Question: What if Marriott Breaks Its Ultimate Reservation Guarantee?

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Question: What if Marriott Breaks Its Ultimate Reservation Guarantee?

What if Marriott Breaks Its Ultimate Reservation Guarantee?

Marriott has an Ultimate Reservation Guarantee, for those who don’t know. It’s supposed to prevent hotels from screwing you over. You should get compensation if the hotel can’t fulfill your reservation. But what if the hotel won’t honor this guarantee? We got a strange email from a reader this week, and the hotel in question is…ironic.

The Question

I got an email from a guest who specifically asked that we don’t use their name (for fear of retaliation from the hotel, which is a bigger issue and needs dealt with at some point). The email was a bit long. Here are the highlights:

  • The guest had a reservation at the Marriott Courtyard Hong Kong Sha Tin.
  • Prior to check-in, the hotel cancelled the reservation.
  • The hotel pitched itself to the Hong Kong government as a quarantine facility, won the contract, and now isn’t allowed to host “non-quarantine” guests.
  • That’s why the reservation was canceled.
  • The hotel says there’s no Marriott Ultimate Reservation Guarantee here, because the government told them not to host non-quarantine guests.
  • However, the government didn’t force this on the hotel–the hotel applied to be a quarantine site, so they had some say in this.
  • The guest believes this is a situation where the hotel voluntarily took steps that led to the reservation being canceled.

Whew…a lot happened there.

My View

I agree with the guest. The hotel voluntarily took steps that led to canceling the reservation. It was not “beyond their control”. The hotel didn’t have to apply to be a quarantine site; thus, they didn’t have to cancel the reservation.

And even if they did have to

What do the Marriott Ultimate Reservation Guarantee terms say?

The Marriott Ultimate Reservation Guarantee terms are found here. They state:

If for some reason we’re unable to honor your reservation, we’ll pay for your accommodations that night at a nearby hotel and compensate you for the inconvenience. To be eligible, you must provide your member number when making a reservation. Compensation varies by hotel brand.

Nothing carves out an exclusion for this situation. That’s the start, middle & end of the terms–everything. You had a reservation, and the hotel didn’t honor it? Marriott is supposed to pay up.

What’s the compensation?

For a Marriott Courtyard property, compensation is listed as “$100 USD (Platinum and Titanium Elite members also receive 90,000 points)”. I don’t know this guest’s status, but they are entitled to at least $100.

The Hotel’s Side

Ironically, this is THE SAME HOTEL we had to call out for being shady earlier this year. Remember when they were playing games with their suites & upgrades inventory to avoid honoring elite perks? Interesting that this is the same hotel, but also not surprising.

The Marriott Courtyard Hong Kong Sha Tin says the Ultimate Reservation Guarantee doesn’t apply here. The hotel’s Guest Relation Manager contacted the guest and provided notice of the cancelation. This manager said why the reservation was canceled and said the hotel won’t provide an alternate hotel to stay at. The manager also rejected a request for Ultimate Reservation Guarantee compensation.

What Should the Guest Do?

If it were me, this is what I would do. I provided this same advice in a reply to the guest’s email:

This is really interesting and also sad. Have you contacted Marriott itself about the reservation guarantee?

I would recommend you start with that. 

The Ultimate Reservation Guarantee terms are here, and it looks like they owe you $100 as a Courtyard property – https://www.marriott.com/loyalty/member-benefits/guarantee.mi

Since the hotel is not willing to help you, I would just contact Marriott itself. You could send a private message on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/MBonvoyAssist

Or use the contact page here – https://www.marriott.com/marriott/contact.mi

I would tell Marriott exactly what you said to me – the hotel chose to do this, it wasn’t a government takeover – so the hotel made a decision that involves canceling your reservation, you want your Ultimate Reservation Guarantee benefits.

Go straight to Marriott

Given that this isn’t the first instance of this hotel being shady, I wouldn’t waste my time dealing with them. They wouldn’t play by the rules earlier this year, so they probably won’t now. And they got just a light slap on the wrist after being shady earlier this year, so they likely need Marriott HQ to weigh in before they will play by the rules.

I’d go straight to Marriott–and via multiple channels. Call. Email. Tweet. And highlight that this hotel is refusing to honor written policies. I’d make sure this doesn’t get swept under the rug.

What if it drags out?

But that also depends on how much time and energy you are willing to invest. Common sense would make this an open & shut case, but what if it takes several calls and a whole chain of emails? The hotel might drag it out, just hoping you go away.

Final Thoughts

This is a pretty ridiculous situation. On the one hand, I’m surprised. On the other, I’m 100% not surprised–that wore off when I saw which hotel it involves. This hotel is really something else, and they clearly didn’t fall into line after what happened with their “slap on the wrist” earlier this year. It’s going to take something more serious from Marriott HQ to get this hotel to fall in line. I’m not sure whether I expect that to happen or not.

For this guest, though: good luck. I don’t envy your position.

Have a question? Ask in our Facebook group or email me at ryan[at]milestomemories.com

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

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7 COMMENTS

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, you mean when Marriott sends you an email confirming a reservation for paid suite — a copy of which the property has and which the Ambassador team acknowledges — and then the front desk says you only have a non-suite room in spite of the reservation email . . . BUT, you are going to pay the SUITE daily rate because that is what is on the reservation email . . . and then the Ambassador team says that it is not an ultimate reservation guarantee issue but simply a pricing issue and it will not intervene and you will have to work it out directly with the property? Uh, yeah, I know what that’s like.

  2. Interesting how a very (maybe most) important piece of information was left out.
    How long before the stay was it cancelled?

    • James – the booking had existed for more than a week (how much I honestly don’t know) and was canceled a week in advance.

  3. Given Marriott’s rather extreme customer-unfriendly mentality that the current and prior CEO’s have nurtured, I’d be very surprised if Marriott did anything. Can anyone remember two times recently that the corporation sided with the customer over the hotel?

  4. Tricky point. I’d be curious of a force majeur clause might kick in if the hotel is able to prove they did not know that if they won their bid they’d be excluded from hosting non – quarantine guests. The original tender from the government might be the key document. Also, given that once again there are new travel uncertainties, rules , etc, the hotel might be thinking, hey we need to try and lock down some business to keep afloat. Obviously their prior behavior means skepticism about their current actions are fully warranted.

  5. If one values their time, I don’t know if $100 is worth it in the end unless the goal is to prove a point…and the point to be made is that Bonvoy sucks…which we already know…so no real point made. But to each, his or her own.

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