Marriott Travel Packages: I’ve Decided On A Strategy… I Think

Filed Under: Marriott

For those looking to maximize our points, one of the biggest questions leading up to Marriott’s new program is how existing Travel Packages will be handled. I won’t rehash everything I’ve already written, so I recommend checking out these posts first, if you haven’t read them yet:

Marriott’s new loyalty program launches August 18, so we have just over two weeks remaining to book these Travel Packages before they get devalued. I promised I’d share an update about my plan, so that’s what this post is about (sort of).

What Marriott & Starwood have officially said

Whenever a question has officially been asked of Marriott regarding the conversion of Travel Packages, the consistent answer has been that they don’t have any information to share, and that “members should make every effort to book and attach these certificates prior to our programs becoming one to maximize their usage.”

My theory is that they’re saying this to prevent any potential disappointment and confusion. Personally I believe they’ll be generous with the way in which they convert these certificates, and that they’re intentionally limiting this information so that there’s not a huge influx of people booking these last minute.

On top of that, the official Marriott & Starwood representatives on FlyerTalk have been given conflicting info as far as these certificates go (at least based on my read of things). On one hand they’ve said:

Any outstanding awards for certificates with a pre-defined category (like Chase or MegaBonus promotional certificates) will be converted to a commensurate value with the new award schedule. Other floater certificates will be cancelled and converted to equivalent points, credited to the member’s account for future redemption.

On the other hand they’ve said:

Starting in August, any outstanding Certificates will be updated from Category-based to points-based values in the new combined redemption chart and may be used for stays at Rewards or SPG hotels up to the points value displayed on your updated Certificate. For example, you will be able to apply a Marriott Rewards Free Night Certificate to an SPG stay, or an SPG Free Night Award to a Marriott Rewards stay. Ritz-Carlton Rewards Free Night Certificates can also be applied to Marriott Rewards and SPG hotels.

Personally I think the latter is what’s going to happen here, that certificates will be converted from category-based to points-based, rather than them just depositing a certain number of points in an account.

Marriott Travel Package indecision

My goal with Travel Packages is twofold:

  • To get airline miles at a lucrative ratio; a Travel Package gets you airline miles cheaper than just converting Starpoints into airline miles, and that doesn’t even account for the seven night hotel certificate you get with it
  • Ideally I’d love to book a higher category Travel Package that I could redeem for a seven night stay at the St. Regis Aspen, St. Regis Deer Valley, St. Regis Maldives, etc.

I should mention that I have a lot of Starpoints, so I could hedge my bets and book several of these. But I’m still not sure what the best strategy here is.

I value 120,000 airline miles at 288,000 Marriott points

With the new Marriott program, 60,000 Marriott points will convert into 25,000 airline miles in your choice of dozens of programs. Assuming that 2.4:1 ratio, that means that I should value 120,000 airline miles at 288,000 Marriott points. Since I generally consider converting Starpoints into airline miles to be a good value, let’s assume that ratio going forward.

Strategy 1: Book the cheapest package possible

On one hand I feel like I should just redeem 270,000 Marriott points (90,000 Starpoints) for seven nights at a Category 1-5 hotel, plus 120,000 Alaska miles.

I value 120,000 Alaska miles at 288,000 Marriott points, so I’m already coming out ahead by 18,000 Marriott points, and on top of that I’m getting seven free nights at some category of hotel. You really can’t go wrong with booking one of those packages, in my opinion.

Strategy 2: aiming for one of Marriott’s better hotels

Maybe I’m just getting greedy, but ideally I’d like to redeem for 120,000 airline miles plus a seven night stay at a hotel I really want to stay at. Specifically, I’m talking about a hotel that’s in Category 7 under the new chart, which for the remainder of 2018 will cost just 60,000 Marriott points per night, with the opportunity to get a fifth night free.

The question is, how expensive of a certificate do I need to book to get a night at a Category 7 hotel come August 18? Will a Category 7 certificate cut it? Do I need to book a Category 8 certificate? Category 9? Or do I need to book a Tier 4-5 certificate?

