The Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay has many rooms with fantastic views, of the harbor and even the Sydney Opera House, though of course there are simply ‘skyline view’ rooms which are less desirable.
While you may not be able to secure a suite upgrade as a Marriott Platinum member or above, and the upgrade benefit is increasingly geared towards better regular rooms rather than suites, at this hotel a view upgrade is a real upgrade.
Over the holiday period, up to and including New Year’s Eve, these take on added value. Looking out over the Harbour Bridge, it can be a great spot to watch fireworks in comfort.
So you can imagine how disconcerting it was for Marriott Bonvoy elites to hear from the hotel that if they were staying on property during the “festive season” they would not be entitled to room upgrades. Here’s the message:
It’s certainly understandable for a hotel to want all guests to pay for better view rooms, and not to want anyone to book a base room on the expectation of receiving an upgrade to a better view without paying a premium during this period.
However, nothing in the Bonvoy terms and conditions allows a hotel to suspend upgrades for a period of time the way that this hotel announced they’d done.
I reached out to Marriott, suggesting that a different message might be compliant and even helpful,
We expect to be completely booked, including in our premium room categories, and we don’t want you to be disappointed so I’m reaching out to let you know there’s still an opportunity to book the room that you want but also that the chances of upgrades are reduced at this time.
But that wasn’t what the hotel did here, and when I inquired there appeared to be plenty of rooms, including premium view rooms, available for booking.
Instead, they insisted that a “guest’s room will be allocated as per the original room type booked and complimentary upgrades will not be available.”
I checked in to make sure that no exception to Marriott rules had been granted to the property, and indeed none had been. Marriott tells me that the hotel’s messaging here has been… corrected.
The property was trying to manage guest expectations during a high occupancy period. The verbiage has been/is being changed. A property cannot blackout dates for complimentary room upgrades per program terms.
I’m assured that the hotel will honor program terms. So if checking into the Sydney Harbour Marriott, I’d pull up room availability for your stay on the website before walking up to the front desk. If you’re an elite member, and you see a premium view room available, make sure they’re upgrading you into it!
Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel – a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the “World’s Top Travel Experts” by Conde’ Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »
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Gary – you, of all people, know you can’t simply show that an upgrade is available and demand to get it. Maybe Hyatt for Globalist (only Explorist in that program so don’t know) guarantees upgrades at check in available but for Marriott, IHG and Hilton they are always at the discretion of the hotel. Frankly, even if an upgraded room is available why should they give it away if someone checking in later may pay an upgrade fee for it? Same with suites. Also, if staying more than one day it isn’t reasonable IMHO to even check room availability since you don’t know what is potentially sold for future days or expectations of paid upgrades.
BTW, lifetime Titanium and I have ZERO problem with this as businesses need to balance rewards for elites with overall business objectives. You are quickly becoming the old “get off my lawn” guy with you many articles about lack of upgrades, amenities like room service that frankly are dying (and they should), upgraded seats for dead heading pilots (rather have them in that seat than giving it to you for free).
Read your blog for years but you have become way too whiny and lazy (posting “National Enquirer” type stories). Glad I also read Lucky’s blog since it has much more true aviation and frequent traveler info than you. Sad what this blog has become over the years.
This hotel has had this rule in place and isn’t breaking news. The entitlement is astounding.
You lost me at the word “entitled.” This particular hotel (where my family and I have stayed, and found it excellent) happens luckily to own a prime vantage point for the NYE goings-on in Sydney Harbour. The notion that Bonvoy elites should be automatically “entitled” to prime view rooms for nothing is absurd, and has the odd effect of putting me on the side of hotel management.
There are so many glaring systemwide issues with Bonvoy right now, I wish you’d restack your priorities.
It’s not for “nothing” and it’s not “entitled.” It’s part of the terms Marriott themselves created fo incentive stays.
Sure, they created plenty of loopholes such that properties rarely have to honor it and they have given status to far too many people, but those are different matters.
