Higher-tier Marriott Bonvoy elite members have long had access to Suite Night Awards as part of the program’s annual choice benefits. Platinum members could choose five SNAs when they reached 50 elite qualifying nights in a calendar year, and Titanium members could opt to receive another five at 75 nights.
At first glance, the concept of Marriott SNAs appears straightforward: Reserve a standard room at a participating property and utilize SNAs to guarantee an upgrade before check-in.
Unfortunately, numerous TPG readers and staff members have encountered difficulties using SNAs.
So, when we received word last summer that Marriott might be enhancing SNAs, we became very eager about the possibilities.
Now, Marriott Bonvoy has officially announced changes to these awards, set to take effect early next year.
Let’s delve into what these changes entail for you.
Nightly Upgrade Awards KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY
One of the most notable changes is that SNAs will soon be known as Nightly Upgrade Awards (NUAs). Marriott has decided to make this alteration to better reflect the nature of the benefit, as each award specifically covers one night in a premium room (and not necessarily a suite).
To be clear, there have been no modifications to the number of nights each award covers. Previously, Platinum and Titanium elite members could choose SNAs for five nights at a time. NUAs will function similarly — the only difference is the name change, which aims to provide more clarity for members.
For comparison, World of Hyatt offers Suite Upgrade Awards as milestone rewards for high-tier elites (two at 50 nights, two at 60 nights and then a choice of 10,000 bonus points or another upgrade at 70, 80, 90 and 100 nights). However, these are confirmed immediately, subject to availability, and they cover stays of up to seven nights.
IHG One Rewards also has confirmable suite upgrades for members through its milestone rewards program — you can pick one at both 20 and 40 nights and then two at 70 nights. However, you can only confirm these starting 14 days in advance, though each one covers up to five nights.
Hilton Honors includes no published mechanism to confirm a complimentary upgrade before your stay.
Five new brands The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY
In addition to its current brands, you’ll soon be able to use NUAs at five additional brands:
This expansion is notable, especially since it includes high-end properties under the Ritz-Carlton and Edition brands. A Marriott spokesperson confirmed that these brands will “both fully participate in the program … depending on availability, members will be able to redeem their NUAs for both suites and premium rooms.”
Most entry-level suites at Ritz-Carlton properties boast a living room area separate from the bedroom, along with an additional half bathroom. So, this could be a great development for your 2024 stays.
More upgraded room choices The Ritz-Carlton Bacara, Santa Barbara. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY
Marriott is also expanding the pool of rooms at which you can use your upgrades. It promises to add “nearly 20% more premium rooms and suites … for upgrades across all participating brands with features like oceanfront rooms, balconies and extra space,” per a Marriott spokesperson.
The spokesperson added that the 20% increase is based on the five new brands and the increased number of rooms eligible for the awards. “Our goal from the outset was to make more rooms overall available for our members,” he noted.
Of course, it remains to be seen just how this will roll out across the portfolio.
One of the biggest frustrations for TPG staffers (and readers) is when a given property restricts the room types available for these rewards. For example, family travelers may not want a room on a higher floor or with a better view. Having extra space (including some separation between the bedroom and living area) is more important, so it’s great to have full suites available as a choice for these awards.
Hopefully, we’ll see this reflected meaningfully in the expanded inventory.
A shorter confirmation window Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach. KYLE OLSEN/THE POINTS GUY
In the past, Marriott Bonvoy used to check its upgrade inventory and confirm SNAs starting five days before your scheduled arrival. Now, you will receive a notification regarding the status of your NUA request closer to your check-in date, specifically starting three days before your arrival.
Unfortunately, this adjustment may pose some challenges when redeeming NUAs. As the check-in date approaches, the availability of upgraded rooms typically becomes more limited, as last-minute guests may book those rooms.
We are pleased to note that Marriott is including five additional brands as part of its transition from SNAs to NUAs, and it’s also committed to making more rooms available for members to request upgrades.
However, it’s not all good news. Marriott is adjusting the starting confirmation window for these awards from five to three days before the scheduled check-in date.
It remains to be seen just how much this will impact your ability to redeem upgrade awards across the portfolio. We’ll be sure to dig into availability once the changes go live early next year.