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Archive for the category “Marriott”

MegaBonus Returns for Spring 2014!

It’s that time again, folks!  That’s right. The Marriott Mega Bonus is right around the corner again!  You could earn up to two free nights!

Marriott MegaBonus Returns

Marriott MegaBonus Returns

The Conditions:

To be eligible, you must register before March 31, and stay between February 1 and April 30, 2014.

You earn a free night at a Category 1-4 hotel after the second paid stay, up to 2 nights.


Marriott Hotel Categories

You can find links to each of these hotel categories, below:

Marriott Category 1
Marriott Category 2
Marriott Category 3
Marriott Category 4

What Defines a “Stay”?

  • consecutive nights (aka more than 1) spent at the same hotel
  • the stay must occur between February 1 and April 30, 2014
  • only one room per hotel is counted towards member’s stay

The Conditions:

As mentioned, the bonus nights earned can be redeemed for future stay at any participating category 1-4 Marriott hotel, in a single or double occupancy room.  And bonus nights cover the cost of room and applicable room taxes only.  Free nights earned are not transferable to another member, andexpire one year after date of issuance.

Please allow 3-5 business days after your second qualifying stay for the bonus to post to your Marriott Rewards account.

Is This a Good Deal?

No, in my opinion, this is a great deal!  Honestly, what other hotel program regularly allows you to earn a free night for every nights stayed?  Be sure to take advantage!


Marriott MegaBonus Promotion Returns

While Marriott consistently gets bad press from other bloggers, it is my opinion that Marriott is undervalued and consistently delivers.  One example is their quarterly Mega Bonus Promotion.

Anyway, Marriott’s MegaBonus Promotion has returned.  After Who doesn’t love a chance to get free nights, for just two stays!

Marriott Rewards MegaBonus gives you more power to earn.


This is actually the announcement of the fall/winter MegaBonus, where you can earn a free night at any Category 1-5 property worldwide, for every two (separate) stays at Marriott properties.  The spring MegaBonus runs at participating Marriott hotels between September 15, 2013 and January 15, 2014.


Unfortunately, there is a limit of 2 free nights, but I suppose one could use separate Marriott Rewards accounts if they were desperate…  Just make sure to register by November 15, 2013Full Terms & Conditions can be found on Marriott’s website.

Marriott Announces Spring MegaBonus Promotion

It’s back, the much anticipated announcement of Marriott’s MegaBonus Promotion.  OK, when isn’t Marriott running a MegaBonus promotion?  Regardless of how often they have it, I still think it’s a great deal, and never get tired of earning free nights!


            THE OFFER:

This is actually the announcement of the spring MegaBonus, where you can earn a free night at any Category 1-4 property worldwide, for every two (separate) stays at Marriott properties.  The spring MegaBonus runs at participating Marriott hotels between February 1 and April 30, 2013.


           TERMS & CONDITIONS:

Unfortunately, there is a limit of 3 free nights, but I suppose one could use separate Marriott Rewards accounts if they were desperate…  Just make sure to register by March 15, 2013.  Full Terms & Conditions can be found on Marriott’s website.


But is this really a good deal?  As loyal blog readers, you probably already know that Marriott provides tons of value in their Marriott Rewards program.  One of the best uses, both from the perspective of a little research and my own experience, is to use this at the Renaissance Meadowlands hotel in New Jersey.

 2-Ren Meadowlands

You may be think “Why the heck New Jersey?” and I don’t blame you.  But here’s the deal, the New York metropolitan area has the highest hotel rates of any city in the US.  I did a random search, and it turns out the property has a steep rate compared to most other Marriott properties, let alone Category 4s:

 Ren Rates

While I generally prefer to be located in the heart of a city when I visit, this property (coincidently booked using a MegaBonus award) proved to be a great base for me to visit New York City, after attending the Freddies and Frequent Traveler University back in April.  Only about 10 minutes after walking across the street and catching a bus, I found myself in middle of Manhattan. 

And beyond that, as most Renaissance hotels are, it is a pretty swank property!

3-Ren Meadowlands Lobby

In fact, I would dare anyone to find a better deal, with such close proximity to bustling New York!

 If New York isn’t your thing, there are some other decent properties worldwide, including a number of luxury JW Marriott properties around the world.  A list of Marriott properties by category can be found here.

