Marriott Suite Night Awards Shenanigans

59

On last weekend’s Frequent Miler on the Air podcast, I relayed a story about something weird that happened to me recently regarding Marriott Suite Night Awards. It later occurred to me that the story is worth sharing on the blog. I have no idea whether this is a widespread problem or something strange I ran into a single time, but it will certainly make me adjust the process I use to determine whether or not I can use a Marriott Suite Night Award.

I recently scored an awesome upgrade at the St Pancras Renaissance London using a Marriott Suite Night Award, but when I tried to use one at a Residence Inn last week, I ran into a weird IT issue that’ll change my approach to checking for SNA availability.

How Marriott Suite Night Awards Work

For those unfamiliar, Marriott offers choice benefits for members who reach 50 elite nights in a calendar year and again at 75 nights. One of the options at both levels is “five suite night awards”. Suite Night Awards are essentially individual certificates that can be applied to upgrade one night of your stay into a suite. These can be very valuable in some circumstances (I recently scored an amazing upgrade at the St Panrcas Renaissance London with a suite night award), but they can also be difficult to use because:

  1. You must have suite night awards to cover every night of your reservation. If you’re staying for 7 nights, you must have 7 suite night awards. You can not just upgrade the first 5 nights or the last 5 nights for instance.
  2. Marriott only begins looking for upgrade space 5 days before your arrival. This limits the utility both because inventory will likely be much more limited and you can’t make plans far in advance counting on having a suite.
  3. Just like with airlines, “upgrade inventory” doesn’t necessarily match “for sale” inventory.
  4. Some properties just don’t accept Suite Night Awards at all

The challenge is not knowing when you can use Marriott Suite Night Awards

That last point above has been the real pain point for me.

I have frequently been annoyed by how few Marriott properties seem to accept suite night awards. For starters, Ritz-Carlton properties do not accept Suite Night Awards at all. However, it isn’t only Ritz properties that refuse to accept them: last year, after an afternoon spend checking around New York City, I found very few properties in Manhattan seemed to allow suite night awards to be applied at all.

More frustrating yet is the fact that it is difficult to determine which properties accept Suite Night Awards. To my knowledge, the only way to know whether or not it’s possible to use a suite night award is to make a reservation and then go into that reservation in the Marriott app or website to see whether you can apply a suite night award(s) to your reservation.

For instance, when a reservation is eligible for a suite night award, you’ll typically see this message in the app:

Once you’ve clicked through, you can choose which rooms you would be willing to accept in exchange for your suite night award.

However, if a reservation has this message, it means that this property does not accept suite night awards:

At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.

The problem with this system is that if you are booking a property where you’ve never tried to use a suite night award, the only way to know whether or not that property accepts suite night awards is to make a reservation and see whether or not you are offered the chance to upgrade it.

In the past, I’ve made countless dummy reservations to test whether various properties accept suite night awards. The process is to pick a random date sometime far in the future and book a fully flexible cash rate, then go into the app and see whether the stay can be upgraded. If it can, then I’ll at least consider booking the date I really want since I know the property accepts suite night awards. If the app gives me the message that I can’t apply a suite upgrade, I’ve assumed they don’t take suite night awards at all. Either way, I cancel the dummy reservation. It has long seemed silly to me that I need to go through the process of making these dummy bookings, but I don’t want to tie up points or free night certificates that may or may not detach properly when I cancel just to test whether or not a property takes suite night awards. I do my test shopping and dummy booking with cash rates.

This past weekend, I stayed at a Residence Inn outside of Rochester, NY and I had a strange thing happen that made me question my method for testing suite night awards.

I needed to be in Rochester for the weekend, but I dragged my feet until about a week beforehand to make a reservation. When I looked at the Residence Inn Rochester West / Greece,  I noticed that while the “standard” room for an award stay (which was 20,000 points) was a studio suite, the property also has a number of both 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom suites. Since I was traveling with my wife and two young kids, I wondered whether my suite night award could be used for one of the 2-bedroom suites.

