Marriott’s New Platinum Suite Upgrade Policy Isn’t What We Expected

Filed Under: Marriott

It’s Marriott & Starwood integration day, and while you can’t yet log into your account, Marriott has already uploaded their member benefits page and terms & conditions. The terms & conditions were leaked a while back, and raised some concerns, as some of the details differed from what we were expecting.

It’s interesting to see how elite benefits are described, now that the new site is up. Previously we just saw the terms & conditions, while now we’re even seeing how the benefit is being described.

Not all suite upgrade benefits are created equal

One of the things that made Starwood Preferred Guest unique was that they offered Platinum members suite upgrades subject to availability. For a long time they were the only program offering that as a guaranteed benefit.

There’s an important distinction to be made between how Starwood and Marriott promised suite upgrades for Platinum members:

  • Starwood offered top tier elite members upgrades to the best available room subject to availability, including suites
  • Marriott offered top tier elite members upgrades subject to availability, and that room upgrade “may” include a standard suite

I’ve received a lot of great suite upgrades as an SPG Platinum, like at the W Verbier

There’s an important distinction there. One program guarantees a suite upgrade if it’s available. The other program only promises an upgrade subject to availability, and that may include a suite. That’s a big difference, because with the latter terms a hotel could deny a suite upgrade because they feel like it, as long as they provide some sort of an upgrade.

When Marriott’s new program was first announced we were told that the intent was for the new suite upgrade policy to mirror Starwood’s, but it appears that’s not actually the case.

How does the new Marriott Platinum suite upgrade benefit work?

Here’s how Marriott describes Platinum suite upgrades under the new program on their member benefits page:

We’ll do our best to upgrade your room (including Select Suites), based on availability at check-in. Upgrades are subject to availability identified by each hotel and limited to your personal guest room. See terms and conditions for details.

Then here’s what is stated in Marriott’s new terms & conditions:

Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members.  Based on room availability at check-in and limited to a Member’s personal guest room at no additional charge.  Enhanced rooms may include rooms with desirable views, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, rooms with special amenities, rooms on Executive Floors, or suites.  At The Ritz-Carlton, suites are only included for Platinum Premier Members and rooms with direct Club access are excluded.  Enhanced Room Upgrades are subject to availability and are identified by each Participating Property.  The Complimentary Enhanced Room Upgrade for Platinum Elite Members is available at all Participating Brands except at Marriott Vacation Club, Marriott Grand Residence Club, Aloft, Element and participating Vistana properties.

That’s not what we expected

Marriott will continue to only offer Platinum members suite upgrades at the discretion of hotels, and that sure is disappointing, since it directly contradicts what we’ve been told.

Marriott is maintaining the status quo when it comes to suite upgrades, rather than adopting Starwood’s system.

One of the reasons that Marriott’s new program was better than I was expecting was because they were maintaining some legacy SPG perks, like suite upgrades subject to availability.

Now, to be clear, I don’t expect that individual hotels will suddenly change their policies overnight. Some hotels are generous because they want to be, and not because they contractually have to be. So I would expect that some hotels will continue to offer proactive suite upgrades.

Similarly, I’m sure some Marriott hotels will offer suite upgrades. I’ve actually gotten a fair number of suite upgrades as a Marriott Platinum member, and in a couple of cases they’ve even been upgrades to specialty suites, so they’ve gone above and beyond.

I received a huge suite at the JW Marriott Essex House New York

In practice I’m not sure how much these terms will impact upgrades (hotels were probably going to do whatever the heck they wanted to do anyway, since Marriott isn’t great about enforcing policies), though on paper I’m disappointed by this.

I’ve reached out to Marriott for comment, and will provide an update once I have more info regarding their explanation.

  1. Ben,

    Were Marriott not confirming to you that this was indeed how they were implementing it?
    I ask because this has been up since April (launch announcement), I heard David state things to the contrary just like you did, however they also confirmed in writing that this was how it was. Since this is literally months old, why wasn’t it covered earlier?

    It has left me genuinely confused and bewildered.

  2. @ Vineet — I appreciate what you’re saying but I figured the terms would be updated at some point. Call me naive, but when the head of a program tells me (and many others) how something will work prior to launch, I believe him over all else. Suffice to say I’m not happy.

  3. Just contact virtuoso advisors like Ford, they can sometimes get you guaranteed upgrades. 😉 no need to be platinum of anything.

  4. @lucky – do you think your experience with upgrades maybe better than most of us as they know who you are? I’m platinum premier and rarely get suite upgrades (couple times a year out of 100+ nights)

  5. @Lucky

    For what its worth, I reached out (in April) for clarification and received written confirmation of the accurate upgrade policy (that it would be a continuation of Marriott’s). The wording was the same as the site but in complete sync with the more detailed paragraph in the full T&C.

    Please cover the rest now though, of the 4 key elite benefits (breakfast, lounge, upgrade, late check out) we have 2 devaluations (lounge on SPG side, upgrades on SPG side) and one carried over (late checkout) with a weasel word thrown in for good measure and the final one where we were misled (breakfast).