Hat tip to Loyalty Lobby

Georgia on My Mind: Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

Pasco, WA (PSC) to Salt Lake City, UT (SLC)
Salt Lake City (SLC) to Los Angeles, CA (LAX)
Los Angeles, CA (LAX) to Atlanta, GA (ATL)
Hotel Review:  Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta

As I said before, I had a surprise awaiting me in Atlanta, and one that that didn’t have me to thrilled initially.

Shortly after booking my first 2 nights at the Ritz-Carlton, Atlanta (call me spoiled, but it only cost me $133/night since it was midweek) I had booked a car service to pick me up from the airport, through the hotel’s website.

And this is where it gets hairy.  For starters, no price is directly quoted on their website, despite the fee of $75 or so.  I know maybe I should expect some cost from a service, but it if there is absolutely NONE quoted, it is reasonable I think to expect the service to be free.  Especially when there are hotels out that that provide such.

What I think made things worse was their utter lack of communication.  OK, not all requests can be granted – fine I thought I would just take MARTA to the hotel.    But the key issue is the misleading verbage providing after making the request:  “Please note, that these requests should not be considered confirmed reservations until you receive confirmation from The Ritz-Carlton.

So  despite the nice and comfy ride I was about to have, I was a little miffed when I landed, after taking a later flight, to turn on my phone and discover someone was waiting to pick me up.  Contrary to their own notification system.

I suppose I could have just forgotten the deal, and left on my own but I didn’t want to leave someone their waiting for me.  I didn’t want to be rude, so went along and kinda felt sorry for him.  Until he had the audacity to say I would be charged an extra hour.

Right, I have no clue that you are picking me up, and you are going to charge me double because I wasn’t psychic enough to call and tell you–when I also don’t know your number, that I am going to be late?

Anyway, the ride was fine and I am sure they usually do a top-notch job.  It’s just that the error was in the hotel NEVER informing I would be greeted indeed.

All of that anguish was soon washed away when I arrived at the Ritz-Carlton, and immediately greeted in the valet loop by a charming a bellman asking me how I was doing.  I was whisked into the lobby, where I proceeded to check in.

Ritz-Carlton Entry Way

After checking in, I headed up to my standard King room on14th floor.  I hate to apologize, but WordPress has been AWFUL about uploading some of my photos, so for some of them you will just have to use your imagination.  🙂

While Marriott offers Gold and Platinum complimentary Club Lounge access, the fact that the Ritz-Carlton technically has its own rewards program, so they charge Marriott Rewards members for access.  In addition, I don’t blame the Ritz-Carltons for charging for the access, considering their lounges offer complimentary alcoholic beverages in their lounges.  Between this and the full gourmet spread that is available for breakfast, lunch, mid-day snack, supper and late night cordials, I though it was well worth the $100 I paid for access during my stay.

The Club Lounge on the 25th Floor is fairly wide, with the food at the left end as enter, and plenty of seating, divided up into a couple different sections.

The spread was extensive and included eggs, parfaits, sausage and great lightly cooked salmon for breakfast.  The lunch and dinner fair included finger sandwiches shrimp, and a variety of hors d’oeuvres.

Club Lounge

Dinner Spread

I have to say that the lead concierge, Paula did a fantastic job serving guests, and made probably the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had.

Overall, I think the hotel did a decent job of living up to the the Ritz-Carlton standard for service and luxury, and I would be willing to return again (sans car service) if I were in the Atlanta area again.

What Do You Think of Airport Hotels?

I am planning a trip for next weekend to Atlanta (yes, a Tennessee football game is involved) and made the decision to spend Saturday and Sunday night at the Renaissance Concourse Atlanta Airport Hotel.

Now before anyone barks at me for wanting to stay there, a couple of factors were involved.  Hotel availability these two nights was H-O-R-R-I-F-F-I-C, and was wanting to use some MegaBonus certificates I had earned with Marriott.  In addition, while I might try to hotel hop during this time, visiting some friends  Sunday morning/afternoon would make this a pain up the wazzou.

Anyway, I think I choose the best available option given the circumstances, and realized there seems to be a stigma toward airport hotels, in my estimation.  However, I have usually found this accusation to be unfounded.  I staid at the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel for the Freddie Awards, and actually found it to be fairly elegant.

Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel

So have I gone off the deep end, or is the stigma regarding airport hotels inaccurate?