I just wanted to test whether or not suite night awards could be applied at this property, so I picked a random date in September and I made a dummy booking for the base level studio room. I immediately pulled up the reservation in the Marriott app and saw the button to request an upgrade. When I clicked it to see my upgrade options, I was glad to see that available suite options included a couple of different 2-bedroom suites (one with a fireplace and one without).

Satisfied that I’d be able to try to apply my suite night award, I went ahead and booked the date I really needed (Saturday, August 6th). However, this time when I pulled up the reservation in the Marriott app, I was given the message that my suite night awards could not be used for this reservation.

That didn’t make sense to me — I had been under the impression that a property either participates in Suite Night Awards or doesn’t. I wondered whether properties can limit which dates they are willing to accept suite night awards. I went back to my September reservation for the same property and now the app said that suite night awards could not be applied to that reservation, either.

At this point, I felt like I was losing my mind a bit. Had this not all happened within the space of a few minutes on an afternoon while I was 100% focused on what I was doing, I might have assumed that the mistake was somehow on my end, but in this case I knew I had been looking at the upgrade selection options for the September reservation just moments ago and now the reservation suddenly wasn’t eligible for a suite night award.

I took to the Frequent Miler internal messaging system to air my grievances with the rest of the team. After 10 or 15 minutes of tapping out my frustrations with Marriott, I pulled up the August 6th reservation in the app again to cancel it (I would stay somewhere else if I couldn’t try to upgrade this to a 2-bedroom suite). Wouldn’t you know it, the Residence Inn reservation now gave me the “Go ahead, you’ve earned it, take an upgrade” message. I clicked to upgrade, chose a 2-bedroom suite, and a day or two later I received confirmation that my upgrade to a 2-bedroom suite had cleared. Immediately after submitting my upgrade request, I opened the September booking (which I had not yet canceled) and it was also eligible for a suite night upgrade request once again.

In the end, the stay went fine and we did enjoy a spacious suite. I got the result I wanted, but had I not taken 10 or 15 minutes to whine to my colleagues about the inability to use a suite night award, I would not have realized that I could indeed use one on this reservation after all.

The problem here for me is that when I want to test whether a property accepts suite night awards, I usually go about the entire process quickly. I book a dummy reservation for a date far in the future, open it immediately in the Marriott app, and if I get the message that an upgrade can’t be applied then I usually cancel the dummy booking within minutes and move on to looking for a different hotel (I follow this process when using an upgrade is my primary focus). I don’t know whether my Residence Inn booking hit a rare technical glitch or whether I should generally be giving my reservations time to marinate for a few more minutes before giving up on using a suite night award. Maybe this was a one-time glitch, but given Marriott’s reputation regarding IT, I’ll leave room for the possibility that a one-time glitch repeats at least twice.

In the future, when Marriott says that a suite night award can not be applied to my stay, I will know not to take their word for it immediately; I’ll probably leave my dummy bookings for an hour before cancelling to be surer that I can not use the suite upgrade. That system still doesn’t seem perfect, but it’s the best I’ve got since (to my knowledge) Marriott doesn’t publish a list or any indication as to whether or not a property participates in suite night awards. The user is left to figure it out on their own — and if not for dumb luck, I’d have not figured it out correctly on my most recent stay.

I’ve had a decent success rate with Marriott Suite Night Awards clearing this year. Ironically, stuff like this makes me question the value of a benefit that has worked really well for me on paper. I wish Marriott would just make using Suite Night Awards a smoother and more transparent process so it felt more like a benefit of loyalty and less like winning the lottery when these work out.

4.3 39 votes
Post Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

59 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Lee

Yes, Marriott has some improving with the Shenanigans and IT. I booked a Springhill that took Suite awards but you had to call them and you could not cancel online. Why waste my time with this mess in 2022?

