From South Africa to Utah: How to get up to 25 award nights from 100k Marriott points

Dec 18, 2020

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Everyone travels differently. So, it’s not surprising that everyone uses their hotel points differently. For example, some people prefer to spend their points on a night or two at aspirational hotels. Meanwhile, other travelers prefer to stretch their points for as many nights as possible.

If you spend a single night at a Marriott Bonvoy Category 8 property like the Al Maha Resort, St. Regis Bora Bora or Scrub Island Resort, Spa and Marina, you’ll spend between 70,000 and 100,000 points on one night thanks to Marriott’s peak and off-peak pricing. Meanwhile, that same amount of points could get you a week or more at Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 or 2 properties.

There is no right or wrong way to use points. But, today I’m going to show you how you can stay at Marriott properties for up to 25 nights using 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or less. Then, I’ll highlight some of my favorite Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 and 2 properties, both domestically and abroad.

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Wondering how to get 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points quickly? The Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card and Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card both currently offer a 100,000 point welcome bonus after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new card in your first three months. Plus, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex offers an additional 25,000 bonus points after your first anniversary of card membership. Both of these elevated offers end on Jan. 13, 2021.

Now, let’s take a look at how many nights you can get from 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Then I’ll discuss some of the best Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 or 2 properties where you can maximize the number of nights you’ll get from 100,000 points.

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Want to stretch your points with a different loyalty program? Check out our guides for doing so at Hilton domestic, Hilton international, Hyatt domestic, Hyatt international, IHG domestic and IHG international properties.

How many nights can I get?

The Marriott Bonvoy award chart has eight categories. Each category has peak, standard and off-peak rates that vary across properties and dates.

In this guide, I’ll only consider Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 and 2 properties. After all, these are the properties where you’ll be able to stay the most nights with 100,000 points. Category 1 properties cost between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night, worth between $40 and $80 based on TPG’s valuations. Meanwhile, Category 2 properties cost between 10,000 and 15,000 points per night, which TPG values between $80 and $120.

If you quickly do the math, you might assume that you’d be able to stay 10 to 20 nights at Category 1 properties or six to 10 nights at Category 2 properties using 100,000 points. But since Marriott offers you a complimentary night when you redeem points for five nights, booking your stay in increments of five nights will actually get you up to 25 nights at Category 1 properties and up to 12 nights at Category 2 properties.

Now that we know how many nights can be squeezed from 100,000 Marriott Bonvoy points, let’s consider some of the most attractive Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 and 2 properties. If you’re looking to book a particular property and have flexible dates, be sure to use the flexible search function on Marriott’s website to check whether you can stay during off-peak dates.

Related: Why I’m earning more Marriott Bonvoy points during the pandemic

Category 1 properties

Cape Town, South Africa
Visit Cape Town, South Africa and its wine country using Marriott Bonvoy points. (Photo by Deyan Denchev/Shutterstock)

Marriott has 272 Category 1 properties, which represent about 3% of the entire Marriott portfolio. Of these 272 properties, 42 are located within the U.S., 22 are in Mexico, eight are in Canada, 22 are in Europe, one is in Central America and several are great for a points and miles fueled safari in Africa.

As a reminder, Category 1 properties cost between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night. So, you’ll only need between 20,000 and 40,000 points for a five-night stay since you’ll get the fifth night free. Based on TPG’s valuations, 20,000 points are worth about $160.

Here are four of the best-located domestic Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 properties:

  • SpringHill Suites Baton Rouge North/Airport (Louisiana): This hotel is near the Baton Rouge airport but is within easy driving distance of Baton Rouge attractions like Southern University, Baton Rouge River Center and Louisiana State University’s Tiger Stadium. This is an all-suite property, and each suite has a half-wall between the sleeping area and living area.
  • SpringHill Suites Vernal (Utah): This hotel is a 25-minute drive from Dinosaur National Monument and a short drive from numerous outdoor adventures. This all-suite property features rooms with mini-fridges, microwaves and separate working and living space. So, it is well set up for a family trip.
  • Fairfield Inn Huntsville (Alabama): This hotel is right off University Drive and Route 255 near many of Huntsville’s attractions, including the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Redstone Arsenal.
  • Fairfield Inn Albuquerque University Area (New Mexico): This hotel is in midtown Albuquerque near the University of New Mexico.

Frankly, Marriott Category 1 properties abroad are more impressive than the ones you can find domestically. Here are some of my favorite international Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 properties:

  • Protea Hotel Cape Town Durbanville (South Africa): This hotel is surrounded by the Durbanville Wine Route’s lush vineyards. It’s a great base for a wine country visit if you plan to rent a car.
  • Protea Hotel Johannesburg Parktonian All-Suite (South Africa): This all-suite hotel is located in downtown Johannesburg. The property has a roof-top pool and a free local shuttle.
  • Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari Lodge (Zambia): This hotel is just 25 miles from Lusaka in its own private game reserve of approximately 2,500 acres. It has beautiful gardens where you can relax and watch wildlife, as well as open-sided buildings for the restaurant and bar. This is the perfect place to get a free night on stays of five nights, as you’ll want plenty of time to watch the wildlife and take game drives organized by the lodge.
  • Aloft Panama (Panama): This hotel is next to Atlapa Convention Center and just a few miles away from Metropolitan National Park, the Canal Museum of Panama and the Presidential Palace.
  • Aloft Asuncion (Paraguay): This hotel is located near Asuncion’s financial district and offers excellent views of the city. The property has a roof-top pool.
  • Protea Hotel Walvis Bay Pelican Bay (Namibia): This hotel overlooks the Walvis Bay Lagoon, which offers a safe refuge from the Atlantic Ocean for flamingos, whales and dolphins.
  • Sheraton Grand Samsun Hotel (Turkey): This hotel offers magnificent views of the black sea. Plus, the hotel is within walking distance of Samsun’s business, shopping and entertainment districts.