The Marriott MegaBonus Is Coming (Again)

Possibly due to my favorable views toward Marriott, one of my favorite hotel promotions has been Marriott’s MegaBonus.  Thus through Marriott stays I would already make, or planned to make for my Gold challenge, I was able to earn some free night awards.  Across the board it has been a well-received promotion, enough that they have brought it back, running through January.


  • First Register online here (or call 1-888-627-7468) by October 31, 2012.
  • Then for every TWO (2) Stays between September 15, 2012, and January 15, 2013
  • Earn 1 FREE night,  up to 3 free nights.
    And enjoy your free nights at any of nearly 3,000 Category 1 – 4 hotels!

Even if you do not have any stays with Marriott planned in the near future, I would say to still sign up now.  It can’t hurt, and you don’t want to miss out on FREE award nights in case you do end at a Marriott.

Plus, there is no exclusion of other offers, so it appears this can be stacked with the 50,000 point Just For Me promotion.  Thus, for every two stays you would be earning 5,000 bonus points, in addition to a free night.

Marriott does tailor their offers to individual members, so the exact details that show up when you log in to your account may vary.

The free night awards are good at any property, up to a Category 4.  Also, they expire within 1 year of being issued.

I have provided the link to the full Terms & Conditions here.

Again, the FREE award nights are for Categories 1-4.

One negative in my opinion, is that these cannot be used for Ritz Carlton stays.  However, there still are some pretty good properties within these categories.

For example, I am starting to like the Renaissance brand more and more for its fashionable and refined taste, and there are a slew of them within these award categories.  In addition, these awards can be redeemed for luxurious JW Marriotts in Ankarra (Turkey), Beijing Cairo Caracas (Venezuela) Kuala Lumpur and Quito (Ecuador).

So Marriott’s large size and portfolio of properties, it isn’t hard to find great awards using this “Mega” promotion.

  • First Register online here (or call 1-888-627-7468) by October 31, 2012.
  • Then for every TWO (2) Stays between September 15, 2012, and January 15, 2013
  • Earn 1 FREE night,  up to 3 free nights.

And enjoy your free nights at any of nearly 3,000 category 1 – 4 hotels!

Marriott Launches “Just For Me Promotion”

Earlier this year, I wrote how Marriott notified me I had  been chosen as part of a select group to receive special offers “Just For Me.”  At the time, I mostly dismissed it as a clever marketing ploy to lure in members.  As it turns out, there is in fact a little more substance to their promotion than I thought.

First register here, then receive 5,000 Marriott Rewards bonus points for every second paid stay  at participating hotels between August 15 and November 15, 2012.  This bonus can be earned up to 10 times (20 stays) for a grand total of 50,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Technically, this offer is targeted to only a handful of Marriott Rewards members, but it never hurts to try.  Anyway, I have included the full Terms & Conditions can below:

  • Registration is required.
  • Marriott Rewards® members who register for this promotion by September 30 2012, will earn 5,000 bonus points with every second paid stay, starting with their second stay—up to a total of 50,000 bonus points, between August 15 2012 and November 15 2012, at participating Marriott properties.
  • This offer is non-transferable.
  • Nights spent while redeeming an award are not eligible for credit.
  • Marriott Vacation Club® owner-occupied weeks are not eligible for credit.
  • A ‘stay’ is defined as consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, regardless of check-in/check-out activity.
  • Only one room per hotel is counted toward a member’s nights or stay.
  • Members electing to earn miles are not eligible for this promotion.
  • All Marriott Rewards program terms and conditions apply.

Marriott Rewards is often maligned by critics, but I firmly believe that as a reward program it holds extraordinary value.  While  not the most lucrative hotel promotion of recent memory (see Radisson’s Big Night Giveaway) there is some value to be had, especially if you have upcoming stays with Marriott.

Let’s say you are able to receive a rate of $100/night  during this promotion.  In addition to the 2,000 base points you would earn, (10 points/$)  you would be earning the bonus of 5,000 points.  Thus, at a haul of 7,000 points for $200 of spend, you would be earning Marriott Rewards points at a rate of about 2.9 cents apiece– a pretty good deal in my opinion.

So if you were to max out the bonus of 50,000 points how far would that take you?  This is enough for standard awards of 2 nights at a Category 5, just over one at top Category 8 properties, or one night at a Tier 3 Ritz Carlton.

