One Final Marriott Travel Packages Update

Filed Under: Marriott

It’s now August 16, and Marriott’s new loyalty program kicks in under 48 hours from now, on August 18, 2018.

That leaves many of us still trying to decide whether or not to book Travel Packages. I’ve written repeatedly about my thought process, yet I still haven’t actually booked a Travel Package. What the heck is wrong with me?

For context, here are the posts I’ve written up until now about my Travel Packages decision making process:

Since a lot of people are still tryin to decide what to do, it’s worth pointing out some updates that Starwood Lurker (an official company representative) has shared on FlyerTalk about Travel Packages yesterday.

This may very well impact some peoples’ decision making process, especially those who were hoping to upgrade or downgrade packages as of August 18. Specifically, Starwood Lurker says:

  • Travel Packages certificates expiring during the blackout period may be extended upon request
  • As of August 18, members will have the option to “cancel and get points back at a reduced amount” if they don’t want to use the hotel portion of a Travel Package
  • As of August 18, 2018, Travel Packages can’t be upgraded or downgraded to other category certificates

So there’s no further context for that, but I do figure the above updates are worth sharing. Perhaps the biggest takeaway is that you won’t be able to upgrade or downgrade the category of a Travel Package as of August 18, 2018.

Furthermore, historically you can get 45,000 points back if you cancel a basic Travel Package. There will still be some option to get points back if you don’t want to use the stay, though Marriott says it will be at a “reduced rate.” We don’t know what that means.

So yeah, I’m still thinking I’ll stick to my strategy and book a few Category 9 Travel Packages in hopes of them being valid at any Marriott family property. I’m really not feeling terribly confident about how this will all play out, so maybe I’m foolish. But I feel like the value is so good that I need to book, yet I can’t decide what to actually book.

GAH!

(Tip of the hat to Doctor Of Credit)

Comments
  1. @Lucky- Are you planning to book and attach a reservation for Cat 9? If so, which current Cat 9 ones are you looking at.

    Thanks

  2. I redeemed couple days ago & thought long n hard whether to attach the hotel part of the package or leave it floating. Eventually used it to book 7 nights at Domes of Elounda (current cat 9 going from 45k to 85k points) from 18th August.

    Lets see how this pans out. Hopefully it will be ok.

  3. Marriott did a great job keeping their customers guessing how the categories for travel packages will map over for unattached certificates.

    It’s a shame they didn’t communicate this so their customers could redeem for the correct package going forward.

  4. I will say, despite “things happening on August 18th”, Marriott has silently halted a ton of things since August 1st:
    1. None of my stays have posted on Marriott.
    2. SPG stopped accepting Amex SPG point inflows from their cards. (Allegedly, they’ll resume after 8/18.)

    Which is a real hassle for us trying to redeem these packages with last minute points earning. Boo.

  5. Despite the system outages over the past couple of days (or nights for the US) I managed to get a cat 9 certificate.

    I was already afraid they had IT changes implemented that caused unplanned issues and we’re not able to solve these issues by August 18th.

    Anyway, does anyone knows how long it will take to see the Alaska airlines miles on my Alaska Airlines account?

  6. @andrew is that confirmed?? I’ve been waiting for my stay which I checked out of yesterday to post and my Amex pts to post yesterday or today (always posted 15th of the month or 16th) and im now 692pts short of the next cat redemption option.

    When did they say threes were going to go that???

  7. I gave up trying to get the 5 night after two calls, because I figured out how I would use a 7 night.

    Getting a cat 1-5 w/ 120k AS miles today.

  8. Just called Marriott – initially I was told the systems are already “down and won’t be back until after the conversion”. I got to the Elite desk and she was able to help me and I was able to get two packages ordered. Felt like things are starting to get a little sketchy so, you may not want to delay on ordering.

  9. Thenewone

    I saw AS miles from a 5-night Marriott Rewards TP and a 7-night TP post on August 15th or 16th (depending on where you are) for TP redemptions made on August 10th. That was faster than I expected. TPs inclusive of UA miles posted much faster, like within 48 hours or less. That was about what I had expected given the Marriott-UA relationship history.

  10. @lucky, you think it is better to hold a category 9 and not attach to a hotel or should we attach If we know we won’t use those dates (meaning we want to book later in 2019
    That is currently, not Available).