Anthony McIntosh

This happens often to where I had 5 Suite nights expire and when I spoke with the Ambassador Elite reps they said they could do nothing. If I get a matching from Hilton I may switch hotels. Marriott service has deteriorated.

Jm brack

Yes the program has gone downhill. Feels purposefully done. Painful to try and use and just worthless.

Cl Powers

I was unable to use 4 of my rewards, none of the hotels I stayed at as Plat Elite accepted them. So I forfeited 4 upgrade. So disappointing

Michael

I tried to use my suite night awards for a year at various branded properties. System
Would never confirm my upgrade upon booking, and even by checkin, the award never “became available.” A whole year I was never able to actually use a suite night award.

Shawn S

I’ve had the same issue with using the “reward”. I had 10 last year and every single time I used them I was not able to get an upgrade. At least 7 different locations and none of the upgrades ever cleared. This is the bigger scam that the upgrades themselves are a complete sham.

Brook mich

So also. I have found out if you use the suite night upgrade and check into the hotel and a better room type is available, the hands are tied and u have to stay with whatever room you chose. For instance. We recently stayed at the Orlando world center Marriott. It was a quick one night stay. We used the suite night award. Booked a 1 bedroom suite which was great. Upon check in, they had bigger rooms available, we did an early check in, however they couldn’t upgrade us into one of those rooms bc we had to be in whatever room our suite night upgrade was for! The literally told me it’s sometimes better to NOT use those. If we didn’t have the suite night upgrade booked already they would have put us in a bigger room right when we arrived. We would up having to wait till the room we booked with the upgrade was available. It was fine. Still a lovely stay. I think this also applies for short stays. I don’t think they would have upgraded us to a huge room if it was a longer stay.

Intrepid

Please clarify something for me. Many times while booking, I see only ONE rate available for only ONE type of room. Or, perhaps two rooms — a King vs. 2 queens. I’ve never gotten a Suite Night upgrade. is it absolutely necessary that the booking you make is ALREADY a suite? Are they ONLY upgrading you to a “better” suite?

Giri

No, a suite night award will upgrade you from a standard room to a suite (certain hotels include multiple upgrade options, some may offer a bigger room with better views, instead of a suite).

You do not need to already have a suite booked.

Intrepid

So, how do I add the request? my previous attempts don’t allow me to connect the request to my reservation.

Giri

This post explains the basic process of applying it.

If you aren’t given the option to apply it, either A) You’ve booked an advance purchase rate B) The hotel in question doesn’t accept SNAs C) You don’t have enough SNAs for the number of nights booked (you can’t apply them to a partial stay).

Look at Marriott.com/loyalty/suite-night-awards.mi for info

Intrepid

I’ve gone there before, but it never gave me the opportunity to upgrade. This time, one of two reservations upcoming allowed me to request the upgrade. We’ll see what happens! Thank you so much!

Jack

Have found this benefit almost useless. I use to brag about Marriott customer service, from room attendants to management. No more. Marriott has not been the same since merger with Sheraton. This includes their rewards program.

Sarah Papagelis

Hi Nick – we’ve been traveling for four months now, with some success on using my suite night awards (just enjoyed a great SNA upgrade at the St. Regis in Venice). The glitch you refer to is consistently happening to me, but I just keep checking back until it reverts to eligible.

Jackie

It happened to me also you could never use your free night stay because no hotels participate or they have nothing available so your night stays go to unused add the side it all together or not using it because it doesn’t benefit you

Hilary Diekow

Marriott used to stand for service…I have recently been very disappointed with their properties as well as their customer service. Marriott is not what it used to be

Laureen Tracey

I was happy to run across this article to see I’m not the only one who is less than pleased with Marriott I am only a meer Gold Elite member and can’t even manage to get a room with a veiw upgrade when it’s more then obvious there’s plenty of vacancies available This has happened on my last 3 stays in Santa Fe Coronado and Colorado Springs

Jake

A “benefit” that is rarely available to use. It’s the Marriott way to provide “customer service”. Hotel programs are on par with airline loyalty programs at this point and that isn’t a good thing.