Happy Earning!

Marriott Adds “Cash + Points” Awards…. Or So They Say

Last week I posted my thoughts on the great value of the Marriott Rewards program.  While it certainly has a number of strengths, I recognized that one weakness of the program has been their lack of so-called “Cash & Point” awards.  The best example of this is Starwood, where for example a one-night stay might cost a total of 3,000 points plus $45 dollars—a great deal in my opinion.

So when I heard that Marriott was introducing this to their program, I got very excited.  After all, the acquisition cost of Marriott Rewards points is relativelty inexpensive.

Unfortunately, the trill of the moment crashed when I read the fine print:

Get ready for Marriott Rewards Cash + Points, a new way to book a stay that lets you combine redemption nights and cash nights within a single reservation of two nights or more. Along with this new flexibility, you’ll still earn points and Elite night credits for your nights paid with cash. So add a few days of relaxation onto a business trip or redeem just a portion of your points for a vacation.

That’s right.  It’s not a true “Points + Cash” stay in my opinion.  In what I would call a true “Points + Cash” system,  a small cash outlay means far fewer points are required for a SINGLE night.  And it shouldn’t require a stay of more two nights or more.

Granted, I do suppose this is an improvement.  I had this problem earlier in the year, where I had to check in and out of the same room on a two-night stay when one was on an award.  Fixing this makes sense, as it will make the overall experience seamless.

But Marriott, you got all of our hopes up, only to drop the ball.  I think if Marriott were to add the ability to book stays for say 5,000 or 10,000 points + $50 cash, I think the program would be even more Rewarding and a lot more respected.

In no way am I saying that coming out with this sort of award makes Marriott a bad program.  I stood by them when I defended them recently, and I will stand by (and stay with) them today.  I would be delusional to think one announcement about how the do things should change the value.

It’s just that if Marriott were to go to a ” true” Points+Cash award, with  small cash outlay meaning far fewer points are required for a SINGLE night, such an award would provide truly INCREDIBLE value.

Again, it’s a strong program in my opinion, and doing so would make it even stronger.  So maybe you can understand my frustration and slight irritation when hearing “Cash + Points” gets my hopes up, only to have them dashed against the rocks.

Tip of the hat to Lucky.

The Hidden Value in Marriott Rewards: Strengths of the Program

My Defense of the Program
Strengths of the Program
Interview with Ed French

Instead of writing one long post including both my defense of Marriott, and where I see their strengths as a program, I decided to break it down for the sake of readability.  Again, while am attempting to keep this forthright and objective, this is all based on my own experience with the program, and thus may be slightly subjective.

I think their biggest strength is how widely available their portfolio of properties are.  I have no doubt that for example Hyatt and Starwood and others are good programs, but they just don’t have the “coverage” I would like.

Case in point, when I went to visit a friend last year in Rapid City, South Dakota (which is actually more interesting than it sounds—but that’s another story) other than local, unproven hotels, the only major chain available to was Marriott (Fairfield Inn).  And it actually, as I have found with most Fairfield Inns, was a pretty good property, where I was given elite recognition and given a nice suite upgrade.

This brings me to my next point.  Contrary to common dissenting belief, Marriott consistently delivers suite upgrades for elite members.  In fact the consistency with which my family was able to stay in suites growing made it unbelievable that it wasn’t a stated benefit of Marriott Rewards.

As I mentioned a while back, this was technically excluded from the program but has since changed.  And sure I may have to ask at times, for these benefits, but I firmly believe one of the 10 Commandments of travel hacking is “it never hurts to ask.”

Another point I mentioned in my defense of typical buffs folks have with Marriott is that they are good  at “not allowing the rules to over-rule common sense.”

Nowhere is this more evident than in their fantastic customer dispute resolution.  For better or worse a computer software glitch had me up against the wall, and while I was informed it was a “one-time exception,” the situation was handled very well.

Another time this really came into play was last year when my plans suddenly changed and I didn’t end up checking into a hotel for the first night of a 2-night stay.  Technically the letter of the law is that I should have been charged a no-show fee for the first night, but when I checked out I was billed for only one night.

One final example was when I stayed at the Tampa Renaissance International Plaza.  As the lounge was closed on the weekend, I was given a $12 voucher for breakfast in either of the hotel’s two restaurants.  Needless to say, I went a little bit above the given allotment (about 50%), yet my only charges were for the tip I left.

