The effect of Marriott Rewards category changes is clearly seen for a selection of San Francisco hotels. The value of Marriott Rewards points is dropping around the Bay Area on May 16, 2013 when the majority of hotels rise by one category level.
Hotel reward category reassignment for 2013 is a nearly across the board increase; 5,000 points per reward night at 16 of 21 hotels closest to San Francisco. A number of category 4 hotels currently at 20,000 points per night or 80,000 points for 5 nights are rising to category 5; a 25% increase in reward stay cost.
A search of San Francisco returns 72 Marriott brand hotels. This study only considers 21 of these hotels for published Best Available Rate (BAR). 10 to 15% discounts on BAR are common. The study does not take into account the tax on hotel rooms when calculating the value of Marriott Rewards points redeemed for free nights. This is also 10 to 15% and even higher in the San Francisco Bay Area.
I think most hotels in San Francisco do not charge resort fees.
Parking is devastatingly expensive in downtown San Francisco and typically adds $50 per night to the hotel bill. Some downtown garages are under $30 per night.
This study of Marriott Rewards is meant to be a companion to the Hilton HHonors Reward analyses. Marriott is much simpler for rewards than Hilton. No peak season rates, no cash & points option for room rate discounts with Marriott. Marriott Rewards does not have upgraded room rewards clearly defined like Hilton HHonors. HHonors has the advantage of offering all room types for points paid reward stays, even if the value is sometimes a poor redemption value for points (often under $3.00 per 1,000 HHonors points).
Marriott does allow room upgrades using cash or using points at participating hotels. Marriott upgrades can be handled better by getting on the phone and checking for upgrade options.
San Francisco Room Rates
San Francisco is one of the cities today that is getting priced out of the range for the average leisure traveler. There are not that many deals in downtown San Francisco at the chain hotel brands over the past year. Rates in the $250 to $350 range are common for hotels that were regularly $100 to $130 on weekends during the 2009-2011 years.
Marriott Rewards hotel stay value and published rates for 21 San Francisco Bay Area hotels for Tuesday, April 23, 2013.
Marriott Rewards Observations
7 of 21 hotels rise to Category 5 on May 16. These hotels will be unavailable using Marriott MegaBonus free night certificates capped at category 4 hotels.
The value of Marriott Rewards points falls mostly in the $8 to $12 range per 1,000 points based on the current reward cost for a weeknight hotel stay. This will drop to $6 to $10 for most of these San Francisco Bay Area hotels for a high priced weekday night when the new Marriott Rewards hotel category assignment begins May 16, 2013.
Ritz-Carlton San Francisco is a good redemption value for Marriott Rewards points even after it goes to Tier 4 at 60,000 points per night. That is 20% more points than the current 50,000 points rate.
Marriott Rewards published rates and reward cost for Friday April 26, 2013. Columns on right show the hotels rising in hotel reward category May 16, 2013.
San Francisco Bay Area hotels typically drop rates by as much as 50% on weekends, although those discounts are much harder to find in downtown San Francisco this year.
The average redemption value drops quite a bit for hotels outside of San Francisco with the lower weekend room rates reducing the value of reward stays compared to weekday nights.
This comparison of Tuesday night hotel rates and Friday night hotel rates exemplifies the high prices in downtown San Francisco for weekends in 2013. Several years from 2008-2011 saw weekend rates far lower than weekdays for downtown hotels. Hotel recession over in San Francisco?
Marriott brand Hotels Room Rates in San Francisco Bay Area
- SF Bay Area, $221 average rate on Tuesday night (12 hotels).
- San Francisco downtown, $293 average rate on Tuesday at 9 hotels($244 excluding Ritz-Carlton).
- SF Bay Area, $122 average rate on Friday night (12 hotels).
- San Francisco downtown $267 average rate on Friday at 9 hotels($249 excluding Ritz-Carlton).
These room rates averaging over $200 per night mean Marriott Rewards points offer great value for San Francisco Bay Area hotels on weekday nights. That is typical for the entire Bay Area region, particularly in the Silicon Valley areas of San Jose where many hotels drop from $240 to under $100 on weekend nights.
Weekends are a good time to earn points on low rates in the Bay Area if you are not planning to stay in San Francisco.
The high room rates in San Francisco hotels means Marriott Rewards points will likely bring good redemption value for reward stays.
Finding redemption value in the $10 per 1,000 points range is looking hard to find in San Francisco. This first city survey shows Marriott Rewards points have redemption value in the range of $4.50 to $10.00 per 1,000 points.
Studying more cities will hopefully narrow this range and come closer to finding the value of Marriott Rewards points.
More comparisons with Hilton HHonors hotel rewards will come after I sample Marriott Rewards hotel reward rates in other locations.