Marriott Clarifies New Suite Upgrade Policy

Marriott’s new loyalty program launches today, and so far it looks like the transition is going pretty well. It seems like both the Marriott and SPG sites are back up, and you can see points rates, but you can’t yet actually book award stays. Given the scale of this project, I think it’s great news that their sites aren’t just down altogether.

Earlier I wrote about some concerning updates to Marriott’s Platinum upgrade policy. Specifically, on Marriott’s new Platinum benefits page, they state the following regarding room upgrades:

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.

All along we’ve been told that Marriott’s new suite upgrade policy would mirror Starwood’s. As a point of comparison, here’s what Starwood’s Platinum upgrade policy was:

An upgrade to best available room at check-in — including a Standard Suite

There’s a big difference between the two — Marriott is saying they’ll upgrade you, and that upgrade could include a suite (at the hotel’s discretion), while Starwood’s policy had said that you are entitled to a suite upgrade subject to availability.

Vineet was perhaps correct in calling me out in the comments section:

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.

Maybe I’m crazy, but virtually all of us had been told repeatedly that Marriott’s new policy would mirror Starwood’s, so I was taking their word over any leaked terms & conditions.

Well, I just had a chance to speak to a Marriott spokesperson about this issue, and he provided me an update.

He assured me that Marriott’s intent is to offer upgrades to the best available room at the time of check-in for the duration of the stay, including standard suites.

This was made crystal clear to me, so the claim is that Marriott’s upgrade policy will align with Starwood’s upgrade policy. It’s not that hotels can upgrade you if they want, but rather that if a standard suite is available then it’s a benefit.

They tell me that they’re working on updating the terms & conditions to reflect that this is their intent. It could take them a few days to update this, given the scale of their current project.

I don’t want to speculate any further on this, personally, as to how this happened (was this an honest oversight, an attempt to pull a fast one, or what?). They’ve doubled down on the intent of their policy, and now we just have to wait for the terms to be updated.

Comments

  1. …and the only idiot who is too dogmatic (or stupid) to understand the difference is, as we all know, DCS

  2. It’s not even just the suites. The loss of “best available room” wording was worrying. It sounded like a hotel could have just bumped a reservation one category and called it a day, which in many hotels might be several rungs below the top, even if no suite is available.

  3. @Jay a little intellectual honesty on the blogs goes a long way. Apparently you didn’t see his diatribe in the orevious thread.

  4. I’m entertained by the diatribes even here in the comments!

    I believe Marriott in that its intent is to mimic the SPG approach to suite upgrades. I also believe the Marriott bureaucracy sometimes gets in its own way and confuses the matter publicly as it releases the (sometimes conflicting) information about these policies.

    Marriott is huge. So Marriott doesn’t always say it right or consistently when it’s come to the many details of this merger. But I do believe the Marriott intent here, despite their written statements and terms/conditions that don’t always get it right–usually, because Marriott’s so damn big that I think sometimes the left hand isn’t aware of the different thing being said by the right hand.

    Marriott will get it together, but it may take a few iterations. It’s fine. People need to take a breath, let Marriott get its ship in order, let Marriott heed these warnings and cautions that it isn’t always sharing the most consistent message, and let Marriott fix those.

    Geez.

  5. LOL. Cue in the”Twilight Zone” theme music.

    What they just “confirmed” is exactly what the program’s policy has always been!!! The only difference is that SPG had abstracted the meaning of “best available room”, whereas Hilton and Marriott had spelled it upfront, avoiding the consequences of the misinterpretation that plagued SPG! Each property, many of which are franchised, has total discretion in what it calls “best available room” under every program. There is no way for a guest to determine what “best available room” is short of waving one’s smartphone or laptop in check-in desk agents’ faces!

    I predict that this will get just as ugly as it got with SPG before it gets better, if at all.

    Good luck and g’day.

  6. @UA-NYC continues with the puerile insults: “…and the only idiot who is too dogmatic (or stupid) to understand the difference is, as we all know, DCS.”

    @ Tiffany — Maybe it’s time to take this unhinged commenter for ANOTHER sidebar?

    Question: If I am the only “idiot” too dogmatic (or stupid) to understand the difference, then explain to me why these jeremiads were necessary at all:

    2014 — Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?
    2012 — I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades.
    2013 — Platinum SPG, best room upgrade: please change the language.
    2015 — Destroying Loyalty: Starwood’s Lies & Expectation Management.