Here’s how much each of these certificate costs, when you subtract the 288,000 Marriott points that I value the 120,000 Alaska miles at:

  • Category 7 package: 42,000 Marriott points, or 6,000 points per night
  • Category 8 package: 72,000 Marriott points, or 10,286 points per night
  • Category 9 package: 102,000 Marriott points, or 14,571 points per night
  • Tier 1-3 package: 132,000 Marriott points, or 18,857 points per night
  • Tier 4-5 package: 252,000 Marriott points, or 36,000 points per night

On one end of the spectrum, I could redeem for a Tier 4-5 Ritz-Carlton certificate, and I’d feel very confident I could redeem that at any Marriott property going forward. Paying 36,000 points per night (the equivalent of 12,000 Starpoints) for free nights at the St. Regis Aspen, St. Regis Deer Valley, etc., is a good deal.

At the same time, I could otherwise book a five night stay at these hotels for just 16,000 Starpoints per night, and I’m not sure I’d want to stay seven nights (rather than five nights) anyway. So it’s a good deal, but not an amazing deal, given the general opportunities with the new program.

But then I ask myself, wouldn’t a Tier 1-3 certificate also very likely get me a stay at a Category 7 hotel in the new program? I’d much rather redeem 18,857 points per night rather than 36,000.

The more I think about it, the more I assume that a Category 9 certificate would surely work at all hotels as well. Surely Marriott won’t drop certificates by more than two categories with the new program being introduced, right? 14,571 Marriott points per night for top hotels would be crazy good.

I don’t even think that’s being too greedy, because I think a Category 7 or Category 8 certificate might be right on the cusp of what’s honored, and that would be an even better deal.

Bottom line

I feel like I’m overanalyzing all of this to the point that I’m getting cranky. Maybe I’m just doing a poor job of reading the tea leaves. Clearly there has to be a reason they’re refusing to communicate about this, and I feel like that reason must be that they’re planning on being generous, and this is just such a ridiculously good deal. They’ve explained how everything else will convert, so there must be a reason they’re not doing so here.

If they weren’t planning on being generous they’d be telling us now, to avoid backlash and disappointment.

So I think deciding on the best Travel Package comes down to how much of a risk you want to take:

  • Booking a basic Category 1-5 package is worth it for the miles alone, and the seven free hotel nights are basically an added free bonus, though you can’t redeem them at the best properties
  • On the other end of the spectrum, booking a Tier 4-5 package should get you seven free nights at any Marriott family hotel, and that still ends up being a good deal, assuming you want to stay for seven nights
  • But is it even really necessary to book a Tier 4-5 package, since I sort of feel like a Category 9 package is also likely to be honored at Category 7 hotels?

Like I said, I have a lot of Starpoints, so I’m leaning towards hedging my bets and booking one Category 1-5 package, and then maybe a couple of Category 9 packages. I feel like a Category 9 package is a happy middle ground. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t honor this at Category 7 hotels under the new program. It’s possible, but seems highly unlikely.

I imagine there’s also a chance a Category 8 certificate would be honored at Category 7 hotels, but I’m willing to pay a bit extra for added security there.

But I don’t know, I’m truly still going back and forth on this. Even though I imagine hold times will get worse and worse with Marriott as the integration date approaches, I plan on holding off another week or two before making a final decision.

Where do you guys stand on Travel Packages?

  1. One of my friends was proactively offered a 5 night travel package… I’ll just throw that into the mix 😉

    Most frustratingly he told me after I had already redeemed for a 7 night despite hardly EVER spending 7 nights in the same place, 5 would have much better suited me. But would this reduce your risk re: Hotel nights as you still get the same amount of miles with a lower outlay “at risk” depending on which way they go?

  2. Dear Ben, Thank you again for such a valuable information and smart analysis

    Since yesterday the link to:
    My Theory On How Marriott Will Handle Existing Travel Packages

    Is broken and leads to: Ultimate Guide To The New Marriott & SPG Program

    I noticed that yesterday while refreshing the page to check the very thoughtful comments on such a hot topic at this moment, and didn’t mentioned it yesterday as I thought it was intentional or maybe even requested to be removed by someone at Marriott.

    But seeing you are linking that great article today, it seems that you haven’t noticed it points to the post I mention.

