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BrightlyBob's Blab

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And that place is the UK - Now my American friends, please do not be put off, this isn’t an in depth analysis of the hotel business in the UK, but a breakdown of the inflationary effect of Marriott’s category changes in this country. 

 

Although the UK is top-heavy in full service and hence high-category hotels I think it’s a good place to analyse the effect of the latest category changes, in no small part because it’s a smaller market but with a good category distribution. With less than 100 properties it’s maths are manageable without talking in the thousands of hotels and billions of points. It’s also much easier to gather the data. And that’s what I’ve done.

 

The last time I looked at this in June 2018 I found that the combining of both Marriott and SPG programs led to a net reduction of 6,000 points to redeem for 1 night at every UK Marriott/Starwood property. Has the latest announcement of category changes effected that?

 

Well, the launch of Bonvoy next week will be followed swiftly by a category adjustment and right now we have the following category numbers in the UK:

 

Category | Number of Hotels | Points per night | Total Points 

 

1.                         0.                           0.                        0

2.                         3.                      12,500.               38,000

3.                       13.                      17,500.             227,000

4.                       32.                      25,000.             800,000

5.                       24.                      35,000.             840,000

6.                         8.                      50,000.             400,000

7.                       12.                      60,000.             720,000

8*                         1.                      85,000.               85,000

 

Total Points to stay one night at every UK Bonvoy @ 28/02/19 - 3,110,000

 

*Note although Cat 8 didn’t start in 2018, I calculated in June 2018 on the basis of its existence and hence the London Wellesley at Category 8 since it’s reduction was merely temporary.

 

Point adjustments on 5 March 2019

 

1 increase from Cat 3 to 4   =   7,500

4 increase from Cat 5 to 6   = 60,000

1 increase from Cat 7 to 8   = 25,000

LESS

1 decrease from Cat 7 to 6  = 10,000

 

Total net increase is.               83,000 points

 

As a result the new category list in the UK looks like this:

 

Category | Number of Hotels | Points per night | Total Points 

 

1.                         0.                           0.                        0

2.                         3.                      12,500.               38,000

3.                       12.                      17,500.             210,000

4.                       33.                      25,000.             825,000

5.                       20.                      35,000.             700,000

6.                       13.                      50,000.             650,000

7.                       10.                      60,000.             600,000

8.                         2.                      85,000.             170,000

 

 

Total Points to stay one night at every UK Bonvoy @ 10/03/19 - 3,203,000

 

Overall this represents an increase of 2.7%. To be honest I didn’t expect a big increase this time around, I think despite its bullish public position that the merger went well overall and problems effected only a small number of members, in private Marriott realises it’s in the doghouse with us here and doesn’t need to start waving the red flag of depreciation to top-off its - and hence our - IT woes.

 

As a matter of interest all the UK changes have effected the London hotels. The London Edition which was in 2018 slated to remain at Category 7 is the Cat 8 climber, joining the Wellesley there. If I recall correctly the Edition was originally launched in 2013 at 35,000 points. In days now it’ll be 85,000, that’s one heck of a rise! The London Gatwick Courtyard is the one that went from Cat 3 to 4 and the London Marriotts in Kensington and Regents Park increased from Cat 5 to 6, as did the Residence Inn London Bridge and Autograph Xenia. The sole reduction from Cat 7 to 6 was the Autograph Bankside...

 

 

I first posted this thread on 7th January 2019, the day after checking out of the Marriott Worsley Park...

 

2018 ended with me chasing up pointshorting problems on 3 of my final 4 stays and a repeated problem that has beset my entire Marriott membership has reached near epidemic proportions, this last 3 months far more stays are significantly pointshorted, or just plain missing, than post correctly. And I have to chase up Marriotts errors - if indeed they are errors, because let’s face it, pointshorting, if uncorrected has to be a MAJOR saving for hotels. So this year I’ve decided to keep a blog, here, of all instances of pointshorting and the efforts I make to remedy them.

 

This could be MRI’s quietest ever Blog, though I suspect not!

 

So 2018 ended with the Marriott Leeds pointshorting me 10,000 points on a pre-Christmas stay, which wasn’t completely rectified till mid January 2019. Can the new year begin on an optimistic note? Bearing in mind Marriotts IT managed to cancel all last years untaken Choice awards despite the fact that everyone had till 14 Jan of the following year to make their choices, I suspect not...