Dennis singh

I had an even weirder scenario. Made a dummy booking with a flex rate and it gave me the option to use SNA. I made another non refundable booking for the same dates and it didn’t give me the option. I had both reservations intact and contacted both the property and Marriott to see why one was eligible and one wasn’t. They both had absolutely no idea and after escalating to IT they got back to me saying they still had no idea. Eventually they agreed to just upgrade me so I kept the SNA and they just expired. Marriotts IT at its finest.

B. Merrick

I will be staying at the Westin Cape Town next week. When I reserved the dates I asked for suite upgrades however when I recently checked the app is said suite night upgrades were not accepted at this property. I just received an email from the property that my suite night upgrades had been granted. Who knows what I will get when I arrive!

S. Clemons

Now your experience is very weird. B/c it was only yesterday that I received an email from Marriott stating that the suite night upgrade was unavailable so they are returning my 4 suite night rewards. The only thing is this was for a stay I did in Atlanta back in June 2022 and here it is now August. I phoned customer service and they couldn’t explain it either. So now I guess I have four more suite nights. Funny happenings.

Alan

This sounds like the code underlying the Suite Night feature was being updated by the engineering team which made it unavailable for a few minutes. I agree with all the broader points that this should be easier but the momentary unavailability doesn’t reek of evildoing.

[…] Reyes is somehow surprised by Marriott reservations system failures, in this case trying to apply Suite Night Awards. I spent a couple of days this past week battling […]

Tiasmom

I don’t even understand suite night awards. The terms of lifetime platinum clearly state that members are to be assigned an upgraded room anyway. Why do I need to accumulate more “awards” to get what is already promised? I recently requested a suite upgrade at a property and they awarded it. I got there and it was a standard room with 2 queeens. They took all 15 of my suite night awards. Lucky for me they are worthless anyway. Been staying at Marriott 3-4 nights per week for 22 years. I recently started flying and it looks like I’m going to be in the same boat with Delta. I don’t know how certain people get the upgrades. I have friends that often get nice rooms and first class upgrades. In 22 years I may have gotten upgraded to a really nice room at Marriott 3 times.

Ben

You are very unlucky.
I got frequently upgraded with Marriott (with or without SNA). Sometimes you get a minor upgrade (room with a better view), and sometimes a real upgrade to a much larger space.

Jake

I’m with you. I’m Lifetime Titanium and almost never get upgraded. I was upgraded routinely before the Bonvoy mess was rolled out. I’ve started just choosing hotels based on best location during my travels instead of brand loyalty. 20+ years of staying a couple hundred nights annually at Marriott hotels is now a mix with Hilton, IHG, ShangriLa and Mandarin.

As far as the airline guess, I’ve flown United as first choice for decades and it’s rare I don’t get upgraded. They seem to value loyalty although the US flag carriers are nothing to brag about compared to overseas airlines.

Gary

I have been a Marriott Bon Voy member for 20+ years. Two years ago I had over 50 nights in a Marriot Hotel and achieved a Platinum Elite status.

Over the last year I have tried on numerous occasions to use my status and points for upgrades and suite night awards. Not once was I able to use these all edged benefits. They are of no value if they cannot be used notwithstanding the Marriot hype.

In addition I have found the quoted room rates in some location unreasonably high (I.e. Danville, VA) and additional fees (parking, resort, occupancy taxes) adding substantially to the actual cost of rooms.

These factors plus some questionable lapses in service have resulted in cancelling my Chase Bon Voy credit card and stop staying at Marriott Hotels.

Duaneger

I’ve been using the exact same “process” to find hotels that accept my Suite Night Awards. I miss SPG. Seemed like practically every hotel accepted it and almost always cleared, but now with Marriott we have to play these games. When I was Ambassador Elite, I just asked my rep to figure it out and he’d call several hotels for me and tell me which ones to book.