  3. Lucky, I would be interested to know how you accumulated “a lot of” Starpoints. I myself find it quite difficult to do, at least with the SPG card, since for most spend there are better category bonuses with other cards. Have you been buying a lot of points?

    I purchased a category 6 package a few days ago. I know we want to use it for a 7 night stay in Paring in June 2019. I’ve been debating whether to book it now or wait till after August 18. Sounds to me like after August 18 there will be more choices and less restrictions, but on the other hand there is the worry about what Marriott will do about the floater certificates. Do you have any advice for me?

  4. @ Lucky, I share your indecision! I’m going back and forth between the 1-5 and the 8, I have enough points to book both, but I don’t have enough spare non-allocated vacation time to spend 2×7 nights at a Marriott property! Thanks for clarifying on the expiration date on my last comment as well – I think most people need to remember this and not go over ambitious on booking packages. Unless your job is traveling that is 🙂

  5. TIA, basic question – when can I use existing certs on SPG property? is it after Aug 1 or Aug 26?

  6. @ Sayeed — I’ve spent hundreds and hundreds of nights at SPG properties, and rarely redeem the points, since I consider them a safe currency to bank. Over the years I’ve also earned a fair amount through credit card spend, though it’s not a card I use much anymore. I also buy them once in a while.

    In your shoes I’d probably book a package now, and I see no reason you couldn’t change/cancel it after August 18 and book somewhere else instead.

  7. @ Evan — I hear about it all the time and I’d seriously prefer it, though it seems like there are often issues with these, that they’re not honored as described, since they’re not meant to be publicly available. Are people having widespread success with these, rather than just isolated incidents where people get away with it?

  8. @RichT – There are reports of 5N awards being discovered during auditing, and being upcharged and converted to 7Ns.

  9. Any thoughts if they will allow us to upgrade after the fact. I have no use at all in the next year for a cat 1-5, would like to take the gamble to get the airlines miles and buy a few packages in the hopes that the new program gives back that cat 1- 5 in some amount of points. If not I hope the option to upgrade like we can do now is still in play.
    Maybe Ill get 1 package at a cat 9 and the a couple lower ones. I have spent way more time thinking about this then I should.

  10. @ KP — They haven’t stated one way or another. Personally I wouldn’t count on them allowing upgrades, given the changes that are kicking in, though I could be wrong.

  11. I’m not certain Marriott will be generous. I feel “old” cat 1-5 seven nite TP certs will convert to new cat 1-4 certs. 6-7 will convert to new cat 5 with 7 holders getting 30 K marriott point refunds. Same for old Marriott 8-9 to new 6. Ritz packages convert to new cat 7. That is my guess for unattached certs. Or they will offer points.

  12. Don’t know why you’re discounting the possibility that Marriott simply wants to wait and see how many outstanding certificates there are near transition time, before deciding to be more (if there aren’t very many outstanding certificates) or less generous (if tons of people decide to wait through the transition with their certificate).

  13. Re-reading this statement:

    …any outstanding Certificates will be updated from Category-based to points-based values in the new combined redemption chart and may be used for stays at Rewards or SPG hotels up to the points value displayed on your updated Certificate…

    Doesn’t say anything about how many nights you will have to book. Maybe a Cat 1-5 certificate will become a 175K points certificate (25K * 7), which you can use to book 7 nights at a 25K per night hotel, or 3 nights at a 55K per night hotel, or whatever.

    That would be an especially good outcome because you’re not forced into 7 nights…

    Also, Lucky: Are you going to attach your certificates before Aug 18? (Lots of speculation that attached and unattached certificates will be treated meaningfully differently.)

  14. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I’ve bought one package and am considering another. I bought a CAT 6 travel package, so 30k Marriott points per night. That doesn’t translate directly into a new category (new CAT 5 is 35k per night). Basically considering either a CAT 1-5 or CAT 8 package for the second package. Looking forward to hearing what you actually redeem.

  15. Managent summary of all the posts on this topic, quoting Ben:

    “I feel like I’m overanalyzing all of this”.

