This may be a bit of a niche case, but it neatly illustrates my frustration at Marriott's recently announced changes to hotel categories, as someone who typically stays at Marriott properties 3-4 times per year when visiting Portland, OR.
There are currently 4 Marriott properties in downtown Portland west of the river. Here are their current award categories:
- Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront: Category 6;
- Portland Marriott City Center: Category 6;
- Courtyard Portland City Center: Category 5;
- Residence Inn Portland Downtown/RiverPlace: Category 5.
I usually stay at the Courtyard Portland City Center using my MegaBonus award certificates and annual free night certificates from the Chase Marriott Rewards Premier Visa.
Here are the new categories for those properties, starting April 8, 2014:
- Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront: Category 7;
- Portland Marriott City Center: Category 7;
- Courtyard Portland City Center: Category 6;
- Residence Inn Portland Downtown/RiverPlace: Category 6.
In other words, it will no longer be possible to use any free night certificates at any Marriott property in Portland's downtown. It may as well be New York City!
East of the river, the Residence Inn Portland Downtown/Lloyd Center is moving from Category 4 to 5 and the Courtyard Portland Downtown/Convention Center is remaining at Category 5, so it will be possible to use some free night certificates at those properties.
Personally, from now on I'll be using my Hilton HHonors points to stay at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower, which remains a terrific value for Cash + Points bookings at $65 and 16,000 HHonors points per night, including a credit towards breakfast in the restaurant as a Gold elite with Hilton.
In any case, check your own favorite Marriott properties to see whether you'll still be able to use your free night certificates there starting April 8.