 

I checked out of the Marriott Worsley Park on 6 January asking for paper receipts for both of my 2 rooms and on 8 January Marriott grasped the first opportunity of 2019 to riff me of 5,640 points. Thus the new year began as the old one ended. This consistency is NOT a good thing, Marriott.

 

UPDATED 3rd March 2019

 

2019 Results

 

Jan 04 to Jan 06 Marriott Worsley Park $435 net - 1,127 base points credited - Pointshorted by 5,640 points!

Jan 10 to Jan 11 Marriott BexleyHeath - points, night credit and LNF bonus posted correctly

Jan 11 to Jan 12 Renaissance LHR - points, night credit and LNF bonus posted correctly

Jan 31 to Feb 01 Marriott York - spend points correct but 4,000 bonus points failed to post

Feb 17 to Feb 18 Marriott Cardiff - points, night credit and LNF bonus posted correctly

Welcome to the new year everyone. And I’ve decided to start the new year with a lengthier-than-normal post for you to digest with your 2019 breakfast coffee. And what else should be the subject other than Brexit - um, no. Trump? Erm, double no!! Let’s try the new, as yet un-named scheme. That sounds appropriate, even if similarly controversial to the other two!

So what do we think of the new, as yet un-named, scheme folks?

I’m (less than randomly) calling it Bonvoy and the points awarded BonPoints (BP). And this is my take.

Like all the other hotel loyalty programs, it’s based upon a stool with 4 legs. Firstly the Elite levels that determine the nights required for each ascending tier, secondly the in-stay benefits each tier confers, thirdly the pointearning rate and the final leg, the point cost of redemptions. And to make it easier to digest, I’ve broken the post into separate comments. After all, it’s a big subject!

Ok, this isn’t Marriott related, but it is points related - IHG points to be exact.

 

Remember us IHGers repeatedly pointing out how much more generous IHG is with its free point offers. Whilst Marriott was offering 250 points for twittering in 2016, 1,000 points for answering in 2017 and 50 points for competing in 2018, IHG blows it all out of the water with an offer of 5,000 points for a single tweet! 

 

You’ll need to visit IHGs HomeWithIHG page, click through to Twitter, follow IHGRewardsClub on Twitter and post a picture of yourself at home or at any IHG hotel, then hashtag your tweet #HomeWithIHG #ad #Rewardsoffer and @IHGRewardsClub and tweet it out. Then return back to the HomeWithIHG page to claim your 5,000 points. Well worth the effort, I reckon!

 

Heres my tweet:

 

At home with IHG at Holiday Inn Poole #HomeWithIHG #ad #Rewardsoffer @IHGRewardsClub 


 

But you need to be fast. The offer was launched a few hours ago and although claiming to be live till 31st December has already been published by Britain’s biggest blog www.headforpoints and will easily garner 5,000 entries from followers of that blog alone (eh fistuk, eh, eh?). And IHG is only offering this to the first 10,000 tweeters. OneMileAtaTime has also gotten hold of it, as has our very own prolific twitterer starguy and with all his followers y’know it won’t be long till it’s all tweeted out, so if you’ve got an IHG account and fancy supplementing it 5,000 points in a single tweet, what are you doing still reading this? Get it done now! It took me much longer to post this here than it took me to tweet out and claim my 5,000 IHG points!

brightlybob

Timperley Teeny-TIPPLE

Posted by brightlybob Nov 17, 2018

Timperley is my home, a small urban village south of Manchester near Altrincham and Manchester Airport (MAN). 

 

brilin is the new identity of SPG enthusiast and all-round troublemaker formerly known as brianandlin. He was forced to change his insider handle when having chosen his SPG number as his account going forward following the merger he then found he couldn’t access his brianandlin identity which was of course based on the Marriott account he’d signed up for shortly after the takeover, but was now cancelled following his choice to stick with his SPG account moving forward. Hence a new handle was necessary.

 

Now Brian lives in Stockport which is just a short train ride from Timperley on the creaking 19th century Stockport to Chester line that somehow managed to avoid Beechings 1950s “hack and slash” line closures. Equipped with 1960s rolling stock it’s not a glamorous journey but is remarkably direct turning what can often be an hours traffic into a 15 minute trainride. A few DMs and we’d arranged a mini crawl around Timperley sampling our two village pubs, the Stonemasons Arms and the Quarry Bank. We enjoyed a couple of pints at each sticking to each pubs classic bitters, Timothy Taylor’s at the Stonemasons and Hyde’s at the Quarry. 

