Marriott Hotels Category Changes In Detail (2018 Edition)


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Following Marriott’s hotel category moves late last week I’ve taken a closer look at the changes Marriott is putting through and pulled out some of the more interesting statistics.

I’ve taken a look at Marriott’s hotel category changes by region, by significant brand and on a holistic level to try to get a better idea of just what these changes mean and to see if they’re as bad as some are saying they are.

Are the latest Marriott hotel category changes really the “bloodbath” that some are suggesting or are they something else?

Link to the full list of Marriott hotel category changes

London Marriott West India QuayA suite at the Marriott West India Quay – a property moving up to Category 8

Marriott Hotel Category Changes 2018 – Overall View

 There are four important things to note before I go any further:

  1. All the changes come into effect from 6 March 2018.
  2. There are no properties are moving by more than one category
  3. The Marriott Rewards chart is mostly linear in nature – the cost of an award night goes up in cost by 5,000 points per category (between Cat 1 and Cat 2 the increase is smaller) – so, unlike Starwood’s chart, there are no specific category moves which would see a property’s award cost go up or down by more than another’s.

  1. The Ritz-Carlton award chart is perfectly linear – the cost of an award night goes up in cost by 10,000 points per tier – so there are no specific category moves which would see a property’s award cost go up or down by more than another’s.

The overall numbers look like this:

  • 1331 properties are moving categories
    • 1084 properties moving up – 81% of movers
    • 247 properties moving down – 19% of movers
  • There will be 22 new top-tier Category 9 properties
  • There are no properties moving down from top-tier Category 9 to Category 8

So that’s how the numbers look overall but it’s the specifics I’m more interested in.

New Top-Tier Category 9 Properties (40,000 – 45,000 points/night)

For me the takeaways from this are:

  • I can’t believe that there are Courtyard and Fairfield Inn properties in Category 9!
  • London gets another top-tier property (as if it didn’t have enough already)
  • It’s interesting to see how many Autograph Collection properties are in this list – 8 out of the 22.

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance – Image Marriott

There’s really not much more to say here except that, with no properties moving down from Category 9 to Category 8, we have more top-tier properties than ever before.

Number Of Properties Moving Between Categories 5 & 6

This is a reasonably important statistic because of the Marriott credit card from Chase.

Credit Cards The Offer Hotel Elite Status

The Marriott credit card (which a lot of people have) gives holders a free one night certificate to a Category 5 property (or below) every year.

In resent years cardholders have been complaining (with a lot of justification) that the level of choice at category 5 has been going down year on year making the credit card benefit a lot less valuable than it once was.

So what’s happened in this set of hotel category moves?

  • 123 properties are moving from Category 5 to Category 6
  • 45 properties are moving from Category 6 to Category 5

Put simply – Marriott credit card holders will have 78 fewer properties to choose from going forward….and that’s poor.

I’ve tried to look for some positives here and, while that’s certainly not easy, I think I can see three:

Courtyard Seoul NamdaemunCourtyard Seoul Namdaemun

  • I often use my Chase certificate at airport hotels when they’re unreasonably expensive (which happens a lot) so having the Renaissance Philadelphia Airport Hotel move down to Cat 5 could be useful…especially if you fly with American Airlines a lot.

Ok, that’s not exactly a lot of great news but I’ll take what I can get!

Marriott Hotel Category Changes By Region

Marriott presented the hotel category changes in a rather unhelpful format and, unlike Starwood, didn’t put the hotels into their respective regions….so I’ve created my own (some are broader than others!)

USA

  • 1,056 properties are moving categories
    • 878 properties are moving up
    • 178 properties are moving down
  • Of the 22 new top-tier properties 14 are in the US

That’s not a nice set of numbers if you generally spend your points in the US – of the US properties moving categories 83% are heading in an upward direction.

Ouch!

We have a new Courtyard property at the top-tier level – Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance – and a further 14 Courtyard properties are moving up to Cat 8.

That’s pretty incredible considering these aren’t even full-service properties.

LA gets hit with two new Category 8 properties and 2 new Category 7 properties:

Residence Inn Los Angeles L.A. LIVE – Image Marriott

New York gets another Category 9 property in the form of the Renaissance New York Midtown Hotel and the Fairfield Inn properties at JFK and LaGuardia both move up to Category 7.

Orlando gets 2 new Cat 8 properties – the JW Marriott Orlando Grande Lakes and the Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando, Autograph Collection

Among all this negative news some solace may be taken in the facts that the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove will be moving down from Tier 3 to Tier 2 (30,000/40,000 points per night) and the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscane is moving from Tier 5 to Tier 4 (50,000/60,000 points per night).


Canada

  • 63 properties are moving categories
    • 46 properties moving up
    • 17 properties moving down

Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa moves up to top-tier Category 9 and Canada gets 7 new Category 8 properties too (one of which is the Courtyard Montreal Downtown).

Niagara Falls Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa – Image Marriott

What’s amusing about the new Category 9 property at Niagara Falls is that, out of season, rooms can be purchased for not much more than $100 – check cash prices before you use points!

None of Canada’s existing Category 8 or 9 properties move down in this reshuffle so, with the highlight here being two Delta hotels moving down from Category 7 to 6, you can see how this looks like a pretty bad devaluation for Canada.


