Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - More Restrictions On Premium Accommodations
The recent changes to Marriott's Suite Night Awards have sparked disappointment among many loyal members. The new policy restricts members' ability to secure premium accommodations using points. Suite Night Awards previously allowed members to request confirmed suites when booking award stays. This guaranteed members could indulge in more spacious digs, often with separate living areas, for the same number of points as a standard room. However, the new program instead provides members opportunities for suite upgrades at check-in, subject to availability. For road warriors and jetsetters who lived for those guaranteed suites, the increased uncertainty is a major drawback.
Premium accommodations are the holy grail for many travelers. A separate living area provides space to stretch out and relax between working and playing. Some suites even offer extras like floor-to-ceiling windows with stellar views, oversized soaking tubs, and private balconies or patios. It's the ultimate luxury. Understandably, the thought of scoring a multi-room suite for the same number of points as a standard room was hugely appealing. Loyal members strategically accumulated and hoarded points specifically to redeem for these premium rewards.
Unfortunately, more restrictions on confirmed suite bookings dashes many hopes. The gamble of an upgrade at check-in, which may or may not pan out, just doesn't hold the same thrill. As one disgruntled member on FlyerTalk put it, "Getting a suite was the cherry on top of an award stay. It made it feel special. Now it's just another stay." Others feel similarly let down, noting they saved points for years anticipating guaranteed suites that may no longer materialize.
On my own Marriott stays, I loved strategically planning Suite Night Awards. It transformed an ordinary award redemption into a special experience. Like planning a surprise party, I looked forward to the delighted reactions upon entering an unexpectedly palatial pad. Under the new system, the odds of an upgrade are likely much lower at many properties. The variability could make trip planning tricky. Like trying to plan a party without knowing the venue, it's hard to get excited when you can't be sure if you'll even gain entry.
What else is in this post?
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - More Restrictions On Premium Accommodations
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Members Express Disappointment Over Changes
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - New Policy Results In Less Flexibility
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Upgrades Dependent On Availability At Check-In
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - What Counts As An "Upgrade" Remains Unclear
- Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Marriott Cites "Industry-Wide Supply Challenges"
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Members Express Disappointment Over Changes
Marriott reneging on guaranteed suite rewards has left a bitter taste in many loyal members' mouths. Across internet forums and travel blogs, disappointed customers are speaking out. The policy change strikes a nerve, with many feeling deeply let down after years of playing by the rules.
On FlyerTalk, one of the most popular travel forums, member reactions trend negative. "I'm not happy about this at all," writes one contributor. "Getting a suite was the cherry on top of an award stay. It made it feel special. Now it's just another stay." This sentiment resonates with others. "A major part of the motivation to be loyal to Marriott was having confirmed suites on points stays. This devalues the program tremendously for me," another member adds.
Indeed, Marriott Rewards diehards banked points specifically with suites in mind. They dutifully chose the chain for business and leisure travel, sometimes tolerating higher rates or less convenient locations to rack up points. The promised suite payoff down the road made it worthwhile. "I've been ultra loyal to Marriott for many years with the goal of using points for suite upgrades on special occasions. The ability to confirm suites with SNAs was a huge benefit to me," shares one crestfallen owner of Marriott's premium Titanium Elite status.
Like planning a surprise party, members looked forward to delighting travel companions with unexpectedly palatial rooms. "I loved strategically planning SNAs to make business travel feel more special," notes one frequent guest. "It was like getting away with something, scoring a multi-room suite for the same points as a standard room."
But with upgrades now subject to availability, the odds are stacked against them. At many properties, there may be only a handful of suites which are prioritized for lucrative cash bookings. "I've been saving points for two years to use on suites for my 10th anniversary vacation," writes one member who fears his redemption is now ruined. "Without confirmed suites, I'm worried I just wasted my time and loyalty on Marriott."
Indeed, downgrading to variable, availability-based upgrades strips away a major incentive to remain loyal. Some feel betrayed after holding up their end of the bargain. "I organize dozens of corporate trips every year for my company, purposefully choosing Marriott for the SNA perk," explains one road warrior. "I feel foolish now for turning down other brands all because Marriott has reneged on promises."
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - New Policy Results In Less Flexibility
Marriott's newly restricted policy on Suite Night Awards understandably grates on many loyal members. The decreased flexibility strips away much of the perk's original appeal. In the past, Suite Night Awards brought a thrilling flexibility to points redemptions. Members could strategically secure premium digs for standard room rates, in the process making epic award trips even more memorable. But the policy shift severely limits this flexibility, instead leaving upgrades to chance.
For many frequent guests, the ability to choose when they indulged in suite rewards was a major selling point. With confirmed suites, members could splurge on special occasion trips and space-starved family vacations, without going over-budget on expensive suites. As one Marriott Rewards member explains, "I budget a set amount of points annually for hotels. The flexibility to confirm suites with SNAs allowed me to get more bang for my buck."
