For legacy Starwood elites the Starwood/Marriott merger presents opportunities and challenges. The opportunities stem from the large number of hotels and brands in the new company. The challenges do too.
Combined Marriott and Starwood have over 6,700 hotels in 29 brands. Eighteen of the brands and over 5,000 of the hotels are legacy Marriott. The challenging part for legacy Starwood members is that program rules for earning and using points and member benefits vary from brand to brand.
On a couple of recent trips to Bangkok, Thailand, one of the new brands I experimented with is Marriott Executive Apartments (MEA). MEAs are principally designed for long-term stays for people working internationally, relocating, or travelling with family. Marriott Residence Inns and TownePlace Suites adopt the same concept. Element is the comparable Starwood brand.
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There are MEAs in 16 countries across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. MEAs are fully furnished apartments combing the services of hotels including housekeeping, 24-front desk, concierge services, and fitness and business centers, plus full kitchens, washers and dryers, and grocery delivery service. Staying at a MEA could be a viable alternative to a traditional hotel room because MEAs are larger than most hotel rooms, having a refrigerator and microwave is ideal for leftovers and Thai street food, and MEAs are priced lower than many four and five-star Marriott and Starwood hotels.
Marriott Executive Apartments Sukhumvit Park
The hotel is located a few blocks off Sukhumvit Road in an upscale high-rise residential area. It is about eight blocks south of the Phrom Phong BTS Skytrain Station and the fantastic Emporium Shopping Center.
Marriott Executive Apartments Sathorn Vista
Sathorn Vista MEA is located in Silom, a mostly commercial and financial area. The Patpong Night Market and Silom Shopping Center are nearby
At both properties check in was a fantastic experience from the doormen to the front desk reps. A moist towel and refreshing beverage were offered. The front desk reps welcomed me by name and Marriott status
I had booked a studio suite. As a Marriott Platinum Premier Sathorn Vista upgraded me to a One-Bedroom Suite and Sukhumvit Park upgraded me to an Executive One-Bedroom Suite.
The entrance to each suite is through the kitchen.
Kitchens come with plates, silverware, pots and pans etc. The suites also have a washer and dryer.
Apart from the kitchen, the rest of a MEA suite is like a traditional hotel suite.
The Sukhumvit Park executive one bedroom had a much nicer bathroom. It was larger and had a dual vanity plus separate tub and shower.
The bedrooms have king-sized beds, a desk and flat-screen TVs.
The dining area has a minibar.
Earnings. AT MEA properties, Marriott awards 2.5 points or 1 airline mile per dollar spent on room rate only. Members must stay three nights to earn one night credit in the program. Most other brands earn 10 points per dollar spent on all eligible hotel purchases including food and beverages and receive one night credit for each night stayed.
According to the Marriott website members cannot use points to book stays at MEA. I prefer to use points for transferring o airlines partners taking advantage of the 20% bonus. Hint: Those wanting to use points for Marriott rooms should do so before March 1, 2019 when new Category 8, the chart devaluation, and annual category changes kick in.
Other Benefits. Marriott’s website claims that members are not entitled to elite benefits at MEA properties. However I was upgraded to better suites in both locations and also had a full breakfast benefit. Also, both MEAs provided free higher speed internet service. MEAs do not have lounges.
Getting only 2.5 Marriott points on room rate only and 1 night credit for every three night stayed means I won’t stay at MEAs unless there is an excellent room rate. Even though I will receive Lifetime Platinum Premier next year, credit for nights stayed is important to reach 50 or 75 annual nights to qualify for choice benefits like Suite Night Awards or free night credits. That’s too bad because I really like having the kitchen and the washer and dryer is very convenient since I always bring only a carry on and backpack.