I agree with Gary here — loyalty comes with a benefit of upgrades, when available. We play by the rules to get status and the benefits that come along with it, and the hotel benefits from being a part of the Marriott ecosystem (otherwise, they’d just be an independent hotel). If they don’t like the benefits they are required to give to Marriott elites, they can give Marriott their money back and be an independent hotel.
I, for one, am thankful for Gary reaching out to Marriott HQ and reporting this.
I am really sick of hotels playing stupid games like this.
“So if checking into the Sydney Harbour Marriott, I’d pull up room availability for your stay on the website before walking up to the front desk. If you’re an elite member, and you see a premium view room available, make sure they’re upgrading you into it!”
Gary – I’ve done this at hotels at check in (not this particular one) and I have success about 1/3 of the time. The rest of the time, the front desk staff tell me that what is showing online is an error, they’re fully booked and they don’t know why the upgraded rooms show that they can be booked, etc. how would you handle that situation? Obviously there’s no easy way to prove them wrong. I want to ask, if I book this room right now online, what would happen at check-in, and the woman said, I would tell you that room isn’t available
Upgrade if available at time of check in. I don’t think it is unreasonable or entitled to expect that if that’s their own term. Of course, it has become unreasonable to expect it based on Bonvoy MO.
Last time I stayed for New Years it was a minimum of 10 nights total use points.
They sell every one of the view rooms for at least a 2 night minimum. No way will they lose that revenue on upgrades.
Like the property but never has any significant upgrades as a LTE.
I have spent 3 years of my life in Marriott properties with the expectation that the terms of the rewards program will be honored. if Marriott flagged properties want to break the terms, they can change their affiliation away from Marriott or Marriott can change the terms to make Elite benefits OPTIONAL.
Sadly, we know we are going to get BONVOYED no matter what and there is nothing you can do about it.
Maybe Hyatt for Globalist (only Explorist in that program so don’t know) guarantees upgrades at check in available but for Marriott, IHG and Hilton they are always at the discretion of the hotel.
It’s no different for Hyatt Globalists. No program guarantees [suite] upgrades, which are at the discretion of properties in every single program.
This site will claim special benefits for Globalists and then when the claim turns out to be utterly bogus or another made-up elite benefit that WoH does not even know anything about, it’ll double down and tell you that the benefit is for real, but it’s just properties that “play games” with inventory or availability.
DCS, you are incorrect–WoH absolutely does guarantee space-available upgrades into standard suites upon check-in to Globalists. Now, do they play games with the definition of a “standard suite?” Absolutely. But there is no discretion involved once feet are on the ground and standing at the check-in desk: if there’s a standard suite available, the hotel is obligated to provide it to the globalist standing there.
I stayed at this property in October for 2 nights. Very disappointed. Peeling wallpaper, no decor on walls, and shower handle fell off in my hand. Mentioned to front desk and was told to email the manager. Got a prompt reply of “sorry”. Emailed back and said that wasn’t enough and got 20k points. That aught to buy me a beverage at their overpriced bar. Later stayed at the Intercontinental just 2 blocks away on back side of trip and was blown away. Beautiful.
I truly don’t understand the absolute warfare in “the Hobby” over the use of the word “entitled”. The Marriott Insiders board is vicious in this regard. Apparently, accusing someone of being “entitled” is akin to calling them numerous other horrible things that I won’t repeat here.
My view is very simple. The hotel chain sets the rules. I determine whether or not to engage with that hotel chain based on the rules they set. If I decide to stay at a certain hotel because I am “entitled” to certain benefits (as established by the hotel chain itself), then I expect to receive those benefits. What is so hard?
Personally, I am Marriott Lifetime Titanium, Hilton Diamond and Hyatt Globalist. I travel several months a year because I am retired and have the time to do so. I engage with all three programs because I am “entitled” to certain benefits from each of those programs. That means I may accept a hotel that is more expensive, or in a less desirable location, or in worse condition, than other hotels. That is essentially what a loyalty program does–encourage you to use their product instead of a different product because the overall package will be better for you.
