I am sure Marriott would prefer not to call it a devaluation, but whenever there are more than twice as many properties increasing in category than decreasing in category, simply referring to these changes as rewards category “updates” or “changes” is an insult to frequent travelers. That said, compared to Marriott’s devaluations over the last few years, this year’s devaluation is not that bad at all.
Now the cynic in me could argue that it is not as bad because they ran out of properties they could realistically move up in category. Likewise, you could argue that many of the properties that are going down in category this year are properties that had increased in category numerous times recently, which means that, at best, these properties are still one or two categories above where they were five years ago. There is probably some truth to both of these arguments, but the bottom line is this: the vast majority of the properties that went up in category this year belong to Marriott’s budget and mid-level brands, such as Fairfield Inn, SpringHill Suites, Courtyard and Residence Inn. These are not the brands most people are looking forward to redeeming their points at (although Marriott e-certificates might be a little more difficult to use).
As for the official statistics regarding this year’s devaluation, which will take effect for reservations completed on or after March 24, 2016:
- 82% of the properties remain unchanged
- 62% of the properties will remain in Categories 1-4
- 18% of the hotels are changing. Of those changing, 30% are decreasing by one category and 70% are increasing by one category.
Interestingly enough, of the over 500 properties going up in category, only 36 are located outside the U.S. On the flip side, there is much more proportional balance with the number of properties going down in category. The number of notable properties going up or down is really small. The ones that caught my attention were:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Denver (up)
- The Rirtz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage (up)
- The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal (up)
- The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto (up)
- Glasshouse Hotel, Autograph Collection (up)
- JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City (down)
- The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi Resort & Spa (down)
We all hate devaluations, but as far as devaluations go, this was not a harsh one. If you are interested in making an award reservation at a property going up in category, please make sure to complete your booking before March 24, 2016. If you want to make an award reservation at a property going down in category you can either wait until after the changes are implemented or you can complete a booking now and then call Marriott after March 24, 2016, so that you receive credit for the additional points redeemed.