One Marriott Hotel Cuts Lounge Access For Platinums

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Marriott has 6,500+ hotels around the world. So while I don’t want to draw too many conclusions based on the actions at one hotel, I do think this is at least something to keep an eye on going forward.

The Prince Gallery, which is a Luxury Collection property, is easily the best-regarded legacy Starwood property in Tokyo. Historically the hotel has been known for its excellent elite treatment, as the hotel has been good with upgrades, and also has an executive lounge.

That seems to have recently changed, though. Coinciding with the introduction of the Marriott Bonvoy program a few days ago, this hotel has decided to cut complimentary lounge access for Platinum members. How is that possible, given that lounge access is a guaranteed benefit for Platinum members?

Prince Gallery Tokyo club lounge

Well, the Marriott Bonvoy terms only promise Platinum members lounge access at select brands. Specifically, at JW Marriott, Marriott, Sheraton, Delta, Le Meridien, Westin, Autograph Collection, and Renaissance properties.

Meanwhile, the terms don’t promise lounge access at other brands, including Ritz-Carlton, Luxury Collection, W, etc. Since this hotel is a Luxury Collection property, it doesn’t have to offer complimentary lounge access.

Now, we can’t actually fully blame Marriott here. For the past few years, Starwood’s terms didn’t promise Luxury Collection lounge access either.

In spite of that, I can’t think of a single Starwood hotel that has a lounge but hasn’t offered access to Platinum members. For example, there are also a few W hotels with lounges, including those in Doha and Guangzhou, and Platinum members have had access to those lounges even though the terms didn’t require that.

W Doha club lounge

I would guess that their motivation for cutting lounge access as an elite benefit was one of two things:

  • There are too many Bonvoy Platinum members (as a percentage of guests, I’d imagine there are significantly more Bonvoy Platinum members than there were SPG Platinum members), and providing this benefit was getting too costly, and was diminishing the experience for those who paid for access
  • They just generally weren’t finding a sufficient return here, by whatever metric they decide if providing this level of elite recognition is worthwhile

For now, this is just one hotel, and just as the hotel made the decision to cut an above-and-beyond benefit, members have the option of staying elsewhere if they’d like.

It will be very interesting to see if the few other W and Luxury Collection properties that offer lounge access follow their lead…

(Tip of the hat to @just_now_please)

Comments

  1. That’s interesting I must say when I was there in November the lounge was rather crowded. Do we know if Titanuim and Amabsedor members are grunted acsess?

  2. Like WOH this is all a disaster which will take at least a year or more to sort it’s way out. Disclaimer I am an older FF who is/was perfectly happy with Silver/Gold/Platinum with a top their added. With Hyatt I found it hard and sometimes embarrassing to say “Globalist” and now with Marriott ” Titanium” really where the hell did that come from?
    I see your point with the cost factor and agree however there are as you know a number of properties using this to minimize their costs in providing certain benefits and that for a long time loyal traveler is distasteful.
    Case in point are all the “renovated” properties in Hawaii that carry a flag but frankly are only worthy of a Motel 6 ( sorry Motel 6 )

  3. But it’s just noise around the edges!

    The Bonvoy disaster is why it’s important to have competition. Too big to fail is too big to exist!

  4. I stayed at this property last year and although the hotel is fantastic the lounge is totally unimpressive. I won’t miss the lounge at all.

  5. While I would assume they are safe for now, Coutyard and Four Points properties with lounges (all outside the US as far as I know) could theoretically exclude Platinum/Titanium/?Plutonium guests as well.

  6. I’m at the Prince Gallery now and am an Ambassador Elite. Was told that due to Bonvoy changes lounge access is no longer permitted but they would make an acception this time.

    What was also really annoying was I got an email 2 weeks before my stay saying they don’t participate in the Suite Night program so my SNA would not be clearing.

    If hotels can elect to not participate in SNA or lounge access, the. What exactly is the point of elite status in Marriott?

