Marriott PointSavers

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort and Spa in Dana Point, California is on the current PointSavers list for discount award nights using points from March 1 through April 30, 2009.  That property caught my eye.

Marriott PointSavers are discount hotel stay awards where the limited time special offer is one redemption category reduction in the cost of points for a free night.    

Laguna Cliffs Marriott is a Marriott Rewards Category 6 and regularly 30,000 points per night.  For the upcoming two months the nightly PointSavers rate is the regular rate for a Category 5 hotel or 25,000 points per night.  Even Ritz Carlton hotels participate in PointSavers.

The new 2009 Marriott Rewards redemption chart has the feature of a 5th night free.  The Rewards member only pays points for 4 nights on hotel stays of 5 nights.  Fifth night free also applies to PointSaver hotel rewards. 

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort is only 100,000 points for 5 nights during the March-April PointSaver Reward period.  A Marriott Rewards Category 6 property for 20,000 points per night is even lower than the regular 2008 redemption rate.  

The 2008 rate would have been 110,000 points for a 5 night stay at the Category 6 Laguna Cliffs Marriott during regular redemption periods or 95,000 points during a PointSavers period.  The 2009 redemption changes are not bad for this particular example of a Category 6 hotel for five nights on a PointSaver rate.

Although for a reality check, consider a four night stay at a Category 6 hotel on a PointSavers will cost 100,000 points now and would have only been 80,000 points in 2008.  A 25% increase in points hurts.

Redemption Castles in the Sand

Last month Marriott Rewards introduced  its new redemption chart for free hotel nights using points.  The change eliminated, from a consumer viewpoint, the strong competitive advantage Marriott Rewards had over Hilton, IHG, and Starwood for discounted multi-night hotel stays at high end hotels. 

In 2008 the high Category 7 hotels were 35,000 points for one free night using points.  Discounts on multi-night stays using points reduced the rate for a 7 night stay to 150,000 points.  Marriott Rewards was the bastion of the great one week bargain vacation when you could get a hotel stay redemption for a top category hotel vacation at 150,000 points. 

The drawback to Rewards members’ dream getaways was capacity controls for hotel redemptions at the lower points rates and the possibility of needing double points for a StayAnytime Reward – a whopping 300,000 points for a 7 night stay at a Category 7 resort — was a real obstacle at times to getting your hotel reservation.

A Category 7 Marriott brand hotel at 35,000 points per night is now 140,000 points for 5 nights in 2009 and 210,000 points for a 7 night stay.  60,000 additional points, a 40% increase in the cost of a one week award at a Marriott Hotel, is a real hit in the account balance of Marriott Rewards members.

And if your dream getaway was one of the 14 hotels to move up to the newly established Category 8 level, then a 5 night stay will now be 160,000 points.  The Marriott Rewards member will pay 10,000 more points than required for a 7-night stay in 2008 for two fewer nights in 2009. 

That beach resort vacation may take several more thousands of dollars in hotel spending in 2009. The consumer takes another one on the chin in 2009.

The bright side for 2009 is beach resort rates are plummeting. This may be the year to concentrate points spending on the low tier properties which are holding average room rates much better than resorts. 

You might be surprised at some of the incredible room rate bargains in 2009 where spending a large amount of points on a high category hotel could provide a relatively low value.

Marriott Rewards says your consumer advantage for the 2009 changes is greater access to those hotel rooms in the Marriott system.  When so many hotels are at 50% occupancy I really wonder how much of a concession “No Blackouts” is in these economic times. 


Related link: Marriott Rewards Analysis of 2009 Program Changes 

This report has a modified chart showing both 2008 redemption points and 2009 redemption points.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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  1. I stayed with my family at the Laguna Cliffs Marriott for two nights after Christmas last year for 60k points. I reserved a suite online, not realizing they were also going to charge us $250 extra/night for the suite – here is some text from their emailed confirmation:
    Room type: 1 Bedroom Executive Suite, 1 King, Coastline view, Balcony
    Number of rooms: 1

    Summary of Room Charges Cost per night per room (USD)
    …( 2 nights )
    Marriott Rewards Upgrade, deposit required
    Additional fees may apply. Plus tax when applicable.
    On-site parking, fee: 24 USD daily
    Valet parking, fee: 27 USD daily

    To insure that you receive this special rate, we will charge your credit card a prepayment of 462.38 USD.
    Please note that only credit card prepayments are accepted.

    On check-out we discovered we owed another $500 on a stay that we thought was going to be free. It wasn’t clear to me from the email that the prepayment was for a total fee of $500. I thought it was a deposit of some kind to be refunded when I gave them my certificate. However, since no one had explained that to us when we first arrived, the manager ended up letting it go. Whew!

    Have you got a blog post on these extra fees that Marriott (and perhaps other chains?) charges on top of points for special rooms?

  2. I have not written about charges for specialty rooms. In fact, a reader months ago asked me to write about nonrefundable deposits associated with canceled award stays, specifically with regards to suite awards.

    I have had free award rooms that would have cost over $600 in cancellation fees if I had been unable to show. That wipes out the meaning to a free award.

    Last year in Scottsdale at the Westin Kierland Resort I had a similar situation of being upgraded to a full suite on a SPG Cash & Points award and then having a $50 charge for the suite upgrade on my folio the next day.

    I argued this point with the front desk agent who said it was the hotel policy to charge for upgrades. My argument was simply that while the fee was reasonable and a good value, I was never informed I was being charged for an upgrade. In my hundreds of stays with Starwood, I had never been charged an upgrade before.

    The charge for the upgrade was removed.

    I’m glad that you had a reasonable Marriott manager on site to remove the charge.

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