I have an upcoming stay at the Aruba Ritz Carlton. Like always, I was going to us one of my Ritz Carlton Credit Card Club Level Upgrade Certificates, which is a "Privilege" for booking with your Ritz Visa. A couple of items to note about this process:
a. Based on my read of this benefit, the upgrade is NOT subject to "Upgrade" availability. This benefit has nothing to do with Marriott Rewards, so Ritz hotels should not be throttling the the number of rooms that are available for upgrade. If the Club room is available to reserve, it should be available to use an Upgrade Certificate. I have pasted the read on this benefit below.
b. Every time I have used the benefit previously, the phone number provided by my Credit Card to perform this upgrade reservation was routed to a Ritz Carlton Credit Card concierge. Now, phone calls are routed to regular Marriott reservations, using the same number.
I tried four times, over the course of two days to get my Club Upgrade attached to my reservation. Each time, the reservation agent would tell that the code they were told to enter, in order to attach the certificate, was not working, and that they were showing zero availability. Even though we were able to pull up Club rooms online for reservation - plenty of Club rooms were available. I have stayed at the Aruba Ritz using Club Upgrade Certificates three times previously. Club has never been crowded or sold out during those stays. I knew something was afoot.
I finally emailed Ritz Carlton Customer service directly explaining the situation. Simultaneously, I emailed the General Manager of the Aruba Ritz Carlton.
Within an hour, I had a Ritz Carlton agent on the phone helping me. I finally had someone that agreed with me, that if a Club Room is available to book, it should be available for Club Upgrade. After 15 minutes on hold, she came back to tell me my Club Upgrade was being processed.
What was this issue? Direct quote from Ritz Carlton Customer Service:
"The Revunue Manager turned OFF the Ritz Carlton Credit Card Upgrade availability for the rest of they year on accident".
Both Ritz Carlton and the Aruba Ritz Hotel manager apologized for the inconvenience of me having to spend nearly three hours of my life to secure my privilege.
Maybe my predicament was an isolated incident. However, this is another example of how easily a benefit can be manipulated.
This is the description of the Club Upgrade per the credit card website:
UPGRADE TO THE RITZ-CARLTON CLUB LEVEL*
The more personal comfort of The Ritz-Carlton Club Level is yours. Upgrade your stay three times annually on paid stays of up to seven nights. Subject to availability at the time of your reservation. Advance reservation and e-certificate is required. Valid only on member rates and non-discounted rates. Cannot be combined with any packages, discounts, negotiated corporate or group rates or point-redemption bookings."