Marriott Cobalt: What Is This Super Secret Status?

Marriott Cobalt: What Is This Super Secret Status?

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Many loyalty programs have invitation-only elite tiers, like American Concierge Key, Delta 360, United Global Services, and Hyatt Courtesy Card.

At least on the airline front, these tiers are typically pretty widely known. What many people don’t realize is that Marriott also has an invitation-only elite tier. It’s possibly the most exclusive invitation-only elite tier of all, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone earning it.

Marriott Bonvoy’s five published elite tiers

Marriott Bonvoy is the world’s largest hotel loyalty program, and it has five published elite tiers:

Marriott Bonvoy elite members may receive room upgrades

Who gets Marriott Cobalt status?

Marriott Cobalt Elite status is available exclusively through Marriott’s CEO. Marriott employees can allegedly nominate members, though they have to be approved by the CEO.

Based on how few Cobalt members there allegedly are, I imagine nominations are very exclusive, so this isn’t just a function of being friends with someone at a front desk, or even frequenting one hotel. Similarly, this isn’t even given to hotel owners. It doesn’t even seem to be given to big spenders (I mean, maybe it is if you’re spending six figures per year with Marriott, but seemingly not otherwise).

Back in the day, the Cobalt Elite program existed as part of the Ritz-Carlton Rewards program, and it was also very exclusive at the time. It was only in 2019 that Marriott hotels were formally briefed about Cobalt Elite status, as Marriott at that point formalized benefits for the program.

Cobalt Elite originated with Ritz-Carlton

What benefits do Marriott Cobalt members receive?

Given how exclusive Cobalt Elite status is, the benefits are kind of not that amazing, actually. Cobalt Elite members receive Ambassador Elite status, but on top of that get benefits that vary by brand.

At select and extended stay brands, Cobalt members receive:

  • Upgrades to the best available rooms, including suites
  • Personalized note from the general manager
  • Being met by the general manager
Cobalt Elite members get suite upgrades at limited service properties

At premium brands, Cobalt members receive a personalized amenity.

At luxury brands, Cobalt members receive a distinctive experience on-property for the member and a guest. The “distinctive experience” being offered at luxury properties varies by brand, and includes:

  • At Ritz-Carltons, complimentary club lounge access and greeting by management there, as well as personal invitation from general manager to “scenography defining moment of the day”
  • At JW Marriott, personal invitation to meet with general manager at a food & beverage outlet
  • At EDITION, VIP table assignment in restaurant or bar
  • At St. Regis, personal invitation to a ritual moment
Ritz-Carlton lounge access is a Cobalt Elite benefit

How many Marriott Cobalt members are there?

I don’t actually have any insights here, but I did want to throw the question out there. Invitation-only elite members aren’t exactly rare at airlines. In the case of hotels, I know of a few Hyatt Courtesy Card members, though not many. But oddly in the case of Marriott, I don’t think I’ve heard about a single Cobalt member. We know the program exists, we just don’t know how many members there are.

So I’m curious, are any OMAAT readers Cobalt members? Can any Marriott front office employees chime in (anonymously) on whether they’ve ever had a Cobalt member on property? Does the program technically exist but not have any (or very few) members?

Cobalt Elite members are extremely rare

Bottom line

Marriott has a secret, invitation-only elite tier, known as Cobalt Elite status. This is available exclusively through Marriott’s CEO, and membership seems to be extremely limited.

Given how exclusive this status allegedly is, I’m kind of surprised there aren’t more benefits. For example, at Marriott’s top brands (where you’d assume most of these premium guests are staying), you basically get Ambassador Elite status, plus an experience, and that’s it. Ritz-Carlton lounge access is nice (as it’s not offered as part of status otherwise), but other than that, I can’t say the benefits are that exciting.

Now, I would say that there’s probably better “soft” treatment all around. For example, I imagine Cobalt Elite members will be looked after more carefully, employees will be briefed on them, etc.

So, does anyone have Cobalt Elite status, or know someone who does?