  7. I was at this property over the New Year’s holiday. The lounge was very crowded. The staff was turning people from the door and taking names and room numbers to notify when a place opened up.

    I was a (then) Platinum Premier Elite.

    If they keep the lounge access for (now) Titanium and higher, I can see a better managed lounge.

    I guess more travelers will have to share their recent experiences to gather enough data points on how the property is handling all elite benefits.

    It was a great property though. The breakfast was excellent.

  8. Drip. Drip. Drip…

    Pretty much the only person who is still trying to rehabilitate ‘Marwood’ in the hope that it would fill the void left behind by the demise of beloved SPG — and failing because he has little credibility left precisely for making bogus claims like the following — is ‘self-anointed thought leader’:

    “Hilton’s program has weaker elite benefits than Marriott’s, and it offers a lower return for in-hotel spending…”

    What??? Both of those claims are demonstrably false, and I was pleased that one his readers take him to school by debunking the mind-boggling claim that “[Hilton Honors] offers a lower return for in-hotel spending”, which anyone who knows the first thing about loyalty programs would find laughably ignorant…

    Marwood cannot be hoisted on a pedestal like the one SPG was placed on before its demise revealed just what shaky pedestal it was, because MR managers are all too aware of the grave consequences of falling for the false adulation: it creates bogus standards that cannot be sustained precisely because they are bogus, while its spawns self-entitled elites that are virtually impossible to satisfy.

  9. This may be called “noise around the edges”, but as a prior multi-year SPG Platinum I can say that I went out of my way to stay in a Sheraton in the past, but now I don’t. I travel for business and it’s my decision where I stay (same for my colleagues). In 2018 I planned enough SPG/Marriott stays to requalify for platinum, but have already changed my priority to Hyatt, who has treated me extremely well. I, like many others from the former spg program, spent my points in 2018 (Marriott Waikoloa Beach was awesome). The multiple points devaluations which have happened make collecting Marriott points only a secondary priority and spending on my spg Amex went from ‘all other spending’, to spg/Marriott stays only.

    They can downplay this exodus if they want, but we former spg loyalists have left they monagonous relationship and are now ‘sleeping around’. I think it’s disingenuous to say “I’ll never stay in a Marriott property again”, because we all know I will, but I can say that you’ve easily lost 70% of my annual reoccurring business.

    Really looking forward to my three week vacation in various Hyatts in Japan next month. See you in the lounge there!

  10. “I think it’s disingenuous to say “I’ll never stay in a Marriott property again”, because we all know I will…”

    True, especially if one switches to Hyatt, or one still has the SPG AMEX and/or Chase Marriott Premier card, which each offers a free night.

  11. Albert…I think that is a by product of the holiday. I was at the Westin Tokyo leading up the Christmas holiday and the lounge had the same overcrowding issues. I have stayed at the Westin multiple times a year for the last 15 years and since the lounge opened this is the first time I have seen the overcrowding issue.

  12. @DCS, Hilton is the one chain that I want to love but they make it hard. I’ve stayed at too many Hiltons which were high end priced, only to find that the hotel needed renovation 10 years ago. I have Gold status with them, but find that I need to review each property very closely prior to booking because the experience varies greatly between hotels. For example, Hilton in Vienna, Austria has an excellent location, but is way over priced for the poor condition of the property.

    I have stayed in multiple DoubleTree hotels where the price to value was very good – and yes, I like the cookie too.

    In the past, the spg program was so compelling that I rarely considered Hilton. Now I would say my priority order is:
    1. Hyatt
    2. Former spg branded properties
    3. Hilton
    4. Marriott
    5. Others

    I am open to reconsidering this order if Hilton can make the experience more consistent among the Hilton branded properties.

  13. I stayed at this hotel last year when I was SPG Plat75. I contacted the hotel to let them know I picked their hotel to celebrate a milestone b-day; picked over the Westin Tokyo which I’ve had numerous stays at.