  16. @ Lucky. I seem to agree with you in that they will be “generous” regarding existing certificates. My take is that they will allow an upgrade to the next CAT level. So if one has a CAT 5 7 night certificate it will be valid for a CAT 6 hotel under the revised chart. Just my gut feeling.

  17. @lucky: I’m planning to book two packages. so that is 2 x 7 nights. Can I use these certs for others (I will not be traveling with them)?

  18. @ Lucky or anyone else that travels a lot…..
    Have a 2nd question on diversifying points. I do have a lot of Marriott points mainly thru hotel stays and (4) buys of SPG points thru family accounts and then transferred to me. I have enough for (4) travel package redemptions. Looking at UA for the 132K to get my family to a Australia from east coat for 80k. Really don’t feel I would use points going to Europe since already on east coast and a lot of good fares. Question: With Asia being where I would use points would it be best to redeem for Alaska Airline miles to diversify? Like at least one of the travel packages in Alaska mikes? I have 450k in BA Avios which will be good for travel on OneWorld partners within Asia.

  19. Very confused about what to do here… One interesting note is that, based on what Marriott management told you & others, they are claiming the reason they haven’t provided guidance on travel packages is because they haven’t worked it out with their IT to see what will be possible.

    I would think, that the absolute easiest thing to do would be to refund points at a generous rate (so people wouldn’t complain) but they are probably looking into making this more complicated and less beneficial to us.

  20. Lucky, I agree that Marriott is going to handle this positively and this is based solely on the way they’ve done things in regards to SPG points transfer ratios and the map over of elite status from SPG.

    I personally think that all current 5-7 night certificates will map to the following standard nights (not for peak-use) on Aug. 18th:

    cat 1-5 will be new 1-4
    cat 6 will be new 5
    cat 7 will be new 6
    cat 8, 9 and above will be new 7

    No certificates will be new cat 8.

  21. @ Erick

    I think you can. You would have to book and then call the hotel and allow them to check in as a named guest. Done it on single day reservations so can’t see why it wouldn’t on any other reservation. They would need to give a card for any incidental (or resort) charges. If it’s not a family member though I would be cautious as you wouldn’t want it to give any appearance that you are “selling” the certificate.

  22. The biggest thing with travel packages are knowing how you are going to use the hotel portion before you book it. Last year I redeemed 270k points to help me get the companion pass and ended up using my Marriott certificate at a category 3 in Sandy Utah during ski season. I had dreams of finding some category 5 exotic location, as there are a few out there, but never with 7 nights open or during the timeframe I needed. Still very happy with the overall redemption as i got the CP, but the hotel portion was just kind of a throwaway bonus.

  23. Do you think Marriott will still allow the hotel certificates from the travel packages to be extended for year as they have been doing as standard practice even though it is not a publicly written policy? I have have two 7 night hotel certs but I will probably only be able to use one in the first year.

  24. @ JohnSF — I’m not counting on that happening. It’s possible they will, but I definitely don’t think it’s a given.

  25. @ Ivan Y — Hmmm, maybe they’ve said that to others, but recently I haven’t gotten the sense that they’re even claiming this is a tech issue. They’ve just generally said that they’re still working things out.

  26. @ Erik — The bookings have to be in your name. In some cases you can probably get away with adding someone as a second guest and having them stay for you, but that’s not supposed to be allowed.

  27. @ Ben — I don’t plan on attaching certificate to any booking before August 18. While you’re right it doesn’t say anything about needing to maintain same number of nights, I do think even the points-based thing would be a nightly limit rather than a cumulative limit over the course of the stay. I’d love to be wrong, though.

  28. @ David — That’s a possibility, but ultimately I think they’ll be forced to be generous no matter what. They can’t simply greatly devalue something when they’ve intentionally been keeping these details from people for so long. At least that’s my take.

  29. @ David L. — Do you travel from Asia to the US? If so, I do think Alaska is a good option, since you can redeem on Cathay and JAL with a stopover.

  30. We already know how Marriott has re-categorized every Marriott property. I don’t have enough interest or time to do it, but can’t someone do an analysis to see if there are trends—i.e., current Cat 5 properties have tended to be re-categorized as Cat 4, etc.

