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Marriott Platinum status has historically been one of the harder top-level hotel statuses to earn because, absent a status match from Starwood, it requires staying a minimum of 75 nights at Marriotts around the world (you can reduce that to 60 nights if you have a Marriott Visa card from Chase). As a result you could be forgiven for thinking that the benefits that come with Marriott Platinum status should be some of the best out there…..but they’re not. One status perk in particular is nowhere near as good as it probably should be – upgrades.
Marriott’s Platinum Benefits page just has this to say about upgrades:
Based on room availability at check-in, we’ll do our best to upgrade your room. Upgrades are subject to availability identified by each hotel and limited to your personal guestroom. See terms and conditions for details.
And when you delve deeper into Marriott’s Terms & Conditions this is what you find:
Complimentary Room Upgrade: Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guestroom. Upgrades may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites. All upgrades are granted on a space-available basis, as determined at the time of check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability and identified by each hotel. Not available at Marriott Vacation Club.
As you can see it really doesn’t promise all that much….and that’s just as well as, if my experiences are anything to go by, often the upgrade is more of a token gesture than anything else.
I’ve had most luck with upgrades at the London Marriott West India Quay where I’ve been lucky enough to have been given a suite on a couple of my stays….but they were just one night weekend stays so it wasn’t a massive deal for the hotel to do that.
And those upgrades are outliers in my overall experience with Marriott.
When I held Hyatt top-tier status (before the introduction of the World of Warcraft or whatever Hyatt’s new loyalty program is called) I had some pretty nice upgrades – even when not using my Diamond suite upgrades – and the difference between the room I booked and the room I was given was almost always pretty obvious.
Take the example of the Andaz West Hollywood (somewhere I’ve stayed quite a bit).
I almost always book the cheapest room available which, in the case of this property, is an “Andaz King”
This is a 277 sq ft room facing the rear of the property (a Hollywood hill) with not that much going for it.
On every occasion I stayed at this property (and didn’t use a Diamond Suite upgrade) I actually stayed in an “Andaz View” room:
Not only does this room offer a view (of the Sunset Strip and over a large part of the Los Angeles basin) but it’s also 65 sq ft larger thanks to a “sunroom sitting area complete with chaise lounge, love seat sofa and floor to ceiling windows”
Now that’s a pretty decent upgrade to get – not amazing but definitely an upgrade.
Contrast that to a typical experience I’ve recently had with Marriott as one of their Platinum members:
On a recent visit to Kuala Lumpur I stayed at the JW Marriott and, as usual, I had booked the base-level room – a “Deluxe Room” with “1 King or 2 Twin/Single bed(s), city view”.
As I was being checked in I enquired if I had been upgraded and was told that I had been upgraded to a “super premium” room on a high floor. That’s even what the the envelope with my room keys had written on it:
I have “high floor” down as one of my permanent requests on my Marriott profile so it was nice that this had been granted….but the extent of the “upgrade” I had been given was questionable.
At the time of check-in I couldn’t remember what room types the property offered so I simply accepted the fact that a “Super Premium” room was a good upgrade and I didn’t question it……but had I known what I know now I may have asked if there was anything better.
A quick look at Marriott.com shows that the hotel doesn’t actually have anything called a “super premium” room…..
….so the next room up from the one I booked is a “Club Executive” room and the one up from that is a “Studio Suite”.
The room the hotel referred to as a Super Premium room turned out to be a Club Executive room – I was on the 23rd floor (so definitely high up) but I definitely didn’t have 699 sq ft of space, a living/sitting area or a dining area all of which are what you get with a Studio Suite:
So what exactly was I getting with my upgrade?
Here are the details of the room I originally booked:
And here are the details of the room I was actually given:
- Both rooms are the same size
- My room didn’t have particularly high ceilings (not sure where they get that from) so that’s not a differentiator
- All rooms at this property have soundproofing so that’s not a differentiator either.
What does that leave?
- High floor
- Floor to ceiling windows
- Executive lounge access
Firstly I’m not convinced that all the rooms at the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur don’t have floor to ceiling windows anyway and, secondly, I get Executive Lounge access with my status anyway so that’s not an upgrade at all.
All I really got from my “upgrade” is a higher floor.
I’d love to be able to say that mediocre to non-existent upgrades with Marriott are a rarity with Platinum status but the reality is the exact opposite – actually getting upgraded to a noticeably better room happens so rarely (at least to me) that I’m not sure that upgrades should really be listed as a status benefit.
Either Marriott needs to address this issue and ensure that top-tier status holders are actually genuinely upgraded (when availability allows) or it needs to do a much better job of managing expectations and remove upgrades from the text on Platinum benefits. Sadly I doubt either of those will ever happen.