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Joanna and I have recently returned from a trip to Australia where we stayed at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel for 5 nights. I made the award night booking back in 2018 and when I received my suite night upgrades (courtesy of my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status) I applied five of them to this stay.
I wasn’t expecting much.
When I first heard that Marriott was introducing suite upgrades as a benefit for Platinum and Titanium Elites I was genuinely excited as this seemed like a real improvement to the loyalty program….but the excitement was short-lived.
Marriott’s suite night upgrades work in a similar way to Starwood’s old upgrades in that they aren’t confirmable at the time of booking so you have to hope for the best in the days leading up to check-in….and that’s not really ideal.
Added to that, not all Marriott properties appear to have to honor the suite night upgrade benefit so that makes them a lot more interesting than they may otherwise be.
In brief, despite having selected Suite Night Awards as one of my elite benefits for 2019 I’ve been very sceptical of how useful they’ll actually be.
Still, I had 10 suite night awards sitting in my Marriott Bonvoy account so a 5 night stay with Joanna at my side seemed like a good time to try to use them and, when I went to request the upgrade, these are the selections I made (click to enlarge):
In practice we didn’t really need the extra room that comes with a full suite so I could have added the Junior Suite as an acceptable upgrade option (the other two room categories on offer weren’t even suites so I wasn’t about to use a “suite night award” on those) but, on this occasion, I decided that I wanted to see just what would happen if I turned down the chance to be upgraded to anything smaller than a full suite.
Almost exactly 5 days before check-in I got an email from the hotel giving me the great news that the suite night awards had cleared….
….but it didn’t tell me what type of room we had been upgraded to.
I logged on to Marriott.com and there was the good news – we had been upgraded to my #1 choice of room (given the options available):
I was already happy with only having to pay 140,000 points for 5 nights at a hotel I really like (even if it was only an entry level room) so imagine how happy I was when this was upgraded to an Opera House View Suite….and for Joanna’s first visit to Sydney! 🙂
I should point out that the Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay doesn’t have unobstructed views of the famous Harbour as there’s a very big Credit Suisse building in the way…..
…..but you do get a clear view of the Opera House if you’re in the right room:
I genuinely wasn’t expecting the suite upgrades to clear on this trip. I was fully expecting to get ‘Bonvoyed’ and I had mentally settled for a “high floor with city view” room from the day I first made the booking…so this was a nice surprise.
Had I been traveling alone the upgrade wouldn’t have meant all that much (and in reality I probably wouldn’t have even tried to use the suite night upgrades at all) but, with this being Joanna’s first visit to Australia (let alone her fist visit to Sydney), the upgrade was actually a little special.
I’ll be publishing a full review of the room and property in due course but, having been a major critic of all that Marriott has been up to recently, I thought I’d show a little evenhandedness and write about a nice positive experience for a change.