Listen up, Marriott Bonvoy loyalists, the program just announced new changes centered around two brands: Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy and Four Points Express by Sheraton.
Last year, Marriott announced it would be launching Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy, described in a press release as “a soft brand approach to serviced apartments” in the premium and luxury space “designed for travelers who enjoy unique, local experiences but don’t require all the services and amenities associated with a traditional premium hotel stay.”
Not to be confused with the previously existing Marriott Executive Apartments brand, Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy will be more focused on leisure travelers looking for more of an upscale, locally-inspired ambience on extended stays with the conveniences of home, like full kitchens and laundry facilities.
While details about the yet-to-launch offering are still sparse, we now know how they will be integrated into the Marriott Bonvoy program as the terms and conditions of the program have been updated to reflect the following, according to a Marriott Bonvoy spokesperson:
- All Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy properties will participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program.
- Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy properties will offer exclusive member rates and complimentary Wi-Fi.
- Given the expected average length of stay, members will receive 5 base points per dollar spent on qualifying charges plus qualifying bonus points based on status. In addition, they will earn one Elite Night Credit per each stay night.
- Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy properties will convert points to miles for members who set their earning preference as miles.
- The Elite Welcome Gift will be 500 Marriott Bonvoy Points per stay for Gold and 1,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per stay for Platinum and above.
- Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy is included in the program’s Ultimate Reservation Guarantee and Guaranteed Room Type, including compensation.
- Platinum Elite members and above will receive guaranteed late checkout of 2 p.m. and as late as 4 p.m. based on availability.
- The 48-Hour Guaranteed Room Availability applies to standard rooms only.
- Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy properties do not include lounges nor provide free breakfast because each apartment will offer residential amenities, including full kitchens, dining and living areas and separate bedrooms, as well as common workout areas.
At the moment, Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy still appears to be in the development phase, with the only real publically available information about the previously-announced brand on Marriott’s hotel development website. But that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of work happening behind the scenes, especially now that Marriott has announced how those stays will factor into its loyalty program.
According to Marriott’s initial announcement of its newest venture into residential rentals, “there is a growing desire for premium accommodations that provide home-like amenities.” And while Airbnb certainly is the mainstream go-to in the space, it’s exciting for points-and-miles enthusiasts to have a space to earn points and elite-qualifying nights for stays in home rentals that are more unique and individual than corporate housing or an extended-stay property like Residence Inn.
It should also provide a more high-end alternative to Marriott’s more budget-minded extended-stay brands such as Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites. It also seems like Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy will be more standardized options (granted with choices like one-, two- and three-bedroom accommodations) than Homes and Villas by Marriott, which are essentially residences that you can book through Marriott’s platform. In fact, Marriott even said that these new rentals will offer “a design approach similar to the company’s successful Autograph Collection and Tribute Portfolio lodging brands, which offer consumers independent, uniquely distinguished hotel experiences.”
Interestingly, Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy stays will earn 5 points per dollar, much like stays at Marriott’s other extended-stay and moderate-to-budget-range labels like Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Element, as well as Homes and Villas. But that’s still double what you earn on stays at Marriott Executive Apartments (2.5 points per dollar on qualifying charges).
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Will it be the next Airbnb? Unlikely. But will it be a smart alternative for people who want to pocket something or earn more for a residential stay? It appears so.
Four Points Express by Sheraton
Other changes to Marriott Bonvoy’s terms and conditions are centered around Four Points Express by Sheraton, Marriott’s 33rd (yes, 33rd!) brand, announced in September. Focusing on locations largely in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (the first location will open in Turkey next year), this midscale brand is set to win over travelers looking for an affordable but comfortable experience. Guests will receive a pared-down loyalty experience that includes:
- Earn 5 base points per dollar spent on qualifying charges.
- One elite night credit for every two qualifying nights for each qualifying stay completed.
- For the Elite Welcome Gift, Platinum, Titanium, and Ambassador Elite members staying at a Four Points Express may choose to receive either complimentary breakfast for each night of their stay for themselves, plus one or 500 bonus points per stay.
As more and more budget-friendly brands are being announced, we’re not shocked to see Marriott cracking down on elite-qualifying nights for more affordable stays. Earlier this year, Marriott announced that it was taking a similar approach to halving elite-qualifying nights at Protea Hotels, a chain found mostly in Africa.
These new changes offer some good news and some not-so-shocking news. For travelers who spend a lot of time on the road in residential-style accommodations, the loyalty benefits of booking through Apartments by Marriott Bonvoy are solid, and the value proposition of renting through Marriott instead of somewhere like Airbnb is obvious: a pathway to earning status and points that can be used on future stays at hotels or residences. But that will also likely depend on how those listings actually end up pricing out once bookings become available, as well as how quickly Marriott is able to ramp up its offerings and open new locations.
As for Four Points Express by Sheraton, it’s too bad that one night’s stay doesn’t equal one elite-qualifying night. But hey, at least earning elite night credits on multi-night stays is better than nothing.