 

No, it’s not blurred, it’s set to highest handsomeness filter, well mid-highest actually, highest deleted us both!

 

Our discussions inevitably centred on our Marriott and SPG experiences, mine from the point of view of a U.K. business stayer with the inadequacy of SPGs “London and Edinburgh only” coverage and Brian’s from the position of a retiree leisure traveller taking cheap SqueezyJet and RyanScare flights around Europe and finding that SPG offered the best coverage and real one-to-one treatment that he feels, and I agree, Marriott just doesn’t provide. Brian’s conversations touched on Starwood hotels to be found at Dubrovnik, Warsaw, Sofia, Leipzig, Krakow, Sopot, Fuerteventura, Split, Malta, Lisbon and Barcelona. For my part I tried to wax lyrical about the Marriotts in Leeds, Peterborough, Northampton and Preston but it was clear I wasn’t cutting it in this conversation. Our most discussed shared experience was the Huntingdon Marriott, personally I found it to be an unremarkable property, typical of Marriotts edge-of-town inventory, Brian was more animated, it being the foundation stone of his rabble rousing reputation of which he is so justifiably proud, here Is this some kind of joke? 

 

Alas the evening went too quickly and before I knew it I was walking him back to his train home with a promise that I’d make my way over to Stockport where he’ll be arranging a tour of the local Robinsons Brewery next year. Sounds good to me Brian!

My good friend and fellow TIPPLER pey is making a visit to Blighty and as a man of taste he’s chosen the St Pancras Renaissance for his stay enjoying its spectacularly generous lounge facilities. He invited me to join him as his guest for a Teeny TIPPLE and who was I to refuse?

 

Now alas I’m not flash with points and so I had to find a cheap place to lay my head afterwards so searched and found London’s cheapest Marriott, the Moxy Heathrow, just an hours tube ride on the Picaddily line that runs directly under the St Pancras Renaissance. And finding a £50 LNF and choosing points gave me 5,000 points or the LNF, 600 points for the rate, 450 Plat Premier points and 500 arrival points, plus as my second brand 1,000 megabonus points. Finally adding on the 300 AMEX points gives a grand haul of 7,850 points of the £50 ($65) night! Score!

 

And of course the opportunity of a lovely train ride to London, too. Alas my usual route of walk to Navigation station, pick up the 10 minute train to Stockport and then the 2-hour train to London wasn’t available due to some hooray-berk smashing into a railway bridge. Normally this is no problem as I’d just use the train to Manchester Piccadilly from Navigation station, alas there are engineering world and the entire line is closed. So this is going to be a grand journey indeed. So here goes

 

11.00 leave home, walk to Baguley Station 

 

11.30 arrive Baguley Station

 

 

11:35 Catch tram to St Peters Sq

 

12:05 Arrive St Peters, start walk to Piccadilly train station

 

12:20 Arrive Piccadilly station

 

12:25 Board train to London

 

 

 

 

12:35 Train sets off for London

 

 

14.45 Train arrives Euston slightly late

 

14:55 Arrive at Ren St Pancras 

 

15:00 Meet pey at The Booking Office

 

16:30 TeenyTIPPLE in full swing

 

 

 

21:30 Said goodbye to Mrs pey, good night had!

 

A question entered my mind recently. Earn and burn - or not?

 
I’ve been a member of Marriott Rewards since 2006 and started redeeming my points in 2008, burning broadly as I earned. I’ve kept a record of all my redemptions over the years and these featured in my The long and rewarding road to Lifetime Platinum blog post. But when answering the thread How many points do you keep in the bank? I asked myself, since I always advise to burn as you earn, is that actually good advice? And if so, by how much?
 
Now this should be simply a matter of totalling up the points redeemed by category nights but it’s not that simple, not all redemption methods make sense now, or are even possible, in particular I’m never likely to redeem a travel package, the old redemption cheques have long since gone, and some hotels I redeemed at are no longer part of the Marriott group. So ignoring those and counting only the direct redemptions I’ve made over the past decade, how did things turn out? And what did a decade of category creep do to my choices?
 
