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Marriott’s Suite Night Awards are supposed to be one of the best benefits that the Marriott Bonvoy program offers as they’re only offered to members who credit a minimum of 50 nights to their Bonvoy accounts in a calendar year, but the more I try to use them the more convinced I am that they’re not a particularly useful benefit at all.
There are a variety of issues with Marriott’s Suite Night awards (not least the issue that upgrades are not confirmed until 5 days before check-in…at best) but the fact that they appear to be useable at fewer and fewer properties is the biggest issue of them all.
The terms and conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy program make it pretty clear that a significant number of properties don’t have to honor Suite Night Awards…
Not all Participating Properties participate in Suite Night Awards. Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at the following brands: The Ritz-Carlton, The Ritz-Carlton Reserve, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, The Ritz-Carlton Residences, EDITION, Protea Hotels, Aloft, Element, Design HotelsTM, all-Suite Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club properties and Vistana properties. In addition, Suite Night Awards are not redeemable at select Participating Properties.
…and they also make it pretty clear that the only way to know whether an individual property (that isn’t attached to one of the brands named above) will honor Suite Night Awards before you actually make a booking, is to get in touch with Bonvoy customer services:
Contact a Customer Engagement Center for individual Participating Property Suite Night Award participation.
That’s not good enough. Every Marriott property’s webpage should make it explicitly clear whether or not the property will honor Suite Night Awards as guests shouldn’t have to contact customer services to find out.
I’ve been frustrated by not being able to use my Suite Night Awards in the past, but my annoyance at Marriott allowing hotels to pick and choose which parts of the Bonvoy program they want to adhere to and which they prefer to ignore has been tempered, to a degree, by the fact that most of the properties that have refused to honor my suite night awards have been high-end properties (e.g. The Langley), and the fact that I’ve still manged to score great upgrades at some very nice properties (e.g. The Gritti Palace).
In the past few days, however, I’ve started to question why I still bother choosing Suite Night Awards as one of my Bonvoy Annual Choice benefits.
Just like most people, I don’t spend a lot of my time at very high-end properties so I don’t think it’s too much to ask to expect to be able to use my Suite Night Awards when I’m booking my stays. To be clear, I don’t expect my Suite Night Awards to clear every time I try to use them – I fully understand that properties get full and that suites get booked up by paying guests – but I do expect to be able to apply them to my mid-tier reservations in the hope that they’ll clear.
Of late, this has simply not been happening – 3 mid-tier properties in a row have turned out to be properties that don’t honor Suite Night Awards – and my latest failure was the one that finally really, really annoyed me.
The Lexington Hotel is a Marriott property in Midtown Manhattan and as it’s a Category 6 property…
…I think it’s safe to say that it’s not particularly high up on the luxury scale. And, as it’s part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection, it’s not part of a brand that refuses to honor Suite Night Awards.
Whichever way you look at it this property is unremarkable. It’s not a high category property, it’s not in high demand, it doesn’t get rave reviews (although a few of the reviews are very good), and it’s often one of the cheaper Marriott options in central Manhattan. But as soon as I confirmed my reservation and went to apply a Suite Night Award, this is the message I saw:
The question that I wish Marriott would answer is this: If I can’t be sure that a middle-of-the-road property like the Lexington in NYC will at least let me try to apply Suite Night Awards to my reservation, what is the point of me selecting them as a benefit?
Yes, it’s great that wonderful properties like the Gritti Place honor Suite Night Awards, but as someone who spends most of his travels in mid-tier properties the occasional superb upgrade doesn’t work for me.
Suite Night Awards are meant to be a perk that make future stays more comfortable after a guest has put a lot of business Marriott’s way the preceding year so, unsurprisingly, I want to be able to at least try to use my Suite Night Awards when I book Category 5 and Category 6 properties during my regular travels. Is that too much to ask?
Apparently, it is. And that’s annoying.