Why I Am Not an Elite Member of Marriott Rewards

My shiny Marriott’s Club Marquis luggage tag. Photograph ©2012 by Brian Cohen.

Back about 20 years ago when the frequent guest loyalty program of Marriott International, Inc. was called Marriott’s Club Marquis, I earned Black elite level membership status. I was excited about that because it was the first time I reached a mid-tier elite level in a frequent guest loyalty program.
Like a boy in a candy store — or is it toy store — I ripped open my elite package as soon as I received it via postal mail from Marriott. Hey — electronic mail was not yet pervasive, and social media was still basically celebrity gossip covered by newspaper and television news reporters.
Anyway, amongst the goodies I received were two solid metal luggage tags made in China which looked like miniature padlocks, and a list of the benefits I would receive as the newest Black level member of Marriott’s Club Marquis as follows:
  • Complimentary upgrade to Concierge Level room if available at check-in for one to two-night stays
  • Exclusive Club Marquis Reservations
  • Guaranteed Corporate Rate
  • Reservations Preference
  • Spouse Stays Free
  • $200 Reservation Guarantee
  • Express Check-In and Check-Out
  • $500 Check Cashing Privilege with valid Club Marquis card — need not be a registered guest
  • Complimentary Daily Newspaper delivered to your room
  • 10 percent Gift Shop Discount at Marriott owned and operated gift shops
  • Confectionary Gift with turndown on arrival evening
  • 10 percent Honored Guest Awards Bonus
  • Monthly Honored Guest Awards Activity Statements

Other than the confectionary gift — usually a thin square chocolate wrapped in shiny gold Marriott-branded foil, although sometimes I received two of them — and the ten percent points bonus with every hotel stay, the only benefit about which I really cared and was excited was the upgrade to the Concierge Level. Marriott hotel properties were my top preference. You had to stay at least 50 nights to become a Black elite level member — and don’t forget that you could not earn points at properties such as Fairfield Inn or Courtyard by Marriott, which had their own frequent guest loyalty programs. Those 50 nights had to be earned only at the higher-level Marriott hotel properties.
Unfortunately, I never was upgraded to a Concierge Level room, as it was never available — not in Andover, Massachusetts, nor on Canal Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, nor any other Marriott hotel property at which I subsequently stayed. I was denied my upgrade at hotel property after hotel property — “I am sorry, Mr. Cohen, but there are no Concierge Level rooms available at this time.” As I was becoming increasingly disappointed, I began to wonder what was so great about this elite level after all.
Once my Black elite level membership expired, I started to stay at the properties of other hotel chains and never looked back, as I found that elite levels of other frequent guest loyalty programs were easier to attain and the benefits were more substantial and rewarding.
Gary Leff of the View From The Wing weblog wrote about why he is walking away from the Marriott Elite Challengeinformation about which is posted here on FlyerTalk.
Gee, Gary — I know you have never been a big fan of the Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program, but I wonder what took you so long to realize what I generally found out about elite status with Marriott long ago?
Look, I have no qualms about staying at Marriott hotel properties. In fact, I would actually recommend staying at Marriott properties. I usually have stayed in quiet, comfortable rooms, and I have always generally been treated well by Marriott — even when I was “walked” from the Melville Marriott Long Island property years ago when I arrived late at night and my reserved room was not available. My favorite Fairfield Inn in Nashua used to serve warm cookies, had a real fireplace in the lobby with a roaring fire during cold winters, water coolers at the stairwell for its guests, and other amenities not usually offered by Fairfield Inn properties — but it appears that that Fairfield Inn no longer exists. My experience with point redemption on properties seem to generally be fair, and the points which I earned have never expired. I was even a Silver Marriott Rewards elite member for several years for reasons about which I still do not know how I qualified.
I am not purposely trying to dissuade you from earning and achieving elite status with Marriott Rewards frequent guest loyalty program — in fact, The Weekly Flyer at the Points, Miles and Martinis weblog states an argument with compelling reasons for keeping elite status with Marriott Rewards. I would not even mind having elite level status with Marriott again, but I simply believe that it is not worth the effort to become a mid-level or top-level elite member in a frequent guest loyalty program by Marriott. Of course, I could be wrong — but that’s just my opinion, based on my personal experiences from long ago…

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