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Marriott and Starwood recently announced category changes to their hotels for 2017. Every hotel is assigned a category level within the rewards program which dictates how many points per night it will cost to stay at a given property. The new categories and associated rates take effect March 7, 2017. Any bookings make before this date, regardless of when you stay, will price at the current levels, and starting on March 7, 2017, you'll pay the updated rates.
We tend to hold our breath each year when changes are released as we almost expect some drastic changes that eliminate significant value from the program. However, these updates from Marriott and Starwood don't look too bad. Overall there is some good news and some bad news for everyone depending on your favorite properties, as some have gone up in price some have gone down. While Marriott does own Starwood, the programs are currently running completely independent of one another; thus, there are two different lists.
Changes to Starwood Properties
The changes have affected 325 properties in the Starwood family of hotels. Across all the changes 37% of the hotels have gone up in category making them more expensive, while 63% of the properties have gone down in category making price out less when it comes to a redemption. Although most of the hotels have moved one category in either direction, there are a few who have jumped two categories. Some of the properties changing categories in the Starwood list include:
- The St. Regis Doha-Qatar: moves from a Category 6 to a Category 5
- The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho-Japan: moves from a Category 6 to a Category 7
- The Park Central San Francisco: drops from a Category 6 to Category 5
- Four Points by Sheraton Jacksonville Beachfront-US: jumps from a Category 4 to a Category 5
- La Posada de Santa Fe, A Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa: increases from a Category 4 to Category 5
- Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas (SSR): reduces from a Category 6 to Category 5
- Le Méridien Bora Bora: hops from a Category 6 to Category 7
While the changes will be disappointing for some and good news for others, there are some sweet moves. One of the highlights is the drop in category of the Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas, which are located in a prime family Ski resort. Ultimately most people will take comfort that at least some of their favorite properties have not changed at all.
Changes to Marriott Properties
The 2017 Marriott Property Category changes affect some hotels significantly, as they increase from a category 5, which takes them out of the first level of Marriott’s Air + Hotel Package. Overall 23% of Marriott’s properties have changed. The Most frequent Marriott Rewards travelers will be happy that 60% have gone down in category, with only 40% having their category increased. Some of the properties moving include:
- Coralville Marriott Hotel & Conference Center: stepping up from a Category 5 to a Category 6
- Stone Mountain Inn: dipping from a Category 6 to a Category 5
- Renaissance Cincinnati Downtown Hotel: increasing from a Category 6 to a Category 7
- Venezuela Marriott Hotel Playa Grande: dropping from a Category 6 to a Category 5
- Marriott Vacation Club Pulse at The Mayflower: raised from a Category 7 to a Category 8
- Renaissance Santiago: slipping from a Category 6 to a Category 5
- Fairfield Inn Moab: jumping from a Category 6 to a Category 7
- Renaissance Sao Paulo: dipping from a Category 6 to a Category 5
While some changes to Marriott hotels do have a significant impact since they affect the Air + Hotel Package, they don’t represent a huge shift in the program overall, since all the changes only impact 23% of Marriott properties.
Whether these changes are good or bad, is entirely subjective depending on your personal travel plans and your favorite hotels. One thing you need to remember though is that the changes don’t come into effect until March 7, 2017. You can book award space with Starwood almost 18 months (550 days) in advance and just under a year (353 days) with Marriott. So, if your property is going up in category, you still have a while to secure a booking and lock in a lower rate price. What's your take on the award charge changes?
Source: Mommy Points
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