    Still have to watch out for how long it takes them to actually implement SPG’s no blackout dates (as opposed to Marriott’s fake no blackout dates) and the ultra premium redemption specifics.

  6. @lucky, are pretty sure now that we will *not* be able to book aspirational properties today for 60k per night? This would include Al Maha, St. Regis Maldives, and St. Regis Bora Bora.

    I saw quotes from David saying we definitely *would* with the idea we may get worse rooms, but now it seems that they may be unavailable entirely?

  7. I agree with Erik.
    Being 90/10 SPG/Marriott Platinum I have gotten a few spg suites but by no means often maybe 10% of the time. I don’t think I’ve gotten a Marriott suite once.

  8. @Erik

    I know people don’t believe Lucky (or Gary) when they say it. I can confirm that the usual upgrades given to them at the hotels where I have been have infact been standard upgrades for the most part. They did not recieve special blogger upgrades (though I’m sure they received extra customisation and attention). The one off premium upgrades too, have been about the same % as Ambassadors putting in 100+ nights.

    As a datapoint, within UAE, my upgrades are usually better (return repeat guest benefit in addition to summer stays along with Plat status).

    The bloggers definitely do get better interpretation of the same exact terms though because they might ask the hotel to enforce them. By default, SPG was only slightly better at upgrades than Marriott. Pro-actively they wouldn’t always offer suites. However, since the program terms were on your side and the hotel was well aware of this, you could ask for more and more easily receive it whereas at Marriott they could respond with “we have already upgraded you to next category” (and be within the terms when saying it).

    If you asked for an available standard suite at an SPG property, it could potentially cause issues if they denied it. They were always well aware that they are obliged. Even if by default, compliance was very random.

    If you asked for a suite at Marriott, they can just flat out refuse (politely of course).

    For people who do not nudge for suites, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out there wasn’t much difference between SPG and Marriott in practise. But for those that did, there was a huge difference. I don’t remember too many occasions when SPG denied a suite when they shouldn’t have. Been dinged the same request at Marriotts, Hiltons, Accors pretty consistently (sample size of several 100 stays).

  9. I think it may be an idea to remind ourselves that we aren’t victims here, we are the money and if Marriott want to bring SPG over to their level then that’s Marriott’s choice. Our choice is to decide are we satisfied with the new Marriott for the money we bring or do we want a better deal. I have a few bookings outstanding and a couple of travel packages but I shifted my spending onto Hilton in April just to cover the merger period. Will I go back afterwards is an interesting question as Marriott kinda lost it for me when they bought out the Moxy brand anyway.

  10. This isn’t the first time that Marriott’s actions have contradicted previous assurances / advice about post-merger loyalty benefits. After all, earlier this year a spokesperson advised that SPG Gold would initially map to Marriott Platinum, leading many of us who hold SPG Gold via AMEX to breathe a sign of relief that valuable benefits would not be lost.

    Marriott then quietly backtracked on this (as reported by Australian Business traveller:, a complete contradiction on the initial advice provided on the record.

    Interestingly, this conflict wasn’t picked up by many other blogs and Marriott escaped serious scrutiny. I can only hope the latest backtrack doesn’t equal bad news for holders of Travel Packages!

  11. @ Pete — Nowadays not a whole lot, and to be honest it’s often because I don’t care if I get a suite or not. If I’m traveling alone and it’s a quick stay I’m just as happy in a standard room as a suite. To be clear, not all Starwood hotels always follow the rules. But at least I appreciate that the rules are in our favor.

  12. @ Vineet — Fair enough, I’m just not sure what incentive they’d have to tell us something that isn’t true, since it was going to come out sooner or later.

  13. @ Erik — You’re referring to Marriott properties? To be clear, the two times I got upgrades to specialty suites were both quick overnights. Literally one night stays where I was checking in late, which leads me to believe they just didn’t have many rooms available and gave me a good upgrade. Typically good upgrades are much more likely on one night stays than longer ones.

  14. So they lied. Is that a surprise? Of course NOT. Generally the bloggers fell for it , hook, line and sinker. With TPG at the ultra servile, obsequious and just plain dumb end of the scale, more healthy cynicism at Liveandlet’sfly.
    If one thing has been learnt from this ongoing fiasco, it’s the imperative to not trust any of them, and certainly to keep all options open as a free agent. ( NOT announce 5 minutes into the merger as details were first made public, as TPG did, that this was simply the best deal ever) .Zack someone. PUKE.

  15. So seems like the leaked T&C were right and the StR Maldives is bookable on points while the W Maldives is not. Additionally only garden villa is bookable on points and there are just 4 of those in the resort.

    I’d recommend booking those with cash as guest right now and then adding SPG number & converting booking to points once systems are live. I can see the availability quickly vanishing for any consecutive 5-nights period.

