$8K+ Per Night North Island Seychelles Now A Marriott

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

There are luxury hotels, and then there’s North Island, Seychelles. In February I first wrote about how this hotel would become a Marriott Luxury Collection property, and that has now happened.

Before we get into the details of that, first a bit of background…

What Is North Island, Seychelles?

North Island is a resort on a private island in the Seychelles, and it has just 11 rooms spread across the island’s nearly 500 acres. It’s just 30 kilometers from Mahe (the main island in the Seychelles), and this island is home to all kinds of endangered species.

Here’s a video about the hotel:

This is by far the most luxurious private island resort in Africa, and arguably one of the most luxurious private island resorts in the world. It’s priced accordingly, and then some — it’s easily one of the most expensive hotels in the world.

Rates here are 6,433EUR per night for the standard rooms (also known as “Presidential Villas”), and that doesn’t include the 21% tax and service charge.

So based on the current conversion rate, a stay here will cost you about $8,700 per night. In fairness, each villa is almost 5,000 square feet.

North Island Seychelles Now Part Of Marriott

We knew that North Island Seychelles would be joining Marriott as a Luxury Collection property in December 2019. Well, it looks like that has happened a bit early, because the hotel is now bookable on the Marriott website. The rates when booking through Marriott remain more or less unchanged.

North Island’s Managing Director, Bruce Simpson, had the following to say about this deal back in February:

“We are delighted to join the exclusive collection of properties under The Luxury Collection. North Island is the perfect fit for a brand that stands for such exclusive luxury, while recognising the importance of sustainable development, and we look forward to building on the position of the island as one of the world’s most aspirational private-island destinations.”

As I’ve stated from the beginning, I find this to be a very strange addition for Marriott:

  • Generally speaking I don’t think of Luxury Collection as actually being that luxurious; rather I think of it mostly as a collection of hotels that don’t want to spend the money to renovate, so go for the “classic” design that Luxury Collection is known for
  • There are a lot of hotels where a loyalty program can impact whether or not a guest chooses to stay there; but does that really apply to a hotel that’s almost $10,000 per night? Are George Clooney and Prince William really closet points collectors (well, George Clooney outside of his Ryan Bingham role in “Up In The Air”)?

What North Island Means For Marriott Bonvoy Members

Looking at Marriott’s website, you’ll notice that there’s no points availability, and also that no category is listed for this hotel. I reached out to Marriott and asked if there were any plans to add redemptions at this property, and was told the following:

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

I’ll be curious to see the details of this. The ability to earn points here will at least translate into a discount of sorts on the rate, when you consider the value of points. Still, we’re talking about a very expensive property.

I’m most intrigued by redemptions, and am frankly shocked that they plan to offer any sort of redemptions. 10 of the 11 rooms here are “standard,” and I can’t imagine they’ll just let people redeem for those rooms at the standard rates.

The way I see it, there are a few directions they could go with points redemptions:

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

Offering redemptions here would no doubt create a ton of buzz and generate goodwill for Bonvoy. Goodness knows the amount of press Marriott would get if one could consistently redeem points here (even if it was nearly impossible to snag the room), as there’s not another hotel group that lets you redeem points for a private island villa that costs nearly $10K per night.

Given how much Marriott spends on marketing, you’d think this in and of itself could be a great advertisement for the program.

But balancing that with the interests of the hotel will be interesting to see.

North Island’s ASMALLWORLD Connection

What’s interesting is that the announcement of Marriott’s involvement with the hotel back in February coincided with ASMALLWORLD taking over management of the hotel. For those of you who have no clue what that is, I think Wikipedia describes it pretty well:

ASMALLWORLD is an exclusive, paid-subscription social network, which relaunched in spring 2013 as a private international travel and social club, with a peer-recommended and verified user base capped membership at 250,000 people. Described as “Myspace for millionaires” and “The secret social network for the elite”, the site was founded in 2004 by Erik Wachtmeister and was one of the first social networks at that time.

This organization is controversial as heck, and at one point Harvey Weinstein was the majority shareholder.

To me this makes it even more confusing. So an organization that’s all about exclusivity and membership and excluding others wants the hotel to become more mainstream?

ASMALLWORLD’s CEO, Jan Luescher, explains this as follows

“We are very excited to launch the ASmallWorld Hotel Collection with such a world-renowned hotel as North Island. This first step towards building our very own luxury hotel collection will allow us to offer our travel-savvy members a unique destination, while at the same time increasing the occupancy rate and the profitability of the property.”

So I guess they think this will increase occupancy and profitability, though the whole thing is still really weird to me.