Well, my records show I redeemed a total of 99 nights within those qualifying parameters from 2008 to date costing a total of 2,110,000 points to redeem, taking into account those instances when I stayed 5 or more nights thus receiving a free night. Those different hotel-nights ended up in the following new categories:
 
New Category-—-Nights————Points now required

Cat 1 ————-— 1 night————————7,500
Cat 2 ————-- 3 nights———————-37,500
Cat 3 ————-- 18 nights———-———315,000
Cat 4 —————49 nights —————-1,100,000
Cat 5 —————- 6 nights————-——175,000
Cat 6 —————10 nights———-———450,000
Cat 7 ————— 12 nights——————720,000

 

TOTAL TO REDEEM NOW —————-2,805,000

So, that’s it. To redeem these self same properties for the self same number of nights that did cost me 2,110,000 points would now cost a total of 2,805,000 points, that’s an increase of 695,000 points, a category creep amounting to 33% over a decade. Sounds awful, right? Well, I thought so too, till I examined the inflation record, which has from 2008 to date stood at 30%! Admittedly that is the figure over the decade assuming you had all that cash in 2008, I’ve earned and burned and the points earned earned in 2008 had been redeemed by 2010, by 2013 I was burning points I’d earned in 2011 etc, etc. Whichever way you look at it, however, saving points for the long term future is a road to stealth devaluation by category creep and program changes.
Its important to realise, this isn’t a treatise to spend points earned yesterday today, saving points for that big redemption is a big part of what this game is about, but hoarding generally over a decade or more is the long term road to devaluation. Yes, let them build up over a year or two for that big redemption, yes keep a war chest available for that bargain redemption when cash prices are sky-high, but they’re a poor long term savings plan, I redeemed those 695,000 “lost” points for 2 travel packages giving me 240,000 airline miles and 2 weeks of hotel stays. I would have lost those to Marriotts inflation had I hoarded them!

Yes, once-upon-a-time Hilton had an earn and redeem proposition that made its program a leader in value. Then in 2007 it fell into the hands of Corporate Raiders Blackstone who simply intended to increase earnings from hotels by charging franchisees more and slash costs by dismissing staff and cutting the wages of those that remained, then sell it on and pocket the profit. Instead the financial crisis happened and nobody was doing deals. Blackstone was left as long-term owners, and so looked at other ways to maximise profits till they could unload. Eventually their search of the Hilton Manor led them to the Hilton Honors loyalty program and with a wolfish grin they sharpened their knives...

 

Ok, so it’s a Coyote, but I like Wile.E. Coyote, and it’s my blog, right!

 

I’ll not go into the gory details on the rest of the sorry story. Needless to say Blackstone gutted the earn and burn proposition but expanded in-stay benefits that of course are paid for by the franchisees, not Hilton. Eventually Blackstone floated Hilton and earlier this year sold their final stake into the market, ending an 11-year holding.

 

Hilton has recently announced its improved top-tier Diamond benefits package that includes free breakfast across all brands and no Resort fees on redemption. More improvements paid for by franchisees, but it seemed an indication that Marriotts biggest and closest competitor was making a play to increase its membership whilst Marriott was going through its merger pains. But what Hilton hasn’t announced is the end of its 5,000 points starting price. 

 

Now to be honest Hilton's 5,000 point starting price didn’t cover many properties, indeed according to Loyalty Lobby here  Hilton Honors Master Property List March 2018 | LoyaltyLobby they numbered just 47 of its 5,221 hotels. There were 154 properties at 10,000 points, and 6 - yes you read that right, just 6 - 15,000 pointers. Alas, even those measly numbers were too high for Hilton’s cost-cutters.

 

Hilton announced a couple of years ago that it would no longer be publishing property redemption movements and here it’s been as good (or bad) as its word. Effectively it seems virtually all the 5k, 10k and 15k properties have been moved to 20,000 points with just the merest smattering kept back at 10,000. I found just one in Europe, at Newport. Remember, in reality only 207 of Hilton's 5221-property inventory were under 20,000 points. Now I suspect we’ll be lucky if there’s double figures. Effectively, Hilton’s redemptions now start at 20,000 points. Of the 10-base points per $ brigade Marriotts redemptions start at 7,500, IHG at 10,000 and Hilton now at 20,000. Bearing in mind that IHG introduced two new top categories at 65,000 and 70,000 points this year, just a couple of years after introducing categories 55,000 and 60,000 and the pattern is clear, the big boys don’t particularly care about their redemption values, cutting at both the top and the bottom and devaluing when a key rival is struggling to merge its gargantuan program suggests whichever scheme we belong to we need to keep a careful eye on both cash and redemption rates, and a firm hand on our wallet and pockets - The Man is after us all!

brightlybob

Take me to your leader!

