Before the brutal Marriott-Starwood merger, both companies offered lucrative redemptions for booking a hotel award and transferring points to miles at the same time.
Unfortunately, Marriott took the low road and devalued travel packages that were purchased before the program merger.
They also significantly raised the price they charged for travel packages after the merger.
However after Marriott devalued their program with peak night awards, there was once again some value to be had from travel packages, though it was still not massively compelling.
And here we are again with another potentially lucrative opportunity.
Today is apparently the final day to buy a travel package from Marriott, though that hasn’t been confirmed by Marriott.
In March, Marriott will kill their award charts, so I’m not surprised to see category based travel packages being killed off as well.
For stays in 2022, 97% of Marriott hotels will still charge rates that correspond to their current rates, but 3% of Marriott hotels will see immediate and potentially massive point requirement increases.
For stays in 2023, all bets are off. Points required will be fully variable with no cap and will align with paid rates.
My guess is that points will be worth between 0.5-0.7 cents each when the program goes fully variable, killing most of the value in the program.
What does that mean for a category 8 hotel? For example, a room at the S. Regis Bal Harbour on February 1st goes for $1,410 plus a $45 resort fee and $160 in taxes. Or it can be booked for 85,000 points plus a $45 resort fee. That’s a value of 1.66 cents per point compared to the base rate or 1.85 cents per point compared to the rate after tax.
If Marriott points are valued at 0.6 cents compared to the base rate, you would be looking at needing 235,000 Marriott points for that night. If Marriott points are valued at 0.6 cents compared to the after tax rate, you would be looking at needing 261,667 Marriott points for that night or more than triple the current rate.
Theoretically, buying a Marriott travel package today could be an excellent hedge against that devaluation.
The chart below compares the value you can get from each package, depending on which category you use and if you redeem for nights during off-peak, standard, or peak dates. However the real value might be unlocked when Marriott starts charging variable pricing for hotel awards, though that’s not reflected in the chart below.
|Travel Package Category:||Cost for 7 nights and 110K miles:||Value if redeemed at off-peak rates:||Value if redeemed at standard rates:||Value if redeemed at peak rates:|
|Category 1-4||330K Marriott||360K Marriott|
|Category 5||390K Marriott||420K Marriott|
|Category 6||510K Marriott||480K Marriott|
(Negative 30K savings)
|Category 7||570K Marriott||540K Marriott|
(Negative 30K savings)
|Category 8||750K Marriott||660K Marriott|
(Negative 90K savings)
Marriott also sells 5 night travel packages, though those are officially for Marriott timeshare owners. However some agents will sell you a 5 night travel package even if you don’t own a Marriott timeshare.
- 110K miles and 5 nights at a category 1-4 costs 270K Marriott points (60K fewer points than 7 nights).
- 110K miles and 5 nights at a category 5 costs 310K Marriott points (80K fewer points than 7 nights).
- 110K miles and 5 nights at a category 6 costs 390K Marriott points (110K fewer points than 7 nights).
- 110K miles and 5 nights at a category 7 costs 430K Marriott points (140K fewer points than 7 nights).
- 110K miles and 5 nights at a category 8 costs 550K Marriott points (200K fewer points than 7 nights).
The hotel portion must be used within 1 year of purchase of the travel package, though Marriott has been extending the expiration date of packages and free nights since March 2020. Marriott also unofficially offers a 1 year extension on certificates if you ask for it.
But, how will Marriott allow redemptions for a specific category after they eliminate hotel categories? I’d hope they would refer to the category that the hotel belonged to before the elimination of categories.
But I wouldn’t put it past Marriott to be evil.
They could do that by making it impossible to find a rep that knows how to book a hotel with the hotel portion of the travel certificate.
Or worse yet, they can give you a credit of points towards what a 5 or 7 night stay would cost today and disallow using them for more expensive properties. I don’t think even Marriott would do that, but they sure have lost a lot of trust since the SPG merger.
Will Marriott do the right thing this time or find a way to take the low road? Will you try to buy a travel package today as a hedge against program devaluation?