  16. @lucky Yes, Marriott properties. Your response makes sense and is consistent with my experience then. I’m hoping that, post merger of the programs, there will be some new noticeable and consistent perks for platinum premiers. Then again, I’m going to be life-long Marriott either way and they know it 🙂

  17. Well, all of us who avoided Marriott for years, knew why.
    While I am with Ben, that upgrade policies in legacy hotels may not change immediately – but may as they will find out how little Marriott cares about policy enforcement, I find this outright rude to confirm one policy to a whole expert community and then implement another. Same thing with breakfast across all brands and hotels being bookable for standard award charts. A whole bunch of marketing sh** they never wanted to actually fulfill. Plus their head of „loyalty“ seems to be a darn liar or has no influence whatsoever on his own program. Both possibilities should be worrying.

  18. @Lucky

    “Fair enough, I’m just not sure what incentive they’d have to tell us something that isn’t true, since it was going to come out sooner or later.”

    I’ll tackle the different courses we took (the naiveness in believeing verbal indications :P). Generally, its very easy for even a CEO to back track and say he misspoke or deflect it (we misunderstood the question and thought TPG was asking about suite upgrades as in Suite Night Awards which are infact, coming over to Marriott and we are in fact adopting SPG’s policy on their implementation). Elon Musk is currently in trouble for the tweet over something very serious, there is precedent in loose words not amounting to much trouble.

    However, the written clarification (not what was on website) but the clarification following that *after* internal investigation/discussion amounts for a far more tangible statement. Especially when its one of the few things they are willing to go on record for. Make no mistake, for it to be clarified in writing following a good amount of time means it *also* came from the highest level, but in writing, after consideration. This would always, always mean more than a verbal indication (which was never repeated).

    As for their intent in giving out blatantly false info (breakfast etc). It would be a combination of 2 things, greater visibility when announcing (to rank and file elites) vs the greater backlash amongst hardcore elites (the kind that read blogs). There was a miscalulcation I believe on their part that they could slip in the specifics later and water everything down. Instead, most elites will quickly realise the new reality (through exeperience) whereas the T&C crawlers and hardcore ones realised it immediately.

    The less likely reason is things were still in flux when the launched/announced and they themselves have changed course since then. The same way they could water down a benefit any time by making a formal announcement to go into effect following year.

    Also, clearly, there is massive internal confusion.
    In 2016, what they achieved right out of the gate was really quite stunning and above standard within and outside industry. To have 2 companies be able to link/match/transfer status and points right out of the gate in a realtively bullet proof and realiable way was jaw dropping. That was some achievement especially since it was implemented at back end when they were distinct entities. And that’s where the good news ended…..

    It doesn’t quite take 2 years to merge two programs from a benefits or IT perspective (banks dealing with larger scale and more critical info can get it done quicker). It can however, take that long to figure out what you need to do, how many resources you want to commit to it and negotiating with owners etc (the Marriott owners can simply just reject most attempts to add benefits). This has been a long drawn out merger and it was still rushed. It is evident when they have made repeated mistakes in written communication over the past few months (which has nothing to do with IT), some of the specific implementations have been in flux (also not an IT issue). The decision to merge them midway through the year was bone headed and undoubtedbly made right at the top (and likely not dictated by IT at all). We will have full merged functionality by end of August which means there was approx 1Q left till new year, they seriously couldn’t have waited 1Q after drawing this out 2 years?

    So there is definitely an element of simple incompetence at play here. I’m not saying this because the program is weaker now, I’m saying it coz the merger has been anything but *smooth*. Also obvious first question, what is the new program called? Oh we don’t know yet (possibly for legal reasons, maybe not). But that itself it telling that this could have been pushed back 1Q.

  19. When Hyatt introduced World of Hyatt I was briefly tempted to switch to Starwood. I’m glad I didn’t do it. In my opinion, if you can only get highest possible elite status with one hotel loyalty program, Hyatt is still the best

  20. Initially I thought Marriott was doing a good job with this, but I’m much less certain at this point.

    I’ll likely stick mostly to legacy SPG for the next bit – just one year away from lifetime Platinum, so if I don’t see legacy Marriott properties and Marriott corporate shifting behaviour that recognizes my loyalty and dollars, I’ll look at shifting them away.

  21. Am I going crazy, or weren’t there supposed to be 2 different Platinum levels? Also, wasn’t it a 75% or 100% points bonus and not 50% as it is today (or should I say as of yesterday)?

  22. It’s like I just entered the “Twilight Zone”…again.

    “Marriott’s New Platinum Suite Upgrade Policy Isn’t What We Expected”

    Yes, it is. You just expected the wrong policy. I always knew that the new MR suite policy would simply be what ALL the major programs’ upgrade policies, including SPG’s, have always been [1].

    The fact that every self-anointed travel guru misinterpreted SPG’s policy, brain-washed their readers into believing their bogus version, which they themselves ultimately felt for, does not change a thing. SPG’s policy was never what it was claimed to be. Upgrades were ALWAYS at individual hotel’s discretion because “BEST ROOMS WERE IDENTIFIED BY EACH PROPERTY.” The source of the confusion and misinterpretation, which Marriott and Hilton were smart to avoid, was that SPG’s policy did not spell out what could constitute a “best room” [1]. Bloggers jumped on that lack of clarity and said “Aha, Hilton’s and Marriott’s policies hedged and did not ‘guarantee’ upgrades, unlike SPG’s, which did”. That was, of course, pure nonsense, which Marriott Rewards’ no-nonsense managers have just moved to put to rest.