Posted by brightlybob Sep 15, 2018

Anybody checked the community leaderboard lately?

 

Well maybe you should because we have a new top-of-the-tree leader. 

 

All hail our glorious Empress pluto77, now bow you plebs, bow!

 

 

Now for those leaderboard watchers out there you may well ask how this occurred. After all pluto77 hasn’t figured anywhere near the top of the leaderboard since the new system began, although clearly a valued and regular contributor - go ahead, click on the link here pluto77 - quite prolific, eh? But nowhere near the top. Well, I felt it was monstrously unfair that those not undertaking activity in an “approved” way weren’t necessarily getting all the worthless participation points they deserved so I had a word with a few friends and we decided to crown our own leader in an excersise of democracy - if you take the richest simply choosing a new leader as an excersise in democracy! We selected unlucky 13 to become our lucky leader, and that was pluto77! Things didn’t work out quite like that, to be honest. By the time the putsch had been co-ordinated, Pluto had slipped down to number 14, but the die had been cast. And since I’m making up the rules, Pluto got all the valueless points in a further act of wanton insouciance, so sorry kharada46, you should actually be King, it actually should have been you based on our 13th criteria, but really we just made it up as we went along!

 

Congratulations to our worthy selection, your new leader based on the choice of just a few of us, imposed on all of you! And why? Well, why not? We reckon Pluto is a great contributor and that top 10 was a testosterone-only zone, a Queen brings regal serenity and a calming touch to her subjects, as a Brit I know that!

As I’m experiencing right now at Regents Park Marriott lounge. Free self pour, 17:30-21:30 every evening.

 

 

LIVE UPDATE - 13 September

 

Second night and how about another photo from the lounge?

 

 

Do you reckon I caught its best side?

 

 

LIVE UPDATE 14 September

 

Third (and last) night so time for an updating photo

 

 

Tonight the beer and white wine pump are joined by their good friends Soda and Red Wine. The full ensemble!

brightlybob

Marriott or Sheraton

Posted by brightlybob Aug 28, 2018

A posting today by erc, got me thinking, Marriott is pushing forward with its “comply or die” program to force the many shoddy Sheraton’s out there up to brand standards which seems to me once done will place it in real direct competition with the flagship Marriott brand itself.

 

 

 

It’s a big project. You see after Marriotts biggest brand, Courtyard with over 1,200 properties, and Fairfield with 1,000, and Residence Inn at over 800, it’s second fourth biggest brand is the flagship, Marriott itself with 571 hotels and third fifth, well that’s Sheraton with 444 466, over 100 of which have committed to immediate renovations and another 150 to renovations within the next 18 months. Could Sheraton finally muscle in on Marriotts turf here? After all Marriotts big advantage over Sheraton was adherence to brand standards and maintenance. Although Sheraton has always been placed as a competitor to Marriott its struggled with consistency. Well that will be no more.

 

 

And the irony, Marriott takes over Starwood and solves its most troubled brand thereby putting its own flagship brand under the cosh!

 

So, if Marriott delivers the goods on the Sheraton renovations are there Marriotts you’d swap out?

 

EDITED to correct errors in brand numbers I farmed from a Skift report. Yup, as erc rightly states, never believe a blogger who “heard it from an inside source” - trust Insiders who know how to get the authentic source, thanks for the correction verysuiteboy, your semantic-pragmatic tendencies paid off today!

Yeah. It’s good to be back folks!

 

 

It’s time for my summer holiday, but this time it’s not 3 hotels in 3 cities plus a sleeper train in China. Nor is it 12 hotels in 4 weeks around East Canada and USA. Nor is it 3 hotels in 10 days in Florida, and definitely not 13 hotels in 17 days (inc original TIPPLE-The-First) combined civil war and research trip. It’s not even 3 hotels in 4 nights for DoubleTIPPLE.

 

Nope, this is simply one hotel for 2 weeks. Namely the Sharaton Dolphin at Walt Disney World.

