Al Maha is one of those aspirational churning properties that people love talking about. Bedouin Suites are priced between ~$700-$2,000 per night depending on the season and feature a swimming pool, free meals, and two desert activities per day. Better yet, until March when the new Category 8 is rolled out, it can be booked for 60,000 Marriott points per night.
Changes to Al Maha Bookings
It appeared that all bookings made after December 11, 2018 would no longer include meals and activities, but several blogs are now reporting that this negative change has been reversed. However, the Rate Details on award rooms still say “ROOM ONLY REDEMPTION STAY”. Marriott has confirmed that rooms will include meals and activities going forward, but if you’re concerned, you can always email the hotel directly (Reservation.Almaha@luxurycollection.com) to confirm before your stay.
Other Weird Things with Luxury Collection Reservations
Luxury Collection reservations were recently merged with Marriott’s systems causing reservation numbers to change. For Al Maha at least, any bookings made prior to this merge were showing as if they were booked as a cash rate rather than points. Depending on who you talked to at Marriott, they may or may not have seen that it was actually booked with points. For the most part, Al Maha was consistent about confirming these were, in fact, award stays.
I made three Al Maha bookings for next fall since I don’t know my travel dates yet and wanted to lock in the 60,000 per night rate. I was envisioning hours of customer service phone calls to get back my points when I cancel two of these bookings. Luckily this concern was short lived as Marriott has patched things up and all award bookings are showing properly now.
Things are a bit wonky with Marriott’s IT at the moment. Despite what your screen may be showing, I trust that the negative change to Al Maha bookings has been or will be reversed, we just can’t see it yet. The points converting to cash rate issue appears to be resolved so I see no harm in making speculative bookings any time before March. You can then email the hotel to confirm full room and board prior to booking flights, and if necessary, cancel the reservation.