    Bottom line: the only thing anyone can say about SPG’s policy is that it lacked clarity, not that it was better than or different from any other program’s. @Lucky, who continues to push the meme despite overwhelming evidence that SPG’s policy was no different, knows or, at least, should know better [2], as should others who also continue to refuse to believe their own lying eyes…

    Cut and paste the following titled in a search box to go to the source.

    [1] “No, SPG upgrades policy does not “entitle” platinum elites to suite upgrades…”

    I wrote that piece in December 2016 — yes, that long ago — whose objective was to reduce the upgrade policies of all the major hotel loyalty programs to their absolute minimum to where there could be no confusion about the language to show that they all, including SPG’s, were absolutely identical.

    [2] “Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?”

    You will find on this very site that blogpost, which clearly tells you that SPG’s suite upgrades were never what they were cracked up to be. Reductio ad absurdum: If SPG’s suite upgrade policy was different and better as claimed, why would such a blogpost be necessary? See?


  23. DCS – do you think we are all stupid or something?? Incapable of reading articles, assimilating data and coming to our own conclusion? You assume too much.

  24. @Adele – quite right they did back track on status matching. I think it was a couple of weeks before the infamous back tracking at of breakfast at Courtyards.

  25. DCS has a point. It’s not like you can peek into SPG’s booking system and know for sure you’re getting a suite upgrade if one is available. The guarantee means nothing without knowing the inventory.

    This is the result of merger; less competition and now we’re at the mercy of Marriott’s discretion. Hilton is looking more and more favorable now. Large footprint, can get diamond status with a credit card signup, and generous points program.

  26. Jan – I do not know about anyone else, but you just might be if you have to ask. Very few assumptions are necessary to arrive at the truth. All you need to know is that “best room” was identified by each property. Because of that contingency, to claim that suite upgrades were “guaranteed” is simply ludicrous. Let’s see… I guess your way of proving that a property was lying would be to pull out your laptop or smartphone as you were being checked in, do a dummy search and then wave the laptop or smartphone in the agent’s face with the results of your search and call him/her a liar? I said ludicrous, but it also ridiculous.

    I argue my case here: “No, SPG upgrades policy does not “entitle” platinum elites to suite upgrades…” Prove it wrong

    @Debit – Please calm down.


  27. @Moose

    There was no guarantee. SPG did not say guarantee, Lucky doesn’t typically use it either in context with space available check in upgrades and here he qualified it availability in article.

    So the guarantee was a straw man argument. Don’t fall for it. Hyatt had guaranteed-at-time-of-booking suite upgrades which continue to be the strongest such instrument in industry but some pretend even that is nothing above next category upgrade upon check in.

    It is true that what the chains say means very little, only what they practise. But elaborate research and personal experience of lot of members shows SPG to have been far far (orders of magnitude) better than rest. Again, plenty of members also disappointed (because compliance was always random, never perfect, often you’d get best available non-suite unless you specifically asked, lot of members never asked for a benefit they regarded as something that should just be given). If SPG suite upgrade % is 50 and Marriott and Hilton are 15. Then you will have both, lots of complaints as well as a magnitude higher upgrade %.

    Internationally, I’d still favour Marriott over Hilton (credit card not a factor outside USA and Marriott’s footprint way better in quantity, range and spread).

    @Jan, @Adele

    I think we need to pin Marriott for the right things. As far as I can tell, the SPG Gold to Merged Plat was a legitimate confusion rather than them stiffing members. Even as far back as the TPG interview, it seemed like it could have been more clearly stated and TPG should have asked. SPG Gold was never really equal to Marriott Gold in anyway. Marriott Gold was more akin to SPG Platinum, the temporary status matching was just that, a temporary boon since they chose to match based on tier name rather than criteria or benefits.

  28. In my experience with SPG, I was never proactively given an upgrade, I had to ask for it. Then I may get it and sometimes required manager approval. This is exactly the same as my experience at Marriott, Hilton, and Hyatt. You can ask, but may not receive.

    I remember Lucky’s old battles with front desks showing his mobile app with suite space available and demanding a suite. Usually they relented. Now I expect less of that.

  29. Think this is what will get me to switch to Hyatt for next year I’ll just use the benefits from the amex platinum when I can’t get a Hyatt hotel where I need to be. Not surprised by any of this thanks for reporting it.

  30. @Vineet sez: “Hyatt had guaranteed-at-time-of-booking suite upgrades which continue to be the strongest such instrument in industry but some pretend even that is nothing above next category upgrade upon check in.”

    “guaranteed-at-time-of-booking suite upgrades”… depending on AVAILABILITY. Whether at booking or at check-in a suite is either available or it isn’t [frankly, I prefer my chances in person at check-in]. However, just like every other program’s policy, there is always that little contingency, AVAILABILITY, that nullifies any claims of “guarantee.” It’s oxymoronic to say that something is guaranteed when there is a contingency, like, AVAILABILITY!!!

