Yesterday I wrote about how the JW Marriott Los Cabos charges a $30 per night redemption fee for Bonvoy members. Well, here’s something on a whole different level — how would you feel about redeeming 2,596,000 Bonvoy points for a single stay, only to be asked to pay an extra $16,940 after confirming your reservation?
North Island Seychelles, Marriott’s most expensive hotel
Frankly I find the hotel’s participation in Marriott Bonvoy to be strange (given that paid rates are many thousands of dollars per night), though it sure is a unique opportunity for Bonvoy members. In addition to being able to earn points for stays here, you can also redeem Bonvoy points here, =at the rate of just under 400,000 Bonvoy points per night.
That doesn’t include the cost of a helicopter transfer, meals, or many activities, all of which are extra.
North Island Seychelles
A reader’s experience redeeming Bonvoy points
Over in the “Ask Lucky” forum, reader EyeOnThePoints shares his/her experience redeeming points at North Island, and it’s not pretty.
EyeOnThePoints went to Marriott’s website to book an award stay here, and locked in a one week stay in a two bedroom villa for 2,596,000 points (the below are just random dates that I pulled up on Marriott’s website to illustrate this).
As you can see below, this booked into a two bedroom villa, and even with four guests that was the price.
Well, at some point after booking, EyeOnThePoints got an email from the hotel, stating that an extra $16,940 would be due for the third and fourth guest in the villa. Apparently the hotel has decided that a redemption in a two bedroom villa should only be for two people, and the hotel wants an extra $1,210 per additional guest per night for the privilege of breathing the North Island’s fresh air.
Keep in mind that the hotel isn’t all inclusive, and the hotel will be making money on the additional guests, for food, transfers, activities, and more.
Despite that, Marriott continues to show the award cost to be the same whether you’re staying with two or four guests in the two bedroom villa.
In fairness, on paid rates there is indeed an extra charge for the two additional guests, but that’s only disclosed on the final page, rather than the initial search page. However, at least it’s disclosed, which clearly isn’t the case on an award stay.
For what it’s worth, there are lots of hotels that charge extra for additional guests when paying cash but not when redeeming points.
Upon reaching out to Marriott, the Bonvoy member was essentially told that the hotel has the right to do that, despite the fact that this wasn’t in any way disclosed during the booking process or in the email confirmation. After pushing back a case has been opened, but there has been no resolution yet.
North Island Seychelles
Marriott Bonvoy terms are explicit in this regard
I didn’t notice this at first, but View from the Wing left the following comment, which points out to an even greater extent how absurd this is:
I agree with you that any charges ought to be disclosed to the member up front. But let’s take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy terms and conditions, because surely a member can rely on *those*.
Extra person charges *are included* on Bonvoy redemptions. It’s right there in 3.2.e.
“3.2.e. When redeeming Points for an Award Redemption Stay, the Award Redemption Stay includes the cost of a single or double standard room at a Participating Property, room tax/service charge, and extra-person charges, if any.”
Now, 3.2.e has exceptions. 3.2.e.iii specifies FIVE hotels at which extra person charges are not included on redemption stays – that only the cost of two people are included, and charges “for the third, fourth, or more guests in the room is an additional fee and is not included in the Award Redemption as form of payment.”
Those five hotels are Al Maha, Westin Reserva Conchai, and 3 Sardinia properties (Cala di Volpe, Pitrizza, and Romazzino) when they are all-inclusive over the summer. North Island is not listed as a carveout.
This doesn’t even appear to be an oversight on Marriott’s part (which shouldn’t be the member’s problem) as North Island *does have* a carveout in the terms, where it is specifically listed as not having to honor ‘no blackouts’ on award redemptions.
To the extent that the terms govern the relationship between member and the program, this seems pretty clear. And that there’s even pushback here is emblematic of Marriott’s confused customer service problems, where their agents do not know the rules of the problem.
A Marriott Bonvoy member redeemed nearly 2.6 million Bonvoy points for a week-long stay on North Island, the world’s most expensive Bonvoy property. After confirming the reservation, the Bonvoy member was informed that there would be an extra charge of $16,940 for the third and fourth guest, in spite of the fact that this wasn’t at all disclosed during the booking process.
What poor form for both the hotel and Marriott to attempt to not honor this. It’s not like we’re talking about a $10 mistake rate here, we’re talking someone someone who confirmed a reservation that cost an exorbitant number of points, and now the hotel wants to charge even more.