    If I were in charge at Marriott, I would have the certificates follow a similar mapping to the how hotels have already been re-categorized. Of course, it won’t be perfect, but it’s not like we’re working with no information at all. In fact, we have a pretty good indication, based on what Marriott has already done.

  31. Ben,
    Do all 7 nights need to be available at the standard rate to book.
    I am interested in a St Regis property that has one week available as of now in the time frame I need. I would like to get a package but the primary need is the hotel. Do you think it is worth the risk to transfer to a package or should I just wait and book the hotel after the 18th. I would like 7 nights but 5 would work. Thanks

  32. @ Dr Bubba — Correct, all seven consecutive nights would need standard room availability for this to work.

  33. I’ve gone for a Cat 6 w/132k UA miles at 300k Marriott points – if they just give me a decent number of points in lieu of cert I’d be happy, but if I have to use it for a stay then I’ve got a week in Melbourne early next year and they’re all Cat 5 in the new scheme, so I’m assuming/hoping and old-money Cat 6 would cover that. Would probably prefer points and just stay in an Airbnb though!

  34. Lucky

    Is Alaska the obvious program to transfer into? It seems as though OW is easy to tap via LifeMiles sales. Same with OW via AA.

    United gives a bonus, but isn’t that program really expensive on redemptions?

    Would you mind expanding a bit on this topic as a conversion effectively ends the option value of parking miles in a “neutral zone” so to speak.

  35. @ Lucky. Yes, most of my future travel plans will be to New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, Vietnam & Japan. I will get some Alaska Airline miles. Never thought about the stop over option and the value that adds by not having to book a separate flight segment.

  36. I don’t understand why you assume they will be generous. As someone who has stayed with them for close to 600 nights but not enough points to be grandfathered into the old Gold (not the new lesser level). I’m seriously regretting having given Marriott so much spend. To add insult to injury the Ritz Carlton Credit card after reasonable spend no longer gets Lounge access. It used to cost $10,000 in spend and now they want $75,000. Please. Won’t mind being a free agent and staying wherever I want but all these changes leaves a very acidic after taste.

  37. I still have one more package to redeem. This one will be a Cat 1-5 and its just for the FF miles more than anything. I’m torn between 120K Avios or 120 VS miles. The Avios can be used LAX to Hawaii on AA for dirt cheap redemptions but the VS miles could go for an F ANA trip.

    I’ll be booking in the next day or so to beat the rush of others all calling at once.

  38. Forgot to ask – does the stay need to be completed before the voucher expires or does a booking just have to be made before that date? I couldn’t find anything in the T&Cs that clarified this point.

  39. Lucky,

    I only have enough points for a seven night Cat1-5, but if I were able to get a 5 night cert when I call in, do you see any harm in just doing that?

    And since, I only have points for a Cat 1-5, do you really see any advantage of me holding off on buying a travel package or should I just call in now to avoid the rush/busier hold times? Thanks!

  40. Lucky,

    Do you think you’ll be able to ‘buy-up’ old CAT XX certificates under the new system? Buying-up from a lower category certificate was always a good hedge if you didn’t have a specific redemption in mind.

  41. Are there any restrictions of redeeming more than one package at a hotel for the same dates? (Multiple rooms)

  42. I have 181,303 SPG points today. I also have 6,430 Marriott points. If I convert SPG to Marriott today and add to Marriott points, I will have 550,339 points.

    That is enough for two Cat 1-5 flight and hotel packages, or one of any other level, plus some leftover (except for the Tier 4-5, where I’d have only ~10k left over).

    I generally prefer luxury travel and quality over quantity, so that has me leaning toward a higher-tier single redemption. Then again, the 240,000 miles I would get out of doing two Cat 1-5 certificates would be great for F/J tickets. Ultimately, I would probably end up gifting one of the two 1-5 night certificates and using maybe 5 of the 7 nights at the other.

    What should I do?

  43. For a 7 night certificate, do you have to have 7 nights available consecutively or could you book a shorter reservation with the certificate, i.e. 3, 4, 5, or 6 nights? Sometimes 7 consecutive nights can be difficult to find for standard room availability. I wouldn’t be as worried about redeeming a package if I knew I could use the certificate to book a stay shorter than 7 days vs having to book a 7 night reservation and then check out early.

