What Will Platinum Status Actually Get You at Marriott / Starwood Hotels?

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I recently wrote a popular post about achieving Platinum status with the new Marriott loyalty programme – simply by booking five meetings that can cost you as little as £300. But is Platinum status going to be worth it? I certainly believe so… but what really matters is definite quantifiable benefits. And here’s where Marriott becomes a minefield…  benefits vary, depending on the brand in question. Since Marriott now has 29 brands, this provides a clear example of why additional brands are clearly not in the best interests of the consumer. Moreover, benefits can vary depending on whether the hotel is deemed a “resort” or not. Yikes…

The Easy Part

These Platinum benefits are going to be reasonably standardised across the entire brand portfolio:

  • 50% bonus points
  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out (except at resorts where it is subject to availability)
  • Room upgrades (subject to availability but potentially including suites)
  • 5 Suite Night Awards – a confirmed-5-days-in-advance request for an upgrade to a suite or premium room
    • 1 SNA equals one night in a suite and you must request a suite upgrade for the entirety of your stay
    • An additional 5 Suite Night Awards are available to 75-night Platinum Premier members

The Tricky Part… Lounges

If the hotel has an executive lounge, the Platinum member will be entitled to access it. However, the following exceptions apply:

  • Certain hotels that are considered to be “resorts” do not have to offer lounge access to Platinum guests (if there is a lounge). This only applies to legacy Marriott brands such as:
    • JW Marriott Resorts, Marriott Resorts, Delta Resorts, Autograph Collection Resorts, Renaissance Resorts
  • If the hotel lounge happens to be temporarily closed (weekends, holidays, etc.), the hotel must offer breakfast in the restaurant to the member + one guest OR 750 Marriott points. Click here for the chart provided by Marriott.

It is worth noting that the Courtyard brand is not normally associated with executive lounges. However some Courtyard hotels – especially in Asia – do indeed have a lounge and a Platinum member would accordingly receive access.

The “My Head Hurts Thinking About It” Part… Breakfast

Marriott has provided a chart that attempts to outline the Platinum Elite Welcome Gift Options. For many of us Platinum elites, that really means whether or not we get a free breakfast…  But since some travellers can either reclaim their breakfast costs on corporate expenses, or prefer a quick coffee, many hotel chains offer an alternative.

That chart is simply too unwieldy. Here’s my take…

NO BREAKFAST

Platinum members are not going to be fed at these brands – Design Hotels, EDITION, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Marriott Vacation Club.

LEGACY SPG BRANDS

No confusion here. It might be in the lounge or it might be in the restaurant, but all Platinum members will receive breakfast at: St. Regis, Luxury Collection, Westin, Sheraton, W, Le Meridien, Tribute Portfolio, Four Points, Aloft.

PROTEA HOTELS

Platinum members will now receive complimentary breakfast in the restaurant at Protea Hotels. Simple and straightforward.

BREAKFAST AS BRAND STANDARD

Marriott’s chart doesn’t place a dot against breakfast for certain brands, but only because breakfast is brand standard (i.e. like we all know that breakfast is free at Holiday Inn Express or Hampton Inn hotels) and is already included in your room rate. The brands where this policy applies are: Element, Fairfield, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Springhill Suites.

BRANDS ASSUMED TO HAVE A LOUNGE

Marriott could be far clearer, but it is my understanding that these brands are expected to have a lounge. Therefore Platinum members are supposed to eat their breakfast in the lounge (rather than the restaurant): JW Marriott, Marriott, Delta, Autograph Collection, Renaissance. If the hotel doesn’t offer a lounge, then it is supposed to offer breakfast in the restaurant and you would still be entitled to the 500/1,000 bonus points or the local amenity.

$10 CREDIT PER GUEST / DAY

Apparently it was simply too difficult for Marriott to agree with its franchisees to offer complimentary breakfast to Platinum members at these brands: Courtyard, AC Hotels, Gaylord, Moxy.

As a result, Platinum members should receive a $10 credit per day (£7-8) to apply against food and beverage expenses charged to the room. In most hotels, this won’t cover the entire cost of a restaurant breakfast. But it should cover a couple of drinks in the bar, which might make some InsideFlyer contributors happier… 😉  Of course, some hotels might also decide to offer complimentary breakfast instead of messing about with the $10 credit.

Conclusion

For any Platinum member more accustomed to the standard benefits offered by Starwood Preferred Guest, the new combined Marriott programme will require some adjustments. But hopefully this post has helped make some sense of what will be offered starting in August 2018…

Comments

  1. Russell Wilson says

    I don’t buy the difficulty with the franchise argument. It’s easier to fill these rooms because they’re cheaper and in better locations so more likely they can sting people for breakfast. Think Holiday Inn rather than Holiday Inn Express. Marriott said we would get breakfast at Courtyards and they renegaded on it.

    On another related tack I’ve noticed a fair few Starwood properties are now selling nights for cash with breakfast included with no availability for standard rooms without breakfast, which for platinum is already covered. You’re effectively paying for breakfast twice if you’re platinum or above.

    • Craig Sowerby says

      Perhaps. Personally if I had a hotel franchise contract and corporate came to me and said “you have to offer these people free breakfast now”, I would reply with “where does it say that in my contract”. And if it’s not in the contract then corporate would have to pay for it, not just impose the obligation. Marriott may not have drafted their franchise agreements thinking about stuff like this…

      As for breakfast-inclusive rates, there are often tax or other reasons explaining it. I’ve found in Colombia for example that choosing a no-breakfast rate means I must pay VAT, but if you pay a “package rate” (i.e. room + BF) you are exempt.

  2. Pangolin says

    $10 credit for Courtyard and AC is a joke. That will get you one cup of machine coffee and half a boiled egg. Trust Marriott with their spreadsheet mentality to muddy the waters.

    Don’t expect SPG type upgrades as a Platinum either. They seem to have the Hilton approach of never giving out proper upgrades unless you beg for them. Two years as a Plat and the only meaningful upgrades I’ve had are those where I specifically rang the FD in advance to ask for them.

  3. Jay Gambrell says

    What about Platinum Pro? is there any real value to this higher status being grandfathered by the end of 2018?

    • Craig Sowerby says

      We won’t know until we know. Platinum Premier will get more bonus points, and you may be ranked at a higher priority for upgrades. I’d have to double-check whether lifetime status automatically gets you the 50 and 75 night gifts.

      Making it a one-off opportunity is a clever way of getting people to aim for the lifetime status without anybody really knowing whether it’s worth it.

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