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Marriott offers special luxury travel programs to a select few travel agencies and advisors called Marriott Stars and Luminous Programs. Most people are unaware they exist, but you my friend are about to have the veil of secrecy removed. Prepare to have access to extra benefits and amenities without even participating in the loyalty programs.
They’re just like you, a luxury traveler, but their travel experiences are rich with exclusive perks while racking up travel points. Wonder how they manage it? Here’s the secret: they use elite travel agencies (and you can too)!
Ready for a new lens on luxury?
Most people are unaware they exist and can’t secure the extra benefits and amenities on their own, so accessing these programs and leveling up from elite to STARS or Luminous depends largely on who you know. Luckily, Virtuoso Travel Advisors have cultivated inside connections in the luxury travel industry and can offer an invitation to these programs for clients looking to book with Marriott hotels & resorts.
I personally use Classic Travel out of New York because of the consistent experience I have had with them, unlike other agencies they allow me to book online without having to call or email. If it’s a complicated itinerary I know I have those options when needed.
What is Marriott STARS?
Marriott STARS is the newly formulated version of the past Ritz Carlton STARS program and the Starwood Luxury Privileges program.
Marriott STARS is the access key to high-profile amenities and experiences starting with a $100 property credit per stay, priority for complimentary room upgrades, one free night (depending on the hotel), daily complimentary breakfast for two guests, a personalized welcome amenity and letter, hotel credits/points, early check-in, late check-out, and free wireless internet during every stay.
Booking your Marriott stay through non-Marriott STARS vendors such as Expedia or Priceline will land you the same bill for your stay, but without any of the STARS perks, and why pay the same price for fewer perks?
Which Hotels Are In Marriott STARS?
If you’re wondering what sets the STARS program apart from the Luminous program, it’s the eligible hotels. Your expert travel agent will work with you to determine the program most suitable for your luxury travel plans and match you to the most ideal options.
Marriott STARS benefits can be applied to a diverse and deluxe variety of participating hotels all over the world. At the moment, eligible luxury hotels include:
- The Ritz-Carlton (15+ countries, 111 properties worldwide)
- The Ritz-Carlton Reserve
- BVLGARI (6 countries, 11 properties worldwide)
- EDITION (5 continents, 11 properties worldwide)
- St. Regis Properties (6 continental regions, 60 properties worldwide)
- The Luxury Collection (10 countries, 8,284 properties worldwide)
What is Marriott Luminous
Similar to Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous grants adventure-seeking travelers access to the luxury legacy of participating hotels imbued with style, tradition, and culture-rich environments.
The Luminous program offers more than just another stay at a five-star hotel.
It offers the opportunity to experience the thoughtful architecture detailed by centuries of a culture’s artistic revelations in the utmost luxury of upgraded living spaces, the abandonment of all sense of time and outside responsibility with flexible check-in/check-out windows, complimentary breakfast for two, a personalized amenity and welcome letter, resort credits, and complimentary wifi.
Which Hotels Are In Marriott Luminous?
Keep in mind that participating hotels are what differentiates the STARS and Luminous programs. While the perks and benefits are extremely similar in category, the experience of each benefit will depend greatly upon the location and hotel of your ideal luxury destination.
Working with an expert travel advisor will ensure that you’re aligned with the best program, perks, and experiences for your ideal luxury travel goals.
Marriott Luminous benefits are applicable to a variety of participating luxury hotels all over the world. At the moment, eligible hotels include:
- Westin (20+ countries, 226 properties worldwide)
- Marriott (130+ countries, 7,000+ properties worldwide)
- W Hotels (24+ countries, 52 properties worldwide)
- JW Marriott (30+ countries, 100+ properties worldwide)
- Autograph Collection Hotels (31+ countries, 140+ properties worldwide)
- Le Meridien (30+ countries, 105+ properties worldwide)
- Renaissance Hotels (36+ countries, 160+ properties worldwide)
- Tribute Portfolio (16+ countries, 65+ properties worldwide)
Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status vs. Marriott STARS and Marriott Luminous
The Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status has structural differences when compared to the Marriott STARS and Marriott Luminous programs.
The latter provides access to member-exclusive amenities and perks that travelers would otherwise miss out on when booking through non-travel advisor-based platforms.