  44. Also, are you able to book a lower category hotel with a higher category certificate? i.e. Book Category 6 hotel with a Category 7 certificate. Wouldn’t be expecting a refund, but come time to attach the certificate, I made find that the lower category hotel will work better than the higher category hotel. It would really suck to have paid more than what the lower category cost only to not be allowed to attach to the lower category hotel.

  45. @ E – Nope.

    @Matt – You can do a lower category hotel with a higher category certificate. I would talk to customer service to see if the difference in CAT would be refunded. It might be.

  46. I bought 15 CAT 1-5 certificates. Fingers crossed hoping for a way to convert these back into points and/or merge the certificates somehow.

  47. Don’t mean to nitpick, but your numbers are off. Cat 7 and Tier 4-5 packages do calculate out to 6,000 and 36,000 points per night, after subtracting out the 288k points for airline miles. But for other categories:
    Cat 8: 10,286 points per night
    Cat 9: 14,571 points per night
    Tier 1-3: 18,857 points per night
    Each package goes up 30,000 points as you move up the chain. Over 7 nights this comes to 4,286 points per night as you make each step up. The exception is Tier 4-5, which is a massive increase over Tier 1-3 (over 17k points per night). Would love the miles, but there’s no way I will ever get the time off to spend 7 days at a top tier resort anytime soon (3 kids in college!) and I’m betting availability will be minimal. Good luck everyone!

  48. > “Clearly there has to be a reason they’re refusing to communicate about this, and I feel like that reason must be that they’re planning on being generous”

    No. They are having tech problems as they said earlier. That’s my guess as to why the policy hasn’t been announced. They don’t want to announce a plan and have to change it later.

  49. @Kevin B You playin’ no games sir! can’t wrap my head on holding 4MM points
    Even in my case where I essentially got the points deeply subsidized staying in Venezuela..
    Ooh the good old days of theoretical rates of 1,000$/night, for ‘true’ 20$.. but you got the points for the theoretical rate, how I miss them!

  50. Hey Ben:

    For what it’s worth, I currently have 1 Cat. 1-5 certificate from the Rewards Credit Card and 1 Cat. 1-4 certificate from MegaBonus. I e-mailed Marriott directly a couple weeks ago and forgot about it. Marriott just e-mailed me back saying they will still be valid for the same categories under the new chart.

  51. We have 2 certificates 1-5 category. We did get 240K Alaska miles for it. I am going to gamble on it by upgrade 1 to category 8 and keep the other as category 1-5. I just got approved for Ritz Carlton credit card which will allow us to have platinum status for the rest of the year. I really hope I am making the right move on this.

  52. It makes me laugh all the people thinking they are going to book St Regis Maldives or Bora Bora with a TP. People will be trying to book whatever single days they can, that a 7 night continuous stay outside of rainy season (December – March) will be impossible.

  53. @Kevin

    Getting too greedy is usually not being rewarded.
    I really hope people like you are not ruining it for everyone else.

  54. Lucky, I have never booked a TP. Is it maybe easier to find 7-night availability at the higher-cat properties?

    I, too, wish to use these packages at Starwood properties. I am waiting until the 11th hour to book in the hopes of more info, but right now I plan to purchase several unattached at Category 8 and hope they will offer up an upgrade if 8 doesn’t map to St. Regis.

    I don’t know about Marriott Vacations, but Vistana (Starwood’s timeshare) handed out certificates to new owners to purchase (up to) millions of MRs at .0206/point. They allowed several years to redeem them. I have been waiting to see what is happening with the Marriott merger (and cc) and now am definitely going to purchase since I won’t be using the cards anymore for non-bonus spend. Can only imagine the exposure if most who have these certs also redeem for TPs!

    I don’t think Marriott will ever allow me to get to the room quality I want with a Cat 5, 6, or 7. Since both the room AND UA miles are equally important to me, I think 8 is high enough without potentially wasting points. And as I said earlier, hopefully they will allow me at least a 1-cat bump if it isn’t.

