Starpoints will cease to exist when Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest merge in August so this is genuinely the last chance you'll ever have to buy Starpoints at a discount. It may even be the last chance you get to buy discounted points which you can use at Marriott properties because, traditionally, Marriott doesn't offer discounted points sales.
With all the upcoming changes to Marriott Rewards I can't remember a time when I have needed to be able to track my path to lifetime status more...but Marriott apparently disagrees.
Marriott Moments is the section of Marriott Rewards best known for allowing members to redeem their points for various experiences around the world but I recently discovered that it also allows you to earn Marriott points as well.
A number of people have been saying that having the likes of the St Regis Bora Bora and the St Regis Maldives Vommuli priced at 60,000 points/night is only really a good deal on paper. In reality, they say, award availability will be very limited (due to demand) so only a few of us will be able to get the reservations we want. I see things in a slightly different way.
Last week, shortly after Marriott released details showing us what category each of it hotels will be in from August onwards, there was a small melt-down in the miles and points world. From August through the end of the year travelers will be able to make reservations at the most aspirational hotels in the combined Marriott/SPG portfolio for just 60,000 Marriott Points (20,000 Starpoints) per night…and that’s cheap.
We've known about the new Marriott award chart (kicking in from 1 August 2018) for some time but it hasn't really meant all that much up until now because Marriott hadn't confirmed what categories its hotels would be placed in. The hotelier gave us an indication of what to expect back in April but, as I noted at the time, there was quite a bit they left out. In its examples Marriott didn't include all the properties in each city/region that it was using to explain how things would look, we weren't told how peak- and off-peak seasons would be split and there was still uncertainty over how all-suite properties would be treated.
Although Marriott released details of its new award chart at the beginning of last week it was only partially useful to those of us who care about these things because it only gave us half the information we need. The award charts told us what categories we can expect and how much properties in each category will cost but there was no information on which properties will appear in which categories. Now we've been given some examples.
One of the things we learned last week when Marriott announced its plans for the merger of Marriott Rewards and SPG is that we can expect a short transition window between the beginning of August and the end of December. During this time a number of Marriott Rewards and SPG features will run side by side as travelers get used to the new combined program (e.g SPG members will still be able to qualify for elite status on stays) but the major part of the transition surrounds the new Marriott award chart.
Starwood has launched another points promotion in which it's offering a discount of 35% on purchases of 5,000 points or more. This mirrors an offer we saw towards the end of last year and is the best discount Starwood has historically offered on its currency. While Starpoints can be used to use to book award nights at properties in the Starwood and Marriott portfolios there are other uses that may offer better value and I'll go through those uses in this post.
There's no doubt that, right now, the big miles & points news surrounds the new Marriott loyalty program that's beginning to emerge from the union of Marriott Reward and Starwood's SPG program. I've already taken a look at the facts behind what Marriott has told us so far, I've written about the new credit cards that are on the way (and the changes coming to the existing credit card portfolio) and I've taken a look at who I think the big winners and losers are in the shake up....but there are still things we don't yet know.