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  1. Greg Guest

    Hey Ben,

    Do you think being the CEOs neighbor at University might work? Only one way to find out... but I think I should wait until travel picks up a bit more so that I can get full value out of it if I should be fortunate enough to succeed.

  2. Eric m Guest

    I know one RC gets one cobalt every month or two

  3. Charles Chan Massey Guest

    I'm lifetime Titanium and had never heard of Cobalt until this article. Our benefits these days are hit and miss. Some properties are proactive; others reactive, in acknowledging status.

  4. Rick I Guest

    The Cobalt elite membership it is by invitation only and it usually is offered to CEOs, top celebrities, and millionaires.

  5. Fed UP Guest

    " Based on how few Cobalt members there allegedly are "... its not worth mentioning, here or elsewhere....

    1. People love complaining Guest

      Based on how useless this comment is ….it’s not worth mentioning, here or elsewhere….

  6. HHonors Gets Bonvoyed Guest

    Hi All,

    Long Time Reader; very rarely post; but figured I could add a datapoint here:

    Last Year's Ambassador Spend was listed somewhere in the neighborhood of ~$50,000 last year with ~140 nights. I receive fantastic service the vast majority of the time outside the US, but in the US service it leaves MUCH to be desired. Overall, I noticed very little difference between Titanium and Ambassador in the US, so I've decided I'm only...

    Hi All,

    Long Time Reader; very rarely post; but figured I could add a datapoint here:

    Last Year's Ambassador Spend was listed somewhere in the neighborhood of ~$50,000 last year with ~140 nights. I receive fantastic service the vast majority of the time outside the US, but in the US service it leaves MUCH to be desired. Overall, I noticed very little difference between Titanium and Ambassador in the US, so I've decided I'm only only going for (reached) titanium this year and getting top status in additional programs (Already had top tier in three, tentatively planning to add at least Accor this year).

    I have had someone bring up "a higher status" in my travels (yes, I'm being vague), but given the experience I've had with Ambassador in the US, I knew I would reduce my spend a good bit and opted to pass on further discussion.

    In my opinion, Cobalt Status is what Ambassador should be (Maybe without the personal manager greetings, as arranging that can be a logistical challenge, but that already occurs at certain locations for me anyways). At the many properties I frequent, just about everyone already knows me by my first name and crazy sidebar, I've even been recognized and greeted by hotel staff from other Marriott hotels when they have traveled internally!

    For mega-frequent travelers, it's really much more about what's the most relaxing and stress-free experience that can be offered as opposed to Faux-hospitality. At one of the properties I have frequented, there is another traveler who is there even more frequently than I am, and I can tell you that the genuinely positive experience the hotel offers is the primary driver for why he comes back, even if it is not as ideally situated as some of the other properties in that area.

    Complete Aside: Surprised you haven't covered (unless I missed it) the situation with a parked aircraft in Argentina a few months ago...

  7. The Joe Guest

    I came to the comments fully expecting to hear about how the ultra elite status that's so special you have to be invited to get it is actually not that special.

    For awhile I thought it was egregious, but now it's actually starting to be just sad. I'd be surprised if their own CEO doesn't frequently get Bonvoyed. Or maybe he's just rich enough that he doesn't have to stay there.

  8. SullyofDoha Guest

    Meting the GM is such a non-event. I usually am just hoping the conversation is short and sweet so that I can go back to my beverage...and be left in peace.

    1. DCAWABN Guest

      100% this. If I wanted to meet the GM, I'd ask. I literally do not care to meet anyone on staff unless I'm specifically in need of something. Otherwise I'm there to work/relax/sleep. All this fake "we care about our customers" BS is so pathetic. They're not ingratiating themselves to anyone. Let us go to our rooms and call you when we need you. You will forget my name the second I leave, so let's end this charade of Marriott caring about its guests.

  9. iamhere Guest

    The benefits only really matter at Platinum. The differences between the higher tiers above Platinum are nothing so special.

  10. JayC Member

    I'm curious what these "scenography" and "rituals" entail...