    My SNA was denied. At check-in, the staff was unfriendly. No upgrade; despite online inventory of better rooms (higher floors, larger rooms, suites). There was no mention of my b-day (which is in my profile).

    The hotel only had marketing materials and branding for the Prince Hotel Group; I had to look hard to find anything with the SPG name or logo.

    As a co-branded hotel (Prince/SPG-Mar-BV), they obviously favor their Prince members over anyone one else.

  14. How many people here would agree to getting full lounge access on your trip irrespective of your status if you allow cameras to be installed in your rooms and live stream it 24 hours. No cameras in the bathroom but all the other rooms have cameras and full 24 hour live streaming. No face distortion either.

    I think that it’s a cool startup idea. Marriott lets talk.

  15. Lucky says, “Now, we can’t actually fully blame Marriott here. For the past few years, Starwood’s terms didn’t promise Luxury Collection lounge access either.”

    Sure, but the new program is supposed to bring uniformity and clarity to the members, and not “up to the property” explanation. The breakfast benefit is the most disorganized explanation ever, and, now, this!

  16. Great news the hotel is offering a free coffee and donut to any Platinum member now banned from the lounge permanently as a result of the changes .
    Or a generous 1 dollar credit toward breakfast 🙂
    Thank you for your Bon Voyage loyalty 😉
    You couldn’t make this stuff up with the titanic remains of the former Marriott Rewards & SPG demise

  17. @NeilH — You mean SPG had great and shiny properties like their Sheratons?

    I have no clue about which Hiltons you have stayed at that are dumps. I stay almost exclusively at Hilton properties and few have been “dumps”. Could because the majority of my stays are overseas. However, if anything, with their new brands like the Curio collection, which seem to add a hotel every single week around the world, I would stay that a large percentage of Hilton hotels are either new or renovated. Then there is Hilton’s philosophy to grow their top-end hotels ‘organically’, meaning they do not just buy a property and turn it right away into a WA or a Conrad. They’ll either build a new property or extensively renovate an existing one.

    If you find Sheratons acceptable, then your complain about the state of Hilton hotels is, well, curious…

    SPG was so great, it is dead? Sounds like reverse Darwinism: demise of the fittest. There is no such thing.

    G’day.

  18. @DCS

    VHS vs Betamax?

    VHS won because they allowed Porn, even if Betamax was a technically superior product.

    Marriott ended up gobbling up SPG, because they invested in the low end of the market where there was more growth for the past 10 years. In public trade companies short term growth is considered good and rewarded, even if it hurt the company long term.

    The real test of Marwood will be what happens once the management contracts for the more high end SPG hotels comes up for renewal, can’t imagine that all the owners of St Regis, W or Luxury Collection properties are happy about being press-ganged into Marriott.

    If they wanted to run a Marriott property they would have sign up with Marriott in the first place.

  19. Oh and I agree on the Hilton organic approach, far better having property owners that want to be in your program.

    Will be interesting and see how IHG and Six Senses work out. Somehow I think a lot of the future property owners that was bragged about in the press release will run for the hills, unless it’s already is to late and they have signed on the dotted line.

  20. @DCS

    “If you find Sheratons acceptable, then your complain about the state of Hilton hotels is, well, curious”

    What’s curious is you being such an expert on the state of Sheraton hotels when you only stay in Hilton brand hotels. Not sure where you get your basis for comparison.

    A text search of my previous posts returns zero hits on the word ‘dump’. What I meant was, overall, I could almost blindly book a Sheraton hotel in a new city without scouring through the reviews and have rarely been disappointed. A statement that I cannot make based on my extensive, but admittedly incomplete Hilton blind booking experience. Sorry, when I pay $250+/night, don’t be surprised when I’m disappointed in the lack of renovation in the last 10 years (Hilton Vienna) or when the hotel green color scheme (Hilton Minneapolis) takes me back to 1970. Doesn’t feel premium. I could give further examples, but you will ignore them anyway.

    We can agree that there is value to be found in the Hilton program. Statements otherwise are dishonest. But your evangelistic fervor is difficult to objectively follow based on my personal experience.