Furthermore, this attitude of not letting the terms and conditions dictate policies has helped makes Marriott even more “Reward-ing” for me.  Not only in suite upgrades in the past, but with the little things like providing free internet and lounge access as a Silver Elite.

And to those who dismiss this as a red flag, I think the basic premise of a loyalty program is to reward loyal members, therefore I think it comes with the territory.

One place Marriott gets hit hard by critics, which I actually think is strength of the program, is their reward chart.  Just like there were some negative parts of the program I didn’t recognize until now, there are some positive aspects I only recently discovered.  Like the fact that at most properties (with the exception of Execustay, Residence Inn, and TownePlace Suites) you earn 10 Marriott Rewards base points per every dollar spent on your room rate.  In contrast, while with Hilton and Priority Club (Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, etc.) have the same ratio, you only earn 5 points per dollar with Hyatt, and a mere 2 per dollar with Starwood.

Thus, while Marriott may require “more inflated” points for awards, when you actually consider the rate at which you are earning Marriott Rewards points, you are getting just as good—if not better value.

For example, for a top-tier stay with Marriott, a “standard” award would require 40,000 Marriott Rewards points.  At a rate of $100 per night, earning a base rate of 1,000 points per night, 40 nights would be required to earn a Category 7 free night.

In contrast, a Category 7 (also the top award category) free night within the Starwood program would require 30,000 to 35,000 Starwood points.  But since you are only earning 200 base points per night on the same $100 of spend, SPG would require at least 150 nights to reach the same sort of award threshold.

Anyway, the earn and burn levels of Marriott, when compared to some of its major competition, are quite comparable:

Hilton 10/$ (Except Home 2 Suites) 7.5-50k
Hyatt 5/$ 5-22k
Marriott 10/$ (Except Res. Inn, TownePlace Suites) 7.5-40k/30-60k
Priority Club 10/$ (Except Staybridge, Candlewood) 10-50k
Starwood 2/$ 3-35k

As you may have realized, I haven’t touched on Ritz Carlton, because they are really in their own special class.  For the sake of Marriott Rewards purposes, they are on a “Tier” system.  Standard awards Ritz Carlton properties range from 30,000 at a Tier 1 all the way to 60,000 and 70,000 points per night at Tier 4 and Tier 5 properties, respectively.  Granted there are only a handful of such properties that have been grouped into these two highest tiers (a total of 8), so most any Ritz Carlton award can be had for 50,000 points per night.

Of course these are just a for a one-night basis.  This brings up an additional point on the subject of Marriott’s Award chart.  Most programs give require the same amount of points per night, regardless of the number of nights stayed.  But what separates Marriott from nearly every other program, (although SPG also has this) is that every 5th night of an award is free, thus reducing the total cost an extended award.

Finally, I think one of the unique strengths about the Marriott Rewards program is the fact that they allow for elite rollover.

As an example, let’s say theoretically as a Gold Elite I stay with Marriott 65 nights this year, but only 35 the next.  Because I would have 15 extra or “rollover” nights from year 1, this would compensate for being 15 nights short of elite status, and I would maintain status with them.

Not only do I think this makes up for the “large” requirements to have meaningful elite status (Gold or Platinum) with Marriott, but it offers something unique by being the only hotel program I know of to do this.

Anyway, as someone who loves exploring America, as well as the world, I value a program with a wide breadth of available properties.  Yet, I also value one with elite recognition including free wifi, lounge access, and/or breakfast.  Thus, based on my experience with the program, Marriott Rewards is a greatly undervalued program.

The Hidden Value in Marriott Rewards: My Defense of the Program

My Defense of the Program
Strengths of the Program
Interview with a Marriott Representative…

As I referred to in my recent post on Marriott’s suite benefits, and further back my post on the Freddie Awards, I honestly think Marriott Rewards provide great value.  In fact, I think it is frankly undervalued.

One of the greatest things about the Marriott Rewards program is, based on my own experience; they have exceptional customer service dispute resolution.  Why I think this is vitally important will become more apparent as I explain my personal thoughts, based on my own experiences within the program.

Their attitude of friendly service is perhaps best embodied in the mantra of another travel industry corporation, Delta:  “Don’t let the rules overrule common sense.”  Thus, Marriott is fairly open when it comes to making exceptions for elite members, whether that be for a cancellation mistake of mine, or going above and beyond.