    1. Aussie Guest

      Why on earth would anybody want to meet the general manager?? How is that a “perk”? What are they meant to do? Massage your balls?

    2. HHonors Gets Bonvoyed Guest

      Beyond the reason that it would be a pleasent (expectation?) in certain cultures, there are some people that just LOVE chatting with Hotel Staff, so they feel more connected with their hotel visit. Those who frequent properties (as with other places in general) have this organically. The status just speeds up the process.

  11. Russ Member

    An influencer told me that he was cobalt elite and he got real eggs (not powdered) at the Fairfield Inn! =P

  12. Vistaro Guest

    Be good to see a similar article on Lifetime Hilton Diamond and any other lifetime hotel programs.

  13. JWags Guest

    Facetime with the GM of a hotel is the lamest "perk" I can imagine. Thanks for spending a prodigious amount of money with our company, so you can meet random hotel staff at the bar for a drink after a thank you note!!

    1. Gavin Guest

      I've met quite a few GMs and always had a lovely experience. To reach a high level of status obviously means that you travel frequently, and will have no shortage of topics to discuss with hotel staff. In my experience the GMs have always been warm, engaging and curious.

      I cherish this human connection.

  14. SwimBikeFly Guest

    At some point there’s gonna be a cap of what can be added/given. They’re already giving away the best possible room. I hat other benefits can truly be added? An escort waiting at the end of the day?

    1. Sel, D. Guest

      50% off food and beverage
      Champagne or other in-room amenities
      Complimentary spa service
      VIP Airport Transportation
      Local chauffeur service

      Need more?

  15. M A Guest

    I am lifetime titanium and have been Ambassador for as long as I can remember. I suspect my spend is a LOT higher than average on a per-night basis due to frequenting R-C and St Regis properties in expensive cities. But I have never been invited to the Cobalt tier, and frankly never knew it existed until I read this article.

  16. George Guest

    Least exciting premium status I’ve heard of. Who cares about meeting the GM? Give me free meals if I’m ultra high status.

  17. Bret G Guest

    I am lifetime Titanium, currently ambassador elite and spent a year as a Cobalt elite a few years ago (pre-Covid). I can honestly tell you I felt absolutely no difference. I remember maybe once or twice being greeted by the manager (out of dozens of stays), getting standard upgrades, and really nothing special. I remember at one point, asking for an upgrade and mentioning my status and the front-desk associate wasn’t even familiar with the...

    I am lifetime Titanium, currently ambassador elite and spent a year as a Cobalt elite a few years ago (pre-Covid). I can honestly tell you I felt absolutely no difference. I remember maybe once or twice being greeted by the manager (out of dozens of stays), getting standard upgrades, and really nothing special. I remember at one point, asking for an upgrade and mentioning my status and the front-desk associate wasn’t even familiar with the status. In my opinion, Marriott does not do a great job of differentiating statuses.

    1. Lee Guest

      What was your annual spend? Are you a corporate executive?

    2. Bret G Guest

      Management consultant. Spent 4 nights a week on the road for 15 years straight. Some of these extended stays were in extremely high priced hotels at about $500 / night.

    3. Zarani Barrow Guest

      Funny I was thinking all of the benefits of Cobalt are things you would get with regularity as an ambassador when it was Starwood. Turns out you don't even get them.

    4. Jim Guest

      My experience is somewhat similar to Bret’s , I have been Ambassador for many years under both Marriott’s current program and previously under Starwood’s. I am a lifetime Titanium. I was also both the original lifetime Platinum with Marriott (which had higher requirements back then) and lifetime Platinum with Starwood (which was relatively easy to obtain). While I never reach Cobalt, I did reach the old predecessor secret invitation only “Platinum Premier”, which was based...

      My experience is somewhat similar to Bret’s , I have been Ambassador for many years under both Marriott’s current program and previously under Starwood’s. I am a lifetime Titanium. I was also both the original lifetime Platinum with Marriott (which had higher requirements back then) and lifetime Platinum with Starwood (which was relatively easy to obtain). While I never reach Cobalt, I did reach the old predecessor secret invitation only “Platinum Premier”, which was based on being within the top percentage of nights stayed, revenue paid and points earned. Not to be confused with the regular Platinum Elite. It was unfortunate Marriott called both levels “Platinum” as it confused even their employees.

