If you’ve been stockpiling Marriott points for a stay at a luxury resort like The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy, or the Las Alcobas Luxury Collection Hotel in Napa Valley, you might want to shore up your travel plans. Fast.
On March 5, 2019, Marriott’s new rewards program, Bonvoy, will change the categories of a number of its properties. For travelers looking to make the most of their Bonvoy points, results will be a mixed bag of gains and losses. But for a handful of top-tier hotels, the reshuffle presents a rare opportunity to book a soon-to-be Category 8 hotel at Category 7 rates, saving an impressive 25,000 points per night.
How to save on soon-to-be Category 8 hotels
Take Las Alcobas in Napa Valley, for instance. If you book it before March 5, you can enjoy its stately elegance and stunning views of the adjacent Beringer Vineyards for the Category 7 rate of 60,000 Bonvoy points per night. But after March 5, you’ll pay 85,000 points per night for the same room.
The same redemption rates apply to all eight hotels in the Marriott portfolio that will move to Category 8 on March 5. You can lock in those Category 7 rates for stays through early next year as bookings are accepted 50 weeks in advance.
The eight properties that will jump from Category 7 to the new Category 8 are:
The Ritz-Carlton, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection, British Virgin Islands.
W Hong Kong.
The London EDITION.
The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach, United Arab Emirates.
The Westin Europa & Regina in Venice, Italy.
Pine Cliffs Residence, a Luxury Collection Resort in Algarve, Portugal.
Las Alcobas in Napa Valley, California.
How to save on other all other property categories
Many other Marriott hotels will change categories, 323 in total, with some going up a tier and others moving down. If that sounds like a lot, it’s not. It's actually the fewest changes in a single year in the company’s history, according to Marriott. In recent years, anywhere from 10% to 15% of properties in the company’s portfolio changed categories. This year, the changes affect less than 6% of Marriott’s 5,700 properties.
The properties about to go up a tier will cost anywhere from 5,000 to 15,000 more points per night. For example, Courtyard New Orleans Downtown Near the French Quarter, currently a Category 4, will cost 25,000 points per night if you book now. But after it becomes a Category 5 property, expect to pay 35,000 Bonvoy points per night.
Some properties are changing to lower categories, meaning they’ll cost 5,000 to 15,000 less if you book after March 5. A few examples include The St. Regis Osaka in Japan, W Hollywood, W Los Angeles in West Beverly Hills and the Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss Hotel, Switzerland.
The bottom line
Anyone hoping to book a Marriott property using Bonvoy points for stays through January 2020 should skim the PDF on Marriott’s website to see if their preferred hotel is going up for down and book accordingly.
If you don’t have enough points to meet your goal, Bonvoy, like its predecessor Marriott Rewards, allows you to combine cash and points. For a hotel that’s about to cost more points, this redemption style may let you lock in a lower rate than any you’ll find after March 5.
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