  21. As a data point, The Nines (Luxury Collection) in Portland, Oregon stopped granting club lounge access to Platinum Elites last August after the merger. I had a stay on Labor Day weekend and was “delighted” to learn at check-in that they no longer offered lounge access. Ironically, the Platinum Elite guest checking in just ahead of me was granted access on a “one-time exception basis” when he objected, but I chose not to press the issue and thus received no lounge access.

  22. @NeilH sez: “What’s curious is you being such an expert on the state of Sheraton hotels when you only stay in Hilton brand hotels. Not sure where you get your basis for comparison.”

    Oh, no, When say ‘almost exclusively’ it does not mean I will ALWAYS stay at Hilton properties. I will go wherever I get the best deal or with what offers the most convenience or safety. So, I have stayed at plenty of Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, IHG, etc, properties over the years.

    The purpose of my ‘business’ travel is usually to attend scientific conferences, which have been held on several occasions at Sheratons (Lisbon, Ft Lauderdale) . Sometimes, I would have SPG minor points that I can, say, on a one-niter at a convenient hotel near an airport (e.g., Sheraton Brussels Airport), or it might be the only western hotel I recognize in a city I have never been to (Changsha, China). In each case, the property was so dated, it was literally crying out for a facelift. That is how I know about Sheratons. Maybe when I stay at Hilton hotels, I just go for the ‘best’ in any city that has a Hilton presence, so I have not experienced the sort of dumpy properties that you seem to be so unfortunate to always run into? Like I said, it’s…curious.

    Considering our diametrically opposite experiences with the very same chains, it could be said that we each may be seeing what we want to see when we look at the other chain. However, the bad shape that most Sheratons are in is almost like an industry joke. Here’s Hilton’s CEO, Chris Nassetta, referring to it, tongue-in-cheek, in an interview with Skift about a couple of weeks ago (i.e., very recently), suggesting that he was not interested in purchasing Starwood because it would have required fixing Sheratons 😉 :
    ___________________________________________

    Hilton prefers to grow organically rather than going out and buying brands….
    But that’s not because Nassetta doesn’t know how to cut a deal.
    The real reason why Hilton hasn’t been as much of a shopper as, say, an AccorHotels or a Marriott, is because it just hasn’t made sense, yet.

    “Every time we go through the process we have two very simple filters,” he added. The first is whether it is “a better value proposition for our customers.” Nassetta elaborated, “Is it something that we’re going to have to go out and we’re going to have to fix it a la Sheraton? That’s why I didn’t want to buy Starwood.”

    He emphasized, “I’m not picking on Marriott, that’s just a fact.” [Of course, not! 😉 ]
    ___________________________________________

    G’day.

  23. Damn… tough posting from hand-held!

    Let me that truly cryptic sentence, in which I inserted ‘minor’ in the wrong place, and “burn” is missing:

    “Sometimes, I would have minor SPG points that I can burn, say, on a one-niter at a convenient hotel near an airport (e.g., Sheraton Brussels Airport)…”

  24. BTW, as you just saw above regarding the sad shape in which most Sheratons are generally considered to be in, it is not about “evangelistic fervor”. Rather, it’s about keeping the facts straight, which many tend to play fast and loose with in these forums.

    I am out, unless I get pulled back in…

  25. The Keraton in Jakarta (which is also a Luxury Collection hotel), did the same last year and withdrew lounge access for platinum members in August.

    I had done 3 stays totalling 15 nights last year before that but won’t stay there again now.

  26. This is FAKE NEWS because platinum guests who had access pre-8/18 are now titanium. Legacy golds didn’t have access. P

  27. The Sheraton Resort and Spa Hua Hin, Thialand closed the club lounge to platinum guests using, the best available room policy, 9 months ago….

  28. The Conrad in Tokyo is one of my fave properties and they’ve treated me very well over the years (I’m Hilton Diamond). Their executive lounge is fantastic and you can also have breakfast in their full service restaurant (including ordering a la carte items from the menu) for free.

