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Top of the award chart St. Regis-style luxury properties are flashy and get lots of attention when folks think (or write) about places to use your Marriott Rewards points, but sometimes properties a little lower on the award chart are the better bet. Lower tier properties can be a better call to stretch your points whether you just need a clean bed to sleep in or perhaps you have a Marriott Category 1-4 certificate to use.

Travelers get Marriott Category 1-4 certificates — valid at properties costing up to 30,000 points per night — either from the non-converted Marriott Rewards Premier Credit Card, the Marriott Air + Hotel packages or other means.

While it’s pretty easy to come up with a few of the best places for families to use the annual Marriott Rewards certificates worth 50,000 points available with the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card or the 35,000-point certificates available annually with the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or the Marriott Rewards Premier Plus Credit Card, as you get to the Category 4 properties that currently cost 25,000 points per night, it gets a bit tougher. But, there are still many family-friendly properties available around the world. Some will be the more limited-service Residence Inn and SpringHill Suites properties, but if that hotel puts you where you need to be to go and explore, then who cares that you can’t order room service 24/7?

I encourage you to browse Marriott’s site for 25,000-point properties that will meet your needs throughout the United States, across Europe, into Asia and beyond. But to give you an idea of what is available, here are ten of the best Category 1-4 Marriott properties for families that currently cost 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.

Be aware that some of these resorts do charge resort fees in addition to the annual award certificate.

Residence Inn Orlando Convention Center

This Orlando property was the top-rated Marriott Rewards property in our Best Hotels to Use Points Near Disney World study when we accounted for value, availability, location, Hotels.com traveler ratings and more. It isn’t the flashiest property in the area, but award rooms are available for 25,000 points per night, there is no resort fee, free breakfast is available for all and the hotel is less than three miles to Universal Studios. This way you can use points or award certificates on the hotel room and have money left over for fun at Universal Studios and Disney World!

Welcome to Universal, goodbye to your wallet
Explore Diagon Alley at nearby Universal Studios

Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista

While not quite the award value it used to be before the SPG and Marriott Rewards merger, the Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista is still a solid contender for families looking to get the most out of their Marriott Category 1-4 awards as it is located less than a mile from Walt Disney World.

Photo courtesy of Sheraton Orlando Lake Buena Vista

Aloft Austin Downtown

For a different sort of family trip, use your Category 1-4 Marriott Rewards certificates to stay at the Aloft in Downtown Austin. This is a great hotel from which to headquarter a trip to visit The University of Texas at Austin (Hook ’em!), check out nearby Zilker Park, kayak on Lady Bird Lake and much more.

People canoeing on Lady Bird Lake in Austin with the Austin Skyline in the background. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
People canoeing on Lady Bird Lake in Austin with the Austin Skyline in the background. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

AC Hotel Salt Lake Downtown

If your family needs an overnight in Salt Lake City before heading out to ski or explore the area, the AC Hotel Salt Lake Downtown is bookable for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. This property is a 10-minute walk to Temple Square and about a 30-mile drive to area ski resorts.

Photo courtesy of AC Hotel Salt Lake Downtown

AC Hotel Chicago Downtown

Continuing with the downtown hotel theme, the AC Hotel Chicago Downtown is within walking distance of Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which makes it well-located for all sorts of Chicago activities, restaurants and Instagram-worthy stops.

Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. (Photo by @kmaria75 via Twenty20)
Lake Michigan and the Chicago skyline. (Photo by @kmaria75 via Twenty20)

Courtyard Kauai Coconut Beach

This property is not your never-going-to-leave-the-property Hawaii hotel, but it is a property that puts you close to family-friendly Lydgate State Park and the Smith Family Luau, both Kauai favorites for my family. Oceanview rooms with a balcony can be booked for just 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.

Photo courtesy of Courtyard Kauai Coconut Beach

Westin La Paloma

The Westin La Paloma Resort Spa is located in the foothills of the Santa Catalina Mountains outside of Tucson. Here you will find 27 holes of golf, five pools and a 177-foot waterslide all for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.

Photo courtesy of Westin La Paloma

The Henry Autograph Collection

The Henry, an Autograph Collection hotel in Detroit, was recommend by a traveler in our TPG Family Facebook Group as a luxurious option very close to the Henry Ford Museum. Based on photos and reviews, there is no question this hotel is a touch above most other domestic Category 4 Marriotts in terms of style and offerings.

Photo courtesy of The Henry Autograph Collection

SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate

Your family can stay just blocks away from Disneyland in California and take advantage of free breakfast at the SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate. Don’t expect a resort hotel experience here, but you can sleep up to six people in a standard room for 25,000 points per night or a Marriott Category 1-4 certificate.

Anaheim, CA USA - August 22, 2015: Disneyland 60th aniversary at Cars Land. This year Disneyland celebrates its 60th aniversary of been open. On this day the park celebrated with fireworks and over 150 thousand people. People walk around rides and games at the downtown Cars Land during the night time..
Photo by Getty Images

Another nearby option available for the same number of points per night is the Courtyard Anaheim Convention Center.

Houston Airport Marriott at IAH

If you have an early or late flight, sometimes the best thing you can do for your family is to book a hotel room that is connected to the airport. While not exactly an aspirational redemption, there are many ways to use a Category 1-4 Marriott stay to be close to the airport without spending your cash. The Houston Airport Marriott at George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) is the only hotel at IAH, making it a good use of 25,000 Marriott Rewards points or a Cat 1-4 award if you need to be near the airport.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Marriott IAH Hotel

There are many other airport redemptions at Marriott’s Category 4 level including the Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel, Renaissance London Heathrow Hotel, Paris Marriott Charles de Gaulle Airport and many more. 

Don’t Stop There

Those ten ways to use your Marriott Category 1-4 awards are just a sampling of what is possible. Don’t stop there in dreaming up ways to use your certificates or Marriott Rewards points. Also at the Category 4 level you will find the Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and SpaMarriott Plaza San Antonio, Element Basalt — AspenColorado Springs MarriottAC Hotel New Orleans Bourbon, Sheraton Niagara Falls and many other places to give your family a chance to see more of the world for much less than you might think.

Photo courtesy of Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa
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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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