Marriott Hotels That Now Cost Fewer Points for Family Vacations
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Now that Marriott’s first major category realignment since the introduction of the Bonvoy loyalty program is in place, it’s time to take a look for new opportunities. And yes, we are all still very much mourning the loss of the 60k top tier Marriott bookings. History has shown us that hotel chains typically move more properties up the ladder than down, and that is very much the case with Marriott this year. But since we can’t stop these changes from happening, we are shifting our energies to sifting through the list to (hopefully) find a useful hotel or two that now costs fewer points than before.
Lower Category Properties
We scoured Marriott’s list of category changes and 37 properties around the globe were moving down one category — yes, that is a small number. But these properties now cost fewer points for a free night than you would’ve paid before. Let’s take a look at the full list before highlighting some that will be of particular interest to families looking to plan a family vacation.
|Hotel||Brand||Country/Region||Old Category||Current Category|
|AC Hotel Panama City||AC Hotels by Marriott||Panama||4||3|
|Aloft Abu Dhabi||Aloft||United Arab Emirates||3||2|
|Aloft Bangkok Sukhumvit 11||Aloft||Thailand||3||2|
|Aloft Palm Jumeirah||Aloft||United Arab Emirates||5||4|
|Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection||Autograph Collection||United Kingdom||7||6|
|The Buenaventura Golf & Beach Resort Panama, Autograph Collection||Autograph Collection||Panama||6||5|
|Courtyard Lima Miraflores||Courtyard||Peru||4||3|
|Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort||Courtyard||Puerto Rico||5||4|
|Courtyard Stockholm Kungsholmen||Courtyard||Sweden||5||4|
|Courtyard Sydney–North Ryde||Courtyard||Australia||4||3|
|Four Points by Sheraton Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai||Four Points||United Arab Emirates||5||4|
|Four Points by Sheraton Saransk||Four Points||Russia||2||1|
|Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina||Le Méridien||United Arab Emirates||6||5|
|Lugal, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Ankara||The Luxury Collection||Turkey||4||3|
|The Naka Island, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Phuket||The Luxury Collection||Thailand||7||6|
|Hotel Bristol, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Vienna||The Luxury Collection||Austria||6||5|
|Istanbul Marriott Hotel Sisli||Marriott Hotels||Turkey||4||3|
|Skopje Marriott Hotel||Marriott Hotels||Macedonia||3||2|
|Moxy Tbilisi||Moxy Hotels||Georgia||3||2|
|Renaissance Bengaluru Race Course Hotel||Renaissance Hotels||India||4||3|
|Renaissance St. Petersburg Baltic Hotel||Renaissance Hotels||Russia||4||3|
|Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel||Renaissance Hotels||Austria||5||4|
|Sheraton Batumi Hotel||Sheraton||Georgia||4||3|
|Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers||Sheraton||United Arab Emirates||5||4|
|Sheraton Sopot Hotel||Sheraton||Poland||5||4|
|Sheraton Gateway Los Angeles Hotel||Sheraton||United States||5||4|
|Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort & Spa||Sheraton||Maldives||7||6|
|Sheraton Munich Westpark Hotel||Sheraton||Germany||5||4|
|Sheraton New Caledonia Deva Spa & Golf Resort||Sheraton||New Caledonia||5||4|
|Sheraton Old San Juan Hotel||Sheraton||Puerto Rico||5||4|
|Sheraton Samui Resort||Sheraton||Thailand||5||4|
|Sheraton Zurich Neues Schloss Hotel||Sheraton||Switzerland||7||6|
|The St. Regis Osaka||St. Regis||Japan||8||7|
|W Hollywood||W Hotels||United States||7||6|
|W Los Angeles – West Beverly Hills||W Hotels||United States||7||6|
|The Westin Dublin||Westin||Ireland||7||6|
Sweet Spots for Families
Now that you know what properties cost fewer points than before, here are a few that jump out as potentially being more useful for families.
Bankside Hotel in London
While you’ll need to pony up 60GBP ($80) in addition to 50,000 Marriott points per night to book a room for a family of three, nabbing a room at the Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection in London is worth considering. That outlay will get you a posh room with a king bed and a sofa bed, with cribs available upon request. Families of four can pay a bit more as a cash supplement 100GBP to secure a room with two queen beds. Location wise, it simply doesn’t get any better than this in London. You’re situated at Blackfriars Bridge, within walking distance to the London Eye and the spectacle that surrounds it.