Anyhow, I feel the value of the suite night awards are trash. Rarely clears for me and I’ve had to let several expire. I even had a hotel cancel mine a few months in advance; I’d get a message saying “unfortunately we couldn’t find any upgrade.” A week before, I’d be like ok, but months in advance?? Ugh…

C K

Marriott ‘checks ‘ the system automatically for upgrade at a certain time daily 5 days out.

Hotels know this certain time and many remove the suites from availability during that particular hour, then magically they reappear an hour later available to book cash rates. I have seen this dozens of times.

Hotels game the system to avoid SNA clearing and marriott knows this.

I always get better walk up upgrades vs SNAs that I can’t ever successfully use.

Scam in my opinion.

David L

I am ambassador Elite with Marriot and I find their reward system has much to be desired and really should just be scrapped. Their “room upgrades” are a total joke overall and I stopped trying to use my 10 Suite nights, as my experience was just like yours (you are obviously persistent and patient, so contrats and THANK YOU for passing along your experience!).
Marriot should take a lesson from British Airways and their rewards program. I know it’s an airline but you do actually feel as though your dedication to the brand pays off.
If it were not for the Ritz-Carlton brand, I would not actually be that loyal.

Safe travels eveyone!

Last edited 1 month ago by David L
C K

Marriott ‘checks ‘ the system automatically for upgrade at a certain time daily 5 days out.

Hotels know this certain time and many remove the suites from availability during that particular hour, then magically they reappear an hour later available to book cash rates. I have seen this dozens of times.

Hotels game the system to avoid SNA clearing and marriott knows this.

I always get better walk up upgrades vs SNAs that I can’t ever successfully use.

Scam in my opinion.

Travis

I’ve had similar problems. I book, suite nights not available, however I go the site (not the app) and the option is there. Maybe it’s an app problem.

John

I have always had my suite night awards clear when there’s availability. I always heard people complain and figured it was a “them” problem. This year I had exactly 1 clear out of many requests. I’m over this game. Booked a Hyatt for New Years and immediately claimed a grand suite with a view. Bye bye Marriott, bye bye. Lifetime plat, what a joke.

Last edited 1 month ago by John
Bob

I had 5 SNAs expiring so attempted to use 2 of them. Both upgrade requests where “rejected” by Marriott hours b4 arrival. On check in to 1st hotel they said we cant upgrade you Marriott denied it.. I had 1 hour to kill so called Marriott they said no its the property. I went back to desk and she spoke to Marriott rep for 30 mins until I was upgraded to the suite. They claimed Marriott system cancelled my request. Marriott claimed it was them etc etc.

2nd property upon arrival said they have no info then I showed them screenshot from my phone and said they cant accept that “I might have made it up”, but we can give you a better room etc.

Its just not worth it. Next time I am taking the 5 nights.

John

I’m taking the dumb 5 nights also… don’t need them because I’m over 600 but gets me closer to titanium again without stays

Russell Cain

It has become simple for me. I don’t bother with the upgrades anymore. Nor do I book Marriott, same with Delta btw, if there is an alternative, as these two particularly, have decided the loyalty doesn’t need to go both ways.

Ivan Y

there is an easy way to do that without doing all of those manual reservations. There is an entity object that you can call in the console and apply the SNA that way. Just need to know a bit about html/js. It took me 1 min to apply SNA to a hotel that did not authorize it. Sadly their developers suck big time. Their code is horrible

CericRushmore

This is wild. Did it actually get suite night award approved in the end?

Shay

This is not super new but it has been going on since the complete revamp of the app. The app is super glitchy. I use your method as well, for years, and still do, but just do it on a desktop. Hope that helps

Shay

Hmm message didn’t post it seems.

Ohh. That’s a first. Hast happened to me…yet. #bonvoyed

John

This happens to me all the time also, I check multiple times.

