In late 2021, we learned that Marriott Bonvoy would be transitioning to a dynamic pricing model as of March 2022. We now have a confirmed date that these changes will kick in: March 29, 2022, along with the details of which properties will be increasing in price.
The changes to Marriott Bonvoy’s pricing are expected to kick in late night Eastern Time on March 29, which means that today is truly your final opportunity to transfer points from other members, top-up if necessary, and secure high-value Marriott Bonvoy bookings under a “category” system at their current rates.
Marriott Bonvoy Properties Increasing in Price on March 29
As a reminder, Marriott Bonvoy plans to slowly turn the screw on customers with its upcoming change to dynamic pricing:
- As of March 2022, all properties will move to dynamic pricing and hotel categories will be abolished, but only 3% of hotels will change from their current minimum and maximum pricing
- As of 2023, all properties’ price points will fluctuate from their current ranges
We now have a sense of the properties that will make up the initial 3%, and a clear date that these changes will kick in: March 29, 2022.
The full list of in-transition properties can be found on the Marriott website. About 200 hotels’ minimum and maximum pricing will increase by up to 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 Bonvoy points.
Note that the increases are relative to each of the properties’ current minimum and maximum price points.
This means that, say, a current Category 8 hotel increasing by up to 30,000 points per night would eventually cost anywhere between 70,000 and 130,000 Bonvoy points per night (although I’d assume the pricing will tend towards the higher end of the spectrum). Indeed, Marriott states that “at about 30 of these hotels, point redemption rates may rise above previous Category 8 rates during peak times.”
With changes applying as of March 29, you’ll have until that date to lock in any bookings under the current pricing. If you need to modify a reservation after March 29, you’ll be subject to the new dynamic pricing, whatever it may be.
Which Top Hotels Are Increasing in Price?
Looking at the list of affected hotels, it comes as no surprise that many of our “dream” Marriott Bonvoy redemptions fall on the list somewhere.
For example, the all-inclusive Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai, the iconic St. Regises in New York, the Maldives, and Bora Bora, the cliffside paradise at Mystique Santorini, and the chic ski chalet of W Verbier are all increasing by up to 20,000 Bonvoy points per night.
As these were Category 8 properties to begin with, that means we can now expect to shell out up to 120,000 points per night at these top locations.
Perhaps it’s somewhat surprising that these aspirational spots didn’t make it onto the list of 30,000-point increases, which is instead dominated by a host of less interesting United States properties, plus a few longtime favourites like the Bodrum EDITION.
At the end of the day, Marriott’s dynamic pricing is meant to balance the value proposition of the program against the costs of running it, so it makes sense that the properties with the highest occupancy rates will see the most significant increases, since this results in the greatest compensation costs from Marriott to the hotel when a guest stays on points – and not necessarily the properties with the biggest “dream” factor.
(Indeed, it comes as no surprise to me that Hawaii resorts make up a big chunk of the 30,000-point jumps, as the demand from domestic US travellers in both cash and points appears to remain insatiable over the next few years.)
Note that occupancy rates are a key factor here, rather than necessarily the cash price. Some of the hotels that will be costing more points actually have fairly reasonable cash rates, so there won’t necessarily be a rush to redeem your points there compared to other rising hotels.
Check out the below article for a more comprehensive look at the properties you should consider booking before March 29 that are currently a great deal relative to their cash prices.
Free Night Award Top-Offs Coming April 2022
As part of last year’s whirlwind of Bonvoy announcements, we also learned that we’d have the ability to top-up our Free Night Awards by up to 15,000 Bonvoy points in “early 2022”. There’s now a firmer timeline for this feature, which should kick in as of April 2022.
It’s a bit of a shame that we won’t have the ability to combine a Free Night Award with up to 15,000 Bonvoy points to book some of the hotels that may be subject to the dynamic pricing soon – but knowing Bonvoy, this was always the more likely timeline.
Come April 2022, though, 97% of properties will remain at their current price points even though hotel categories will be gone, so we’ll be able to redeem a Free Night Award worth 35,000 points towards any property that costs up to 50,000 points, a Free Night Award worth 50,000 points towards any property that costs up to 65,000 points, and so on.
About 200 properties will see their minimum and maximum prices adjust upwards by 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, or 30,000 Bonvoy points, with about 30 properties potentially rising above the current nightly maximum of 100,000 Bonvoy points on peak dates.
Meanwhile, Free Night Award top-ups will arrive as of April 2022, offering some additional flexibility in the Bonvoy program as we await potential further pricing manipulations in 2023.