    I have been waiting on pins and needles for your final take on this expensive dilema. I appreciate your efforts and clear thinking as well as the amount of time I know you have put in asking Marriott to shed some light. Please keep us posted with any additional info. Thank you once again.

  55. I called in about 3 weeks ago to book a seven-night package and the nice lady asked if I wanted a five-night package or a seven-night package. I decided to book two five night packages with a 120,0000 Southwest points

  56. I currently have 172,000 Marriott points and am considering transferring the remaining 28,000 points required from Chase UR to get a baseline 7 night package with 50k Alaska miles. Considering I do not have a potential use for the 172,000 points in mind should I take the risk and transfer then book a package hoping they refund a 7x25k = 175,000. Or is that wishful thinking?!

  57. where do you go to purchase these certificates? I only find vacation packages on the Marriott site. Seems like a secret.

  58. I called the Marriott Platinum Number on Sunday (29 July) and got through right away (against all odds, I think) and had a long discussion with the very helpful agent.

    She did say categorically that the last day to -redeem- for Marriott Travel Package was Friday, August 3rd. I’m aware that this information conflicts with other information I have read elsewhere — so I offer it to you for what it is worth.

    In the end, I redeemed 390,000 points for a Category 9 package which I promptly attached to an all-suite hotel (with only 118 suites) for a stay in 2019 plus 120,000 Alaska Miles (for which I had to reluctantly open up a new account). I don’t remember the exact numbers, but the agent explained that all-suite luxury properties (this one was from their Autograph collection) would have a redemption value of around double the cost of a regular room at a luxurious property — so by getting this Category 9 certificate and tying it to a luxury all-suite property reservation right away, I was making out like a bandit.

    I have enough points to get a second such package but I don’t have any place I want to spend it or someone to go with — so as much as I would like to have another 120,000 Alaska Miles (those redemptions on travel to Asia are excellent) — I think I’m likely to keep the balance in points for future flexibility.

  59. @Lucky – Did you also consider getting a travel package linked with Virgin Atlantic?

    I’m currently completely torn between Alaska (JL or CX to US from North Asia) and Virgin Atlantic (ANA F-class to Europe or US from North Asia). I am based in Beijing so HKG/HND/NRT are alright to get to.

    My rationale for getting Virgin Atlantic would be that it seems that ANA releases many more seats than CX and JL at the moment – and ‘competition’ will be tough with many people getting quite a few Alaska miles now (seems most people are going with this airline program). What do you think? Or is JL/CX availability not as bad as I am expecting? Thanks!

  60. Ben, I had booked a 7 night cat 1-5 cert. that I upgraded to cat 8 that is 40k a night and booked for a stay Aug. 11-18. The hotel will drop to new cat. 5 at 35k a night. I cannot change the date since air is booked. Any chance to get points back since initial report from Marriott was changeover to be August 1st.

  61. Thanks for all the info on this. After several days of thinking I chose the cat 9 award. I found out the hotel we like to stay at in Del will be one of the ones going up from a cat 9 to a new cat 6. 45k to 50k. so this was actually a no brainer. Was very surprised got right thru this am to book for early Jul 2019.

  62. Thanks for all the info on this. After several days of thinking I chose the cat 9 award. I found out the hotel we like to stay at in Del will be one of the ones going up from a cat 9 to a new cat 6. 45k to 50k. so this was actually a no-brainer. Was very surprised got right thru this am to book for early Jul 2019. Have until July to cancel if they make this a lucrative cancel at peak 2019 redemptions. thanks again

  63. @Lucky or anyone else for that matter who can give the best phone number to contact Marriott today to book a Hotel + Air package? The phone # I had for that department must have recently changed and I was put on hold for about 10 mins as the agent had to make an inquiry what it was and how to do it. When she came back on the line, she said, “OK I haven’t booked one of these before so I am trying to figure out how to do it.” Needless to say, I hung up and have been spinning the dial ever since.

