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Marriott has released details of its new Travel Packages and, unfortunately, the news isn’t good. Where Marriott has been relatively generous in its approach to the merger of SPG and Marriott Rewards, taking onboard and acting on the concerns of elite members from both programs. When it comes to the popular Travel Packages they have quite literally taken a hatchet to the value in this program.
Before we dig into details of the new program, here’s a quick recap of the old Hotel + Air packages.
Pre-August 2018 Marriott Hotel + Air Packages
Marriott’s Hotel + Air Travel Packages used to be one of the highlights of the Marriott Rewards program. Members could redeem a set amount of rewards points for a seven-night stay certificate, valid at a Marriott or Ritz-Carlton property up to the value of the certificate, plus receive as much as 132,000 air miles across 41 different frequent flyer currencies to cash in for flights.
If you redeemed Marriott points for a Travel Package issued prior to August 18, you would have received airline miles and a 7-night certificate based on the old award charts and valuations. For those that hold an existing 7-night certificate that isn’t already attached to a reservation, we dig into more detail on how legacy Travel Packages map to the new Marriott award chart at the end of the post.
The number of miles differed between packages and airlines with the cost of the Travel Package determined by three factors:
- Category or tier of the property (packages were only valid for Marriott and Ritz properties)
- Frequent flyer program you designated to receive the miles portion of the package (there were five separate award charts)
- Total number of miles you wanted in the package (each chart offered four different mileage amounts)
While the old Travel Packages were a complex maze of award charts, airline partners, and redemption values. There were a number of sweet spots that provided exceptional value, particularly if you utilized the airline miles for premium cabin international awards.
To determine the combined value of points and miles in each package, you had to work out how many points the stay would cost outside of the package, including receiving the 5th night free, and compare the points left over to the miles each package received.
The total cost of the package minus the cost of redeeming for six nights at the hotel = Number of points you are exchanging for air miles.
Provided you valued the miles you received higher than the Marriott points you were exchanging, you came out on top.
New Marriott Rewards Hotel + Air Package Award Charts
From August 18, 2018, members can only book Marriott Hotel + Air packages at the new rates.
Marriott has reduced the number of Hotel + Air award charts for the new program to just one, simplifying the packages considerably. Although the new website shows RewardsPlus as a separate chart, the number of points redeemed is the same. The difference being that RewardsPlus members receive 10% additional miles when selecting United as the airline partner.
On a positive note, the simplified nature of the Hotel + Air redemptions makes it much easier to understand and calculate the value of each package. But that’s where the ‘positives’ end. Marriott has gutted the Hotel + Air packages to the point where you would be hard-pressed to justify redeeming points for a travel package unless you can guarantee an ultra high return on the points and miles you receive.
|7 Nights + 50,000 Miles (55K for RewardsPlus)||7 Nights + 100,000 Miles (110K for RewardsPlus)|
* From January 2019
You’ll receive 10% more United MileagePlus miles when you redeem for a Hotel + Air Package with MileagePlus, up to 10,000 more miles.
Aegean Airlines | Aeroflot Bonus | AeroMexico ClubPremier | Air Canada Aeroplan | Air China Phoenix Miles | Air France/KLM Flying Blue | Air New Zealand Airpoints™ | Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan® | Alitalia MilleMiglia | ANA Mileage Club | American Airlines | Asiana Airlines Asiana Club | Avianca LifeMiles | British Airways Executive Club | Asia Miles™ | China Eastern Airlines Eastern Miles | China Southern Airlines | Copa Airlines ConnectMiles | Delta SkyMiles® | Emirates Skywards® | Etihad Guest | Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns® | Hainan Airlines | Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles® | Iberia Plus | Japan Airlines JAL Mileage Bank | Jet Airways JetPrivilege® | Korean Air SKYPASS | LATAM Airlines LATAMPASS | Lufthansa Miles & More | Multiplus | Qantas Frequent Flyer | Qatar Privilege Club | Saudia Airlines | Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer® | South African Airways Voyager | Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards® | TAP Air Portugal | Thai Airways | Turkish Airlines Miles&Smiles | Virgin Atlantic® Flying Club | Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
*Applies to miles, points, kilometers, and avios earned through participating airline frequent-flyer programs unless otherwise indicated.
Breaking down the value of Marriott’s new travel packages, you need to take into account that Marriott Rewards members receive the 5th night free on award redemptions, so you only need to factor in the cost of staying six nights on points. You’ll also receive an additional 5,000 miles for every 60,000 points transferred to airline partners, for a total of 25,000 miles. To demonstrate, we’ll pull apart a few Category 6 Hotel & Air redemptions.