    @Lucky has used the words “entitled” and “guaranteed” repeatedly, meaning, “NOT at the discretion of each property.” Glad that you have backed off such claims. If suite upgrades were not “guaranteed”, then what’s left or what’s the fuss about?

    I have cleared better than 90% of my complimentary suite upgrades as a HH Diamond since 2012 (14/14 or 100% in 2014 [1]). The claim that SPG was better with suite upgrades also is belied by many, MANY reports that say otherwise, including the many jeremiads by bloggers who took to the airwaves over the several years to accuse SPG of violating their own policy.

    The cat was let out of the bag and catching it and put it back in it was a challenge when the purported superiority of the SPG depended on the cat staying out of the bag. Marriott was not about let that cat roam around freely, lest it caused the same problems for the merged program that it did for SPG, so the cat has now been caught and bagged again.

    [1] See: “Diamond Suite Upgrade Reports” at Insideflyer.
    Jump to the second page where I document my 100% suite upgrades in 2014 with pictures of each suite. Link in next post with no guarantees.

  31. Marriott Lifetime Platinum & Charter Ambassador Member chiming in here….the suite upgrades at 95% of the Marriott properties that I have stayed at over the past 2+ years have been non-existent. I don’t know if it is just the luck of the draw, the time of year I am traveling, the color of my tie or ???? But RARELY is there an actual suite upgrade from Marriott simply based on my status. Hell, most of the time at check-in, the front desk person doesn’t mention or thank me for my status. And it’s interesting that some of the Marriott properties consider assigning me a room on the Concierge Level of the property is some sort of upgrade…trust me, it’s not.
    I even had an associate at a JW property actually tell me that there were no suite upgrades available to me because “we reserve the suites for paying customers”.

    Now, I have received MANY upgrades as part of my holding the AMEX Platinum card and going through the FHR website and operators. But I hate to break the hard, cold news…unless something changes over the next few months, the Suite Upgrade benefit is going to be almost non-existent or per Marriott’s TOS, a “Enhanced Room”. Something that has a better view or is a corner room or is closer to the pool or ??? Seems like most properties will designate “enhanced rooms” to try and quell the masses of elite members of the new plan.

    I can see it now at check-in. “Oh, sir, you are staying in one of our very best Enhanced Rooms….it’s steps away from the elevator and has a terrific view of the street below…plus, the ice machine is right outside your door to save you the hassle of having to walk too far…”

  32. DCS will continue to piss on the legs of readers of this blog and endless insist it’s just raining. What a troll.

  33. I’m currently staying at a franchised Sheraton property that I stay at frequently. I always get upgraded to a suite regardless of length of stay – 2 nights or 10 nights. This time I noticed no upgrade was given before checkin (via the SPG app). So before I checked in at the front desk I looked at suite, deluxe, corner suite availability for length of my stay and sure enough they were available. Upon check-in the agent gave me my key and I asked if I got my usual suite (I saw the room number and knew it was not). The agent said there were NO upgrades available. So I asked what kind of room it was and she said a Traditional King. So I asked her why I wasn’t upgraded. She said there were no upgrades available. When I showed her the App – she literally said that that the App was incorrect and that it always is wrong. So I challenged her and said what if I made a reservation right no on the app for a suite? She said it would be honored because there don’t have the rooms available. So then I asked about an upgrade to a Deluxe or Club floor – so she said she would look and lo and behold a Deluxe Room was available! So again, I asked why I wasn’t pre-blocked as a Platinum w/ Ambassador Service…and she said well it wasn’t available when I first tried to check you in! And she said she didn’t know what Ambassador was. Mind you she was at the SPG Platinum checkin desk!

    So….with the new T&C’s from Marriott, I’m wondering if the upgrades will be given to higher level Platinums:
    1) Platinum Premier Elite w/ Ambassador
    2) Platinum Premier
    3) Platinum

    I also wonder if the hotel would be able to differentiate the difference in status levels of Platinums? I would assume the nighter status the better chance for an upgrade of some kind. I know that SPG would send notifications to individual hotels as to who SHOULD get an upgrade…

  34. This is exactly why I am a huge fan of Accor: SPG, Marriott, IHG, and Carlson give nothing worthwhile to humble Gold-level members but since I became Gold on Accor I have never once failed to be given an upgraded room and most recently a gorgeous corner suite at the Pullman SF.

  35. @UA-NYC — Got anything smart to say, like addressing the content of my posts, instead of launching the usual and tired puerile insults? I didn’t think so.

    HGP and SPG, raised up high on ephemeral pedestals, are gone. Now, concerted attempts to fill the void by purportedly “elevating” MR Rewards to self-anointed travel gurus’ manufactured pantheon of hotel loyalty programs is not going too well. The truth of the matter is that the program was solid and mature and just fine as it was, for those who knew how to manage their expectations. I got upgraded to suites in Asia almost every single time as a MR Gold Elite, often proactively, and a few times in the US (memorably at Georgetown [DC] Ritz-Carlton) by just doing what I do as a HH Diamond: ask politely, with no expectations. It works, maybe as well as it did for SPG Plats. The only difference is in “expectation management”, which SPG elites had never heard of.