Bottom Line

One of the world’s most exclusive hotels has just joined Marriott as a Luxury Collection property. That’s absolutely awesome, though at a price tag of almost $10,000 per night, I’m very curious to see how this all plays out.

Apparently it will be possible to earn and redeem points here, which is incredibly exciting. But the devil is no doubt in the details…

How do you think Marriott will handle points redemptions at North Island Seychelles?

(Tip of the hat to Bryan)

Comments
  1. Agree with your main assessments here. I don’t consider Luxury Collection a top-of-the-line brand and the clientele at this sort of ultra exclusive resort doesn’t seem like the type to be points or loyalty sensitive.

  2. It obviously looks amazing, and I like a bit of space as much as the next guy, but 5,000 square PER VILLA??? That’s crazy. Even with having things like dining spaces private, there is absolutely no reason to have that kind of space. I guess if you are paying those kinds of rates you expect something that big?

  3. If you time a couple of stays there around one of Marriott’s megabonus promotions, you might be able to earn yourself a free category 4 award night to use elsewhere

  4. North Island is the best place I have ever stayed at: the villas are top-notch of course, but it’s the phenomenal beauty of the island and the incredible beaches that really set it apart (I made a Youtube clip with impressions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsKMDqMRV8A). IMHO, it makes no sense that they are joining a hotel brand and Marriott’s The Luxury Collection is a weird choice.

  5. I am starting to think Doug Parker is secretly at the helm of Marriott. Because nothing they do makes sense. Bonvoy already has a mess of hotels that just don’t fit properly, don’t play by the rules, and are out of touch with what used to be a solid list of brands with fairly uniform expectations.

    I mean, if they offered this as some pie in the sky award redemption, which they never will, ok. It could be a fun aspiration for collectors (No doubt they will charge the sneaky redemption deposit). If not its like some of the crazy products Neiman Marcus used to offer in their Christmas Catalog for tens of thousands of dollars. It was good show but I highly doubt anyone actually ordered it.

  6. This coverage is why they did it. And to ensure they get the most attention possible over the longest time, they leave the most obvious questions unanswered at this early stage. The fact that we’re all rising to the bait must be very satisfying to them.

    Oneday we’ll learn what the catch is

  7. @ken – yes, that’s where they went for their honeymoon. My wife and I wanted to stay at North Island, coincidentally at the time the Prince and Princess were there.

    North Island was (and apparently still is, but I don’t know if that will change with this new announcement) owned by — or at least associated with — Wilderness Safaris, which has some of the best safari camps in Africa…though nothing else at North Island’s level of opulence. We discovered it on W-S’s website, and until we saw the prices, we thought it would be the perfect place to end our trip to Rwanda and Botswana. The fact that it was in Wilderness Safari’s portfolio did open our eyes to the idea of staying in The Seychelles for a little R&R at the end of that trip, and we wound up at the wonderful Maia, where the food is brilliant, the views are stunning, and every room is a villa with its own butler and a private pool. Maybe not North Island luxury, but still not bad 😉

    If North Island is joining Bonvoy, my happy little heart is hoping that other truly luxury properties, like Maia or the Amans or even some of the better safari camps, might join too. If that became the case, and if they were bookable on points, I could see myself staying and redeeming exclusively with Marriott for the rest of my points-accruing life.

    Maybe this is just the latest shot in a war that began with Marriott beating out Hyatt for SPG, Hyatt then acquiring Two Roads and associating with SLH, IHG picking up Regent, etc. For people who care about staying at unique properties in interesting places, we could be on our way toward a golden age in travel.

  8. Not to be pedantic, Ben, but 1mm points = 333k real points. At 1.8c per = $6k, meaning you’re saving yourself over 30% per night. That would be a solid deal.

  9. I’ve stayed there before. The “public” pool is absolutely stunning. The private butler can’t be beat. I had the best service anywhere hands down…. better than any Amans. Sunset is absolutely stunning on the island especially after rain. Finishes of the villas are top notch. Food can be quite good if you demand the chef be on top of his game (he worked at Test Kitchen before). With that said, my preference would be the Brando over the North Island because of the water condition. I also prefer the over water bungalow layout at Cheval Blanc Randheli than North Island’s.

  10. IDK why you are confused Lucky. You just wrote an article about the hotel and linked out to their site and content. So they are already getting FREE media from the announcement. This is a small hotel on a remote island. They need additional avenues to get the word out. It’s not like a typical destination that you know about, they need additional exposure for people to even know what North Island even is before considering a stay there. They did this for marketing purposes and it seems like they are already getting a ton of coverage.

  11. The two brands that don’t participate in Bonvoy, Bulgari and Ritz-Carlton Reserve, are Marriott-managed. Luxury Collection properties are not Marriott-managed, which you point out by naming the new management company.

