We love to hear stories from our readers about how a passion for collecting miles and points and sharing all sorts of do-it-yourself information on our site has affected their lives. Honeymoon plans in the works, celebrating an anniversary in the Maldives, a gift to their parents, a vacation to Srinagar or Singapore or just that premium airline seat that they secured on redemption. We’ve heard many such stories, and this year we are trying to share more of these stories with you.
One of the biggest debates people have with me is about hotel status. So this time around, we highlight a story from reader Jitu Hemlani, who layered a few technicalities to get quick status with Marriott. Read on.
Editor’s note: The events in this article occurred before the second wave of the pandemic in India. At this time, we don’t advise you to travel unless necessary.
Towards the end of 2020, I came across an article on LiveFromALounge.com about a status challenge for Marriott Bonvoy Platinum was available, based on other hotel’s loyalty program status and providing a copy of a folio of stay with that hotel chain within the last 12 months.
Status Matching from Hilton Gold to Marriott Platinum Elite
I became Hilton Honors Gold by staying at two different hotels and paying with Visa Infinite card in 2019. Hilton extended the Hilton Honors status in 2020 as most hotel chains did. I had no stay with them in the previous 12 months. In November 2020, I had to travel for a night and decided to book Hilton so I could use that to take up the Marriott Bonvoy Platinum status challenge.
Within a couple of days of applying, I received a confirmation email stating that Marriott Bonvoy had provided me with 90 days of Platinum Elite status.
During this period, I had to stay 15 nights to continue as a Platinum till February 2023. My work-related travel had started in December (2020). So I was sure I would be able to do at least Gold with a stay of 8 nights but still wasn’t confident of finishing 15 nights. So I made sure that even if there was a 1-night stay during any of my trips, it would be at a Marriott to complete the status challenge.
I travelled to Mumbai and Delhi and a couple of stays for some work in Ahmedabad as well. During this time, most of my stays were at:
- Courtyard by Marriott Mumbai
- Four Points by Sheraton Ahmedabad
- Four Points by Sheraton Delhi
- Le Meridien Gurgaon
Usually, I would book hotels closer to my work area. However, I would stay at a Marriott property during these three months, even though I had to travel more. The hotels were running on low occupancy and had offers running most of the time. For each of my stays, I could book between INR 2200 to INR 3700 per night, including taxes. So, I wasn’t spending any additional money to stay at these hotels. It was lower than what I would pay at my usual stay hotels in some cases.
I also used a voucher for a 30% discount on the room rate for Club Marriott membership, which is complimentary with HDFC Diners Club Black annual benefits. The 20-30% discounted nights for Club Marriott members counts towards elite nights. Unfortunately, I realised this only when two nights were left in my status challenge.
During this period, all the hotels provided me with the perks of a Platinum Elite guest. All stays were upgraded to a suite room. There wasn’t any request needed. All these hotels acknowledged the perks associated with a Platinum guest. Sometimes even before check-in, while pulling up the reservation on the Marriott app, I would notice the room has been upgraded already.
After finishing the 15 stays, I received an email from Bonvoy confirming my Platinum status till February 2023.
From Platinum Elite to Titanium Elite
The only drawback to this challenge was I didn’t get the 50% bonus nights credits of 2020. I should have received another five nights due to my last year’s silver status with Marriott Bonvoy. On following up, I found out anyone who had taken up a status challenge before December 31, 2020, and was still pending to be completed, wouldn’t receive these bonus nights.
However, a week later, I got an additional 25 nights bonus credit; this was towards 50% bonus nights of Platinum elite status as of 2020. The status challenge that I completed was actually taken up in November 2020. When the status was achieved, they gave me a bonus of 25 nights, considering my status as Platinum Elite in 2020. I had no idea regarding this, nor was I informed when I called the Marriott Bonvoy team to credit five bonus nights for my silver status in 2020.
This bonus credit had taken my total nights to 53. A couple of days later, I received another email asking me to select an annual benefit on crossing 50-night stays. I picked additional five elite night credit, taking it to a total of 58 nights. I wasn’t keen on achieving Titanium Elite status till now, but this extra 30-night bonus made the target relatively closer.
Marriott Bonvoy launched a new Double Points and Elite Night credit promotion as soon as my status challenge was completed. Since then, I stayed another seven nights, counting as 14 nights and trying for Titanium Elite as double elite night credits made it easy. Also, the double elite night offer was valid till 27 April; I just had to stay another nine nights to become Titanium Elite.
I already had a three-night stay in Kochi while travelling to Kerala for a vacation with my family. During this trip, I stayed at Le Meridien Kochi & Kochi Marriott. In March-April’20, I had two more work trips for which I stayed at Westin Gurgaon and Courtyard Mumbai Airport. All these stays, too, were upgraded to suites upon arrival. The Platinum Elite status was acknowledged, and I was provided with complimentary breakfast and late checkout.
My actual stays were for 32 nights, and 47 nights were received as a bonus. On achieving Titanium Elite, another annual benefit was offered, for which I selected one free night certificate, which will be valid till December 2022.
I remember my first Mileage Mentor MasterClass with you guys in Mumbai in 2018, where I was introduced to hotel loyalty; until then, I wouldn’t bother about it much. I want to thank you guys for sharing your experiences and giving insights regarding this.
In one of your tweets, you mentioned that loyalty isn’t about the perks or benefits. It’s about how those perks and benefits make you feel. I realise this as I write to you on the last day of my 4-days stay at the Westin Gurgaon, from a 700+ sqft suite room that I got upgraded to as one of the perks of being an Elite guest.
Fortunately, covid cases were low when I travelled during the first quarter of this year, and the double elite night credit made it reasonably easy. I haven’t travelled after the first week of April 2021. That is when things started getting worse. The elite status is valid till February 2023. Hopefully, travelling will return to normal in 2022, and I would be able to use the benefits of this status.
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