I've been reflecting about why I have felt so strongly about Marriott's changes, and it turns out to be fairly simple for me. Until I was about 25, I had probably stayed in about 3 hotels in my whole life, 1 with my parents on New Year's Eve in NYC (not a very nice one), and twice with my first husband (honeymoon in the Poconos and a trip to Montréal). When I started college, I was completely broke and only got more so when I got divorced. Since Mass General (where I worked) was paying most of my Harvard tuition (really!), trips were pretty much out of the question plus I had no time to do anything but work and study. That's what I'd call stage I of my hotel experiences, which continued through my first several years of grad school (including in Paris, where I lived in an apartment in the 13th arrondissement with my second husband) and beyond, when I worked three jobs, one of which was usually teaching. I taught at several different great schools in the US in the post Ph.D. period, but was $80,000 in debt for college loans.
Stage II started with getting the tenure-track job at Colby. I took an immediate hit because I couldn't work more than one job in central Maine. But then I started to get college and outside grants. Stage IIa was fleabag hotels in Paris and Rome. I'd lived in Paris for two years, so I was able to do much better in terms of negotiating cheap accommodations that weren't awful. But when I went first to Rome (and stayed near Termini) it was nearly tragic, and almost cost me the experience of returning of Rome. Fortunately, those two years of living in Paris did wonders for me esp. in the 80s. You learn an attitude and you get savvy. Although my Rome hotel was only three blocks from Termini, I'd mapped it out in my mind (I knew no Italian then). That was the time (if oldtimer MRIs remember) that I got accosted by the man with the dog trick. They did spirals around me till we reached my hotel street. I had my computer over my shoulder and my carry-on roller behind me. The man said in English (my first indication of how I figured out the Venice gigolo attempt on me later that year) that a bird had done its business on the back of my black dress. But being now more or less learned in the ways of not nice people, and savvier, I said, thank you very much, I will get it taken care of it at my hotel and kept going. When I got to the hotel wearing my black dress, I turned around to as the desk manager and the guy had used a plastic gun to spray paint the back of my dress with white ice cream which looked like bird droppings. The manager apologized and said these people were all around.
Skip to Stage III where I started doing lots of conference talks in the US, Canada and abroad, and used Hilton (mostly lower level) as my hotel choice. I'd already by then been Delta for many years. Hampton Inns and their lower kin were my places of stay in North America, and I upgraded not on Hilton but to hotels in (mostly) France that had private bathrooms. A big step indeed! In the early 2000s I was doing most of my research in US libraries, and spending 2 wks and more at some. Hampton Inns were satisfying till I changed to Marriott and found esp. Residence Inns (where I was, places near Marquette in Wisconsin, etc.). That's when I first became a Marriott member and eventually earned at one point Platinum status on points alone plus. Mostly since then I have not actually earned it, since Marriott counts stays. I really wish they would introduce an alternative like Delta where what you pay for your stays counts as an either/or for status. Plus I got lucky a couple of times with double stay awards.
Stage IV happened after tenure, after full Professor, and significant raises in salaries till (unfortunately) my mother died and I paid off all my student loans and bills. Then I could start staying, happily with the advent of major medical arthritic problems, at hotels more to my liking. That's when I rediscovered Venice and Rome. Florence, Tuscany and Umbria kept me busy but were paid for by my alumni college tours organized by Colby. I went to Paris on college grants. Sometimes I got other grants, though if you're a medievalist, there are not many. So I pay for the majority of my trips personally. But this stage, which I owe entirely to my education (and alas, my mother's death), suddenly awakened me to the joy of travel. Even when it wasn't really fun to be in Paris in 1985-7 (still very Gaullist and chauvinistic) I knew I had wanderlust. My second husband, with whom I lived most of the time in Paris, didn't want to accompany to my ancestral Switzerland (Bern, etc) or Germany, so I went alone and never felt at all awkward. My high school German sufficed and I came back to Paris in those days with an attitude that won respect. Still in the early 2000s my trips were limited.
Stage V was when I realized thanks to all of you (as well as my medical problems) that I was doing my bucket list. I didn't know what it was at the time, but I did have a sabbatical and lots of frequent flyer miles and Marriott points. So three years ago I did Greece (later x 4 soon to be 5), Turkey (later x 2), Egypt (can't wait to get back), Israel and the West Bank, Andalusia Spain, etc. I am not even including most of my trips to France and Italy, most of my research spots, because they just come normally now.
What has changed is where I stayed. Fleabags were fine in the beginning, then ok minor level franchise hotels, then Hilton lower levels, then Marriotts of all levels, and now I have come to the stage (with the Marriott changes) where I will only assuredly stay at certain Marriotts -- like two weeks from yesterday when I return to the Athens Ledra. Aside from that, I am now a boutique hotel person or someone who looks for the best rate for the most benefits at the most spectacular hotel I can possibly afford.
When I retire in 6-10 years, I expect it will change again. Maybe, if Venice still exists and if affordable properties are around, I could do like some of my Italian Ren colleagues in N. Amer. have done and try to buy a floor of a building on the lagoon or the Grand Canal. It has become my favorite city, since I am a water person through and through.
What are the stages of your hotel lives?