 

 

Just me and MrsBrightlyBob. And it’s our wedding anniversary too! Our first ever fortnight holiday together, just the two of us - well plus a mystery guest on Friday!

 

So, what’s my plan? Lots of Pandora, lots of Epcot, Magic Kingdom and a bit of Toy Story Land with a hefty side of pool time and plenty of good eats

 

Oh, and enjoying my utterly terrific $150 BRG to Premium Studio Suite upgrade! Loads of space, and two wardrobes, which I’m really needing for my Hawaiian Shirt Collection. Yup, it’s going to be a bright vacation! Seriously fab upgrade, SPG is taking its Platinum recognition ethos up to the finishing line here! Aaah, the spglife

Well, MRI has become a depressing lot as of late. And that’s not surprising, the final changes to the new scheme have been announced in the form of the redemption table and it’s been crushing on the Travel Packages, gateway-city properties and Beach hotels and resorts. And that has unleashed a loud chorus of teeth gnashing and complaining by those who have lost on the changes. That’s always the way, people are much more likely to hand out the brickbats than the bouquets. All the same, I’m putting my head above the parapet. This merger has been hugely beneficial to me as a decade long member and recently qualified Lifetime Platinum Marriotteer - and I’m delighted, totally delighted, it happened! 

 

Get me another - I’m celebrating!

 

This is my take on the improvements I’ve personally experienced here.

 

So, this merger has been hugely beneficial - for me! All good improvements and no downsides at all, not one! Now that might sound selfish, but all the complainers expressing how rotten it is and how they’ve been hosed could equally be said to be selfish. They’re not of course, they’re just showing how bad it’s been for them. So this is me showing how good it’s been for me!

 

Positives since merger:

 

01. 4pm guaranteed late checkout

02. Suite upgrades return to the Platinum benefits

03. Free breakfasts at AC, Protea and Moxy

04. Addition of 1,500+ new hotels to earn and get elite benefits, inc many aspirational properties 

05. $10pppn F&B voucher at Courtyards

06. Welcome Amenity doubles to 1000 points

07. SPG AMEX triples earnings compared to Marriotts U.K. card

08. Addition of SNAs, most years I won’t make 75 nights but 50 nights gets me 5 SNAs

09. Grandfathered to LTPP, pointearning increases by 17%

10. New redemption table cuts points at thousands of properties I’d use around the world

11. Earn points on F&B across all brands

12. Addition of 75-night choice benefit including a free night certificate 

 

For me personally as a Marriotteer against what we had prior to the merger Marriott Rewards has become considerably more rewarding both on in-stay benefits and redemptions as a “road less travelled” kinda guy. Here’s what it means in Pounds and Points on a low travel 40-night year. Some years are much higher.

 

IN-STAY BENEFITS

Personally I reckon I’m up £100pa on the new breakfast and CY F&B benefit (I don’t stay at select service properties very often), another £100 on resort breakfasts (this year I’m £250pa up, most years it’s nothing though), plus the suite upgrades, SNAs, and 4pm checkouts.

POINT-EARNING

Under the pre-merger program my minimum annual 40 paid nights brought in 50,000 points inc Plat bonus, 10,000 checkin amenity, and 20,000 on the credit card. Now my 40 nights at the same annual cost see’s me receive 60,000 points inc PP bonus, 20,000 points on the checkin amenity and 40,000 extra points on the AMEX (after deducting 10k points for the annual fee). So my annual pointearning has increased from 80,000 to 120,000, a 50% increase!

POINT-BURNING

My road less travelled redeeming methodogy will not necessarily see me gain any greater value than my 1UScent valuation. But it will be far easier to redeem with so many properties I’d redeem at reducing in points. And of course all those lovely Starwood choices too. Mmmmmm...

 

So, wow. Yes. Way better than expected, a downside-free zone. It’s a thumbs-up from me, Marriott.

 

Let the flaming commence!

We point enthusiasts don’t like Dynamic redemptions because they set a fixed price on the value our points represent as rebates. We prefer to battle Marriott/IHG/Hilton’s matrix to seek out value when we redeem. Indeed every time I arrange a leisure stay I always, always, always search for redemptions. At all times when I redeem I could pay, but if the redemption makes good value, above 1c per point, then I will consider redeeming, at 1.5c per point I will always redeem. The most telling example of this behaviour was a few years ago when I stayed at the Marriott Marquis on Times Sq for 3 nights, redeeming the first two $500 nights at 45k points per night and paying for the last one as the cash rate was $200.

