Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest: What’s next?

About 30 hours from now, a new announcement about the future of the Marriott Rewards program is due. If you remember, Marriott completed the merger of Starwood Hotels about two years ago, and once the transaction completed, they chose to stay with the same brands of hotels at least till the time they could figure out a way forward. On day one though, the programs were interoperable regarding the use of Marriott Rewards and Starpoints. Also, members of both programs could get status matched to the other one. At that point in time, the official line was that Marriott does not expect to combine the programs at least through 2018.

The day to hear how the programs move forward, has sort of come tomorrow. Marriott is scheduled to hold a Marriott Rewards event in New York, which will also be live-streamed on Facebook at 4:30 PM EDT (2 AM India on Tuesday). It is expected that the merger of both the programs will be announced tomorrow.

Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest

Via FlyerTalk, we see a flyer which convincingly tells us about the merger of Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest as one program.

Marriott Rewards Flyer

It states:

One powerful programme.

Three different names.

Starting this August, Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and SPG will come together as one programme. For now programme names will stay the same, but everything else will be consolidated. You’ll get easier access and even more opportunities at more than 6,500 hotels across 29 brands, including:

  • Book, earn and redeem points at all participating hotels seamlessly
  • Aligned Elite status and benefits with a 29 brands
  • A simplified experience – one account, profile, log-in and points balance

Explore all the new changes at:

Mostly, it is a giveaway that the programs are merging in August. The rumors then are originating from this text.

a white text on a black background

There has been more speculation as well, but nothing is proven yet.

FWIW speculation on changes to MR as we currently know it, based on discussion with someone in the know at MR but not privy to final decisions:

  • Names of status levels above Platinum have not been confirmed. MR wants to differentiate status levels above platinum to ensure proper recognition and avoid confusion among front line staff. Working names are Platinum 50, Platinum 75 and Platinum 100
  • Instant recognition of status at all levels upon check-in, with arrival points, free HSI, food & beverage vouchers, and choice of other benefits depending on status level
  • Spend requirement for all levels above silver. If spending level not reached, but nights are, status is at appropriate level based on spend.
  • Gold and platinum 50 upgrades limited to preferred level, concierge floor, higher floors, corner rooms, or view rooms at resorts. (No suites!)
  • Guaranteed suite awards (4) per year for platinum 75 and above
  • Guaranteed lounge access only for levels platinum 75 and above
  • Free breakfast at resorts for platinum 75 and above
  • Guaranteed late check-out, 2:00pm for Gold, 3:00pm for Platinum 50, 4:00pm for Platinum 75, Plat 100; resort and conference hotels subject to availability.
  • Platinum guarantees: 48 room guarantee remains, others guarantees are gone (platinum arrival gift, bed type, room type, lounge access, ultimate reservation guarantee)
  • Lifetime status changes coming. If status level not obtained, lifetime status identified in system. New Lifetime Level above Platinum will be added in 2019! Benefits reduced to upgrade to preferred floor for LTG; upgrade, late check-out for LTP
  • Big changes coming to awards! Dynamic award pricing, points required for award night based on hotel room rates at time of booking. No black-out dates, no categories!

Some the items above may wind up on the cutting room floor or may not be implemented until a later date due to IT integration issues. Posted as a point of discussion and not a statement of fact.


Marriott Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest: What’s next?

Here is what I believe could happen:

  • 5-tiered program (best of both worlds for SPG/Marriott Rewards as SPG has five tiers right now
  • A spend-based requirement as well, now that Hyatt has already done it.
  • Stay-based qualification via SPG may go away, and it may become all nights

A lot of other things could happen, but I won’t want to set the rumour mill abuzz.


I am sure all of us are wondering. Moreover, we could be way off base, adding up things that are unrelated. I do hope that Marriott International will not pull the rug from under our feet, or see themselves in such a dominant position that they can pull away from the mid-rung loyalists and turn them over to another company. Just like Hyatt made their members switch to SPG when they made a 60-night requirement to make Diamond nee Globalist.

What do you expect the changes to be coming tomorrow to the SPG/Marriott Rewards/Ritz Carlton program? Put it all here, and let’s see how it goes from there. 

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Agree with Robert. I’ve been top tier for years. I don’t think this is going to be good. I spend over 100+ nights in a year at a hotel but don’t know where that leaves me spend wise. I think it’s horrible that you could spend that amount of time in a hotel, but somehow not be loyal enough.

    I’ll be looking to Hilton. I don’t think Marriott has our best interest at heart for keeping those of us road warriors happy. They can keep the bottle of water.

    Their own site doesn’t even have accurate point accurals and hasn’t for months. My guess is that it’s being worked on because of the merger.

  2. As a lifetime SPG Gold and an SPG Platinum with 10 suite upgrades a year… I would not be happy with the above probable post merger program. 75 or 100 nights are going to be close to impossible

  3. I think that alot of the speculation is correct in one way or another. The spend requirement and the abolishing of stays as a requirement will weed out alot of people. It seems all hospitably programs, airlines and cars included, are now based on revenue, not loyalty. There could be situations where a meeting might get the planner status after one meeting and never go to a Marriott again, but the regular joes who spend night after night and thousands of dollars may fall short.
    I really think the meaning of loyalty has fallen by the wayside. If we want things to go back to the good old days, I hate to say it, but we will have to see a global catastrophe where travel grinds to a halt overnight. Then you will see the promotions and awards come out of the woodwork. Status level requirements will be halved and they will be begging us to come back. Ever since 9/11 the build back to normal travel levels has given most of us great rewards and ability to travel to aspirational destinations and hotels. Time to pay the piper.
    Hilton looks pretty good right now, but they just don’t have the greatest hotels or status recognition. Except in Europe and Asia. They rarely thank me for being Diamond and I never get a suite upgrade, not do they ever discuss it, such as an apology for not being able to upgrade me because the hotel is full. Be that a lie or the truth, acknowledging status always at least gives me a reason to keep booking with them. All I get these days is free internet, a couple of bottles of water and perhaps a free breakfast, continental, mostly. I think if you wanted to add up the cost of those things (internet, water, breakfast, possible better room location) etc on all stays that fall short of attaining a level of loyalty, it would be interesting to see what comes out on top. The dollars spent to attain Diamond or the dollars spent on the extras one would ordinarily get for free.
    It wil also be interesting to see what the new American Express card offers. The new Hilton Aspire card from AMEX, is one of the best cards out there for benefits, and I have most of the big players in my wallet already. I would put the Aspire card just above the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum or equal to it. So hopefully the new Marriott cards will have the same robust bennies, too.

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