Big change for Bonvoy: Marriott announces category changes

The hotel chain has announced that more than 300 award category changes will take place on March 5, 2019, including the launch of the new top award tier, Category 8.

Category changes affect approximately 5% of all properties in the Marriott chain and could have a major impact on your planned vacation. If you have not yet booked your hotel with points but are planning a trip to one of the affected properties, it is important to book by March 5 to get the best room rate per night.

How many hotels change Marriott Bonvoy award category?

A total of 323 hotels will be upgraded as part of the annual change. The majority will move up one category, while a few will move down one category.

According to the company, the changes are the smallest in the history of the company. Over the past five years, between 10% and 15% of hotels have changed category each year. Depending on the category jump, the price of hotels changing category will increase between 5,000 and 15,000 points per night. The complete list of hotels changing category can be found in this PDF on the Marriott website.

The changes will also launch the new Category 8, the highest tier of the Marriott rewards program. New Category 8 properties will cost 85,000 points for a standard reward night. Seven hotels will join the highest level available, including:

  • Scrub Island Resort, Spa & Marina, Autograph Collection, British Virgin Islands

  • Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley

  • The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Hamra Beach, United Arab Emirates

At least one property will be removed from the highest level. After March 5, The St. Regis Osaka in Japan will be in Category 7, a price drop of 15,000 points per night. Other properties that will fall into the categories include:

  • Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, Dubai

  • Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection, United Kingdom

  • Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss Hotel, Switzerland

  • W Hollywood & W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills

Finally, the famous Marriott Travel Packages will expand to include Category 8 properties. New packages will be redeemable for hotel stay as well as airline miles at the rate of 1.5 points for each air mile. In category 8, a travel package for seven hotel nights and 50,000 points will cost 675,000 points. Thanks to RewardsPlus, members who book Travel Package with miles in United’s MileagePlus program earn 10% more miles.

How do I lock in my Marriott Points award now?

If you are planning to stay at one of the hotels changing categories after March 5th, the easiest way to get the best rate is to book as early as possible. All current rates will be honored at each hotel until the date of the change. And hotels can be booked up to 50 weeks in advance, giving you plenty of options to book award nights at current rates.

If you don’t have enough points to reserve a particular hotel, there are ways to reserve your rewards now. First, members can reserve rewards using a points advance, as long as they earn or purchase the required points at least 14 days prior to registration. If you have a Marriott credit card, including the Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus credit card, this can be an easy way to reserve your reward now and earn points later.

Another option is to book a cash and points reward for your hotel stay. If you can book by March 5, you’ll pay the lowest rate in cash and points for your hotel stay, which could save you money.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

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