation policies very carefully).
Good luck, and let me know if you lock in any great deals.
Featured Image: Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino courtesy of Marriott