Marriott Updates Bonvoy Terms To Hint At Higher Award Costs

Filed Under: Marriott

Update: Marriott has provided the following explanation of this, which is more or less in line with what I was expecting:

We recently welcomed the addition of North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles into the Marriott International portfolio and look forward to making this spectacular property available for award stays in the near future. In order to price the resort properly for redemptions, the change was made to the terms and conditions.

The terms & conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy program have just been updated to add something that could at first glance be alarming. But how much should we read into this?

Redemption Rates May Exceed Category 8 Pricing

The Bonvoy terms have been updated to add the following regarding award redemption rates, which wasn’t previously there:

Select properties may have redemption rates in excess of the Category 8 Redemption Rates.

As it stands, all Marriott Bonvoy properties fit into the traditional Category 1-8 pricing, with redemption rates ranging from 5,000 points per night for a Category 1 off-peak, to 100,000 points per night for a Category 10 peak.

What Should We Make Of This?

On the most basic level, just because terms are updated to reserve the right to do something doesn’t necessarily mean that this right will be exercised. Then again, it’s very likely it will be. 😉

So, should we expect some massive devaluation? I don’t think so.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was that North Island in the Seychelles recently joined Marriott Bonvoy. The property has just 11 rooms and is all inclusive, and paid rates here are over $8,000 per night.

Marriott has indicated that award redemptions will indeed be possible at this hotel:

We are excited to welcome North Island, a Luxury Collection Resort, Seychelles into the Marriott International portfolio. In the near future, Marriott Bonvoy members will be able to earn and redeem points for award stays. We will have more information to share with members soon. We appreciate your interest and thank you for your patience.

As I explained at the time, there are a few directions they could go with awards at this property:

  • They could introduce new award pricing exclusively for this hotel that will be outrageously expensive, but also reflect the cost of stays here (say a million points per night, for example)
  • They could just have one “standard” room available here bookable with points, which would at least be an incredible “carrot” for Bonvoy members
  • They could only allow redemptions through auctions, like through Marriott Moments

My guess is that the update in terms & conditions is specific to plans to allow redemptions at this property. While I was hoping they’d dangle a carrot and make at least one room here bookable for the standard Category 8 pricing, it sure seems like they’re going to introduce higher pricing.

I’ll be curious to see just how much higher it is. Could we see them still introduce reasonable(ish) pricing, like maybe double Category 8 rates? Or will we see rates of a million points per night?

Of course it’s also possible that these updates go beyond just North Island, and we see Marriott add higher pricing at more all suites properties. But personally I don’t necessarily see that happening, at least in the near future.

Anyone care to guess what kind of award pricing we’ll see at North Island?

  1. The most outrageous programme is Hilton in terms of Award pricing.

    Just have a look at how many Hilton Honors points are needed to book a night in a Hiton property in Tokyo… I have seen 256000 points per night LOL

  2. I’m curious who is even loyal to Marriott any more, I’d think the savvy traveler would have left them years ago (which I guess means I’m calling myself savvy)

  3. I think it also means they will return to having a handful of properties at higher redemption rates, such as the Al Maha was under the old SPG program.

    I can’t imagine a significant change in redemption points, simply as (a) so many hotels redemption rates have gone up in the past year, and (b) the rate bands offer a lot of flexibility to the hotels.

  4. On the other hand, using 100 000 points for a high category Marriott property is a terrible waste/idea/value since lounge access and breakfast are not always offered for Top Elite members in these top category properties

  5. I get so irked reading the comments of these entitled travelers. They always want more. Complain that takes more points to obtain their freebies when over half of them if they had to pay for a room out of their own pocket would go for the cheapest rate they can find but when their company pays for their stay the expect the world and complain when they don’t get what the feel they deserve. People you can’t get everything for free!

  6. Take a look a current rates for the St Regis Maldives. A basic room ($757 a night) can be had for standard category 8 rates (which is definitely an improvement from the old SPG program where you would have had to pay double that because it’s a 1500 sq. ft. suite). That’s 70,000 a night (I picked a random date which happened to be low season).

    The largest suites are the same 70K points a night plus a copay of $35,000 for the week OR 7,000,000 additional points or a copay of $42,000 OR 8.4 million additional points. (so they’re valuing points at 1/2 cent). So if North Island is really $8000 a night, I think you can expect prices in the millions.

  7. @Robert: what alternative? Hilton’s program sucks. There’s never a Hyatt where you need it. Maybe Choice Hotels?

  8. Today I had my last problem with a Marriott hotel. I am in the Marriott Resort Puerto Vallarta, when I checked in as a welcome gift they didn’t want to give me the free breakfast at the restaurant (I’m Titanium), just a continental breakfast or at the restaurant paying $10 more per person per night. I showed them the terms and conditions and after 30 min they came with a screen shot of the terms, but other part of them (related to lounge access, that is not the case at all)… so really trying to rip me off. When I said that I wanted the $100 compensation then, they were almost laughing at me… I sent an email to the hotel director, let see what happens…

  9. @Gtellez : Good Luck with PV Marriott and their Breakfast! I had the same problem earlier and Marriott did not do anything.Resorts are Exempt from Breakfast so I paid the extra $10.00 and that was the worst thing I could have done,Canned Juice,Beans and more Beans and Plenty of Tortilla. there is a whole trail of articles related to Breakfast at PV Marriott on Flyer Talk.

  10. Thanks for letting me know how bad the PV Marriott is. I am now so thoroughly convinced that my Diamond status with Hilton is so valuable.

    As I sit on the deck of my upgrade suite watching the sun set I raise a glass and chuckle “Bonvoy”.

  11. @Tim: “People you can’t get everything for free!“

    No one using points is getting anything for free – there was a monetary outlay involved in earning the points in the first place.

  12. @Gtellez

    Please follow up on your story…I (and many others) are interested in the outcome. Don’t forget to use public social media to get your concerns voiced!!!

    You’re fighting OUR Fight!!

  13. It is really a joke… no answer from the hotel director two days later…
    It is my third time in PV, the last two in the Westin and this for the first time in the Marriott.
    Although in the photos the Marriott looks better, it is not. So I paid for more for nothing.
    The worst: the $20 resort fee, that is completely worthless. Even I tried to used a paddle board yesterday and they told me all were booked, they only have 4 and it is a big hotel…
    breakfast is disgusting and for the regular price ($23) very expensive for Mexico… good than I’m “only” paying $10…

  14. @Mike

    So true. Points are purchased one way or another. The days of “free points” are long gone.

    I travel on points. Not being American I have very little access to CC points other than Aeroplan Visa or Amex. So I buy the points. My ‘reward’ is that travel is probably 50% cheaper but then I am only allowed access to flights that are either inconvenient or lightly loaded.

    Points are a win-win for the user and provider. When the pendulum swings too far one way or the other they will cease to exist.

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