    Calling me names is not going to change what everyone knows I do get exactly right. Getting hung up on a misinterpreted policy with clearly hysterical (both meanings of the word) consequences is no substitute for each person’s experience with how that policy was actually implemented. The jeremiads* can mean only one thing: I got it exactly right and everyone else who claims otherwise got it wrong.

    It’s a simple problem with a binary answer.

    Good bye.

    * jer·e·mi·ad ˌjerəˈmīəd: noun, a long, mournful complaint or lamentation; a list of woes.

  7. @ Bill
    Yeah, but there is inherent distrust of Marriott because of their track record and the withholding for their intentions on the travel packages is a prime example of this. Not telling us what categories the old travel packages would map to is not a whoopsie caused by them being so big. It was intentionally done as Lucky pointed out in the other article, they had it ready to go on merger day today, so they knew what it was going to be. They let us spend hundreds of thousands of points on packages that they wouldn’t tell us details about, so we essentially were buying blind. All would be fine if they made us all better off, as would be reasonable considering they wouldn’t tell us how they would map. But they didn’t. Now there are people regretting buying them and feeling cheated all for what? Why would they do that when they could have disclosed the conversion up front and let people decide what would work for them. They eliminate the upgrade/downgrade ability and assign your cert to a category they picked. So how are you supposed to rectify the problem if your old cert won’t book the property you were intending it for? You can’t upgrade it now so now you just have to stay somewhere else or lose the cert. That’s boneheaded.

  8. @Lucky,
    I appreciate all the updates you’ve provided on on how this merger impacts the loyalty program.

    There’s a topic that I’m not sure had been covered which impacts me and many others.

    The topic is late check-out. As SPG gold I was entitled to a 4pm check-out and it’s now 2 with gold elite. Last month I booked a stay at an Aloft for next Monday and requested a 3pm check-out.

    Do you know if Marriott plans on honoring the late check-out terms at the time of booking?

  9. @UA-NYC Many of us find posters we “love to hate”. But preemptively criticizing someone’s comments reflect more negatively on you than on him/her.

    How about waiting for the post before dissing it?

    I actually disagree with DCS in many posts and they often become too wordy in the “need to win”
    (TLDR), but for Pete’s sake wait to disagree until you have something to disagree with. Thanks.

  10. @Colleen – read the thread before this one and see if you feel the same way…intellectual dishonesty in its finest

  11. Says one who would not know “intellectual” honesty, dishonesty or anything if it hit him in the face.

    Address the content of the comments rather than launching gratuitous and puerile insults, which are the hallmark of a flailing loser with nothing worthwhile to say.

    I posed a question. Answer it or just shut the hell up. That would be intellectual honesty.

  12. Keep trolling away saying that there is zero difference in the programs on upgrade benefits. We all laugh at you as keep spitting in the wind.

    If there wasn’t a difference, Marriott would not have in a matter of hours reached out to Lucky and clarified they would be changing the language in the T&Cs described above, to the stronger, more proactive-upgrade-friendly legacy SPG suite version.

    Checkmate.

  13. Lucky executes a flawless Marriott / SPG transition day controversy clickbait strategy. Well done.

  14. Wrong answer. SPG had reached out to Lucky as well, but just to appease because that did not stop his and others’ jeremiads.

    LOL. Not long ago, it was SPG that elicited the unhinged behavior. With that baby dead and buried, it is all of a sudden Marriott that has become the loyalty program to die for. It’s called fear of abandonment, a cardinal trait of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)…look it up.

    Rather nauseating, really.

  15. No discussion about continuity among the brands.
    Is Ritz Carlton not participating? Or usual no reply from “Lucky” and the Virtuoso side-kick.

  16. I want to see how the suite upgrades play out at legacy Marriott properties in cities such as DC ,NYC ,London ,Paris , Tokyo , Hong Kong , Singapore etc . If I see regular reports of suite upgrades in the major cities , then I will readily admit that the merger was a success . Until then , I implore folks to check suite availability just prior to check in and request their eligible suite upgrades if available .

