Revealed: Marriott Bonvoy 2021 Hotel Category Changes

Filed Under: Marriott

It’s normal for the major hotel programs to shift award categories annually. With the pandemic and huge reduction in demand you’d think we’d see hotels overwhelmingly shifting categories down to reflect circumstances, but that hasn’t entirely been the case. Instead we’ve seen some hotel loyalty programs conveniently “pause” award category changes.

Many have wondered if Marriott Bonvoy would adjust its hotel categories for 2021, and we now have our answer.

Marriott Bonvoy 2021 category adjustments

Every year Marriott Bonvoy has award category adjustments. Essentially Marriott changes which hotels are in which categories, in order to reflect market conditions. In theory these categories are decided based on the cost Marriott incurs from redemptions there, which reflects both the average daily room rates and average occupancy.

Marriott has just released the full list of category changes for 2021, which kick in for bookings made as of March 3, 2021.

You still have about a month to make bookings at the old rates before the changes kick in — this is all about when you book, and not about when you stay, meaning you can book a stay for a subsequent date.

Marriott’s category changes for 2021 are fairly minor compared to previous years:

  • 201 hotels will change categories, representing about 3% of Marriott’s portfolio
  • 150 hotels will be decreasing in category (~75%), while 51 hotels will be increasing in category (~25%)
  • Many hotels changing categories are hotels that opened last year, and now Marriott has additional data that enables the program to price more precisely
  • As a percentage, the greatest category changes are in Asia
  • 89% of properties will continue to fall into Category 1-5

Las Alcobas Mexico City is increasing in cost

These changes are indeed fairly minor. As a point of comparison, in 2020 about 29% of Marriott’s properties changed categories, with properties overwhelmingly increasing in price.

The minor changes this year are either good or bad news depending on how you look at it:

  • Ideally we’d see a lot of hotels going down in pricing to reflect market conditions
  • At the same time, at least we’re not seeing many pricing increases, I guess?

Which Marriott properties are changing categories?

For context, here’s Marriott’s award chart:

It goes without saying that everyone has different redemption patterns, so you’ll want to check out the full list to see if any properties you frequent are changing in price.

Looking at the list, there aren’t many properties on there that I’ve either redeemed at, or would consider redeeming at. Admittedly this reflects my bias of wanting to redeem points for high-end hotels where I can get disproportionate value.

These are the three hotel category changes that stand out to me:

The W Hotel Aspen will become a Category 8 Bonvoy property

Interestingly:

  • The Langley already increased from a Category 5 to Category 6 last year, so this hotel is seeing negative category changes two years in a row
  • The W Aspen decreased from a Category 8 to Category 7 last year, and now it’s going back to a Category 8


The Langley will become a Category 7 Bonvoy property

Bottom line

Marriott Bonvoy has announced its hotel category changes for 2021. Only a total of 201 hotels are changing categories, with roughly 75% of those properties going down in price.

This is much better than Marriott’s 2020 category changes, which were absolutely awful. At the same time, the lack of adjustments is arguably a negative. Using Marriott’s logic, hotels should overwhelmingly be going down in categories given the pandemic’s impact on hotel occupancy and rates, but instead we’re only seeing a small percentage of properties change in price.

What do you make of the Marriott Bonvoy 2021 hotel category changes, and are there any hotels that stand out?

Comments
  1. Zero Ritz/St Regis/JW hotels going down in category in the US, which are the only Marriott chains I care about on points!

  2. It seems like airlines, hotels, etc., are positioning for a return in leisure travel first long before business travel recovers. We may not even see a recovery of business travel to previous pandemic levels again. Given all the innovative ways companies have had to operate without travel this might just be their new norm and travel will gear heavily towards the leisure sector.

  3. Happy with the new Penang Courtyard category reduction. Stayed about a block away at the McCalister Mansion little over a year ago. Love McCalister Mansion, but If when I return it will be for a longer stay and that will men it less costly in points. Also like the Warsaw reductions as a trip to Poland is on the short list when travel opens back up.

  4. Ugh — I’m disappointed about the Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach. That represented pretty good value at a category 5 (and free certificates!). Going up to 6 is a bummer!

  5. As expected – nothing dramatic with inexpensive hotels in Bali/Indonesia going further down.
    The only surprise is Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort going from 5 to 6. Really? Just a few years this Courtyard (before rebranding) was going for slightly above $100/night on best rate guarantee. It is the only hotel of a major hotel chain I did not stay while visiting Kauai.

  6. And here I was thinking that Marriott would decrease categories for most hotels given that most hotels are struggling for business. I guess that was wishful thinking.

  7. Snooze and you lose. And I might lose again. Sheraton Puerto Vallarta was on my list of hotels to use free night certs. It will increase to category 5.

    I had booked Aruba Renaissance for a stay last April, but then travel ceased. That hotel increase to category 6 last year. Courtyard Aruba was going to be my backup plan for visiting Aruba. It will increase to category 5.

    Both Aruba and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico are still bookable, but only during off-peak awards. It is either this year for both of them or bust. I am assuming they will increase again next year to Category 6 and price out of the free night certs.

  8. I wish Marriott would be transparent about category determination. This is the fifth or sixth category change since Starwood SPG, Marriott Rewards and Ritz-Carlton Rewards merged in August 2018. There’s no rhyme or reason.

    Some brand-new properties start at category 7, like the soon-to-open Autograph Collection hotel in Jackson, Wyoming. Meanwhile, other high-end properties in Southeast Asia and the Pacific are category 2-5. There should be some correlation between quality or brand and category. The idea that airport Courtyards or Fairfields can be a category 6 or 7 is absurd.

    It’s also absurd that all any property is increasing in points per night given most properties are not providing full amenities and services.

  9. Looks like some property has already increased their category before 3rd of march! The JW Marriott gold coast is supposed to be a category 5 moving up to category 6, but apparently when you try to book it, it’s already a category 6 property!

  10. Thanks for highlighting this, Lucky!
    Hotel Schloss Lieser in Western Germany will increase from 3 to 4. Reminds me of the fact that this hotel was a good steal given its uniqueness in an old castle. With (previously) 15k points and rates most of the time north of EUR 200 at a fair value.
    I can only recommend checking this out if anyone happens to be around.

  11. @J Juber : Sheraton PV is nothing to write home about. been there, had to move to Marriott PV due to very Old Hotel with Old Furniture and the Lounge sucked, Breakfast sucked.
    By the way, Marriott PV also went up in Category, Breakfast sucks there also.

  12. Marriott Puerto Vallarta has been one of the properties cheating elite-status guests out of a breakfast in the restaurant by instead claiming a light continental is compliant.

  13. @Franz: There is a whole thread with several negative comments about Marriott PV on Flyer Talk.
    nothing but Beans & canned Juice If you ever get it. Being LT Platinum & Titanium I still had to fight with tooth and nails.
    Plenty of nice restaurants outside but taking UBER every morning for Breakfast is not my thing.

  14. This list alerted me to the fact that a bunch of Tobu Hotels became Fairfields at some point, and now they are all cat 3 which makes for some great earn/burn opportunities in Japan. Also probably the worlds nicest Fairfields as well. Now if only we could actually get to Japan.

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