Plenty of folks have already written about the opportunities opened up by the merging of the Starwood and Marriott programs. I’m not looking to restate what they said, so go read them instead (here, here, here, here, and here). I just wanted to offer up a few additional thoughts on the matter.
Starwood points convert to Marriott at a 1:3 ratio, so here’s what the combined award charts looks like for holders of Starwood points when you convert Marriott points to Starwood points:
Graphing it, you get this:
Note the constant Marriott slope vs. the asymptotic Starwood line, which would suggest that a category 17 Starwood redemption would go for infinity points. (And it would probably be located in the Maldives.) The point is, you can get some good values on Marriott properties with your Starwood points as the Marriott chart is (for now) cheaper than the Starwood chart. A year ago I did a side-by-side comparison of the major chains and pointed out that Marriott was heavy in categories 2, 3, and 4 domestically:
That means you’re looking at 3 to 7,000 Starwood points per night at a whole bunch of previously unavailable hotels. Internationally, the distribution looks like this–there are still a bunch of category 2’s, but also a bunch of category 7’s:
I know everybody’s looking at flights and miles, and I am too, but I’m also taking another look at Marriott redemptions. For those of us with big families, an influx of points that can be used for low-level redemptions opens up possibilities.
However you plan to take advantage of inefficiencies brought about by the merger, act sooner rather than later since a devaluation here is inevitable.