- PART 1: Marriott Category 1 and 2 Hotels in the U.S.
- PART 2: Marriott Category 3 Hotels in the U.S
- PART 3: Marriott Low Category Hotels in Canada
- PART 4: Marriott Cheap Category Hotels in Mexico, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic
- PART 5: Marriott Cheap Category Hotels in South America
- Part 6: Marriott Cheap Category Hotels in Spain
- Part 7: My Curated List of the Best Cheap Marriott Rewards Hotels in Europe (Except Spain)
- Part 8: My Curated List of the Best Cheap Categories Marriott Rewards Hotels in South Africa
- Part 9: My Curated List of the Best Cheap Categories Marriott Africa Hotels (Except SA)
- Part 10: My Curated List of the Best Cheap Categories Marriott Hotels in Asia
As you know, we have until March 2019 to redeem the future 8th category hotel rooms at the old 60,000-point levels (instead of 85,000 points). This is your best chance at experiencing the top of the top and most outrageously expensive SPG hotels for what’s essentially 20,000 old SPG points. Of course, it’s not just SPG hotels, you’ll find some Ritz-Carltons in the list of the most aspirational Marriott properties, too.
I was expecting that most of the newly-minted Category 8 hotels would block the inventory until the new rates are in effect. To my surprise, most of them haven’t (although some have). Not all, though; Mystique Santorini is blocking availability until October. You might not want to wait until the very last moment.
Here is a complete Marriott Category 8 List. It’s a bit long, as you can see.
Valuation is the key
This is my final write-up on the best post-merger Marriott redemptions. It’s been a long run that started even before the new redemption changes were complete. I’m going to rewrite those first several posts because while the information is still useful (I believe) the format is outdated. For now, though, let’s talk about something many people value the most in hotel loyalty programs — free luxury stays.
I’ve always believed that the 2 best values in most hotel programs are the lowest and the highest categories. It’s not always 100% the case, but exceptions only confirm the rule. Midtier properties are often priced at ripoff levels (as in cash prices are often better than the points you have to throw at it to get your room).
Are you a luxury traveler?
I’m personally very reluctant to spend huge amount of points on such a trivial thing as a hotel stay. 🙂 I love luxury just like the next guy, but I’m usually out there exploring, rather than spending time at a hotel. In fact, every time I find myself staying at a truly luxurious property, I get lazy. 🙂 I have to remind myself all the time that lounging around the swimming pool is not why I’ve flown thousands miles away.
Which is why when I find a deal on a nice vacation rental or even a lesser hotel, I’m a happy camper. As long as it’s clean, not too far away from where I want to be, and has the amenities that are crucial to me, like fast internet.
Then again …
Then again, I’m practically a solo traveler. My wife hates flying, and we rarely travel together. When we do, however, I’ve found myself leaning toward higher-end bookings. W in New Orleans, Diplomat in Hollywood, Fl, Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, another Fairmont — Hamilton Princess in Bermuda, where we got one of the most amazing suites I’ve ever stayed at … When we travel together, I want it to count, I guess.
So, for those special moments, the combined forces of Marriott and the former SPG have a lot to choose from. My research methodology was very simple — to find some aspirational Marriott properties that also offer the best bang for a buck. As a reminder, my Marriott valuation is $0.08 per point — yours, very likely, will vary.
And one more thing: With these amounts of points, you owe it to yourself to take full advantage of the 5th free night, so please build your vacation to stay 5 or 10 days (2×5). There are no excuses to leave 60,000 points on the table.
St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort
Cheap bastard I am, it pains me to call a 60,000-point redemption a bargain, but the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort might fit the bill. Especially if you say “no” to a measly villa with a private pool and get an Overwater Bungalow for a few more (hundred of thousand) points.
