Marriott International
Marriott International purchased Starwood in 2016 and now has more than 6,500 properties in 27 countries. Marriott International also encompasses Ritz Carlton and 29 other hotel brands. Both Marriott and SPG have their own substantial rewards programs, but on August 18th they will merge into one mega-program. We have written before about our loyalty to Marriott and how much we like the current rewards program:

Hotel Brands Explained
Living in Hotels with Loyalty Programs
Best Loyalty Program Bonuses

We are very happy to have used all of our current Marriott points to book a week at the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay. Another bonus of Marriott’s loyalty program that we love is that if you have enough points to redeem for 4 nights you get a 5th night free!!

Loyalty Program Merger
We are also members of the Starwood (SPG) rewards program but have only stayed at SPG hotels once or twice a year. We have been receiving a lot of emails lately explaining the merged program and what changes we can expect. Words are used like ‘elevated’, ‘seamless’ and ‘simplified’ and while we do have trust in the Marriott brand we will not be able to fully understand the impact of the changes to us until we’ve had a few stays after August 18th. Luckily that won’t take us long as we have at least 5 stays in various cities planned this fall.

Benefits (we think)
– With an updated website and new app we will be able to book 30 different hotel brands from the same site. So when we search for hotels in Melbourne, Australia (for example) the search results should be greater.
– We should earn nights and points faster – but only slightly. The few nights that we stay at SPG hotels such as Westin, Sheraton, Four Points, Aloft – will now count towards our rewards.
– One of the benefits that has been emailed to us several times is the new ability to earn points on dining, spa and others services in addition to the cost of your room. This benefit already exists for Marriott so it must not currently for SPG. Pro Tip: Always charge to your room so the hotel knows what type of customer you are!
– We will definitely achieve Platinum status faster because it is dropping from 75 nights per year to 50 nights. However, we are not exactly sure how the benefits of the levels are changing. We are not sure what level will get early an check-in option which is very important to us or if it will be still possible to achieve a lifetime level. We will have to see how things shake out.

For more information on program benefits here is Marriott’s website with more details.

What to do
So if you are a member of both Marriott and SPG programs you will need to COMBINE your accounts after August 18th. There has not been much info on how to do this yet. Just that you will need to do it.

So stay tuned as we go through the process and watch for more blogs about Marriott and any other new hotels we now try!

We, Jeff and Tara Ciecko of CK Golf write two blogs, one is our 19th Hole Blog where we share personal experiences and the other an Industry Blog where we comment on general business and internet marketing best practices, sales strategies and give golf industry related opinions. We have owned CK Golf  for 9 years and provide marketing, social media and business services to the golf and other industries. As of August 2016 our life and our business will be ‘location independent’. Our 19th Hole Blog is about the places we visit and the things we do. If you have any questions or comments, or happen to be in the same location as us please reach out and contact us anytime.