    Also @DCS, I respect many of the points you make here on this blog, but come on… you have to know that there are a lot of dumpy Hiltons out there. I often think Hilton gets a bad rap, especially on blogs like this, but even as somewhat of a Hilton loyalist, I am frustrated by how worn and dated many of their properties are in the U.S. I’m mostly talking about the Hilton brand itself, which I find most inconsistent and frequently disappointing. Doubletrees and Hamptons are usually decent, but Hiltons are a mixed bag for sure. I think Nasseta didn’t want to buy Starwood and have to fix Sheraton partly because he already has his hands full with an ailing Hilton portfolio.

  29. @DCS: “Rather, it’s about keeping the facts straight, which many tend to play fast and loose with in these forums.”

    Once again, you have no room to talk here.

  30. Stayed at the PG in early Feb and at the Nines over NYE and in both cases no issue with lounge access. The PG lounge has a nice view with a good breakfast and happy hour. Losing this benefit would be a detriment to staying there, given that rooms are priced quite a bit higher than the Tokyo Westin.

  31. @tomNelson

    Sheraton Hua Hin is probably one of the worst resort hotel in marriott portfolio in Asia. The cant do attitude and the way how they scam tourists by creating their own restrictive payment system. They are stealling money from spg and marriott too.

  32. Of course lounges are more crowded. Hotels want to upsell bookings with slightly more expensive rates with lounge access; to non-loyalty guests.

    Plat members are viewed as freeloaders. I’ve seen many options for club or executive level rooms for only $20-50 more a night above slightly lower categories.

    Even the Westin Seoul limits Plats to 1hr during evening hours.

  33. Gary, thank you for the update. One more reason to exclude Marriott properties from my future itineraries. Keraton Jakarta was great (and so the SPG program)… Good memories.
    While I can live with the stupid Bonvoy and Titanium Elite names, I am rather surprised that with launching new program there is no new promo for everyone. Last year SPG properties were cutting Elite benefits left and right. Now disintegration of SPG has been completed.

    If a location allows for, I do typically keep Bonvoy and HHonors reservations till close to the trip. Then I choose based on the current promos and hotel quality. Since Aug. 2018 I was mainly hitting Cancel button for Marriott/SPG properties.

  34. I thought Marriott confirmed that legacy Starwood properties with a lounge would continue granting access based on legacy access conditions?

  35. I will also share that Aloft New Delhi – Aerocity very clearly is adhering to the letter of the T&C’s and not permitting access since their “brand” doesn’t require it. I love the wording…written like they have no choice….jerks.

    From the Marriott Reservation website: Please note – As per the new Bonvoy policy, Club Lounge access only applies to guests booking Club/Studio/Residences rooms.

  36. @Mike:”Once again, you have no room to talk here.”

    Says one who confuses facts and faxes. If you’d like to challenge anything I wrote, then point to it. Otherwise, stop following me around with your now tired and tiresome and FACT-FREE insinuations.

  37. Currently burning the last of my legacy SPG points (ironically at a Ritz Carlton). Done with Marriott. Independent luxury boutiques ftw … way better service, and I’ve had to grovel for breakfast zero times.

  38. I experienced this unpleasant change last year at The Nines hotel in Portland. It used to be my favorite west coast hotel.

    Does anyone know if Titanium members will be allowed access at these properties?

  39. @Scott — Out of more than 5K properties, sure, there will be dumpy ones. However, to go from there to the generalization that the chain makes it tough to “love” because “…too many Hiltons which were high end priced, …needed renovation 10 years ago”, did not seem warranted to me, so I countered with the example of Sheratons, since Starwood was touted as the chain that was easier to love because of their properties. Just tell that to Hilton’s CEO who was apparently dissuaded from trying to acquire Starwood by the high costs he thought he’d have incurred in fixing the chain’s “dated” Sheratons!

