Today Marriott and Starwood released the long awaited changes to their programs related to the merger of the two companies. Many rumors have swirled around on what is going to be removed, how things are going to change and if any positives will come out of. One of the most anticipated changes is how the award chart is going to be affected. Based on the new Marriott member's landing page, they are adopting Marriott's point structure and all SPG points will be converted into Marriott points at the current ratio of 3 points to 1. The new chart also states they are moving to 7 Categories (with an 8th coming in 2019). Where it get's interesting is the breakdown of costs per category. Take a look at the chart below to overview yourself with them.
At first glance the increases for Category 5, 6, and 7 may seem bad but when we look at it in more detailed there are some benefits (especially for SPG members)
Here's our analysis of the best changes:
- High-end Starwood Properties are now 10,000 SPG (30,000 Marriott) points cheaper per night. Previously Starwood's nicest properties including The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort, Las Alcobas Napa Valley, The St. Regis Aspen, W Retreat Koh Samui, and The St. Regis Bora Bora cost 90,000 Marriott points a night. For a limited time (before they most likely become a Category 8) we can get them at a 30,000 point discount.
- Ritz-Carlton Tier 5 properties are now 10,000 points cheaper. On the old Ritz Carlton chart Tier 5 properties such as the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, Ritz-Carlton St. Thomas, and the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo were 70,000 points a night, so now until they become category 8's they can be stayed at for a discount.
- Weekday at stays SPG category 1 properties are now cheaper. Previously weekends at the cheapest Starwood properties were 3,000 SPG points a night, now they can be gotten for 2,500 SPG.
- Off-peak nights will allow members to stay at nicer properties for cheaper. Being able to get stays for 10,000 points cheaper can add up significantly on longer stays.
As with anytime a program changes their points structure there is going to be some sort of devaluation. These changes were definitely not immune to that. Here are the most negative changes associated with it.
- Marriott's top categories are significantly more expensive. A recent sweet spot has been Marriott's Category 8 and 9 hotels, including properties like the Wailea Beach Resort, Hotel Park City, French Leave Resort and the Domes of Elounda. On the old chart redemptions were only 40,000 and 45,000. Now these properties are undoubtedly be recategorized into the new Category 7 making them 60,000 points a night.
- The hotels have yet to be divided into their respective new categories. Marriott could make it very top heavy by moving the majority of properties into the higher-end categories.
- It is yet to be seen how properties can control "peak" and "off-peak" dates but it is entirely possible that some properties will mark themselves as always being in "peak" season. If this is the case then it significantly lowers the value of the program.
As always as more update become available we will continue to keep everyone updated on the latest changes. When the change take place in August we will automatically update our maps, category pages (Starwood, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton), and points analysis on our hotel pages. Stay tuned and we're thankful that Marriott did not change redemptions to be revenue-based.