  36. @Ric

    I’ll chime in from what I know of actual hotel ops from hotel employees (spg and others).

    It is quite possible for online reservations to show one thing and the system available to front desk something else. They are not perfectly in sync.

    2 instances:
    1) The room might be currently occupied (scheduled for check out today) or it might be vacant but housekeeping hasn’t turned it over yet or they have but it hasn’t gone through inspection and its not marked ready for check in..yet. In this case reservations would sell it but front desk couldn’t assign it.

    2) It might be marked out of service and is not intended for occupation on that day UNLESS a certain occupancy capacity is reached or someone pays for it in cash and then housekeeping will quickly fix it (else they wouldn’t for the day). Typically the case for higher suites and frequently the case for small portion of rooms with small fixable issues that do not need immediate attention (1 of 2 light switches don’t work).

    Most likely reason: they’re lying 😛

    By T&C, the higher room needs to be available ‘at time of check in’ and not later in the day, so strictly by T&C, they can deny the upgrade if they don’t have it RIGHT now. Since I have never been to USA and typically hang around the nicer regions (for hotels), they always consider the rooms that will be available later.

    In theory, for SPG, Plat100>75>50>25 (stay), after all Plat 100 is more distinct from a plat25, than a plat 25 is from a base member! However in practise, despite training, a Plat is often a plat in a desk agents head. A plat arriving earlier and asking for a suite might be obliged instead of saving it for a Plat100 arriving later. Similarly a Plat100 arriving earlier might miss out because housekeeping did not turn any over yet and a Plat25 arriving later might get lucky.

    Pre-assigning/blocking is not practised at every hotel or every day but when it is done, its not done by desk agents, they’ll have special people for it depending on hotel (Rooms controller, duty managers etc). Really depends on the person in question how well they follow the rules and hierarchies. I’ve had instances where I was upgraded to best non-suite room and base members travelling with me got upgraded to suites for free (and this was as per T&C since it was a peak night with expected 100% occupancy. I arrived early and was denied a suite since its a peak night and by the time my friends arrived late at night they had run out of base rooms and *only* had suites left so they had to be ‘op-uped’).

    I have exhaustively analaysed about half a dozen markets (as in dozens of stays totalling several 100 in every property of all major chains in South Asia/Middle East) and the upgrade %s weren’t close, SPG was the leader by an order of magnitude (everyone was instructed to politely ask for a suite, if it wasn’t offered). Marriot was second, Hilton 3rd, Accor last.
    Hyatt has changed policy in meantime but they followed their earlier stated policy most consistenly (which only matched SPG’s weaker implementation of their stronger policy). I don’t have sufficient datasets for their new policy.

    Also the worst case scenarios were very different. Marriotts and Hiltons often defaulted to 1 category upgrade, whereas Starwood’s most common default when not offering suites was highest non-suite room (club room or whatever was their highest cat which could be several categories) not 1 category higher.

    Caveats: South Asia and Middle East are known to have better properties and guest recognition than N.America/Europe and Hilton is weak in these parts with smaller footprints so they would have disproportionately higher elite occupancy %. Though the only actual reports I ever read or saw showed SPG to have the highest elite occupancy rates (most competition for upgrades).

  37. @ Apples — Hmmm, where is this from? And actually I should be feeling lucky no? 60K points per night is what’s required at Category 7 as of now, so seems like we win, no?

  38. @Vineet regurgitates outdated info: “…Hilton is weak in these parts with smaller footprints so they would have disproportionately higher elite occupancy %.”

    Not only does the claim of higher occupancy not make sense (it assumes everyone will travel only to certain cities because they have Hilton hotels, rather than going to where they wish to travel), here’s recent red hot news that you appear to have missed:


    “Hilton targets Asia-Pacific, Southeast Asia for hotel expansion

    April 10, 2018

    Hilton has named Asia-Pacific and Southeast Asia key growth regions for the hotel group, according to a report from The Nation.

    Key markets for growth in these regions include Myanmar and Vietnam, which are experiencing undersupply, Thailand, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nepal and Timor Leste. Of the 2,257 hotel projects in Hilton’s global pipeline, 415 hotels are scheduled to open in Asia-Pacific. In Southeast Asia, 50 hotels are slated to open while a total of **28 hotels are set to open within the next three years**.

    The next Hilton hotel to open in Asia this year is the Waldorf Astoria in Bangkok in the third quarter of 2018, marking the brand’s entrance in Southeast Asia. The opening of the DoubleTree by Hilton Ploenchit will follow soon after, boosting Hilton’s portfolio of eight hotels in Thailand. ”

    How are they doing? I recently wanted to assess for myself, as I planned my Asian Escapade, by seeing whether Hilton had increased its presence in major Asian-Pacific cities where they had none during my prior escapades, requiring that I redeem points or pay cash to stay at hotels of other programs that I patronize:

    — Taipei: Hilton did not have a single hotel there. I paid cash to stay at the “Haunted House”, aka, Grand Hyatt Taipei. Hilton Taipei Sinban is scheduled to open in October 2018.

