Home Hotel Loyalty This Is Why Marriott Suite Night Upgrades Are A Joke

This Is Why Marriott Suite Night Upgrades Are A Joke


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Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night upgrades are a benefit that can be chosen by guests earning 50 and 75 elite night credits in a calendar year and they’re an element of the old SPG program that Marriott adopted following its acquisition of Starwood. Elite members can earn up to 10 suite night upgrades per year with each upgrade capable of upgrading one room (to a suite) for one night.

On the face of things, Marriott Bonvoy Suite Night Upgrades look like a very nice benefit to be offered, but there are so many ways in which Marriott has allowed the upgrades to be devalued that they can often feel like a chore to use rather than the fantastic benefit they should be.

The fact that some Marriott brands don’t have to accept Suite Night Upgrade awards (e.g. Ritz-Carlton), the fact that individual hotels can choose not to accept Suite Night Upgrade awards (e.g The Langley) and the fact that an upgrade cannot be confirmed more than 5 days before a guest’s arrival date are already major reasons why this elite benefit is not nearly as useful as it should be, but it was a recent experience at the St Pancras Renaissance that really summed up just how big of a joke Suite Night Awards can be.

I had a cash booking at the St Pancras Renaissance and, as the thumbnails below will confirm, the property has the following room categories that rank above a regular guest room:

  • Junior suites
  • Grand junior suites (essentially a standard suite)
  • Three 1-bed themed suites
  • One 2-bed themed suite
  • One 3-bed themed suite

Despite this, when I applied my suite night upgrades to my reservation, the only upgrade option I could request was to an entry-level junior suite.

You may think this is strange…especially if you happen to have read section 4.3 c (ii) of the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions which states the following:

Platinum Elite Members and above receive a complimentary upgrade to the best available room subject to availability for the entire length of stay at the time of check-in.

This wording refers to upgrades issued at check-in and which do not require the use of a Suite Night Award. So, if complimentary upgrades should see a guest moved to the “best available room”, shouldn’t Suite Night Award also offer the option to upgrade to the best available room?

The issue here lies with Marriott because, as it has done in a number of other areas, it gives its properties far too much leeway to dilute benefits and, when given leeway, properties will often take it. In this instance, the following wording from the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions is what the St Pancras Renaissance can fall back on (bolding is mine):

Suite Night Awards may be redeemed for advance confirmable upgrades for select, premium rooms or standard suites on a per room, per night basis, subject to availability

And

Suite Night Awards may only be used for standard suites or other premium rooms as designated by the Participating Property.

Essentially, Marriott’s terms and conditions are saying that properties can choose what rooms to offer for Suite Night Upgrades and the rooms don’t even have to be suites. That seems more than a little nonsensical considering the benefit in question has the word “suite” in its name.

Unsurprisingly (as no one is really doing any traveling right now), my upgrade was confirmed and my room was changed to an entry-level junior suite…

…and had that been the end of things I would have only been a little annoyed that, even during a pandemic when hotels are essentially empty, Marriott Suite Night Upgrade Awards aren’t a guarantee of an upgrade to a standard (proper) suite.

But that wasn’t the end of it. The screenshot you see above isn’t telling the full story because I’ve cropped out a key bit of information. Here’s the screenshot in full:

It’s it just me or does anyone else think that failing to upgrade a guest to a standard suite when they’re using a Suite Night Upgrade Award and then asking the guest to pay extra (almost double their original room rate) to access that standard suite, doesn’t look particularly good? What kind of message does that send out?

Let’s not lose sight of the fact that the hotel in question was (and still is) mostly empty, so it’s not as if upgrading me to a standard suite would have been denying the property income that it may have received by selling the room to someone else. There was no one else to sell the room to.

Having most rooms sitting empty and just a trickle of guests coming through the door is a very good opportunity for a property to make a positive and favorable impression on what few guests it has without the property incurring any significant additional costs (the only additional cost to upgrading me to a suite would have been the extra time it takes housekeeping to clean a suite rather than a junior suite)…so why not seize that opportunity? I just don’t get it.

To add a little bit of irony to this story here’s another bit of information: On the days I spent at the St Pancras Renaissance, I should have been vacationing at the Ritz-Carlton Abama in Tenerife (the UK’s quarantine rules put an end to the Tenerife trip which is why I ended up in London) and even though that Ritz-Carlton stay was booked with points and despite the fact that I cannot use Suite Night Awards at Ritz-Carlton properties, this particular property upgraded me to a full suite well over a week before I was due to arrive.

Apparently Suite Night Awards aren’t good enough to get a guest upgraded to a standard suite at the St Pancras Renaissance (even when the property is empty) but it only takes Bonvoy Titanium staus to get a guest upgraded to a full suite at the Ritz-Carlton on Tenerife. Doesn’t that make a mockery out the Suite Night Awards?

Bottom Line

If Marriott’s Suite Night Upgrades cannot get a guest upgraded to a standard suite when the hotel in question is mostly empty, it’s hard not to wonder if the benefit has been misnamed. Suite Night Awards have the potential to be a truly great benefit, but because of the number of properties that refuse to honor the awards and because there is so much variance in what properties honoring the awards are prepared to offer, they’re not so much a benefit as a lottery ticket…so perhaps that’s what they should be called. “Marriott’s Suite Night Lottery” would be a far more appropriate name.