A couple of years ago, there was a price mistake for an Overwater villa at this resort. It cost 32,500 SPG points a night and every blogger was salivating about it using superlatives like amazing, extraordinary, and out-of-this-world value. I don’t know if a redemption that is 1/3 higher than a typical credit card 25,000-point bonus was indeed extraordinary, but it could’ve been, considering that the normal rate for OWV at this resort was — wait for it — 90,000 SPG points.
90,000 SPG points is 270,000 Marriott Rewards points. By this calculation, a 5-night reward stay (with 5th night free) should’ve cost you 1,080,000 Marriott points.
Instead, you can have it for 440,000 points or 88,000 Marriott points per night, which is even cheaper than that price mistake 2 years ago. While it’s still outrageously expensive in my book, this is a huge opportunity if:
- You’re flexible and can find availability for 5 days (not easy!).
- You have the points now or will have them by the time of travel (Marriott will advance you points when you make a reservation, but you must have them at least 2 weeks before your stay).
- You don’t get fazed by the cost of seaplane transfer (~700 per person).
- You’re OK with doling out big $$$ for food and activities in a totally captive environment.
Other Aspirational Marriott Properties in the Maldives and Bora Bora
Aspirational Marriott Properties on Koh Samui
One of my most unforgettable stays was Conrad Koh Samui, and I seriously doubt I’d have as much fun on Bora Bora or the Maldives. The reason why I was never bored on Koh Samui despite the Conrad’s seclusion was that I was able to drive around the island after dark and visit real cities with real clubs and restaurants. Because there is nothing to do at those fabulous resorts after dark, you know. Seriously!
Which is why I’ve included these relatively cheap ($480 and $497) properties on Koh Samui. If you spend 5 nights at any of them, that’s still a great redemption at 48,000 points each.
Other Aspirational Marriott Beachfront properties
There are not one, not 2, but 3 Category 8 Aspirational Marriott properties in Sardinia, Italy. Wow!
Aspirational Marriott properties in Europe (cities)
While there are plenty of reasonably priced hotel options in Paris, a stay at Prince De Galles would make perfect sense for a romantic trip to Paris. Just one block from the Champs Elysees with all their endless (tourist-trap) shopping options. 🙂
There are 3 Marriott Category 8 hotels in Venice
- Hotel Danieli, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- PalazzinaG, Venice, a Member of Design Hotels
- The Gritti Palace, a Luxury Collection Hotel
I’ve found that the first 2 hotels cost much less (around 350-400 Euro) even during the high season, so they wouldn’t be good choices to spend 60,000 points per night. The Gritti Palace, however, does fit the bill, IMHO ($852).
Aspirational Marriott Properties in Japan
Japan has 5 outstanding Category 8 hotels:
- The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo
- The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel
- Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto
- The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
- The St. Regis Osaka
Embarrassingly enough, I’ve never been to Japan, but I think 5 days is a minimum time to scratch a surface in Tokyo. As to Kyoto and Osaka, they are close enough to make one of them (I’m thinking Kyoto) a base for exploring the surrounding area.
If you want a western-style luxury, stay at the Ritz ($928), and for a Japanese-inspired luxury, stay at Suiran ($979). Oh, and The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho didn’t make it to my exclusive list due to a low cash rate (a measly $400+). 🙂
Aspirational Marriott Properties in the U.S.
There are 4 Category 8 Marriott hotels in New York
- Gramercy Park Hotel, New York, a Member of Design Hotels
- The Chatwal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, New York City
- The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
- The St. Regis New York
Not all of them have made my list, though, for the reason we’ve mentioned before: too cheap. 🙂 These 2, however, are pricey enough to be featured here.
f you’re heading to Miami, the chances are you’re thinking South Beach. If so, these 2 hotels should work for you.
I thought my list would be incomplete without at least one skiing destination. So, here goes.
Although we don’t know when exactly in March Marriott is going to turn the switch, it would be unwise to wait until the last moment. You can book your stay speculatively almost a year ahead (I think minus 2 weeks) and you’ll get your points back if your plans don’t work out.
Please share your experiences. Have you stayed at any of these or other aspirational Marriott properties or are you planning to?