In Sep 2016, Marriott completed its US$13 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels, making it the world’s largest chain. They continue to run their loyalty programs separately. However, on 16th April 2018, Marriott announced that all the three programs will be merged into one account, starting from August 2018. All earning and spending benefits will be unified, and some time in early 2019, Marriott will give the unified program a new identity (name).
The new Marriott program will have five elite tiers:
- Silver Elite: 10-24 nights
- Gold Elite: 25-49 nights
- Platinum Elite: 50-74 nights
- Platinum Premier Elite: 75-99 nights
- Platinum Premier Elite with Ambassador service: 100+ nights plus US$20,000 of qualifying spend
The earning and redemption structures will also be changing. There are too many changes to mention in this post. You can get full details on Marriott website:
I have a vested interest in Marriott Rewards by way of American Express Platinum card. Through the latter, I gained SPG Gold, which in turn, after linking my Marriott Rewards with my SPG Gold, I automatically gained Marriott Gold Elite. As is today, Marriott Gold is extremely valuable because it guarantees executive lounge access, breakfast and 4pm late check out.
However, when the unified program comes into effect, SPG Gold will become Gold Elite (new). The new Gold Elite does not extend benefits such as lounge access, free breakfast and 4pm check out. In order to receive these benefits, you have to be at the new Platinum Elite level. My travel pattern simply does not allow me to get close to staying 50 nights in the Marriott chain annually. This means my patronage of Marriott will trickle to almost nothing. Well, it was fun while it lasted.
But all is not lost with American Express Platinum. We still have Hilton Honors Gold, although it is a pale shadow of the existing Marriott Gold. Hilton Gold guarantees you breakfast, and sometimes, when you are lucky, you will get rooms on executive floor which in turn will grant you access to the lounge (especially true in Asia).