Michael Tarlow

Suite night awards are as dynamic (if not more) than pricing. I have had suite night requests canceled without notice. I have called because a suite night requests that I made mysteriously disappear only to be told by an agent that it still shows in the system. I have had suite night requests show on the website but not in the app. Once I even called to see if I could use a suite night where they said it could not be used and they called the property and got it approved. Suite nights are strictly at the whim; and I use that term intentionally. In Hawaii I missed out on a better upgrade because there was a better room available than the one I had selected for my suite night and they told me I hadn’t requested it. I always watch availability of better rooms for the duration of my stay leading up to my check in date and take solice that if better rooms are available when I check in I will usually be upgraded (but that’s a whole other story for another day).

Bill K

This technical glitch happens to me almost every time. I find it happens a lot less on their website than on the app

iviv

I guess you are not aware of the URL switch trick that allows you to attach SNA’s. Should I post it here?

TCCQuest

Yes, yes please.

Pam

I have had the same SNA inventory issues on many otherwise-eligible Marriott properties. There is no rhyme or reason to why an upgraded room will appear at one moment & not available the next – this on properties I have successfully redeemed awards several times!

I’m glad you are bringing this to the public’s attention, Nick, maybe Marriott will explain to help with planning?

Lone Gunman

Marriott regulars already know that Suite Night Awards can move one up to certain suite types but “signature” and “presidential” suites are usually excluded from the list of targets. But, another nuance of certain Marriott properties that do accept Suite Night Awards is that they can limit which booked rooms are eligible for Suite Night Award use.

For example, the base standard room might be ineligible while a “deluxe” standard room is eligible. Alternatively, let’s say that a booked standard room can be upgraded to a junior suite, one-bedroom, or two-bedroom. But, a booked junior suite might be ineligible to upgrade to a one-bedroom or two-bedroom. The likely rationale is that you already have a suite.

Needless to say, it is catch as catch can.

Pam

That would agree with sometimes trying to apply a SNA to a FNA room – won’t take because is a base room to start.

Brant

I’m Marriott Titanium and my theory is that my chances of being upgraded by applying a suite upgrade certificate to my reservation is never any better than the chances of an upgrade at check in or even before check in without applying the suite upgrade certificate. It’s just a crap shoot. I live near San Antonio and I enjoy the St. Anthony Hotel there for a one night “getaway” occasionally. I’ve tried it both ways there and received a suite both times. So random really. If I traveled with a family like Nick does sometimes, this would be incredibly frustrating for planning purposes. He’s a season professional travel expert. I can only imagine how a novice would feel about this arcane process.

Jon

Likewise. As a Titanium I have noticed a couple things this year.
– My SNA’s starting to just clearing just a day or maybe two before my stay. At this point, I feel like a normal titanium upgrade is only a few more hours away and that I just wasted a SNA.
– My walk up upgrades have been significantly more successful since I’m often pretty flexible on when I need my room ready.

Entrada

Nick, I’ve had similar experiences. I determined that the inability to select a SNA upgrade meant that at that particular time, all the room categories that would normally be identified for a SNA upgrade, were fully booked by paying guests. So the system wouldn’t even offer me the opportunity to upgrade since no rooms were available. If one of those rooms later becomes available, then the SNA opportunity has appeared. So I have learned to check back closer to the date of the res.

Brant

Meaninglessly random. When my suite upgrade certificates clear, I refuse to be thrilled about it and give Marriott the satisfaction that THEY made me happy.
It’s like Mr. Dealgood said in the movie “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”.
“ Now we got a man waiting for sentence. But ain’t it the truth: you take your chances with the law, justice is only a roll of the dice. A flip of the coin. A turn… of the Wheel.”.

CaveDweller

Who has time for their BS ? CHEERs

Michael Tarlow

That’s not the case. On MANY occassions I have seen availability 1 or 2 days out of the same rooms I have requested for my SNA. It’s more likely that they are Sitting on those rooms hope for a last minute booking.