8 places to maximize an 85,000-point Marriott award night certificate
There have been lots of changes to Marriott's free night certificates recently.
Earlier this year, Marriott began letting Bonvoy members top off their free night certificates, up to 15,000 points. On Sept. 22, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant® American Express® Card had some big changes. Among those changes, the annual free night certificate has increased from 50,000 to 85,000 points per night.
Additionally, after spending $60,000 on the Brilliant card in a calendar year — starting in 2023 — cardmembers can select a second 85,000-point free night certificate as a Choice Benefit.
So with more members now having 85,000-point free night certificates in their accounts, let's look at how you can maximize these awards.
General maximization strategy
TPG values 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points at $714, so that should be your comparable cash price after tax when deciding whether or not to use an 85,000-point certificate.
Of course, there are other personal considerations when redeeming your free night certificate, but on paper, a "good" redemption of an 85,000-point certificate would be for a room that's at least $714 after tax.
I suggest using the Cash + Points feature on Marriott's website to identify the most advantageous night for redeeming a free night certificate.
For instance, a four-night stay at the Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris ranges from 82,000 to 83,500 points per night in February 2023.
You might assume that you would be best off redeeming your free night certificate on one of the nights that costs 83,500 points (as opposed to 82,000 points). However, as you can see, an increase in the number of points doesn't always equate to an increase in the cash price.
Actually, in this case, the most expensive night is the least expensive in points. So consider reviewing the various nighly cash and points prices for your stay before redeeming your certificate — by doing so, you stand to maximize your award.
Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection
Carved out of a crescent-shaped beach, the fully renovated Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Autograph Collection offers guests L'Occitane en Provence bath amenities and signature cinnamon French toast.
While nightly rates here start north of four figures, it's a great place to redeem an 85,000-point award certificate. Also, unlike most resorts in Hawaii, the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel doesn't tack a resort fee onto the room rate, so if you plan it right, you could stay here without any cash out of pocket.
Pro tip: Early arrivers to the Manta restaurant for breakfast enjoy the outdoor dining tranquility of Pacific Ocean views with the sound of tropical birds and gently crashing waves.
Related: Best beach on the Big Island: A review of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C.
The Ritz-Carlton Georgetown, Washington, D.C. is a Marriott Bonvoy enthusiast favorite. With just 118 rooms, this AAA Five Diamond-rated hotel used to be an incinerator, but now, it's one of Washington's premier hotels.
Guests enjoy views of the Potomac River from nearly all the rooms. While cash rates here start at $524 per night, most nights go for the upper $800s. If you can't find availability for under 85,000 points, you can top off your certificate to cover the night, up to 15,000 points. More on that here.
Pro tip: Stop by the lobby in the late afternoon for complimentary hot chocolate and premium snacks.
Related: A secret cherry blossom spot in DC that's less touristy
The St. Regis Deer Valley
If you want ski-out, St. Regis-level service, the convenience of The St. Regis Deer Valley in Utah is a solid choice for that 85,000-point certificate.
Since this area is a relatively short drive from the Salt Lake City airport, it can make more sense for a shorter ski trip than some farther-afield Colorado resorts.
During the ski season, rooms here are often over $1,000 per night. Weekends are often going to come in at 120,000 points, so use a flexible-date calendar to spot nights for under 100,000 points — that is, a time when you could use your 85,000-point certificate and top it off with up to 15,000 points if needed.
Pro tip: You can rent ski equipment on-site, and make sure to use the ski valet. If anyone in your group is brand-new to skiing and can’t make use of the ski-out location or needs to be dropped off at ski school, the hotel has a free shuttle to the base of the mountain.
Related: Ski-ln luxury: A review of The St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah
The Bodrum Edition
When you go to the Marriott website or see a credit card ad with pictures, you might think, "Wow, where is that?" It could be the Bodrum Edition.
The 108-room Bodrum Edition is an ultraphotogenic property on the banks of the Aegean Sea. Guests seeking relaxation can enjoy the resort's Turkish hammam. Those looking for nightlife can jamboree in one of the two bars, the hotel's nightclub or savor the all-day Latin American dining fare.
The resort is closed from November until mid-April, so you'll need to plan your stay accordingly. During the shoulder season, room rates start at just under 400 euros, but peak summer dates reveal consistent room rates over 1,500 euros. That could be a steal of a deal using an 85,000-point free night certificate.