    — Ho Chi Minh City: Hilton did not have a single hotel there. I paid cash to stay at Park Hyatt Saigon. Hilton Saigon is scheduled to open in Q4 2019; a Hilton Garden Inn in 2022.

    — Jakarta: Hilton did not have a single hotel there. I paid cash to stay at Grand Hyatt Jakarta. There is now a gorgeous DoubleTree by Hilton in the city.

    — Manila: Hilton did not have a single hotel there. I redeemed points or cash+points to stay (twice) at Hyatt Regency Manila (now rebranded). A year ago I stayed a spanking new Conrad Manila, where I am returning this year. There is also now a Hilton Manila.

    — Chengdu (PRC): Hilton did not have a single hotel there. They opened a Waldorf Astoria there recently that I am going to check out this year. There is also a new Hilton there and at least one more property in the works.

    That’s just where I traveled before. A Hilton property is slated to open in Vientiane in a year or two, and, hear this, the company claims that be launching at least one hotel a week in the region:

    “HANGZHOU, China and MCLEAN, Va. – Hilton Hotels & Resorts celebrated the launch of the brand’s 100th property in Asia Pacific, with the opening of Hilton Hangzhou Xiaoshan in China, in late June. This marks a significant milestone for Hilton in the Greater China region, the company’s largest market in Asia Pacific, while also sustaining its momentum in opening **more than one hotel a week in the region.** ”

    Anyway, you get the NEW picture. The OLD one needs to be retired 🙂


  39. I really, really wanted an excuse to move to Hyatt. The Great Travel Package Debacle gave me the excuse I needed. I suspect that actually they just forget they needed to deal with them… (Trust me, it happens).

    Then wonderful, friendly and efficient Marriott customer service ladies this past week changed my mind again (I always ring the Ritz Carlton number and have never been disappointed). Damn I thought, maybe I have to give Marriott a go, maybe they **are** going to treat me with respect.

    But no, I think they’re not, so, yippee! A month in the Park Hyatt Siem Reap for me next year!

  40. @DCS

    You got the wrong geographic area entirely. As usual.

    If Hilton has 1 property in a city and Marriott has 10 and if elites are the ones most likely to stay loyal to their chain of choice (benefits) then which one will have higher elite % visiting? Simple inference for anyone (except you apparently).

    Even for the wrong geographic area, you post an article about their FUTURE expansion, not the current reality. Then you proceed to highlight major cities (in the wrong area still) with no or weak Hilton presence (and some of those details are shocking…..for Hilton, not in a good way , whose point are you even attempting to make? You’ve managed to confuse yourself.

    Let’s just agree to discontinue this discussion, it is a waste of my time and frankly its about time you realise it is a waste of yours.

  41. @Vineet
    Outside the USA – never a problem.
    Inside the USA – Always a problem. Mainly because hotel front desk jobs are simply jobs not “careers” as they are outside the USA. Sad.

    At a non-US property they will actually say to you…”I’m sorry we were not able to upgrade you” or “we were unable to upgrade you to a suite, but we have upgraded you to …..”
    In the USA – It’s “Here’s your key”!

  42. @Vineet – I will repeat. The claim makes little sense. I ought to know. I have been criss-crossing the region yearly (sometimes more than once a year) since 2010-2011. There is no higher % occupancy that lessens the benefits for Hilton elites. It’s yet another in a long list of bogus claims.

    The reality, in fact, is that in most cities where Hilton had a presence, it also had several hotels, a situation that Hilton is quickly rectifying with its brisk expansion, as evidence in my prior post indicated.

    I agree to discontinue any discussion that is not based on facts.


  43. @DCS

    How is anything you say based on fact when it is almost entirely on anecdotal experience. Are you even aware if you have an internal V (VIP) designation within Hilton causing your experience to be above and beyond that of other Diamonds? You aren’t a cross program elite and this skews your experience, this is a fact.

    If like you say, the number of people going to a city isn’t defined by the hotels there, then logically, any large enough sample size should reflect the %s of the elites.

    If Marriott has 10 times Hilton’s footprint in a particular city but say only twice the total number of top tier elites – a stretch since Marriott and Hilton were roughly equal pre-merger, Starwood is much smaller and now only 50 night and above will be top tier (eligible for upgrades. Whereas Hilton doles out Gold+Diamond status via card and *both* are eligible for upgrades, though only Diamonds for suites. Also they have the easiest match program running. It is a REAL stretch to say Marriott would have twice the upgrade eligible elites. But lets assume it anyway.

    And somehow you expect lower proportion of elites at that 1 Hilton property than at any of the 10 Marriott properties?

    Do you know how percentages and proportions work?

  44. Well, we who have always been with Marriott are fine with this — we have gained more options to stay at and if you SPG loyalists are truly unhappy, well, then, you could walk away — I know that most of my brethren will not shed any tears.

    Remember, there is always Hyatt and now that they have beefed up their portfolio, maybe you will find more happiness there.


