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UPDATE: Apparently these updates happened yesterday. Hopefully you were all able to make your reservations awhile ago when the announcement was made!
A few weeks ago I wrote that Marriott is going through their annual category re-assessment and is changing the categories for many of their hotels. Unfortunately, more hotels are moving up a category than down. There is a 35 page list of all the hotels changing and they are alphabetized by hotel name so there is no real way to see a list of hotels moving per region. But they do have it sectioned off my hotels moving down (pages 1-9) vs. hotels moving up (pages 10-35).
This change will take place on March 20, 2015. TODAY is the last day to book a hotel at the current rate for a hotel that is moving up a category. You can typically book 364 days in advance. DO NO FORGET TO BOOK!
After a quick glance at the list, it seems as though there are little “aspirational” hotels moving categories. Many of them are your Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, Courtyard, etc., and while those hotels can be great for redeeming points, chances are if the desired hotel you are looking to stay at went up a category there might be another non-affected Marriott hotel nearby.
Of course any change that is not in the consumers favor is a devaluation of points in my book. And remember, this can affect the free night category 1-5 certificates you earn from the Marriott credit card and the MegaBonus certificates available at a category 1-4 hotel.
The one unique thing with Marriott is that they will allow you to book award stays even if you do not have the points in your account yet. So you can go ahead and book more stays than you have points for as long as you earn the points by the time your stay comes along. This will help you book speculative stays.