Others similarly appreciated being able to strategically plan suite rewards. "It was fun to surprise my wife with a luxurious two-room suite for our anniversary, without breaking the bank," shares one romantic husband. "Having a living room to enjoy morning coffee and unwind after sightseeing made the trip extra special." A frequent business traveler also enthuses: "I loved planning ahead to use SNAs on long work trips. Having a separate living area kept me sane during weeks away from home."
But with unconfirmed upgrades, members lose control over securing those special indulgences. Instead, they're left at the mercy of availability and front desk agents. "I've been saving SNAs to redeem on my 'bucket list' Hawaiian vacation, but now I'm worried there won't be any suites left at check-in," laments one anxious member. "It ruins the flexibility that made suite rewards so appealing."
Indeed, many fear they've lost the ability to ensure suite access when it matters most, like on big birthday milestones. As one member despairs: "I finally have enough points banked for a blowout 50th birthday trip. But with unconfirmed upgrades, I'm terrified I won't get a suite after planning this for years."
Additionally, members bemoan the loss of flexibility when traveling with family and friends. As one mom explains: "We were so excited to redeem points at the Denver Marriott for a suite with extra space for the kids. But now there's no guarantee we'll get it." A frequent business traveler agrees: "I used to plan SNAs when colleagues joined trips so we each had privacy. Now I can't assure us all enough space."
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Upgrades Dependent On Availability At Check-In
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - What Counts As An "Upgrade" Remains Unclear
One major source of confusion is what actually constitutes an "upgrade" under Marriott's new policy. Without clear guidelines, members are left scratching their heads over what rooms they might end up in.
On FlyerTalk, members trade anecdotes trying to decipher what counts as an upgrade. One shared a recent experience: "I used a SNA at a Courtyard Marriott and ended up in a slightly larger room with no separate living area. The desk agent claimed this was my 'upgrade.' But it seemed like just a regular room."
Others report similar head-scratching experiences: "I was told my SNA upgrade was a room on a higher floor, but it was the exact same layout as other rooms." Indeed, many express cynicism over whether they are truly ending up in upgraded rooms, or simply being fobbed off with standard accommodations. As one put it: "Are they just telling me any room change is an upgrade so I don't complain?"
The concern is justified, as Marriott's vague terminology leaves ample room for interpretation. Their terms state upgrades may include rooms with "desirable location attributes, rooms on high floors of the hotel, corner rooms, rooms with special views." No mention is made of additional space, separate living areas, or connecting rooms - the typical features expected from suites.
This uncertainty over what constitutes an upgrade breeds disappointment. "I don't want just a slightly bigger room or higher floor," argues one elite member. "The thrill was scoring a spacious multi-room suite." Another agrees: "I don't care about views or floors. Having a separate living room is why I wanted a suite."
Indeed, the lack of transparency risks seriously devaluing the perk. One skeptical member concludes: "Are SNAs just a clever way to relabel standard rooms as upgrades without giving us anything more special?" This reaction is understandable, given the nebulous standards.
Marriott elites accustomed to the royal treatment also chafe at the notion of basic room attributes being passed off as special indulgences. As one top-tier Titanium member vents: "I'm supposed to get excited over a higher floor as my reward for staying over 75 nights a year?"
To ensure satisfaction, Marriott needs to provide clear guidelines on what constitutes upgrade eligibility. As one member puts it: "I'm Gold Elite - at minimum I expect my upgrade to mean a separate living area, not just a room down the hall." Specificity is key, or else members may feel shortchanged.
Suite Dreams Dashed: Marriott Swaps Suite Night Awards for Nightly Upgrades - Marriott Cites "Industry-Wide Supply Challenges"
On the surface, the explanation seems plausible. Hotels sliced room inventories to the bone during the pandemic as travel ground to a halt. Properties laid off staff and closed off entire floors. Many converted usable spaces into storage instead of rentable units.
Sohoteliers face real pressure balancing surging appetite for luxurious accommodations with insufficient suites to go around. Upgrading every elite member with Suite Night Awards may no longer pencil out, necessitating policy tweaks.
Yet some wonder whether inventory issues fully justify the severe policy shifts. Many properties already limited upgrade eligibility to available suites. Members recognize upgrades weren't guaranteed absent availability. But they took comfort knowing when suites went unbooked, their SNAs ensured access.
Now, members must compete against paying guests for any empty suites. Properties can prioritize filling premium units with lucrative cash bookings first. Remaining scraps, if any, go to members redeeming points.
This angers elites who feel properties should still reward loyal patrons first, inventory shortages or not. As one fumes, "Hotels always find ways to goad big spenders into suites. But suddenly when I want to redeem points, it's oh sorry, no suites left?"
One recounted a Thanksgiving Stay at a Marriott Residence Inn. "I asked about suites at check-in and was told they were 100% booked. But I could see cleaned suites sitting vacant the whole weekend."
Others report similar experiences of untouched premium units going unused despite sellouts. "I was waitlisted for a suite upgrade at a Courtyard Marriott," shared one member. "I walked by empty multi-room suites every day."
These anecdotes fuel suspicions that blackout dates and occupancy caps on rewards have more to do with restricting access than limited supply. As one member concluded, "I bet they still have empty suites but'd rather make elites gamble for scarce upgrades."