      It seemed that only some hotel managers knew what was Platinum Premier. They referred to it as “PP”, another unfortunate term. Perhaps similar to Bret’s experience as Cobalt, being “PP” seemed to only earn you being greeted by the GM, assistant GM, some other available top manager, or a personal note from the GM. As I normally booked and paid for suites, it is hard for me to measure what would have been the upgrade experience if I had only booked regular rooms. I did notice being blocked in higher floors and better view suites.

    5. PP Time Guest

      Having stayed at both the St Regis and the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, I have to say the PP member benefits were better at the St Regis. In all seriousness my girlfriend at the time spilled a bottle of wine on the bed and they actually changed the mattress out at the St Regis. I was embarrassed - but they said it happens more often than one would think.....

  18. M.Casey Guest

    This is old news, Aug 2019! Are you just trying to get hits for bucks from advertisers.

    1. Lee Guest

      Not everyone is as well-informed as you. Consider the newbees who haven't heard about it. Cut Ben some slack.

  19. BRIAN BELLER Guest

    I HAVE BEEN AN AMBASSADOR FOR 6 YEARS, NEED TO FIND A WAY TO BECOME A COLBAT

    1. Barry Bellend Guest

      TRY EMAILING THE CEO IN ALL CAPS

    2. Foo blah Guest

      Special “Colbat” status just for you. Free stays in the boiler room and homemade wine with the custodians, if they’ll have you.

  20. B3 Guest

    For us "working stiffs" who stay at a non-luxury Marriott property weekly, I'm underwhelmed. I check in late, after a long workday, and leave for work early. There's no general manager around to greet me, and I wouldn't expect it. My total is over 270 nights a year so I spend a chunk of change with Marriott, but I'm lucky if I get a "market item" at a Courtyard.

  21. DCAWABN Guest

    Oh goody! Yet another way for Marriott to completely disappoint its loyal patrons and dilute it's already paltry loyalty programme. What's next? Super Secret Blowjob Platinum Status - by invitation and awesome card trick only! - where you MIGHT get access to crusty hummus at a lounge at one hotel, but it's a secret and it's rotated daily across all hotels across the entire brand globally? What a joke.

  22. Brian Guest

    If I did have this status the only thing I’d want to discuss with the general manager is what is included in the “ritual” moment.

    1. Wes Guest

      St Regis does the sabrage.
      Some of them Sheratons do their morning bed bug checks

    2. Super Gold

      Maybe it's ritual sacrifice which is why we don't know any Cobalt members

    3. Santos Guest

      @super laughed out loud. Well done

  23. mark Guest

    large corporations and investment banks routinely take over luxury hotels for 1-2+ days, booking most rooms and every conference facility available and making extensive use of F&B. That head events executive is worth 8+ figures over the course of a year if he/she is loyal to Marriott. seems like a good candidate

  24. Arthur Gimbal Guest

    They probably still don't get free breakfast

  25. Bonvoyed Guest

    I think one of the benefits is that you get services from Marriott that they don’t want to provide to other guests, like cleaning the room or fulfilling a room upgrade.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Bret G Guest

I am lifetime Titanium, currently ambassador elite and spent a year as a Cobalt elite a few years ago (pre-Covid). I can honestly tell you I felt absolutely no difference. I remember maybe once or twice being greeted by the manager (out of dozens of stays), getting standard upgrades, and really nothing special. I remember at one point, asking for an upgrade and mentioning my status and the front-desk associate wasn’t even familiar with the status. In my opinion, Marriott does not do a great job of differentiating statuses.

8
Barry Bellend Guest

TRY EMAILING THE CEO IN ALL CAPS

7
Lee Guest

Not everyone is as well-informed as you. Consider the newbees who haven't heard about it. Cut Ben some slack.

5
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