Europe

  • 77 properties are moving categories
    • 56 properties moving up
    • 21 properties moving down

With 73% of the European movers being properties that are moving up a category this doesn’t look like great news for those on the other side of the pond.

Europe is gaining 10 new Category 8 properties and 7 new top-tier Category 9 properties……

….and with no properties moving down from Categories 9 or 8 Europe just got more expensive for those of us looking to burn some Marriott points in this region.

Looking for positives….

It’s worth noting that three interesting properties will soon cost a little less:

That’s a little bit of good news in an otherwise bleak set of numbers.

The Ritz-Carlton Berlin – Image Marriott


Asia-Pacific

  • 69 properties are moving categories
    • 61 properties moving up
    • 8 properties moving down

A staggering 88% of properties changing categories in the Asia-Pacific region will be moving up to a higher category.

There’s no way of making that look or sound any better than it is.

There are no new top-tier properties in the Asia-Pacific region but, with 8 new category 8 properties……

…and no moves down from Categories 9 and 8, the Asia-Pacific region just got a little worse for redemptions.

On a positive note, the JW Marriott Shanghai at Tomorrow Square moves down to Category 5 (good for Chase certificate redemptions), the Plaza in Seoul moves from Category 7 to 6 and, as I’ve already mentioned, the very good Courtyard Seoul moves from Category 6 to 5.

The Plaza Seoul – Image Marriott

Also, from a selfish point of view, I’m relieved to see that the Marriott Sydney Circular Quay hasn’t moved up a category. I enjoyed my visit last November and would really like to book a return trip with Joanna and MJ….and I’d rather not pay any more than I have to 🙂


Middle East & Africa

  • 33 properties are moving categories
    • 24 properties moving up
    • 9 properties moving down

Once again the number of properties moving up a category vastly outnumbers the ones moving down.

I really don’t know enough about this region to be able to pick out too many significant movers but I can tell you that the Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Financial Centre is moving up to Tier 3 (50,000/60,000 points per night) and the Doha Marriott is moving down to Category 2 (30,000/40,000 points per night) which may be useful for Qatar Airways layovers.

Ritz-Carlton Dubai International Finance Centre – Image Marriott


Mexico, Central America & The Caribbean

  • 19 properties are moving categories
    • 15 properties moving up
    • 4 properties moving down

With so few properties moving category it’s easiest just to show the movers.

Moving up:

Moving down:

No surprise to see the Atlantis property moving up a category but, as someone who has been planning a visit, it’s disappointing to see the JW Marriott Mexico City move up to Category 7.

There’s not that much to get excited about in the list of downward movers….but I guess seeing the JW Marriott Mexico City Santa Fe move down to category 3 could be useful for some.

JW Marriott Mexico City Santa Fe – Image Marriott


South America

  • 13 properties are moving categories
    • 3 properties moving up
    • 10 properties moving down

Not a lot of movement in this region (probably because Marriott doesn’t have all that many properties in South America) and, for once, the number of properties moving down is greater than the number moving up.

Moving up:

Moving down:

Overall these moves are actually good news.

Having the JW Marriott Rio move down to Category 7 means that it now costs 30,000/35,000 points per night (which isn’t too bad) so, with four other Rio properties also moving down a category, Brazil’s most famous city just became cheaper to visit.


Looking At The Brands

Having taken a look at the movers in each region I thought it would be interesting to take a quick look at how two of the more upscale Marriott brands have fared in this shake up.

Ritz-Carlton

Only 6 Ritz-Carlton properties are moving tiers in this set of changes:

2 Ritz-Carlton properties are moving up….

…..and 4 Ritz-Carlton properties are moving down:

Overall this is good news – anytime the number of properties getting cheaper outweighs those getting more expensive is a win for us.

I can’t say that I have much interest in staying at either of the properties that are getting more expensive but all of the RC’s that are going down in award cost could be useful.

JW Marriott

24 JW Marriott properties are moving categories.

20 JW Marriott properties are moving up:

4 JW Marriott properties are moving down:

We’re getting two new top-tier JW Marriott properties and four new Category 8 JW Marriott’s while, in compensation, only one category 8 JW property is moving down a category.

This is definitely a net loss for Marriott Rewards members.

Sure, as I’ve said elsewhere, Having a new Category 5 JW property is nice and seeing the JW Marriott in Rio become a little less expensive is nice too….but the bad news definitely outweighs the good news here.

I’ll take a little solace in the fact that the JW Marriott Singapore (reviewed here) stayed at Category 8 (as I’d like to visit again) but, overall, it’s hard to see too many positives here.

JW Marriott Singapore South BeachView from the pool at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach


Bottom Line

With 81% of the movers being properties going up a category this was never going to be good news….but I still don’t think it’s as dramatic as some are making it out to be.

Am I happy to see so many properties going up in price? No, of course not….but let’s keep things in perspective here.

No Marriott property is going to cost more than 5,000 points more than it did before the category changes (10,000 points in the case of Ritz-Carlton properties…of which only 2 are moving up), there’s no new tier being created and a good number of quality Category 7 and 8 properties didn’t get moved up.

These changes are clearly a net negative for Marriott Rewards members but it’s seems to me like there may be one or two people using a few too many hyperbole to describe them – they’re definitely bad but they’re not a bloodbath.