The Bonvoy Elite Status, on the other hand, is a 5-tiered status system based on the number of qualifying nights stayed at participating hotels within a year, percentage of bonus points per stay, and additional bonuses and amenities depending on the status level a traveler identifies with.
Status Levels of Mariott Bonvoy Elite
- Silver Elite Status
- Gold Elite Status
- Platinum Elite Status
- Titanium Elite Status
- Ambassador Elite Status
To read more about the details of each status level and how to upgrade through the tiers, visit our in depth guide on Marriott Bonvoy.
Marriott STARS and Luminous Programs – How to book
Book your Marriott STARS and Marriott Luminous stays by contacting your luxury travel agent or advisor. You won’t be able to book these stays without the connections a travel agent or advisor can offer, so make sure you’ve found an agency that has been in the luxury travel business for a serious amount of time.
I use Classic Travel because of their extensive experience in this area and their easy-to-use online portal. For extended stays or complex itineraries, I simply reach out through the portal and book a direct consultation.
Booking Pro Tips
Minimum Stay Requirement
There is no minimum stay requirement for Marriott STARS or Marriott Luminous bookings, so you’ll gain all the benefits without unnecessarily elongating your stay!
The best available, most flexible, or standard rates offered on Marriott Hotel’s website are generally eligible for Marriott STARS and Marriott Luminous benefits. Members-only rates, advance purchase/non-refundable rates, points bookings, corporate rates, and other promotional rates do not qualify for Marriott STARS or Marriott Luminous benefits.
Unfortunately, the Marriott STARS and Marriott Luminous benefits can only be applied to a reservation during the booking process by an expert luxury travel agent or advisor and cannot be applied to existing reservations. If you’ve already booked your reservation and are looking to re-book the same reservation with the added benefits of these programs, simply cancel your reservation and re-book with your travel agent or advisor.
Does it matter what credit card you use?
While you are not required to use a specific credit card for your stay at a luxury travel destination, using the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card, the American Express card, the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card, or the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card will earn you 6x the Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spend on Marriott Bonvoy purchases, and that can add up quickly! Another option to consider is the Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card at the reduced rate of 3x Marriott Bonvoy points per $1 spent on Marriott Bonvoy purchases, which is still a great deal!
The Decision is Yours
Whether you and your travel agent or advisor decide to book your next luxury hotel stay with the Marriott STARS, Marriott Luminous, or Marriott Bonvoy benefits, you’ll gain access to amazing amenities, benefits, points, and perks each of these programs will happily afford.
I’m a little confused, I happened to be a lifetime platinum elite member of Bonvoy. I’m planning on staying at the Ritz Carlton in Cairo Egypt next year. I also have an American Express platinum card. Are you saying it would be better for me to use an outside travel agent like you suggested in your article, for the best deal?
Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your question, many find it a bit confusing with all the programs, loyalty levels, etc. I think you need to first identify your goal from the reservation and what exactly is a “good deal”. If you are looking for the straight-up lowest per-dollar day room cost then a third-party platform might be the best place to get that. Of course, no points, and a myriad of other service shortcomings come with booking this way. Its a pure $ play IMO. If your definition of the “best deal” is to put yourself at the top of the list for upgrades then I think booking via an agent who is authorized with the Marriott STARS / Luminous programs is the best route. Here is an example. Imagine you are checking in 2 guests, both are lifetime platinum and for discussion sake have almost identical reservation requirements (room, requests, number of nights, etc.). If you only have one room available for upgrade you would be looking for something to differentiate the 2 guest, or “rank them” for lack of a better word. OR if you had 2 rooms available for upgrade but one was better then the other, which guest would you give it to? At that point the rate you paid now becomes much less expensive because the upgrade was free. The other thing you need to look at is F&B credits when comparing. Many balk when they see a higher rate of $50 but forget to look at the possible $100 F&B credit when booking via STARS / Luminous. I recently stayed at the US Grant in San Diego, at check-in they thanked my for my Platinum status AND for booking via Marriott STARS, I truly believe luxury hotels pay attention to travelers who are booking in a more sophisticated manner. Let me know your experience if you decide to go this route, it will be interesting to compare. See you in the lobby!