    Bottom line: I would stay that all chains have their share of ‘dated’ properties. To claim that this is a problem that specific to Hilton is both disingenuous and not credible.

  40. BTW, @Scott, your claim that “I think Nasseta didn’t want to buy Starwood and have to fix Sheraton partly because he already has his hands full with an ailing Hilton portfolio” would have some weight if he’d not made the statement, with the clear dig at Arne Sorenson, publicly where anyone could have challenged it. It is also inconsistent with the fact that “in comparison to its publicly traded peers, [Hilton is investing] heavily in many technologies [digital key, connected rooms, digital room selection] that some are just now beginning to pilot or implement”, as it would seem like putting lipstick on a pig if the chain’s portfolio were ‘ailing’ as you claim.

  41. Ok Lucky, how about this answer: Do we know if Titanuim and Amabsedor members are grunted acsess?

    Or yet another question yet to ever be answered????

  42. Was just informed the St Regis Bali is choosing to no longer participate in Suite Night Awards. Checking in tomorrow at the property and have had 5 SNA tied up for months and now they choose to deny program fully.

  43. @DCS: “Says one who confuses facts and faxes. If you’d like to challenge anything I wrote, then point to it. Otherwise, stop following me around with your now tired and tiresome and FACT-FREE insinuations.”

    That’s actually easy. You constantly accuse me of posting things that are fact-free, and at the same time, you say that you don’t read the things I post.

    Both of those things can’t be simultaneously true, DCS. I chalk this up to the fact that your NPD makes you completely unable to accept any criticism whatsoever.

  44. Stop your whining. If you want club lounge access or a room upgrade PAY FOR IT. I am sick of people getting upgrades for having a certain type of credit card or staying at a certain hotel chain. They dont owe you anything. If you want a suite pay for it like I do. If you want to stay at the club level pay for it. I was just at the prince gallery and the lounge was below average. The lounge experience was cheapend by all the people who got free upgrades instead of paying 600 dollars a night.

  45. When I respond it means I read the comment. When I do not read a comment, I say so. I promise that I will not read your next comment because you, yet again failed, to point to what it was in my comment that you were challenging with your fact-free insinuation; time’s up (hint: it is a nice way to say, ‘get lost’.)

  46. I could care less if you respond. You are exactly the type of person who I try to avoid and cant afford to stay at the hotels I stay at because they don’t offer free upgrades. You want a suite pay 1000 dollars a night. So go back to your corporate job and earn enough points to stay at your Marriott or wherever you stay. I decided to stay with the masses at the prince gallery and it sucked

  47. There is a comment and a link in it. As promised, I did not read the comment and I did not follow the link. So, it’s all meaningless.

    Now would you stop obsessing with me?

  48. Actually, I wish Marriott would do something about those that bring whole families into the lounge. Kids make a mess, are hogs, rude, loud, and take up many seats. I am find when Dad takes one kid in, and then another kid later, but the whole family is breaking all the rules and making it a terrible experience for those that just want a quick, quite bite and be on their way. Must hotels will not say anything to a guest in fear of upsetting them. Now retired, but having traveled for business for 40 years, I have seen it all I think.

  49. @NoName said: “VHS vs Betamax? VHS won because they allowed Porn, even if Betamax was a technically superior product.”

    Believe it or not, the VHS vs. Betamax example was a reaffirmation of…Darwinism! By allowing porn, VHS ensured that it would be more popular with consumers, thus making it the ‘fittest’ for its time, and leading to the demise of Betamax, which, by not allowing porn, was ill-equipped to compete. Textbook Darwinism…

  50. That’s interesting that Renaissance hotels are supposed to offer lounge access to Platinum guests. The Renaissance St. Pancras has the reportedly fantastic Chambers Lounge. When I stayed there last August (pre-merger) they were giving Platinum guests access. I wasn’t Platinum at the time. I went back in January as a Platinum hoping to get access and was told that only guests booked in the Chambers Wing of the hotel get access now. I probably would’ve booked another hotel had I have known.

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