  17. Stop reading into how the terms are written. Lucky does a terrible job explaining this. You have to be stupid to think it makes a difference. We’ve l checked into Starwood hotels that had suites available and got a standard room. Just because the terms are worded that way doesn’t mean a hotel will honor it. They both mean the SAME F***** thing ! Neither program guarantees the suite and Starwood never have a crap of a hotel didn’t upgrade you into a suite even if they had one. W Ft Lauderdale offered me a discount on a standard suite then the next week Westin Barbor Island said they only upgrade to a larger king. 2 weeks after that I got a beautiful 2 bedroom suite for free at the Marriott World Center in Orlando. It’s all luck of the draw. Stop drooling over the wording. IT MATTERS ZERO

  18. The only way they can put this “intent” in practice is if they provide a guarantee and back it up with compensation when properties do not comply. Are they prepared to do that? Also, what about mobile check-in. Are they really going to be required to give you a suite if one is available when you mobile check in 24 hours in advance? Most properties I have experienced think check in is when you show up.

  19. Oh, good. I can log into my account now, and see that my previous Gold Elite status through RewardsPlus has been converted to Platinum Elite.

    If what has been reported is correct and RewardsPlus terms do not get renegotiated [like UA 1Ks and GSs getting the MR platinum status], I will be downgraded to the new useless Gold Elite status. I believe that folks with this new MR Gold Elite status will be ripe for the picking by Hilton, whose Golds still receive free breakfast…

  20. @MaieDean I do much better with suite upgrades at Marriott than SPG. Also you’ll find most Marriott full service hotels to be in much better condition than the aging Westin brand. When they started honoring status, I could not believe the Sh** holes most SPG properties were. Marriott also gets much better elite benefits. SPG customers are the big winners with better earn and burn and a wider portfolio of hotels. DO not listen to the pretentious bloggers. When bloggers thing SPG , they think St Regis. Most road warriors in the US need those sub-brand to survive. Courtyards are mostly remodeled now and very nice and you will find them everywhere.

    This merger is a HUGE win for SPG customers.

  21. @Ryan – I have stayed in a half dozen CYs across the country this year, and they are all shitholes. It’s a shithole brand to be honest. Charging near full service pricing often but not offering the benefits.

    Marriotts w/M Clubs are nice – the others are a distinct notch below an average Westin. I haven’t heard too many people proclaim Marriotts to be nicer than Westins. LOL.

    Marriott elites benefit with this merger, Starwood ones don’t. Once again, if we wanted a FI/RI/SHS/CY/TPS in every small town in America, we would have been Marriott elites in the first place.

  22. If it’s Marriott execution then it kind of worries me. I have had multiple hotels that refused to provide me with a suite even when it was clearly available. Calling Marriott helpline, they echoed the same that it is at hotel discretion to upgrade or not.

  23. @Cody shah — You drank too much kool-aid if you think things were or would have been different with SPG.

    Do you think travel bloggers wrote pieces like “Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?” or “I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades” just for fun? The collective self-delusion with regards to the clearly misinterpreted SPG room upgrade policy is truly unfathomable, especially because **every single person knows** the policy was never in reality what it was cracked up to be. Why does everyone know? Because pieces like “Starwood Platinum Suite Upgrades: Why Does It Have To Be A Fight?” or “I am Sick of Arguing for Starwood Upgrades” would have been written IF AND ONLY IF…

    …”Calling [SPG] helpline, they echoed the same that it is at hotel discretion to upgrade or not.”

    The pieces are a frustrated reaction to not getting, again and again and again, a benefit that they mistakenly or erroneously believed was “guaranteed” or they were “entitled to”.

  24. Apparently to DCS, (his) positive anecdotes only count for Hilton and negative anecdotes only count for SPG.

  25. Whatever that means, it does little to address the damning content my preceding comment, which cited actual blogposts, not anecdotes.

  26. @Jr — Not as embarrassed as you’d be if you were here right now because I am with a couple of them and I just showed them your comment, complete with the misspelling of ‘colleague’ as ‘college’. LOL. They are floored by the truly rich irony. 🙂

    Sorry, the Ivy League college professor in me could not resist the dig, but there is a substantive message in there too: address the content of people’s comments rather than them personally or their private lives about which you know absolutely nothing.

    How’s that for embarrassment, ey, Jr? Pick on people your own size or send in ‘Sr’ next time.

    G’day.

  27. @DCS What’s the issue if you’re now switched to *Platinum Elite ? Still comes w free breakfast or Exec Lounge access from what I read. Decent considering that many Marriott *Golds don’t earn this title (by stays) but come by it via *airline status or *bank cc alliance.

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