Stop Playing Games With Elite Breakfasts, Marriott

by Anthony Losanno
Drift Restaurant

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A hotel loyalty program is a system designed to reward and encourage repeat customers who frequently stay at a particular hotel chain or brand. It aims to build customer loyalty by offering various benefits and rewards to participants in the program. One of the most often highlighted benefits is complimentary breakfast for elite members. In theory, this should be simple and offered without issue, but in reality it’s often a fight for some free eggs.

St Regis Chicago Entrance

Last month, I stayed at the St. Regis Chicago. They were denying breakfast benefits to elite members with the excuse that the restaurant was owned by a third party and therefore they did not need to provide complimentary breakfast. This is wrong and not something that is in the complex terms and conditions of the Marriott Bonvoy® program. They got a lot of negative feedback, their TripAdvisor reviews were hijacked, and fellow bloggers like One Mile at a Time, View from the Wing, and Live and Let’s Fly joined me in calling out the hotel. Luckily, they changed course and are now offering what they should.

But, this is not the only Marriott property looking to game the system and cheat members of their rightful benefits.

Travel33t reached out to Ben, Gary, Matthew, and me on Twitter to share his experience with another hotel in the Marriott Bonvoy® program. The Muir, Autograph Collection in Halifax, Nova Scotia is using the same excuse as the St. Regis Chicago.

Marriott Bonvoy Benefits

It is saying that because the restaurant is third-party owned that it does not need to provide breakfast. This is incorrect and nothing more than an effort for the hotel to save a few bucks. If you can order room service, book rates that include breakfast, and charge breakfast to your room, there is no reason it cannot be comped for elite members.

The full Marriott Bonvoy® terms and conditions can be found here. There is nothing in it that states that this is a way for a property to opt out.

Marriott at a corporate level has made it clear that it cares more about hotel owners and operators than guests. This is not the first time this has happened and the policy is so complex that even those who think they know the program inside and out get tripped up on some of the nuances. World of Hyatt does a much better job in making this clear. Breakfast is free for Globalists and there are not the exceptions and games played at a brand level. Marriott needs to simplify its offering, but without the smoke and confusion it would not give hotel owners the chance to save some money by playing games with this benefit. Come on, Marriott properties. You can do better.

Anthony’s Take: I’m sure this will not be the last instance of a hotel trying to game elite members out of a benefit. This is just the latest in the Bonvoy programs list of benefits that are played with including Your24, upgrades, and more. Hotels won’t always be as full as they are now and guests will remember which ones held up their end of the loyalty bargain.

(Featured Photo Credit: Marriott.)

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Ghostrider5408 June 9, 2023 - 11:49 am

The only thing that will put an end to this if “loyal” Marriott travelers switch to another “Flag” in substantial numbers frankly thats not going to happen. Marriott has essentially gutted the program with the current CEO publicly backing his franchise owners over the travelers, ultimately a big mistake. I am glad that over my 40 some years of business travel I spread my usage out however I did keep Marriott as my main squeeze, sadly. FF travelers today chasing points is like chasing butterflies.

Christian June 9, 2023 - 12:33 pm

You make a well reasoned argument. Unfortunately it seems unlikely that Marriott intentionally selected two stunningly guest-unfriendly CEOs in a row without buying in to their philosophy: Hating loyalty is now their established mentality. I’m close enough to lifetime platinum that I’m just holding my nose and getting my 50 nights a year for now, primarily because their hotels in Asia still generally do a good job in spite of corporate.

ghostrider5408 June 9, 2023 - 2:35 pm

I’m lifetime Titanium how do you think I feel about all this, years of loyalty and I have to walk down the street to IHOP for breakfast !

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