Pro tip: Leave time to sit back on one of the resort's multiple overwater hammocks. You'll rock into a doze with gently curated Edition music and gentle waves.
Related: Run, don't walk here: A review of the Bodrum Edition in the Turkish Riviera
JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa
If you're looking for overwater bungalows and private plunge pools, look no further than the JW Marriott Maldives.
As one of Marriott's newer resorts in the Maldives, the standard room here — which can be booked using an 85,000-point certificate — is an overwater bungalow totaling an impressive 2,518 square feet of combined indoor and outdoor space.
Paid rates over the next several months start at just shy of $700 per night but can easily double depending on your dates. Luckily, very few nights exceed 100,000 points, so you should be able to redeem an 85,000-point certificate here and top it off if needed.
Pro tip: There is a yoga platform jutting into the sea, where free classes are offered most mornings and evenings.
Related: New kid on the island: A review of the JW Marriott Maldives Resort & Spa
London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
London is home to endless excellent hotels, but one that stands out is the London Marriott Hotel Park Lane.
The hotel is on the city’s Park Lane, right at the foot of Hyde Park. This means you have easy access to all London offers with just a quick walk or ride on the Tube.
The property’s luxurious rooms are well designed and have touches of classic British style. Additionally, the lobby is posh, and the hotel has a popular on-site restaurant — Lanes of London — that serves contemporary British cuisine and traditional afternoon tea.
Those with Platinum elite status or higher can visit the Executive Lounge for breakfast, drinks and refreshments throughout their stay.
While it may not be the most over-the-top hotel on this list, its perfect location and upscale amenities make it worth a visit. Nightly rates in the coming months average around $600, so your free night certificate stands to save you a lot of money.
Pro tip: You’re right down the block from the Marble Arch Tube station, which can whisk you to Central London in minutes.
Related: 17 best hotels in London for every type of traveler
Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Paris
Step off fashionable Avenue George V and through the doors of this art deco gem, and you will find yourself transported to the 1920s Paris of the so-called Lost Generation ... with a few glam updates by star designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, of course.
The hotel is just around the corner from Champs-Elysees and the flagship boutiques of globe-spanning fashion brands such as Louis Vuitton on nearby Avenue Montaigne. Oh yeah, and you can walk to the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower pretty easily, too.
This over-the-top luxury hotel has just 116 rooms and 43 suites, so rates tend to soar over $1,100 per night. On most nights, you can book awards for 100,000 points, which means that you will certainly have to top off your free night certificate. Still, it might be worth it.
Pro tip: You might miss it if you’re not in the know, but the hotel has a small spa, including so-called Wellness Suites by spa guru Olivier Lecocq, complete with a private hammam, green-mosaic shower, massage area and treatments incorporating rejuvenating Unique Elixir Paris products.
Related: Art deco decadence: A review of Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Paris
The Madrid Edition
What may have been Madrid's most anticipated hotel opening of the year, the Madrid Edition unites Ian Schrager's sleek eye with the bygone grandeur of Spain's heyday.
It's in the heart of Madrid, just a few steps away from Puerta del Sol. Guests can enjoy the rooftop pool with striking views of the city, the spa with candlelit treatment rooms and the hotel's restaurant, Jeronimo, helmed by chef Enrique Olvera of Mexico City's Pujol (ranked one of the top 50 restaurants in the world).
With introductory room rates ranging from $400 to $800, such luxury doesn't come cheap, so using an 85,000-point free night certificate can be a great option to stay here.
Pro tip: For the ultimate indulgence, reserve the Opera Penthouse or the Madrid Penthouse, both duplexes with kitchens, living areas, massive outdoor space and private pools. Each features floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of Madrid's rooftops — perhaps even better views than the main pool and shared hotel rooftop. Room rates start at $20,000 per night.
Related: First look: Spain's newest luxury Marriott hotel, the Madrid Edition
You have a world of choices at your fingertips with a Marriott 85,000-point certificate. It’s hard to go wrong when you have your pick of almost any Marriott property. However, options like these eight examples will help you get the most reward from your valuable certificate.
If you want to enjoy an annual 85,000-point certificate and 95,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy points after $5,000 in eligible purchases on the card in the first three months, now is an ideal time to apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card.
Additional reporting by Summer Hull, Andrew Kunesh, Benji Stawski, Chris Dong and Eric Rosen.