I am in a year of limbo. While I watched friends lose hope in their faithful travel partners over the years, mine were the last to go: American Airlines and Hyatt Hotels. Hyatt practically begged their customers to look elsewhere, and so I did. I just didn’t realize how much I would find on the other side. Marriott publishes status matches to Gold for just about anyone, but did you know they also offer challenges to Platinum? There is an update to some newly discovered restrictions to this offer here.
Marriott Will Match, But Not Much
Marriott Hotels openly offers a status match to Gold (just call and ask). When asking which programs they match, the reps I spoke with only mentioned United and she needed a supervisor to execute the challenge. She had not heard of anything beyond a Gold level match and no other programs besides SPG and United. After speaking with a supervisor over the phone, I was able to match without even providing the documentation to show my status in another program. While I am sure that documentation is part of the process (and I would have no problems furnishing their request) none was required to activate this unpublished challenge when done over the phone. I confirmed several times that the challenge was underway and that my progress matched my records – it was, it worked out perfectly.
Platinum (top-tier) requires just 9 stays in 90 stays. There are two interesting tidbits in this threshold. The first is that Marriott does not measure progress towards status by stays, the only qualification is 75 nights. Why they measure the challenge by stays (something that they do not even track on the website), is a mystery to me, though it worked out for them in my case. My first single stay was 9 nights, which made little progress toward my challenge but was beneficial to the brand. It was also for three rooms as I booked for some co-workers, though just one room counted towards my status stay and nights.
Secondly, the threshold is fairly low. When Hyatt Gold Passport’s challenge was in effect the same 90-day period was in place but 12 nights were required. At that point, Hyatt Gold Passport would award Diamond status based on either 25 stays or 50 nights. During the challenge, it was only nights that qualified but the number was reflective of a pro-ration of what it would take to qualify normally. The same qualifications apply to all but the 1K tier of the United status challenge and any other I have seen.
What Are The Key Benefits?
Most of the benefits Marriott offers their top-tier guests are inline with other programs. Free breakfast, free and fast internet, free upgrades – are really along the lines of other programs, Hilton being one that closely aligns.
I also covered how their top tier matched to IHG and other programs in this post. Because Marriott Rewards Platinum elites will also have an instant status match available to SPG it’s worth noting what SPG (Starwood Preferred Guest) gives their Platinum guests. From the below image two items were cut off: 1) Club/executive lounge privileges where available (Platinum only). 2) SPG Nights Benefits award Platinum members with even more after 50, 75, and 100 nights in a calendar year.
Why Did I Match/Challenge?
For me, the impetus to match was two-fold. The first is to instantly match this across to Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum, which comes with best-available upgrades at checkin. On the Marriott side, Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott hotels are the top of luxury. but while the rest of the chain offers sparse coverage in the true luxury space (a few Edition hotels, some nice Marriotts) SPG is loaded with high-end properties. Sure they have some lower end hotels too (Aloft, FourPoints, etc.) but it’s the St. Regis, Luxury Collection, W, and Le Meridien hotels that fill out the brand profile.
I am always looking for more options. I travel a lot for work. I also travel a lot personally – in essence, our house is more of a storehouse for our goods than it is a home. Based on last year’s activity I have top-tier in Hyatt (old rules), Hilton, and IHG. So far this year I have already re-qualified for IHG, Hilton, Hyatt, and will soon add Marriott/SPG to the portfolio.
I don’t expect this to continue indefinitely but Hyatt has let me know that I might not be the right customer for them. It’s not that I can’t stay the required number of nights, it’s that they don’t have enough properties in enough places, I need a broader brush and frankly, I am feeling a little unwanted by the brand.
Marriott is the largest in the world and adding SPG to the mix made them an easy choice.
Should You Challenge With Marriott?
I think the answer is an easy yes if you can easily rack up nine stays in 90 days, or don’t mind mini-mattress runs. I personally travel enough for business that achieving the nine stays in 90 days wouldn’t be a problem, it was more an issue of whether the properties in which I would stay would stay within budget and be generally in the same areas I had become accustomed. For the most part this was the case.
While I got a nice upgrade at the Ritz-Carlton Shanghai, Pudong, the Caroline Astor suite at the St. Regis Shanghai Jingan was unreal. They are treating a top-tier elite like royalty (something IHG could learn from) and I am honored to be amongst their ranks.
You not only should match and mattress run to get this status, I urge you to do so. I will be earning status for 2019 with the chain the hard way and they have edged out a competitor already for my money and time.
I reviewed three Marriott hotels to-date, all of which were a part of this challenge. The aforementioned St. Regis and Ritz reviews are coming soon. For now, catch up on the following:
Have you had a good experience with Marriott? Do you plan on status matching to their program or others?