Often, I have found the fact that corporate gives each individual property jurisdiction on elite-member benefits which leaves the specific hotel open to provide such, even if not officially stated.  In other words, the case is that Marriott properties go above and beyond for elite Marriott Rewards members, even if technically not inclined to.

I will admit I think Marriott has its weaknesses.  In the course of doing my research to put this post together, I discovered some weaknesses within Marriott that I do not necessarily appreciate.  That said, I don’t think there is such a thing as a perfect hotel program.  Starwood, Hilton, IHG, Hyatt, they all have their shortcomings, I think.  And if you ever found one, don’t join it, because then it will no longer be perfect!!

Of course, the most common gripe folks have—even I, for the most part, are their elite thresholds.  Silver Elite, which requires 10 elite nights, in my experience, can include lounge access, upgrades and free internet.  Although with internet as a Silver I often had to request it, and getting it was hit or miss.  But the real sweet spots are at Gold and Platinum, requiring 50 and 75 nights respectively.

Objectively, not much can be said of this.  Yet, my response is three-fold.  For starters, most would agree that there is not much difference between Gold and Platinum.  And if you stay a couple of nights with Marriott each stay, 25 stays would get you essentially the same benefits as top-status with another hotel chain, be it 50 or 75 total nights.

My final argument for Marriott in this respect is more substantial.  I think Marriott recognizes this as at least a perceived weakness, and tries to mitigate the effects via status challenges. I was a Silver Elite last year, yet I could still tell Marriott appreciated my business.  Therefore, I was given a status challenge where 6 stays in 90 days earned my Gold status (again, not much different from Platinum) through February 2014.   Can you name any other chain that gives away room upgrades, lounge access, free internet, elite reservation lines for a mere 6 stays?

And if I really was gelling for Platinum, every other year you can perform a Platinum status challenge where 18 nights, or 9 stays will earn you Platinum for 18 months.

It seems a lot of these weaknesses are evident in Marriott’s Resorts properties.  And I am certain many these resort properties are very aspirational, obviously given the term “resort.”  And on occasion lounge access may be a huge draw for me.  But it’s never been a huge for me when staying somewhere. If I plan on staying at a Marriott property and want lounge access, or breakfast on the weekend, their portfolio of properties helps me out by have somewhere close by that I can stay.

So the resort issue has never really bothered me, as I won’t allow a few properties to ruin an entire brand for me.  And furthermore, Marriott is not the only hotel chain with resort property quirks.

For example, Hilton does not allow 48-hour room guarantees at resort properties, per their Terms & Conditions.  No matter the program, there are bound to be a few bad apples.  Don’t let a few properties regulations ruin an entire loyalty program for you!

A third, also common complaint of Marriott is the lack of room upgrades.  This despite the fact that the verbage for Gold and Platinum members on Marriott’s website now reads as follows:

“Every time you check in, we’ll do our best to upgrade you to a premium room – at no additional charge for your entire stay.  Upgrades may include rooms with desirable view, rooms on high floors, corner rooms, room with special amenities, rooms, on Executive Floors, or suites, subject to availability identified by each hotel.”

Granted, the hotel has the jurisdiction to decide who they upgrade, but I have found most properties to be pretty favorable to suite upgrades if available.

A final, less obvious criticism I have heard hailed against Marriott are these “availability issues.”

For example, I know it says suites are based on availability, but whether suites, room type, or late check-out, what hotel isn’t subject to availability?  Even those with “confirmable” suite upgrades.

Tommy777 tells a story of staying at the W Minneapolis several times for work.  Each time would result in no Platinum suite upgrade for him.  Fed up, he finally checked back with the front desk and they informed him 200 Platinum-level members of Accenture were frequenting the hotel every week, and checking in at 8 AM.  Again, subject to availability and thus first-come-first-serve, he was told if he wanted a suite he need to arrive sooner.  So the next week he staid elsewhere when he was in Minneapolis and was able to receive a suite upgrade.

Gary really railed on Marriott for not having a king when he booked a hotel at a conference rate.  I have faced similar issues with group rates at other properties, and it is usually because you are receiving a room from a specific blocked of rooms.  And no matter the chain or property, I would never expect to have another person dislodged from their room just so I can get my bed preference.  Preference or not, I understand it is dependent on availability, just like suites are.

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