  45. @Vineet – he will not have an intellectually honest conversation, it’s not worth your time. He will just keep lying and obfuscating. There’s literally no other blogger or poster who has come to his defense to say “yes all the hotel upgrade policies are exactly identical”. Because they aren’t. DCS is to SPG as Trump is to Russia frankly. It’s a perfect analogy.

    It is also hilarious that he talks about Hilton coverage, then goes city by city and explains how there is little to no Hilton coverage in each city 🙂 (and news flash, every single global hotel chain is targeting Asia / SE Asia for property growth, as that’s where the population & economic growth is)

  46. If Marriott has 10 times the footprint of Hilton in certain areas, then considering their relative sizes, common sense says the converse is true in other areas. The only place where Hilton was truly weak, possibly weaker than even Hyatt in terms of footprint, was Asia-Pacific, a shortcoming that they have moved aggressively to address. However, most my suite upgrade successes happen in Asia-Pacific, so there no point to your argument.

    You want to make the debate about “footprint”, you are barking up the wrong tree. One’s experience is trumps a lot of claims. I provided my experience with suite upgrades. See the link up there? Follow it and call me in the morning.


  47. BTW, the preceding was in response to @Vineet. Not to the unhinged element who now gets the good ol’ silent treatment…again.

  48. I honestly don’t understand why there’s so much fuss about suite upgrades. I mean, I’m all about an upgrade when it comes to flying… but a suite just doesn’t do a whole lot for me at a hotel. It’s usually just a larger space and that doesn’t add much utility for me.

    Given all the complexity in these hotel loyalty programs and the discretion each property has with upgrades, I don’t understand why so many people are invested in this drama. Just stay at hotels that have good rooms and good service and I think you’ll be a lot happier.

  49. I’ve been a Marriott Plat since 2007. I have NEVER received a suite upgrade. Maybe I spend too many nights in the “wrong” hotels. I expect as a new Plat plus or whatever the term is I’ll barely get the “guaranteed” upgrades based on certificates,

  50. So what if Marriott has 10 courtyard / moxy properties in a city… they are no better (or worse) than hilton garden inns… the RC is nice but plats get jackshit, might as well book on… its better experience for hilton golds to stay at a conrad

  51. Ditto, Vineet:
    As a Lifetime Plat Elite, I recently asked for a “larger room” at LAX Marriott and all I got was a blank stare.

  52. Not surprised about this unfortunately and this will only encourage more Marriott properties to NOT upgrade Platinum members (of which I am).

    Just stayed for the *last* time at the Orlando Airport Marriott:

    Prior to walking into the lobby to check-in, called the direct hotel phone number to ask if there were suites available. Answer: “Yes, we have plenty available”

    Walk into lobby to checkin. They put me into a standard room. Ask about getting upgraded to a suite?

    Orlando Marriott Airport front desk staff answer: “Sorry, all our suites are already reserved (without even looking at the computer screen)”

    If you’re going to lie, at least TRY to pretend you checked.

    Will never stay at that hotel again.

  53. Random thoughts…

    1) While I’m not surprised that the IT integration did not appear to go as smoothly as Marriott hoped, I am disappointed. How long did they have to get this right? Why not wait and merge at the stroke of midnight 1/1/2019?

    2) As it is, all of my SPG Starpoints seem to have vanished (i.e.: they were not converted to Marriott Rewards points; they just disappeared), as have *all* of my future reservations on both the and websites.

    3) In the past, my “go to” hotel chain was SPG. This was followed by Hilton, then Marriott, and finally by Hyatt — simply because of their significantly smaller footprint. I was really hoping Marriott would rise to join SPG and #1, but it seems SPG has fallen to join Marriott…for a wide variety of reasons. As of my writing this paragraph, Hilton is my #1, and Hyatt may in fact rise to #2.


  54. As a Marriott Platinum now Platinum Premier Elite my upgrades (not to a full suite) have been excellent post merger while virtually non-existant prior. In Seattle I was upgraded to a Deluxe fully renovated Corner Room at the Seattle Airport Marriott, in Sydney to a Junior Suite at the Marriott at Circular Quay with an early 7:45 am check-in giving me 2 days Concierge lounge access for my one night stay and currently at the Courtyard by Marriott in Hong Kong where I was upgraded before arrival to a corner harbour view room with stunning views of Victoria Harbour from two walls. The 500 Welcome miles worth $4.50 USD were happily exchanged for the full breakfast Amenity in the restaurant which is $23.00 per person per day.

    I will be at the Sheraton in Incheon tomorrow and the Santiago Marriott on Tuesday for 6 nights. I booked @ 20K MR per night, 5th night free and $151 USD revenue for the cheapest of the six nights. Booked pre-merger before the hotel moved up to 25K MR per night after the merger.

    I will also have stays coming up in NRT, SYD & LAX before returning home. At least one will be on points.


  55. We have stayed in five hotels since upgrading to a platinum member and not a single upgrade. I think that it is misrepresented for sure. We will be looking to see what Hilton is offering from now on

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *