Is The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo Charging Cash For Points Stays?

Filed Under: Marriott

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post entitled “I Can’t Keep Up With All The Marriott Hotels Playing Games.” I think the title is mostly self explanatory.

Ever since Marriott integrated their three loyalty programs, it sure seems like more hotels are playing “games” than ever before, in violation of the terms and conditions of Marriott’s loyalty program. This ranges from hotels putting notices on their website saying they don’t have to upgrade Platinum members, to hotels just not making rooms available on points, to all kinds of other things.

Marriott is now the world’s largest hotel group, with over 6,500 hotels around the world. So there’s no doubt that there will always be some “bad apple” hotels, though it sure seems to me that the number of hotels doing whatever the heck they want is increasing significantly.

Reader Lulu brought to my attention what on the surface appears to be a pretty gutsy move from a hotel.

The Ritz-Carlton Tokyo appears to be charging a 23,200JPY service charge per night when redeeming points. So in addition to the 60,000 points required per night, you also have to pay a total of 25,246JPY including tax, which is about 230USD.

There aren’t supposed to be service charges on points stays, since they’re almost always charged as a percent of the room rate, and in the case of points stays that rate is zero.

While I was ready to point fingers at the hotel as another example of a hotel doing whatever the heck they want, I then followed up with the hotel directly. They made it clear that this was a glitch they were aware of and that they’re working on getting fixed.

I’m obviously not here to make any excuses for Marriott, and I’ve been (fairly) tough on them, in my opinion. A lot of hotels feel they can do whatever they want, and when they put a message on their website saying they don’t upgrade Platinum members, that’s obviously not a glitch.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that Marriott has thousands of hotels around the world, and collectively we’re more skeptical of the brand than ever before. In those cases I’ll continue to do what I can to follow up and figure out exactly what’s going on.

Some hotels are playing games, though with so many hotels there are also bound to be some glitches. I’m writing this post to say that maybe in some cases it makes sense to step back for a moment and assume something may be a glitch, rather than assume everything individual Marriott hotels do has nefarious intentions.

  1. While some hotels are clearly in the wrong, I have seen a few of these cases where it seems like the hotels honestly meant to do the right thing and are somehow or another getting caught in IT issues, quite possibly to the same degree of annoyance that we customers are having with the many IT issues around stays not posting correctly and other things. The one consistent element is that Marriott corporate does not seem to care at all.

  2. They often have rates there that are around $500 a night (sometimes less) making this even more absurd.

    It’s a nice property and really well located but I prefer using points for the Park Hyatt as, well, it’s one of the most unique hotels in the world (still) after all these years.

  3. Thankfully I no longer give my business to SPG/Marriott, so no worries there. Plenty of GREAT luxury hotels and condo’s available globally.

    People just want/need/crave status to feel good by remaining enslaved to these brands.

    As Stuart mentioned, this hotel does go for around $450-500 per night, and I personally do not think this was a glitch. They got caught trying “something” Look for more of this.

  4. Lucky, I have this stay booked for 6 nights using points and I am seeing the 23,200 JPY fee showing up per night. Who can I reach out to at the hotel to get this removed? Thanks!

  5. This is the same thing that shows for The Pantheon iconic Rome hotel. 60k points plus 200+ Euro per night. Looked at 2-4 day blocks in June.

  6. Not trying to make excuses for Marriott… but what they are dealing with is more than just poor management or not caring…. They put together a huge number of management contracts structured by 1) different people 2) in different times over 30+ years 3) under different entities (Ritz before they bought it, Starwood, etc.; groups that Starwood bought).

    At one point with the Marriott portfolio 5 years ago perhaps it made sense for the premium Ritz to not offer breakfast… now match them up with St. Regis and it starts to look very bad. But good look bringing the Ritz owners along; with the level of service they want that is very expensive.

    They are trying to walk the tightrope between their customer (us) and their client (the hotels).

    “Playing hardball” with the Ritz Tokyo is not an easy thing. Marriott has made cash cure payments before for just to hold onto a Ritz flag.

  7. Come on. Marriott’s well-publicized IT woes makes it easy for a property that gets caught breaking the rules to claim it is a technical error.

    The Ritz-Carlton in Waikiki, Honolulu is also refusing to give upgrades but nobody has called them on this, despite an extensive Flyer Talk discussion.

  8. Marriott can not keep its T&C’s straight under its own roof, let alone 6500 properties,most of which are not Corporate owned. Marriott’s call center reps, though often well meaning, have not been trained or provided with good information to handle member inquiries. An Example: I have qualified for Lifetime Platinum Premier status (I have 16 yrs Platinum and close to 1,000 nights). SPG members with 10 years and 750 nights were to be grandfathered to this tier on January 1, 2019. I have called and spoke to five different call center reps and two service supervisors and received five different “stories” as to what happened and how it will end. One said I’d never get this tier because the terms I saw on, a full page chart, did not exist. One said ” they have to go through every account one by one which could take a quite a while. Another said there was a “dollar” component in addition to nights and years which there is not for former SPG members. This has become pure slop and the reason I now have an Aspire card. It’s annoying that even when you have the facts and direct them to where to find the facts, they refuse to fix it or just get you off the phone by saying the problem will show up properly in your account within 24 hours and then just does not.

  9. @DaKine – Valid points indeed

    @Mark S – Surely a class action lawsuit is brewing! Disgraceful.

    I find the whole Marriott takeover of SPG fascinating and a massive failure!. It never had to be this way and loyalist SPG’ers warned we would bail. Can’t wait for the figures to leak highlighting how many people left the program. I know for sure that my 100 nights a year no longer go there.

    I have booked 70 nights of hotel since November and want to say not even one went to SPG/ Marriott.

  10. The end of hotel loyalty is a lot easier than the end of airline loyalty.

    About the only things these chains are supposed to have going are brand standards and when they’ve lost that there is no reason to stay there unless it’s the room you want for the price you want.

    IHG Platinum Ambassador at least gives you defined benefits (or a cash payment) for your $200, a free weekend night, some points, 4 pm late checkout (which in NYC would require paying a full night after 2 pm at IHG Times Square), and likely the same upgrade you are getting at any other program (I know I don’t get suites from Hyatt). Heck, just having the Aspire gets you an upgrade to a shitty suite at the Conrad London in NYC, from an even shittier overpriced room, $30 breakfast credit, and the opportunity to sit on a diner -type urethane padded bench that has 4 feet of tape covering a rip in the plastic.

    In short, I refuse to demand or beg for the benefits I’m supposed to get with SPG and Hyatt.

  11. Another one I’ve recently noticed is turning up at the hotel you booked and they say they’re a resort not a hotel so they don’t have to give you elite benefits. On Marriott’s web pages they’re clearly advertising themselves as a hotel.

  12. You are being way too kind to Marriott here. I don’t see how this can be only the hotel’s fault. The Marriott website is allowing individual hotels to add fees to award bookings when it would be easy to preclude them from doing so.

  13. Why is Marriott still letting properties charge “destination” fees for things that are supposed to be free (internet) at properties without a resort designation? There are no exceptions for “destination” fees in the terms and conditions.

  14. My experience is the same as Philippe’s. Stayed there for 3 nights on points last November and wasn’t charged any service fee either.

    Surprisingly good Plat recognition. I didn’t expect much when I checked in since it is a Ritz-Carlton and the hotel was very full during my stay. They still upgraded me to a larger room with awesome view (I could see both the Skytree and Tokyo Tower from my room). Service was impeccable and significantly better than other SPG properties in Tokyo. Would love to go back the next time I visit Tokyo.

  15. Made a 5 night award booking for end of March and the only thing showing is 240,000 points and 2000 JPY government tax for the entire stay. I must say from my experience, where i had reservations help me shift my booking, they have been more than happy to accommodate any request I had.
    As with many of you, I’ve been extremely disappointed and frustrated with Marriott since the merger, but I have to say the courtesy and service I’ve seen from the Ritz Carlton has been magnificent. I really look forward to my stay

  16. Isn’t it great God gave us the internet so “we the people” can tell you online so that many can have a “heads-up” about company’s operations.

    As Mark S and others have said, 6500 properties perhaps Marriott cannot police itself. We all can use this and other platforms to benefit. Certainly we already know there is an effect (mostly positive) on the companies to take more action than our previous years of travelling where we knew only as much as the fellow or lady next to us in the lounge, the airplane seat next, the rental car line (before there was a line as the Gold and Emerald Isle’s didn’t exist).

    A great medium !

  17. Ok, this is what I got from RC Tokyo.

    “We have currently faced a systematical error for a few days and indicate the wrong service charges online.
    We would be pleased to confirm with you that your reservation is reward points redemption stay and there will be no extra service charge occurred.
    Kindly disregard the service charges which are put on your reservation until the system gets fixed and the charge is removed.
    I am not sure about how long it will take us to solve the problem, but we are trying our best to do it as early as possible.
    Sorry for the inconvenience we cause you. We will appreciate your kind understanding and patience.”

    So it is just an another Marriott IT error.

  18. Got the same issue with ritz half moon bay…they want 60,000 points and up to $300/night depending on room. The basic room (garden view, etc) can be had for points alone though.
    Is this within the terms and conditions of the program?

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