When Marriott merged with Starwood back in 2016, questions and concerns around changes -- namely, how the acquisition would impact the company’s rewards programs -- arose among frequent travelers. Turns out, the revamped rewards program, which was recently announced, holds some good news for members of both loyalty programs, as well as for Ritz-Carlton Rewards members. Starting in August, members of the Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest programs will have unified benefits, meaning they’ll be able to book stays and earn points across the 29 hotel brands. To break it down, that’s 6,500 properties in 127 countries.
Not only will members be able to pocket an average of 20 percent more points for each dollar spent under the new program, but they’ll also reach elite status faster. Silver status is scored after 10 nights, Gold is earned after 25 nights, Platinum comes after 50 nights, and Platinum Premier is promised after 75 nights. Gold status perks include guaranteed room type, complimentary upgrades, and late checkout, while Platinum benefits mean a 50 percent bonus on rewards points, gifts upon arrival, and 48-hour guaranteed availability.
All members will earn 10 points for each dollar spent at most brands. At Element, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites, however, guests will earn five points for every dollar. Guests will earn points on the room rate, as well as on dining and qualifying incidentals. Even better, none of the hotels in the portfolio will have blackout dates, making it even easier to redeem your points.
With all these changes also comes a new mobile and web experience. Customers can book their stay through Marriott’s and SPG’s websites, as well as through the brand’s mobile apps, which have new features that give guests the ability to get room alerts, communicate with hotel staff, and use their phone as room key.
But that’s not all. The brands will also unveil new plastic as well -- the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express Luxury Card. The Marriott card provides members with six points per dollar spent at participating hotels, two points per dollar on other eligible purchases, and a free night’s stay that totals up to 35,000 points. Meanwhile, the Starwood card offers six points per dollar spent at participating hotels, three points per dollar spent on airfare and restaurants, two points on other eligible purchases, an automatic upgrade to Gold elite status, and free night award up to 50,000 points. In August, the company will launch a Free Night Award chart with standard pricing, and will add peak and off-peak pricing in 2019.
To top it off, the company is also expanding its collection of Marriott Moments, from approximately 8,000 experiences that you can book with points (World Series tickets, cooking classes with celebrity chefs) to 110,000 new offerings worldwide. Travelers will be able to purchase these experiences, regardless of whether they are a member of the rewards program. That said, Marriott is adding 10,000 new Moments that will be exclusively reserved for its rewards members and redeemable with points (think meet-and-greets with Jared Leto and a food tour of NYC with Daniel Boulud).
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