    Zach

  11. @Thenewone it I redeemed for a package on Friday, August 10th and received the miles in my Alaska account on Tuesday, August 14th. Hope that helps.

    Also, I was able to get a 5-night in one try so it is possible. But when I tried to get a second days later, no dice.

  12. I bit the bullet and redeemed for a cat 9 package with United miles yesterday. I’m REALLY hoping that this will be redeemable at a Tier 4 Ritz property as that’s what I’m planning on using it for.

  13. I want to stay at a property that is currently a category 6 but will drop to a category 4 after August 18th. Should I get a category 6 package and book my dates now or get a category 1-5 package in hopes that it will work for a category 4 hotel in September?

  14. Ok, huca’d, and this time I called 800-321-7396 instead of the Platinum reservation line, and she was able to do it.

  15. Has Marriott said we would actually find out full details about these travel packages on Aug 18? Or would we have to potentially wait even longer (like closer to Sept 18) for them to tell us more?

  16. My brain has spent way too much time on this over the last 3 weeks. Likely just going to get the Cat 1-5 + 120k AS miles, which is a no-brainer. There are tons of great Cat 4/5 properties in SE Asia, which is a place I would definitely use them. If I get 45k points back, that works too.

    Trying to leave a decent amount of points in my account so that I can take advantage of booking top-tier SPG properties for Cat 7 prices.

  17. AS miles transfer – during the normal time

    It is processed in BATCH if not being expedited. The cut off of weekly processing is on Friday. Exact time unknown. AS processes the incoming transfers seemingly on Tuesday night. Miles show up either late late night on Tuesday or the morning on Wednesday – that is if your redemption is made before the Friday cut off time.

    Because of that, if your redemption is made on Friday but misses the cut off, you have the loooong wait till the 2nd week followed your redemption. But if your redemption is made on Thursday or in the morning of Friday? you see your miles the quickest, just a few days the next Wed.

    Bottomline – the time laps from various DPs are fairly meaningless. The more important point is WHEN is the redemption being made, that determines how long you would wait to see the AS miles in your account.

  18. I called 800-321-7396 and was told “we can’t book flight and hotel. Let me get you to the right department.”

  19. just spoke with the rep and booked a flight and hotel package from her tone it seems like if you don’t book your hotel now they will require you to pay the difference between the new and old rate in order to use the voucher. But that was coming from a rep that needed help to book the package. Just sharing my experience

  20. Andrew, “There are tons of great Cat 4/5 properties in SE Asia, which is a place I would definitely use them.”

    Where do you have in mind in particular? Am curious, especially if my plan to use my 7 night cat 1-5 in Hawaii doesn’t pan out.

  21. @Lucky – the big question is how the categories will map. Do you think a new Cat 5 (as of Aug 19) will be a valid use of the Cat 1-5 Certificate, or will it get capped at 4?

    Thanks for all of the reporting you’ve done on this!

  22. “Do you think a new Cat 5 (as of Aug 19) will be a valid use of the Cat 1-5 Certificate”

    This is what I am betting on since it’s administratively the simplest and they earn some goodwill. Also, as Lucky has said, if they weren’t going to be generous they likely would have said so giving time for people to make plans. I don’t think launching a new points program by screwing a bunch of people who, by definition, are valuable customers by having had large point balances, is anyone’s idea of a good plan (but see Skymiles).

  23. Get points back at a reduced rate from 45,000? Wow, that would be pretty pathetic. Or do they mean reduced from what 7 nights at a cat 1-4 would cost.

    I can’t believe you won’t be able to pay the difference to upgrade or downgrade hotels. That really makes it difficult to use these things. I should probably just get my 45,000 back today and be done with it.

  24. I really hope cat 6 old become cat 5 new otherwise I’m in trouble as looking to book cat 5 new property and I ree we can’t now downgrade or upgrade the package.

  25. @asdf – Malaysia, Thailand, Bali, Vietnam all have some great properties that are Cat 5 and lower.

  26. Lucky, after considerable deliberation I ended up booking a Category 9 TP at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel in Feb which is High Season ($750/night) at an Autograph Collection property. I stayed there years ago and at the time was my favorite property on all the Islands. At least my favorite beach – a beautiful white sand crescent discovered (for development) by none another than Rockefeller himself.

