Marriott finally announced details this afternoon of a new, combined loyalty program that encompasses Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest. This will roll out in August 2018.
Currently, Marriott and The Ritz-Carlton have identical programs but different names — it’s just a flag in your account — and the same practice will continue with the addition of SPG. Even with new benefits and a more cohesive structure, the names will live on temporarily. However, a new name to replace these will eventually be revealed sometime in 2019.
I’ll have more details on the new program and how it compares to existing options in a follow up post, but for now here are the highlights:
Faster Elite Status
The new loyalty program will allow members to earn and redeem points across all hotels in 29 different brands. That much would be obvious. But the mechanics of the program are also changing.
Four elite tiers will be offered, with Silver status after 10 nights, Gold status after 25 nights, Platinum status after 50 nights, and Platinum Premier status after 75 nights. This should make it easier for SPG members, accustomed to fewer nights than Marriott required for top-tier status.
However, Marriott will still offer something sweeter for members who go above and beyond — much as SPG did. Stay 100 nights or more AND reach $20,000 in spend to enjoy the benefits of SPG’s popular ambassador program.
All properties will offer 10 points per dollar with the exception of Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element, which will offer just 5 points per dollar. The press release suggests that members will earn points 20% faster on average.
This perk varies across chains and was more generous under SPG than it was for Marriott. Breakfast will now be available to Platinum and Platinum Premier members at 23 different brands, including resorts. That’s nearly all of the 29 brands under the program’s umbrella.
Update: Marriott has confirmed that The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION, Marriott Vacation Club, Gaylord Hotels, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Design Hotels are not participating in the breakfast offering. Some of this list makes sense, as I wouldn’t expect a timeshare to offer breakfast, and the Design Hotels are almost completely independent. However, I think The Ritz-Carlton and EDITION ought to be included. After all, you wouldn’t expect Hyatt to exclude its Park Hyatt properties, right? Why are the best hotels the ones with the skimpiest perks?
It will be easier to redeem points with all hotels participating in the same program, although it was still possible before by transferring points between accounts. As before, there will be no blackout dates for award redemptions.
However, a potential negative is the introduction of peak, standard, and off-peak pricing. This presages a future where airline-style pricing afflicts even hotels and it becomes almost impossible to search for the cheapest awards. I’m hopefully that “standard” will reflect current rates. Otherwise, if current rates become the new “off-peak,” this will be just another excuse to raise prices on everything.
New Credit Cards
This isn’t a credit card post, but for those interested there will still be separate Marriott and SPG credit cards.
The Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card from Chase will offer 6 points per dollar at hotels, 2 points per dollar elsewhere, and an anniversary free-night award good at hotels up to 35,000 points. The press release doesn’t mention the status included, but I assume it is only Silver status based on the relative perks of the SPG card from Amex.
The SPG Luxury Card from American Express will also offer 6 points per dollar at hotels, 3 points per dollar on airfare and restaurants, and 2 points per dollar elsewhere. The free-night award will be bumped up to hotels that cost up to 50,000 points, and there will be $300 in annual statement credits. Gold status is included.