Category 6 | 7 Night + 50K Miles: 435,000 Rewards Points
- 50,000 miles = 120,000 points (including 10K bonus miles)
- 6x nights @ 50K = 300,000 points
- Total = 420,000 points
So, if you were to book a 7-night stay at a Category 6 hotel (including 5th night free), and transfer enough points to receive 50K miles, you’d actually save yourself 15,000 Rewards points by not purchasing a Hotel + Air package and booking/transferring separately.
Category 6 | 7 Night + 100K Miles: 510,000 Rewards Points
- 100,000 miles = 240,000 points (including 20K bonus miles)
- 6x nights @ 50K = 300,000 points
- Total = 540,000 points
Where the 50K package will require more points than redeeming your points separately, you’ll save 30K Rewards points redeeming a Cat-6/100K package. Bear in mind that the Marriott 7-night certificate locks you into a 7-night stay at a single hotel. For me personally, I value the flexibility of booking shorter stays over saving the 30K points and don’t see the difference as a big enough motivator to redeem for a 100K package.
That value is a little better if you purchase a RewardsPlus Hotel + Air package, with RewardsPlus members receiving 10% additional miles (up to 10K), so redeeming for a Cat-6/110K package you’ll save 30K points and receive an extra 10K United miles.
How Will Existing Travel Packages Purchased Pre-August 18 Convert?
While Marriott released the majority of info about the new program well in advance of the changes going into effect, one of the critical aspects they left out was how existing Hotel + Air packages, those issued prior to August 18, would convert to the new award charts.
There was plenty of speculation on how these packages would map over to new categories, with many members gambling on a generous conversion and not attaching existing certificates to a booking before the conversion took place.
Below is the chart showing how existing packages will convert:
|Brand||Existing Certificate||Category & Max Points After Conversion|
|Marriott||Category 1-5 (max 25,000 points)||Category 1-4 (max 30,000 points)|
|Marriott||Category 6 (max 30,000 points)||Category 1-4 (max 30,000 points)|
|Marriott||Category 7 (max 35,000 points)||Category 5 (max 40,000 points)|
|Marriott||Category 8 (max 40,000 points)||Category 5 (max 40,000 points)|
|Marriott||Category 9 (max 45,000 points)||Category 6 (max 60,000 points)|
|Ritz-Carlton||Tier 1-3 (max 50,000 points)||Category 6 (max 60,000 points)|
|Ritz-Carlton||Tier 4-5 (max 70,000 points)||Category 7 (max 70,000 points)|
Marriott has factored in the move to seasonal pricing in the conversions, with the maximum redemption value of certificates higher than the standard award rates for each given category.
For example, a Category 6 property in the new award chart will set you back 50K points under standard pricing. But, the certificate is good for up to 60K points to cover a Category 6 property after the full award chart comes into play in 2019, when a Category 6 will cost 60K points during peak season. Unfortunately, the maximum points value won’t allow you to redeem the certificate for a higher tier property that costs less when it drops in price in off-peak season, as the certificates are category restricted.
Members who booked Category 6 or 8 packages or Tier 1-3 packages can receive a one-time exchange for a package one category lower. This is due to the way the categories on the old program mapped to the new award categories. You'll need to contact Marriott via this link to request a partial refund if you are unhappy with the Hotel + Air package you purchased.
How To Book a Marriott 7-Night Hotel + Air Travel Package
Hotel + Air packages cannot be booked online. To book a package, you need to call 1-800-321-7396 and speak to a Marriott reservations agent.
Something worth noting here, if you don't have all the points in your Marriott account and intend on transferring points from another program or performing a one-off transfer from a family member, you can still call and place your reservation on hold while you wait for the extra points to lodge in your account.
If you find seven days of award availability in the hotel you want to redeem, don't wait until everything has settled, get it booked immediately.
Additional Details Worth Noting
The airline miles don't need to be used in conjunction with the seven-day accommodation booking; you can use them at a later date. They are non-refundable, however, so make sure you have done your homework on how you intend to use them before you lock in the transfer. You also need to stay the entire seven days as Marriott won't refund points for any unused portion of your stay.
Of all the redemption options offered by Marriott, Hotel & Air packages used to sit at the top of the value food-chain. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case, and you can achieve similar or better value, plus retain the flexibility of shorter stays, redeeming your Rewards points outside of Hotel + Air packages.
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