Marriott Bonvoy announces extreme annual category changes

Marriott Bonvoy has historically been my favourite hotel loyalty program. I’ve redeemed stays at multiple properties with points, from the $1,500 per night resort Domes of Elounda to ski peak-season holiday accommodation at Courtyard Hakuba, just a few weeks back.

Today, Marriott has announced its list of annual award category changes. This sees a selection of properties adjusted up or down in points costs.

Unfortunately, this is one of the most unfavourable category changes that we’ve seen in recent times. A huge 22% (1,686 properties) will go up one category, while just 499 (7%) will drop down one category.

The changes come on the back of adjustments that Marriott has just made to its ‘No Blackout Date’ policy – for the worse.

domes of elounda pool
I’ve previously redeemed Marriott Bonvoy points for $25,000 worth of accommodation at Domes of Elounda

Marriott Bonvoy: Notable category changes for 2020

Which properties are changing? I’ve quickly run through the list, and listed out some of the key changes which may be of interest:

  • In Australia, four hotels located in Queensland are going up in price. Two hotels in Perth (Ritz Carlton and Westin) are dropping one category
  • The popular JW Marriott Venice, on the bucket list of many, is increasing one category to 7
  • The Four Points by Sheraton, Auckland is increasing one category to 5
  • A significant number of mid-range New York properties (think Courtyard and Fairfield) are increasing one category. These have historically represented sweetspots to book at times when NYC accommodation is very expensive, so this is particularly disappointing
  • Many hotels and resorts across Japan and Thailand are increasing one category

Interesting to note that the newest Domes resort, Domes Corfu, remains unchanged at Category 5. This represented one of the most compelling ‘sweetspots’ when it joined Marriott Bonvoy last year. Its sister properties, Domes Chania and Domes of Elounda, are now both at Category 8.

The Courtyard Hakuba, where I spent a week in late January, is also untouched by these changes. At Category 4, this property continues to represent incredible value when booked during peak ski season.

courtyard hakuba
The Courtyard Hakuba continues to offer excellent value as a Category 4 property

These changes kick in from March 4, 2020. This means that there’s just under one month to book at current rates. To review the changes, head to the Marriott Bonvoy website here.

Summing up

These are largely disappointing changes that will effectively see many properties in the Marriott portfolio increase in points cost. If you’re holding onto a legacy certificate or seeking to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points on a particular property, you should check to see whether your preferred property will be impacted.

That said, there are still a number of ‘sweetspots’ in the Marriott Bonvoy program to be found – for now.

What do you think about these changes?

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