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We’ve known what Marriott’s final, post-merger, award chart will look like for months and we were given the impression that the more negative changes would be coming into force in a few weeks time….but now the timeline has changed.
Up until now Marriott has been telling us that it will be introducing peak and of peak seasons as well as a new top-tier category (Category 8) in “early 2019” and it was generally accepted that this meant that the changes were coming in January.
However, a single line of text that has now appeared on Marriott’s points redemption page which shows that we’ve all been given a temporary reprieve from the impeding devaluation:
Save up to 25,000 points per night when you book future Category 8 hotels at the Category 7 rate until March 2019.
“March 2019” is still not very precise (will the changes kick in on 1 March or later in the month?) but it’s better than “early 2019” and, more importantly, this is good news.
Marriott fans now have at least two more months to book top-tier properties for 60,000 points/night (as opposed to the 70,000 – 100,000 points they’ll soon cost).
This news is actually doubly good because, not only do we have two more months to book top-tier properties at acceptable rates, but we will also be able to book these properties into 2020.
Marriott allows guests to book hotels 355 days in advance so, had the changes come into effect on 1 January, we wouldn’t have been able to book the cheaper awards over New Year 2019 or into January and February 2020. That’s now changed.
This is particularly good news for me as I’ve ben waiting to make an award booking at the West Hollywood EDITION which is set to open in April 2019 but bookings haven’t yet been opened.
I’ve watched this property rise from ground over the past two years and I was starting to think that I’d have to pay cold hard cash to try out one of the rooms when the door are finally opened but, as long as the opening date doesn’t get pushed back (again), I should be in with a chance of an award booking now.
A Possible Helping Hand From Marriott
We’re in uncharted waters with the upcoming changes to the Marriott award chart but there may be a way to lock in the lower award costs even if you don’t have the points you need to book the property of your choice.
As part of its loyalty program Marriott offers a benefit called “points advance” which allows guests to book award nights at Marriott properties (this doesn’t work for legacy Starwood properties) even if they don’t have enough points in their account at the time of booking.
Even if a guest has no points in their account Marriott will allow them to make an award booking and will give them up to 14 days before their check-in date to earn/buy/transfer in the points they need for the stay….and this could be useful here.
I suspect that Marriott will not re-price awards that haven’t been fully paid for when the devaluation date finally passes so, if I’m right, it will be possible to lock-in awards at pre-devaluation prices even if you don’t have the points in your account in the days leading up to the devaluation date.
This is good news for Marriott/Starwood loyalists as we now have at least two more months to book some amazing properties for 60,000 points/night. I’ve locked in my one minor splurge for next year so I’m done for the time being but anyone who hasn’t been able to find dates that work for them so far has just been given more time.