I have plans to visit several of these international Marriott Bonvoy Category 1 properties. In fact, I was about a week away from staying at the Protea Hotel Lusaka Safari Lodge in Zambia this March when I decided to return to the U.S. to ride out the coronavirus pandemic.

Related: 13+ ways to earn lots of Marriott Bonvoy points

Category 2 properties

Pyramids in Egypt
Stay at Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa to check out Egypt’s pyramids. (Photo by Omar Elsharawy/Unsplash)

Marriott has 1,167 Category 2 properties, which represent about 15% of the entire Marriott portfolio. Of these 1,167 properties, 715 are located within the U.S., 25 are in Mexico, 42 are in Canada, nine are in Central America and 79 are in Europe.

As a reminder, Category 2 properties cost between 10,000 and 15,000 points per night. So, you’ll only need between 40,000 and 60,000 points for a five-night stay since you’ll get the fifth night free. Based on TPG’s valuations, 40,000 points are worth about $320.

Here are several appealing domestic Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 properties:

  • Sheraton Dallas Hotel by the Galleria (Texas): This hotel is located near Dallas Love Field. And, it’s within walking distance of popular shopping destination Galleria Dallas. The hotel offers an outdoor pool and a free shuttle to several restaurants and bars.
  • Houston Marriott North (Texas): This hotel is located near George Bush Intercontinental Airport and has a free airport shuttle. The hotel has great views of the Houston skyline as well as an indoor/outdoor pool.
  • SpringHill Suites Denver Tech Center (Colorado): This all-suite hotel is relatively new and located next to Fiddlers Green Amphitheater. This hotel’s location is suitable for day trips into the mountains around Denver.
  • TownePlace Suites Albuquerque Old Town (New Mexico): This hotel is located across from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, with easy access to I-40. If you’re planning a western road trip, this hotel might be a good stop.
  • Fairfield Inn & Suites Mobile Daphne/Eastern Shore (Alabama): This recently renovated hotel is located near attractions on the Gulf Coast and in Mobile. The USS Alabama battleship, Gator Alley, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach are all within a one-hour drive.

As with Category 1, the Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 properties abroad are much more impressive than those you’ll find in the U.S. Specifically, here are some of my favorite international Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 properties:

  • Le Méridien Pyramids Hotel & Spa (Egypt): This hotel is located just outside Cairo. But, you can enjoy views of the majestic Giza Pyramids from many parts of the property, including some rooms.
  • Le Méridien N’Fis (Morrocco): This resort hotel is located in the Menara district of Marrakech. You can relax at the resort’s lush parkland while still being just minutes from Marrakech’s city center.
  • Protea Hotel Cape Town Mowbray (South Africa): This hotel is a historical Cape Dutch Manor house that dates back to approximately 1880. The property is located between the Mowbray and Observatory neighborhoods in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Protea Hotel Stellenbosch (South Africa): This hotel is in the wine country just outside Cape Town, South Africa, near the cute town of Stellenbosch. Some rooms feature impressive views of the vineyards.
  • Park Chalet, Shahdag, Autograph Collection (Azerbaijan): This hotel is located slope-side at Shadag Mountain Resort. Whether you visit in winter to ski or in summer to enjoy lakes, waterfalls and lush valleys, this hotel gets great ratings.
  • Sheraton Belitung Resort (Indonesia): If you’re looking for a beach vacation in Indonesia, this Sumatera resort might be a great choice. All of the rooms have scenic views and the resort’s private beach has white sand and turquoise waters.
  • Courtyard Mexico City Revolucion (Mexico): This hotel is located in Mexico City near the World Trade Center Mexico City and the National Museum of Anthropology.
  • Courtyard Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina): This hotel is ideally located in Sarajevo’s city center. I enjoyed visiting Sarajevo back in 2017, so I would love to return and enjoy the river views from this hotel.

Of course, these are many other excellent Marriott Bonvoy Category 2 properties that might fit into your next trip. For example, I’m personally looking forward to visiting the Le Méridien Dahab Resort on a trip to Egypt. But I didn’t include this property in the above list because it’s located in a less-visited part of Eqypt.

Related: The 12 best ways to spend Marriott Bonvoy points across the US

Bottom line

There’s something to be said for using your points to stay at luxurious properties. But if you’re looking to stretch your points as far as possible, there are plenty of Category 1 Marriott properties that cost between 5,000 and 10,000 points per night and Category 2 properties that cost between 10,000 and 15,000 points per night.

I was impressed when I found multiple Category 1 safari lodges in Africa. And there are also several Category 2 Le Meridian properties in Egypt, Morrocco, India and China. But there are also many Category 1 and 2 properties in the U.S. if you don’t want to travel abroad.

If you’re looking to plan a trip using as few Marriott points as possible, head over to Marriott’s hotel directory, filter by Category 1 and/or 2 and see if any of the locations work for your trip. If possible, book five-night stays or longer when using points so you’ll get one of your award nights for free.

Apply now for the Marriott Bonvoy Business American Express Card or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card, or check out our guide to which Marriott card is best for you.

Featured image of Cape Town, South Africa by Vicki Jauron/Getty Images.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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