Reader Jacob sends in the following question:
I’m a long time reader of the blog and I appreciate the tips, advice, and trip reports you post. But on your blog, and the others I read, I can’t help but notice the absence of anything about Marriott hotels.
Hotel coverage is always about SPG and Hyatt, with occasional, usually negative, stories on Hilton and Priority Club, with the exception of InterContinental. However, on all the miles/points blog I read, Marriott is always absent. Why is this?
I think I’ve mentioned the answer in passing in some posts, though I don’t think I’ve directly addressed it yet, so thanks for the question.
Marriott is the chain that mystifies me the most. They have incredibly high customer satisfaction, as evidenced in the Frequent Traveler Awards results from 2011. As a matter of fact, they won four of the six hotel awards for the “Americas” category, which is an impressive feat. Beyond that, they have a ton of hotels, much more so than Hyatt and Starwood.
So why don’t I show them more love? Probably because despite what the Frequent Traveler Awards said, I think they are the chain that offers the least “value” for members trying to maximize their benefits. I believe that it can make financial sense to go for top tier status with Hyatt as a leisure traveler, though I can’t imagine that every being the case with Marriott.
For one, they have by far the highest top tier elite qualification tier. To earn Platinum status with them you need to stay 75 nights per year, without an option to qualify on stays instead. With Hyatt, for example, you can achieve top tier status for just 25 stays or 50 nights. So it’s potentially possible to earn top tier status with Hyatt for a third as many nights as with Marriott.
That being said, they do let you earn elite qualifying nights with their Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card. You earn Silver Elite Status just for having the card, and you can earn Gold Elite Status by spending $35,000 in a calendar year. It’s a big spending commitment to make, but worth pointing out, for those that put a ton of money on their credit cards annually and value Gold Elite Status with Marriott.
Despite Marriott’s insanely high qualification threshold, though, they offer fewer elite benefits than Hyatt offers their top tier elites. The most valuable benefits include:
- 50% points bonus
- Free enhanced internet access
- Room upgrades upon availability, excluding suites
- Club lounge access, and if no club lounge you get continental breakfast in the restaurant (except in the US, where you would only get continental breakfast on weekdays). Breakfast benefits are limited to JW Marriott, Autograph Collection, Renaissance Hotels, Marriott Hotels, and Delta Hotels.
Compare this to Starwood, which, up until August of 2018, offered:
- 50% points bonus
- Free internet access
- Room upgrades upon availability, including suites
- Club lounge access, and the option to choose continental breakfast as an elite benefit, seven days a week
And Hyatt, which offers:
- 30% points bonus
- Free premium internet access
- Room upgrades up to standard suites upon availability, plus four confirmed suite upgrades per year after staying 60 qualifying night
- Club lounge access, and if there’s no club lounge or it’s closed you get full breakfast in the restaurant
So I have nothing against Marriott, and if anything I think they deserve credit for having such high satisfaction among their elite members despite the limited benefits they offer. But I often focus on Hyatt and Starwood because I think they offer the most “bang for the buck” for those looking to maximize benefits.