 

But it does now seem that we will to a great extent have near-dynamic redemption pricing with 8 categories, each with 3 options, off-peak, standard and peak but in the thicket of new information are pointsavers that apply to each option. So that’s actually 6 different rates for each category. So a Cat 1 off-peak point-saver starts at 4,000 points moving to a peak category 8 at 100,000 points through a total of 34 - yes, you read that right - 34 different price levels. 

 

 

So, our old Marriott redemption table was 

6,000, 7,500, 10,000, 15,000, 20,000, 25,000, 30,000, 35,000, 40,000, 45,000, 50,000, 60,000 & 70,000

See, it fits on one line! 

 

Our new redemption table is (takes a deep breath)

4,000, 5,000, 6,000, 7,500, 8,000, 8,500, 10,000, 11,000, 12,000, 12,500, 13,000, 15,000, 16,000, 17,500, 18,000, 20,000, 22,500, 25,000, 27,500, 30,000, 32,500, 35,000, 37,500, 40,000, 45,000, 50,000, 55,000, 60,000, 65,000, 70,000, 80,000, 85,000, 90,000, 100,000

 

Ok, so it’s not dynamic pricing, but gosh, our Marriott Rewards redemptions just got a lot more complicated!

I’m going to Walt Disney World in just 40 days! Woohoo, excited! Now, Walt Disney World is a very big holiday to us Brits because it comes with a hefty flight cost, direct return economy flights to MCO in July and August typically run around $1,000! As a result we book early and stay long, typically 1-3 weeks. 

 

One of the great pluses of the merger is that Marriott acquired the Swan and Dolphin hotel, a Starwood property directly on-site in Walt Disney WWorld and walking distance from both Hollywood Studios and Epcot, and a very short walk to the Boardwalk, a nightlife and bar area. Actually it’s 2 hotels, the ~1000 room Swan is a Westin and the ~2000 room Dolphin is a Sheraton. Hence I could book them and earn the now interchangeable SPG points, a currency that is otherwise near useless due to a lack of earning availability in the UK. 

 

So, first I found my rate in September 2017 for July 2018 and booked it - $5,600 inc all taxes and fees for 13 nights. Sounds a lot, and it is a lot, but still $2,000 cheaper than the next door Disney Beach Club. Then, like a good scout as taught by fistuk, our resident LNF Scoutmaster, seek out a lower rate and claim Starwoods BRG (If you don’t know what this means see fistuks excellent thread https://insiders.marriott.com /message/243753?commentID=243753#comment-243753) which reduced the rate I found by $3,000 to $2,600. 

 

All good - you bet!

 

 

Well, except that a few changes have conspired to erode the value. None make the deal worse but all do tell of the value-for-money improvements Marriott has made since September. Firstly, earlier this year Marriott adjusted Starwoods BRG discount increasing it from 20% to 25%. Yes, I did look and although I could rebook and get a BRG, I couldn’t find an outcome which even after the enhanced discount would go below $2,600. But if only the new Marriott policy had applied when I did it in September last year it would have saved me an extra $120. Then there’s the new scheme that would mean I would earn 17.5 Reward points per $ instead of the 3SPG (9 Marriott) I am earning. So if only the new Marriott scheme came in just 1 month earlier I would have received an additional 17,000 Marriott points! And of course I’d also recieve almost double the points on my incidentals too, and let me tell you, there will be quite a few incidentals over the 2 week stay, I strongly suspect I’ll be out 20,000 points on that month difference! And of course I’d be checking in as a newly minted PP, as opposed to a plain ‘ol SPG Plat, hopefully giving me all the better chance at those wonderful Starwood upgrades I hear so much about.

 

Now, admittedly, these are truly First World Problems and I was happy with my BRG at $2,600, and content that I’d be earning 9 Marriott points per $ which was after all 9 more than I would have earned without the merger! And I was happy to be turning up as a regular Plat which was far farther up the elite tree than, well, um, no status that I otherwise would have had sans merger. 

 

But now better deals have turned up I’m gagging for them. But can’t get them!

 

Darn these bigger and better baubles Marriott