    In the final analysis, I thought it best to attach a package since Marriott was pretty direct about that. Maybe my choice will transfer to an SPG property after Saturday, or not, but I am nevertheless satisfied since it is a great hotel deal in, and of, itself. If I can’t change it, in other words, I am okay with the property and feel I am otherwise covered regardless of corporate’s final decisions.

    I decided not to (in my case) throw away points on any addtl Cat 1-4 packages. I just don’t realistically see myself enjoying a 7-night stay at those properties (at least not with Starwood definitely in the equation & without a guarantee of a possible upgrade), and I don’t need (only) the miles badly enough to throw down the points just for them. I also want to save a LOT of points for Saturday, Sunday, & Monday bookings for some other prime Starwood properties I have my eye on at a discount.

    Looking forward to your sharing what you eventually do; good luck & fingers crossed for the best possible lucky outcome for you! I know others have also expressed this, but THANK YOU for your hand-holding and strategy-sharing during this transition. I honestly cannot believe it is finally upon us & there is a shot at some awesome Starwood deals.

  27. @asdf – Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Bali all have great Cat 5 options. It’s not the St Regis Bali, but still plenty of nice places to spend a few days. Marriott is essentially paying you for the Cat 1-5 anyway. 120k AS miles is almost two partner F tickets.

    That said…I would also not be disappointed if I didn’t get any package just to back the truck up on SR Bora Bora, Mystique, SR Maldives, and other ultra high-end SPG properties.

  28. @Alan I have a theory and if I’m correct you should be okay.
    Marriott doesn’t want to give stuff away, but at the same time the recognize they need to not piss off loyal customers by treating them unfairly. My guess is that Marriott will align the categories based on minimum number of points, then round up for the inbetweeners.

    1-5 was a max of 25k points so that becomes 1-4 (4=25k points) Even exchange.
    6 @ 30k points becomes category 5 @ 35k. Upgrade.
    7 @ 35k points becomes category 5 @ 35k. Even exchange.
    8 @ 40k becomes 6 @ 50k. Upgrade.
    9 @ 45k becomes 6 @ 50k. Upgrade.
    Tier3 @ 50k become 6 @ 50k. Even exchange.
    Tier 4 @ 60k becomes 7 @ 60k. Even exchange.
    Tier 5 @ 70k becomes 8 @ 85k. Upgrade.

    If I’m correct the sweet spots are at current 6, 8 and Tier 5 (but tier 5 is lessened because there no category 8 until 2019.

    This marks all the boxes. Treating everyone at least in a fair way. Generous (to some), and also explains why they didn’t reveal details – to prevent people en masse from booking travel packages at levels 6, 8, and T5 where they get a built-in upgrade.

    I really wanted to do a category 8, but I only had enough points to do a 1-5 and a 6. In the end, getting 2 packages was too important to me.
    I hope my theory is helpful to some. No guarantees it’s accurate!

  29. I booked a Tier 1-3 package with the 132k United points for 420k last month, but they messed up and gave me the hotel-only package (so no airline points) — it revealed that they were only charging 195k for that.

  30. Lucky,if you’re looking forward to a trip to Tokyo in the next year, consider staying at the Ritz-Carlton. You won’t be disappointed. This hotel easily has the best lounge of any hotel lounge I have visited and the lounge staff and the spa staff were exquisitely personable and professional. Even the very charming guest relations supervisor Reika was quite present throughout the public areas of the hotel the day and evening, conversing with guests to make sure their stay was a positive one. I have never seen a hotel employee more invested in her job than Reika. While you may be opposed to paying for lounge access on principle, a lounge like this deserves a review by you.

  31. @Andrew re your question. 2. SPG stopped accepting Amex SPG point inflows from their cards. (Allegedly, they’ll resume after 8/18.)

    They stopped it until after 8/18 and I complained to Marriott as it shorted my account when I have the points and would be in my account. They let me do a negative balance to purchase a TP. I was shocked.

  32. @D Bo – yep, that’s the sort of transition I’m expecting too, although being unable to redeem at SPG properties for a month is an unexpected fly in the ointment, just hope there’s still availability once the system is back up and running!

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