Marriott managed to hit a new low this week, at least in my eyes, as promised reservations were stripped away from clients in Tahiti with no resolution or compensation. Back in November, we reported on a problem that Marriott has had with keeping valuable properties under their umbrella. It’s my assumption that certain SPG hotels that have been very upset with the Marriott changes, have been able to get out from their flag contracts due to the change of hands to Marriott. Unfortunately with the change of flags came a bigger issue, what to do with existing reservations, Marriott allows reservations to be booked up to 50 weeks in advance.

October 15, 2018 Message From Marriott

Le Meridien Tahiti left the Marriott umbrella on October 15, 2018 with virtually no notice, which came as a pretty big surprise as most of the time, there is at least a little notice. Marriott sent out letters to clients that stated:

“As a valued Marriott Rewards member, we are writing to inform you of a change in the status of Le Meridien Tahiti. Since October 16, 2018, the property is no longer part of Marriott International or Le Meridien brand and no longer participate in the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program. We see you are currently holding a reservation, arriving on xxx 2019 and departing on xxx 2019. We are pleased to inform you that the hotel will honor your reservation for a Preferred (free) Night Award, including Cash and Points, as your stay was originally confirmed. However, since the hotel will no longer be affiliated with the Starwood system, you will not earn Starpoints for any eligible charges incurred, nor will you receive any of your Starwood Preferred Guest membership amenities or benefits. We realize this may be disappointing but hope we can count on your understanding.”

January 9, 2019 Message From Accor

As of January 9, the message changed and customers who had received the above message in October now are being told tough luck, but this time from Accorhotels.

 

“Since October 15, 2018, the former Méridien Tahiti has been managed by Accorhotels under the name Tahiti Ia Ora Beach Resort managed by Sofitel.
We are sorry to inform you that we were unable to reach an agreement with the Marriott group to redeem the bookings made with SPG/ Marriott points, cash & points and employee rates. We therefore have no other choice than to cancel the reservation with other arrangements such as transportation, activities, … you made at our hotel.
We will be happy to help you to book again your reservation at Tahiti Ia Ora Beach Resort managed by Sofitel , please contact us or visit our website at www.accorhotels.com, to make your new reservation.
We remain at your disposal for any further information or assistance needed to enjoy your next stay in our beautiful islands.
Thank you for your understanding.”

Who’s Affected?

There only appears to be 3 types of bookings affected by the new change but as this property was in an aspirational area, I imagine that a good deal of customers are affected.

  • Free Night Redemptions
  • Cash & Points Bookings
  • Employee Paid Bookings

Why Le Meridien Tahiti Mattered

Most people who are traveling to French Polynesia aren’t staying in Tahiti. People are usually forced into a stopover in Tahiti due to a lack of flights to Bora Bora or Mo’orea after their long haul flight arrives. Both United and Air Tahiti Nui have flights arriving after 10:00 PM. Le Meridien Tahiti was the only Marriott property on the island of Tahiti. With sky-high prices year round, spending 35,000 points usually made more sense than paying the cash rates.

Who’s Responsible?

It’s being report by Doctor of Credit that AccorHotels representatives actually reached an agreement with Marriott/SPG, only for Marriott/SPG to then try to change the reimbursement rate agreed upon. Marriott is still not automatically refunding points bookings and is still not contacting customers about cancelled bookings. It seems now that AccorHotels is sending out e-mails to those with bookings to inform them of the cancellation and also offering a special cash rate when requested.

First of all, I’d be pissed off at Accor, the audacity of them to cancel a confirmed reservation and tell people to re-book with them at a higher rate is bold. I get why they did it but, that combined with the conflicting messages leaves a sour taste. At the end of the day, the back and forth doesn’t really matter. This solely falls on Marriott, as it was originally their property and they made a prior promise to honor the reservations.

It is a cardinal sin for Marriott to not honor a promise, and goes directly again the golden rule, which they hold so dearly. While technically Marriott holds no legal responsibility to honor reservations, it puts their clients in an awful situation and drives customer loyalty into a grave. It sounds like Accor was being reasonable and Marriott decided to go and torpedo everything over a few dollars and cents, which just isn’t right.

Marriott’s Response

We reached out earlier this week but we’re still waiting. We will update if they can be bothered to comment.

Hey Marriott, Do The Right Thing

 

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