  12. Just think, as a Platinum member with the double points promotion you could stay one night and earn enough points to stay 28 nights at the Fairfield Inn Knoxville!

  13. “…the most luxurious private island resort in Africa,…”

    The irony of so much wealth so clise to so much poverty.

  14. @John what’s your point, are you anymore of an asehole for driving your $200k car past people earning $2 a day or $100 a day. I think not, and if anything North island is adding jobs for locals.

  15. For all suite properties Bonvoy does not set a minimum percentage of inventory that must be available as awards.

    https://viewfromthewing.com/how-marriott-award-availability-restrictions-actually-work/

    The hotel can take its lowest-category room and assign that to redemption inventory. Even if we currently think of most of the rooms at this property as the same, there’s no reason to expect that’ll be the case. They could put a used Aerolineas Argentinas fax machine in all but one room, and create a higher-level ‘business room’ category exempt from redemptions.

  16. What would the average daily spend be on a free points stay? $500? If they have the capacity, and they end up net positive, with tons of goodwill and free press, why wouldn’t they release a small amount of unsold inventory?

  17. @Kevin That’s where I messed up! I demanded the chef be at the bottom of his game. No wonder my food wasn’t as good as yours :eyeroll:

  18. One night here or almost a week at some Amans… the value seems obvious 🙂 .
    We need a review ASAP Ben.

  19. Could they possibly say that only those with Ambassador elite status can reserve the room on points? High expense property requires someone who spends a lot of money with Marriott to redeem…

  20. My Marriott Bonvoy credit card only has a credit limit of $7k. So I guess I can’t stay there for now 🙁 Maybe Chase will increase my limit to $10k so I can stay 1 night.

  21. @ Rico, I just tried to make a reservation via the ThankYou website for North Island and the hotel/resort doesn’t come up. Neither does Mahe. Its possible you have to call in and speak with “connections travel” who when I spoke with them yesterday concerning a reservation I was looking to make in Europe, I learned they that are using a separate system and the rep I dealt with couldn’t answer my question. The stupid Marriott hotel I was calling about wasn’t coming up on her end.

    @ Stuart, I am beginning to think that Doug Parker is also running the ThankYou Rewards program. Citi, if you are reading this, way to go on screwing up the one semi decent benefit after you totally stripped the card and made it worthless. I was trying to book a hotel room online, your website says to call if you have any questions and then the rep I spoke with says I have never been to the ThankYou website, we use a different system. Finally, if North Island is all inclusive, Citi may make this ineligible just like when Ben went to Fogo Island.

  22. Marriott does need to do a better job of distinguishing the Luxury vs Autograph vs Tribute collections.

    Luxury C should be classic luxury on par with a St. Regis.

    Autograph C should be unique properties (like the Palacio de Santa Paula in Granada and Fontecruz Lisboa).

    Tribute Portfolio should be properties that don’t want to do extensive renovations or have a unique name and don’t fit into the above (Hotel Chicago and St Ermins in London are some examples).

  23. The ASW affiliation of this property makes me expect there to be some kind of twisted scheme involved for ASW to try to squeeze/retain its paying members or get gullible new members to front it money by using this resort property.

    ASW used to have no membership fee but when it got taken over by a Swiss guy it became ever more desperate to make money and started to promise its paying members included access to members-only resort/hotel facilities that were never realized before.

    I have no doubt that if the hotel is owned by ASW that will almost certainly guarantee that this place won’t become a redemption option using Marriott points at any pre-existing price point we’ve routinely seen to date from Marriott …. especially not at off-peak times of the year.

    I used to be a member of ASW, but I wasn’t around as a gullible
    type to fall prey to its membership fee arrangement.

  24. @M – when I called about the Fairmont Mara Safari Club, I had the site up and was showing availability but absolutely no description of the room. The rep could only get the hotel up and no availability whatsoever. Her supervisor came on and told me to just book a room on a refundable rate and then email the property to find out which room I had booked and what amenities it came with. So that was helpful.

  25. @dotti, technically 4. The master bedroom would be 2. There is a separate tv room structure which can easily be converted into another bedroom. This room has its own full bathroom (just shower no tub). If you are going with your 2 kids, tv room would be a perfect place for them to sleep.

  26. @edward thomas There are Marriott managed Luxury Collection properties, that do participate in Bonvoy.

    -an employee who worked at one

  27. Why wouldn’t these be included as part of Marriott’s Homes and Villas program, and priced accordingly?

  28. We just stayed there last week for 7 nights for our honeymoon, and I was super bummed that I was not able to get points. I’m a Titanium and would have gotten 800K points. I love points! <3

    Also flew there using AS points with EK F.

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