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From the shore of Canada to the wine country of California to the beaches Curacao, a look at several of the best Marriott Category 1-5 hotels and locations where you would want to use your Marriott award nights and enjoy some vacation time with your family or even all on your own…
Marriott Rewards has nine hotel categories that range from 7,500 – 45,000 Marriott points per night (and that’s not even counting the Ritz Carlton tiers), but it is only the first five Marriott hotel categories that come into play for those with the very common Marriott Category 1-5 award certificates. These certificates come into play due to the Marriott credit cards, Marriott bonus promotions, and more. Because of the prevalence of the category limitations on these awards, finding the best Category 1-5 Marriott hotel has been an issue for quite a while.
Update: Things change fast in the points world, and many of the properties mentioned in this 2017 post are no longer a Category 5, so please check out this updated article on the Best Marriott Category 1-5 Properties for 2018.
However, finding the best Marriott Category 1-5 hotel is even more of a pronounced issue right now as lots of folks are taking advantage of the Marriott Hotel + Air packages that lump together airline miles and 7 nights at a Marriott property before Southwest permanently stops counting the “air miles” portion of the package towards earning the Companion pass in March 2017.
With the Marriott Hotel + Air packages, the base level packages include seven nights at a Category 1-5 Marriott property + anywhere from 50,000 – 120,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points (or the airline mile of your choice). This really can be a phenomenal deal, especially while the transferred points count towards earning the Southwest Companion Pass, but finding a Marriott Category 1-5 property that you want to spend a week at can be a bit of a challenge for some.
There are plenty of properties to pick from, but I don’t know a whole ton of folks who want to vacation for a week at somewhere like the Courtyard Lexington Airport Hotel. I’m sure it’s great for what it is, but maybe it’s not the type of place where we would typically spend points to stay for a week. You can spend additional points to secure a higher category hotel, but for today let’s look at some of the better location and hotel options currently in the Marriott Category 1-5 grouping.
The Best Marriott Category 1-5 Properties Around the World
Headquarter out of Phoenix for an outdoor adventure trip to Arizona.
There are a number of Category 5 Marriott properties in the Phoenix area including The Renaissance Phoenix Downtown, The Courtyard Phoenix Camelback, and a new Residence Inn Phoenix Downtown.
Ski and Stay in Salt Lake City
Similarly to Phoenix, there are a couple Salt Lake City Category 5 Marriott properties such as The Salt Lake City Marriott University Park and SpringHill Suites Salt Lake City Downtown that could offer a budget-friendly way to stay in the vicinity of all that Salt Lake City has to offer.
From the Courtyard Novato Marin/Sonoma between the wineries of Sonoma County and Napa Valley, to several Category 5 Marriott hotels in and around Anaheim, San Diego, Los Angeles, and more, you could easily put yourself near all sorts of wine tasting, ocean breezes, and California theme park fun. The hotels themselves may not be the most memorable part of your trip, but some of the cities where the hotels are located do rank very highly for family (or adult) fun.
Family Fun in Florida
Similarly to California, there are Category 5 Marriott hotels all over Florida that can put you very close to everything from theme parks to beaches in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, and beyond. While many of these will be the Courtyard and Spring Hill Suites type of properties, some of them like The Castle Hotel in Orlando, are pretty unique.
I know those are some relatively general US-centric suggestions, so here are a few specific international Marriott Category 5 or below properties that are worth a look.
This hotel looks amazingly full of character and is rated one of the best hotels in Central America by Condé Nast. The hacienda-style resort is even located on a 30-acre coffee plantation!
Another Category 1-5 Marriott property that is oozing character and charm is The Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea that is a AAA/CAA 4-Diamond, 5-star hotel within viewing distance of St. Andrews and the Passamaquoddy Bay.
If you want to use your Marriott 1-5 certificate at a new and sleek looking hotel, then the Marriott Hotel Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi deserves a look as it is gorgeous and certainly a cut above many other Category 5 Marriott properties.
This UK based hotel is located within a 14th century manor surrounded by 400 acres of parkland. There is also an heated indoor pool, on-site spa, restaurant, and golf courses at this truly stunning location.
The Renaissance Curacao Resort and Casino is a resort with a casino located on the water in Curacao. I mean, what more is there to say as to why this is a standout Marriott Category 1-5 property?!
A few other Marriott Category 1-5 properties that seem a cut above your standard airport Courtyard are:
- AC Hotel Carlton Madrid
- AC Hotel Torino
- AC Hotel Rio de Janeiro Porto Maravilha
- Renaissance Riverside Hotel Saigon
- JW Marriott Houston
You can, and should, view the entire Marriott Category 5 list here to find some other gems for yourself. While we are on the topic of Marriott categories, remember that hundreds of Marriott properties are changing category effective March 7th, so be sure to book before then if a Category 5 hotel you like is going up to a 6, such as the Renaissance Curacao Resort. The good news is a few solid Category 5 options, like the Gaylord National, will open up as possibilities for a Category 1-5 certificate once they drop from the Category 6 level on that date.
What Marriott Category 1-5 properties are highest on your list?
Earn 75,000 bonus points when you spend $3,000 within the first 3 months. On top of the welcome bonus you'll earn 6x points at participating Marriott and Starwood properties and 2 points on everything else plus a free reward night (worth up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary.
- Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
- Get the card that helps you earn more with U.S. News & World Report’s No.1 Hotel Rewards Program, Marriott Rewards.
- Earn 6X points per $1 spent at over 6,700 participating Marriott Rewards & SPG hotels.
- 2X points for every $1 spent on all other purchases.
- Automatic Silver Elite Status each account anniversary year.
- Path to Gold Status when you spend $35,000 on purchases each account year.
- 15 Elite Night Credits each calendar year.
- 1 Free Night Award (valued up to 35,000 points) every year after account anniversary.