  64. @Lucky or anyone else for that matter has the correct phone number to get the Hotel +Air Cert issued please let me know. Thanks

  65. @Lucky. Finally got through to a very knowledgeable Marriott Rep in Omaha who went the “extra mile”. I am not worried about this anymore. From talking to her at length I feel too that Marriott will be generous with us. I redeemed what was right for me — at a higher Category Hotel, maxed out the airline miles with/Package 1, plus kept an additional 60,000 miles for safe keeping just in case I need to top off one of my FF accounts with another 25k miles. Thanks for all you do!

  66. Lucky, I spoke with a rep today, and he confirmed that if a TP isn’t attached to a reservation, then after the merger Marriott will instead issue partial point refunds (at the same rate as now if a cert is canceled). So for instance on a 360,000 Cat 8 package, 135,000 points will be redeemed back to reuse and start from scratch on a new package at the new rates.

    I own a Vistana (Starwood) timeshare, so I first tried for a 5-night package (as with a Marriott timeshare). Has to be Marriott, unfortunately for me (even though the timeshare companies are, too, merging). Interestingly, though, the rep says that after the merger even Marriott timeshare owners will be unable to book 5-night packages, either, as they are going away entirely in favor of exclusively 7-night.

    What I found to be of particular interest for both you and me, he finished that the Marriott packages purchased NOW can not NOW, or EVER BE, redeemed at Starwood properties. So St. Regis Travel redemptions would not be possible without purchasing a new package under the new rates after the merger.

    Totally bummed with this info. My strategy may now be to book 1 or 2 cheap Cat 1-5 pkgs for the miles alone and instead save my points for bargain St. Regis 5-night redemptions come August 18. Anyways, hope this info helps you, too.

  67. @Pam – I wouldn’t believe what that rep said. We’ve heard that concept before but as explained above they don’t know any more than we do.

  68. @Alan – I realize the “how” of Starmageddon is/has been up for much debate, but this is the first I have heard of the “what” (i.e. no Starwood properties allowed with old TP packages & no more 5-night pkgs).

  69. @Pam I’m not sure I believe what they’ve told you to be honest – going forward it’ll be one scheme so I don’t see how or why they would block redemptions in ex-Starwood vs ex-Marriott properties. Only time will tell I guess!

  70. @Alan – yes, 1 scheme for new TP packages! for the old ones (pre-8.18) that were offered for Marriott properties, they are to stay as such. believe me, I am the first to hope that’s NOT the case since I am in the Starwood camp, but it also intuitively makes sense to me since the new TP chart is increasing to expressly accommodate more valuable Starwood redemptions.

    I think now I might attach 1 certificate to a JWM or Autograph property since I know those are going up in points for sure and then not attach another & see what happens with the St. Regis properties.

    A lot of $/miles/points riding on these certs – mostly hoping for better direction from Marriott management before D-Day!

  71. @Lucky – Thanks for all of the guidance on this topic and the merger. The thing that’s most unclear to me is whether I’ll be able to use a floating certificate at an SPG property come August 19th.

    Have we gotten any confirmation from Marriott on that?

  72. I too have had conversations with multiple agents, supervisors, and even people working in Mr. Marriott’s office. The latest as of this afternoon is that there is no official decision as to how they are going to handle these packages. I have 3/ 5 night category 7 Marriott air/hotel packages (I am a vacation club owner). I want to stay at new Cat 7 SPG properties after the merger is complete. The lady today said all the info in the threads above has been discussed but the company has not made any final decisions. One hint was that the current category 7 certs would be downgraded to category 5 based on the 35k per night point value. I am in a quandary. Should I upgrade to current category 9 or tier 5 to ensure I can stay at the luxury properties? I have 2 specific category 7 SPG properties in mind for May 2019 for 30th anniversary. I don’t mind getting the points refunded and starting from scratch but I don’t want to get stuck with hotels in the new category 5….. HELP!!!!

  73. can one still book the Marriott travel package? I can’t seem to get anyone at Marriott to be able to help me booking one and they all seem to play dumb as they don’t know about the travel package.

  74. How long do we expect the miles to show up in Alaska Air, if the package is transferred to Alaska Air?

    Is the package still available after 4 Aug? (Many reports say till 17th Aug, but some others cited it is valid only before 4th Aug.)

  75. Called the Marriott Mexico/Latin America line at +52 55 110 221 21 yesterday and booked a TP within 10 minutes

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