The biggest example of this is Hyatt. To me, their footprint is an absolute disadvantage compared to Marriott and Hilton, but I work very hard each year to get those 60 nights because they generally give me the benefits to which I am entitled. Otherwise, I would stay at more conveniently-located Marriotts and Hiltons. Going even further, I will go out of my way to choose locations which have a Hyatt property where I can use suite upgrade awards. I will plan vacations around locations where I can use Hyatt upgrade awards. Crazy? Not at all. I do it because I have decided that the value proposition for me is worth it because Hyatt gives me what I am entitled to receive (which, as a Globalist, is a lot). And, by the way, Graham’s comment is absolutely correct.
The argument I think is most amusing goes something like “But what about the business owner? How is that fair to the business owner?” THEY SET THE RULES, NOT ME, whether with respect to that individual hotel or, more likely, by associating with Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt. A hotel associates with Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt because the hotel believes that association will generate more profit for them–in other words, the increased revenue each hotel receives will more than offset the benefits the hotel is required to pay. If the hotel want the benefits of that association, the hotel needs to accept the burden as well.
For what it’s worth, I have also stayed at this hotel in Sydney and had a great view of the Opera House. I had no issue taking my wife and two children into the lounge. I was not entitled to receive that benefit, but it was appreciated.
Wow, Marriott customer service has sunk to a new low. That’s a singularly impressive statement but true nonetheless. But at least they’re offering loyal elites a semi-continental breakfast – whatever that means – in the lounge.
DCS, you are incorrect–WoH absolutely does guarantee space-available upgrades into standard suites upon check-in to Globalists.
Now, do they play games with the definition of a “standard suite?” Absolutely. But there is no discretion involved once feet are on the ground and standing at the check-in desk: if there’s a standard suite available, the hotel is obligated to provide it to the globalist standing there.
You are clearly a “kool-aid drinker” or you would have realized that all you did was to validate my statement. Check the WoH T&C: regardless of what you might have read on this site and in its echo chamber, WoH elite upgrades are at the discretion of each property, just like in any other program. It means that properties are allowed to “play games” with availability.
Marriott has many properties under their name that are completely autonomous and don’t follow Marriott’s prescribed benefitsl A bunch of crooks allowed to do as they please by Marrioitt.,
Are they charging premium rates for these rooms for those dates? Many hotels that have great views of a certain event like Sydney NYE or the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, often treat view rooms as a different price category than usual for those dates to the point where the next category upgrade would actually be a more “premium” room or suite on any other date. Either way, I do think hotels in that situation should be able to monetize their views on those few dates. Also, I think it’s better for them to proactively say they aren’t offering upgrades to those room categories, especially when they think they will be able to sell those rooms out.
WoH Globalist here – Hyatt hotels, with some exceptions, are by the far the best in upgrading you to a suite or best available room. There are very few properties that don’t do it proactively. In turn, Marriott is a joke. Yes, I am only Platinum but I pretty much never ever get anything, not even the slightest upgrade. Hyatt’s go out if their way to treat Globalists well, no Kool Aid involved.
Forget IHG or Hilton. Hilton will upsell you on their app before checkin and IHG – it totally depends. I once had an IHG experience though where I almost couldn’t believe it. We were staying at the Intercontinental Tahiti and I am just a Platinum via their credit card. I had booked a 2 queen room with ocean view. When we arrived at night, the lady checking us in showed me a printout with all the benefits I am entitled to … and then she said, well you are entitled to a one category upgrade so we put you into an Overwater Bungalow. Holy cow. Amazing stay. Sometimes when you least expect it, you get wowed.
Wow, such an elitist view! ~ Does this Gary (US I presume?); not know this is a special event watched by billions around the world? What a fool! The world does not revolve around the US and it’s privilege. I hope you do get the Opera House view on the Exec floor, because you know why? – Sydney Harbour is a natural phenomenon of water and it is not floodlit. The fireworks views are to the other side of the hotel around the Harbour Bridge, which the triangular hotel does not face and you have incorrectly given everyone a bum steer. The foreworks view rooms were booked out 2 years ago, and although I agree the hotel’s wording is incorrect, they are stating the facts. You just wanted to be a “Karen”.
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Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel — a topic he has covered since 2002.
Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the “World’s Top Travel Experts” by Conde’ Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »
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