Using points for a room for four is tough in London, so it is great to see this property have a smaller points cost per night for some pretty nice rooms.
Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort — Puerto Rico
If it’s sunshine and convenience you’re after, cast your gaze upon the Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort. Puerto Rico is experiencing a bit of a renaissance post-hurricane. TPG staffers thoroughly enjoyed stays at the St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort as well as the Dorado Beach, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve, though neither can touch the in-and-out location of this Courtyard. For just 25,000 points per night (and a pesky $25 daily resort fee), you can snag a room on the beach with two queen beds and its own balcony.
The property is located right beside Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, which means two things. One, you can teach your kiddo how to plane-spot at SJU while digging your toes into the sand, and two, the commute between airport and hotel will be easy-peasy so this could be a good starting or ending point for a larger trip to Puerto Rico.
Here are some tips for visiting Puerto Rico with a family.
Courtyard Sydney–North Ryde
Sydney remains atop the wish list for a lot of families, but getting there from the United States is often both long and expensive (but here are tips for using your miles). Unfortunately, the expensive part doesn’t go away once you land, either. The Courtyard Sydney–North Ryde fell to a Category 3, requiring just 17,500 Marriott points per night for a no-fuss room with two double beds.
We’ll be the first to admit that its location isn’t spectacular at first glance, but it will serve explorers well. Parking is a fraction of what you’d pay in a downtown hotel, and public transit can get you to Manly Beach or the Opera House. Fitness classes are complimentary for guests at the nearby Plus Fitness, and the hotel is ideally positioned for road trips to some of Sydney’s best nature site: Garigal National Park, Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park and the waterfall-filled Brisbane Water National Park.
Chances are your tweens or teens idolize somebody that they’ve seen on the big screen. If all they want for Christmas is a trip to the famed Hollywood sign and a chance to get a selfie on the Walk of Fame, you’ll appreciate that the W Hollywood stepped down a level to become a Category 6 property. For 50,000 Marriott points per night, you get a flashy room with two queen beds.
Considering that cash rates can push $500 to $600 per night, the redemption value is strong. (Though we totally recognize that families will need to go into a W stay with a sense of humor as the vibe doesn’t always cater directly to young families.) Families could use the annual free night award (redemption level at or under 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card to book a night here.
Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel
While it’s no longer a functioning riding school, parents who can’t seem to get enough equine in their life should check out the Imperial Riding School Renaissance Vienna Hotel, which stepped from a Category Marriott 5 to 4. Vienna is a wonderful entry point to Europe for young kids and teens alike, steeped in history and beauty but hip enough to keep their attention. The seasonal Christmas Markets, rides and more are also a ton of fun.
The building in which this hotel is located once served as a military riding school in the mid-19th century, and the horse theme is strong throughout. It’s also one of the Marriott properties that offers a suite at the lowest award level. Spending 25,000 points with a cash copay (80 euros) nets you a 452-square-foot Junior Suite with a king bed as well as a sofa bed, giving your entire family room to stretch out after a day exploring Austria’s capital. You’ll also get Club Lounge access, which includes a complimentary hot breakfast buffet, midday snack, afternoon tea, evening hors d’oeuvres and complimentary nonalcoholic beverages.
Lower award rates may result in an increase of award reservations at some of these properties, so if you’re eyeing one of these properties that has dropped in price, go ahead and snag an award room now. Remember that Marriott allows you to book award stays even when you’re short on points through the program’s Points Advance feature. It also offers a fifth night free on award stays, so if you can get away for more than a long weekend, you can drop your effective nightly rate even further.
One other reason to book now: We expect Marriott to introduce peak and off-peak pricing at some point this year (date TBD). If you wait to book until after this final award chart change is implemented, you could negate any savings you might have enjoyed. For example, a peak award night at a Category 6 property will price at 60,000 points per night, which will effectively return the W Hollywood, Naka Island and others back to pre-March 5 award rates. That’s why it may make sense to lock in a reservation now.
Change is a constant in the points and miles game, and we’re glad to see a (small) silver lining to Marriott’s 2019 category changes.
There’s no doubt that 2019 hasn’t been kind to the Marriott award chart, but there are a handful of bright spots that are worth exploring and booking as they may help your family get where you want to be for less.
Featured image of Courtyard Isla Verde Beach Resort courtesy of the hotel.
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