For Your Consideration

The Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card currently comes with a welcome offer of 125,000 bonus points + a free night valid at properties costing up to 50,000 points per night after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months of account opening and it offers the highest earnings rate available for spending at Marriott properties worldwide.

Our Favorite Benefits:

  • 6 Bonvoy Points/dollar at Marriott properties worldwide
  • An annual free night certificate (worth 35,000 points) every account anniversary
  • 15 elite night credits each calendar year
  • No foreign transaction fees

Click for more details on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

Regarding Comments

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser or any other advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility or any other advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

14 COMMENTS

  1. It’s Marriott; when the CEO views customers as the enemy, that’s going to trickle down to the individual properties. Legacy Starwood hotels have treated me quite well but legacy Marriott hotels not so much.

    • I don’t need a big suite, but if Marriott is going to make a big deal out of giving me “Suite Night Awards” I expect the delivery to match the hype. If Marriott doesn’t want to ensure that standard suites are what Suite Night Awards offer it should rename the benefit to “room upgrade certificate” or something similar.

      Essentially, I need Marriott to stop pretending to offer a better high-level benefit than it does and I need Marriott to bring some uniformity to the benefits it offers. Most other brands seem to manage this so I’m not sure why Bonvoy seems incapable.

  2. SPG used to be such a great program. Great credit card earnings rate. Then once they merged it all turned it shit. I switched over to Hyatt and been a Globalist for the past few years and don’t regret it. Hyatt Globalist is awesome. Smaller footprint which sometimes makes it more difficult but Marriott could learn a lesson.

  3. Bonvoy and Marriott are just plain awful. I am Platinum and I can never seem to get a basic upgrade, let alone a suite. Even a 4 PM guaranteed late checkout benefit has become hard to get.

    Whereas, I loved SPG and I would go out of my way to stay at a SPG property vs. any Marriott …just for these sorts of reasons.

  4. It took my three stays after the SPG/Marriott merger to walk away from Marriott. Worst program and service ever. Long live Hyatt!

  5. Dude get off your soap box. With all going on in the world do complain you didn’t get the upgrade you felt you deserved comes across as really tone deaf!

    I’ve used suite upgrades in the past w no problem (including a really nice suite at the JW Marriott in Hong Kong) and have been happy with what I got instead of complaining I didn’t get the best available room.

    Hotels are under no obligation to upgrade you to beat available room for more than a single night’s stay anyway since they never know if they could sell follow up nights. This is pretty much standard across the industry so a suite night upgrade at least locks in a nicer room.

    You are disconnected from reality and your blog has quickly lose any value it used to have. Oh well one less thing clogging up my inbox

  6. I actually have come to hate MARRIOT. After being a Westin Premier member in the 1990’s than SPG… no comparison. MARRIOT is simply a greedy corporation that is always on display.
    I am a Titanium Lifetime Elite…. but it sure doesn’t feel like my loyalty matters one bit.
    Bottom line. MARRIOT just doesn’t care about you. Their Brand of corporate culture just does not lend itself to any kind of loyalty program.

    MARRIOT BONVOY is so watered down, you can hardly call it a Loyalty Program. Like lots of people say, it is a joke.

  7. As a lowly Plat my upgrades are hit or miss, but I don’t think I have ever been able to get a suite upgrade to stick. In my opinion they are a joke and a disincentive for loyalty. If you are going to offer them at least make them valid if there is availability. if you want to wait until 5 days out, fine but they should be guaranteed at some point. I had them take away my suite after they had already given it to me because they said they sold it instead. That did not make me want to stay at a Marriott property, which I assume is the whole point of having them. I do much better with suite upgrades at the hotel.

  8. it’s the hotel. this hotel made the club floor / club section a differnet hotel. meaning plat and above do NOT get access to club. Maybe thta’s why they only upgrade to junior CLUB suite with SNA. Not saying I agree but that’s my experience. Reason I did not yet stay at this hotel when in London

  9. The Suite upgrades can be very annoying!! Not only are they often not for suites i.e., a Jr or a “deluxe room”. I am a Lifetime Titanium and was recently staying at a very nice hotel, The Wentworth, in New Hampshire where I am a frequent guest well known to the staff and management. I am always upgraded just on Status and likability (yes, ask nicely and get more). Last stay, I used 4 Suite Upgrades (or tried to) to guarantee my upgrade which did not work well. 2 days out, the hotel had 5 suite categories open. I called the manager to see what status looked like. She said, you are one of our great guests and I would confirm the Upgrade now but Marriott controls the inventory and we can not clear it at the property. Bottom line, the suite upgrade never cleared but the staff upgraded me upon arrival, no certificates, and was glad to do so.

    What a rotten loyalty program…never would have happened at SPG!

  10. I am with most of you Marriott has ruined all programs we had at SPG as others I am life time titanium I had to beg for an upgrade to have a balcony room in Spring Hill Suites and they were at 25% that night and good luck on if you think I am going to average 250 dollars a night to get a host for me

  11. I am going to switch, it is a joke. The whole point of perks and benefits is to stay loyal, so yes when we spend 50 or 75+ nights a year at Marriott, we do expect better treatment. Do for those saying its an ego thing, you’re probably low tier and have not invested your loyalty to one brand.

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