11 best uses of Marriott 35,000-point certificates for family vacations
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While you were busy staying safe and sheltering at home, your credit cards may have been busy racking up perks that are now ready for you to put to use.
In the Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, there are co-branded credit cards offering an annual free night worth up to 35,000 points at each renewal. And — the validity of those 35k night perks earned during the pandemic were extended through Aug. 1, 2021, so you may actually have several nights to use in the coming months.
This perk makes it (more than) worth it to pay the annual fee each year on these cards. For example, if a pretty low annual fee card allows you to stay at a property selling for $200 to $300 per night, then that card goes in the “keep” column for me. The cards currently available that offer the 35k Marriott certificate valid at properties selling for up to 35,000 Marriott points per night include:
On top of that, know that the Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex currently has a limited time welcome bonus where you can earn 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy bonus points after you use your new card to make $3,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months of card membership.
There are some additional legacy Marriott/SPG cards that are no longer available to new applicants that also offer the 35k certificates.
These 35,000 point certificates can typically be used at Marriott Category 1–5 hotels, but a wrinkle has been introduced with Marriott’s peak and off-peak pricing that took effect back in 2019. Peak dates at Category 5 properties now cost 40,000 points per night and are out of range of the Marriott 35k certificates. On the flip side, a Category 6 property on an off-peak date that is also a PointSaver date or a part of some other sale is now within range. More on this in a minute.
TPG has an article on the 7 great uses of the Marriott 35,000-point certificates, and they are fabulous uses of the annual certificates, but they aren’t all practical for families. I mean, the St. Regis Bangkok looks amazing, but we aren’t heading there for a long weekend anytime soon.
If you and/or your partner have a few of these Marriott cards at the ready (and you might if you didn’t travel much last year), you could string together a multi-night stay using one certificate for each night of your vacation. With spring breaks, winter breaks and long weekends in mind, here are 11 of the best uses of the Marriott 35,000-point certificates for families.
Be aware that many of these resorts do charge resort fees in addition to the annual award certificate.
Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort
It is no surprise that oceanfront rates in Hawaii can be $300 to $400 per night during some parts of the year, so any place in Hawaii that takes a 35,000-point Marriott certificate is worth consideration. The Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort specifically is worth a look as it is about halfway down the airport side of Kauai, making it a reasonable drive to almost anywhere on the island, or good for a pre- or post-flight overnight.
This is by no means the fanciest hotel on Kauai, but it has undergone a renovation recently and it does feature a pretty convenient location for getting out and exploring the beautiful island.
Some other Hawaiian Marriott properties where you can use the 35k certificate include:
- Sheraton Princess Kaiulani in Honolulu
- Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay
- Courtyard King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino
St. Kitts isn’t the easiest Caribbean island to reach, but it is certainly a very calm, beautiful and relaxing destination that is worth the effort once you arrive.
This particular hotel is located on Frigate Bay, steps from the ocean shore, and features multiple pools, a casino and activities for those ranging from oldest to youngest. If you are trying to decide between the Park Hyatt St. Kitts and this property, know that the Park Hyatt is in a much more secluded location and there is significantly more activity around the Marriott. Which is better in that regard will be entirely personal preference.
If you are planning a near-term trip, know that St. Kitts still has somewhat of a hotel bubble rule in place, so you may want to put this one on the “later” list for when restrictions ease.
Springhill Suites Panama City Beachfront
If what you want this summer is an easily accessible beach with nice sand and clear, pretty water, the Florida Panhandle is a solid choice.
I’ve never stayed at the Springhill Suites Panama City Beachfront and instead have rented vacation homes when in the general area, but if you are looking to conserve cash and just need a place to sleep and shower near the beach, this hotel could do the trick on a 35k certificate. It’s walkable to the beach and within an easy distance to plenty of places to eat, shop and play.
Don’t go expecting luxury out of this hotel stay, but the nearby beaches are world-class.
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas
The Sheraton Steamboat Villas are in a five-star location for skiing at Steamboat, and like at any mountain ski destination, paid rates can get truly crazy during the winter.
We stayed here a few years ago, and the location was perfect for ski-in and ski-out convenience. The hotel itself wasn’t particularly fancy, but they have undergone a renovation since then. Thankfully, unlike with most points-friendly ski properties, the 35k award rate has remained the same.
Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center
There are a number of family-friendly Gaylord resorts across the U.S. in places like Colorado, the D.C. area, Florida and Texas. These convention-sized resorts may often hold conferences (during normal times), but they are generally also great for families. In the winter, they feature ice-themed winter wonderland activities, and in the summer, the pools don’t disappoint.
The Gaylord Texan has both a large indoor pool and a 10-acre outdoor resort pool featuring four winding waterslides and a lazy river. There are also cabanas, multiple onsite restaurants and indoor gardens available for enjoyment and exploration.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Livingston Yellowstone
National park visits are always a great family vacation, but right now, the great outdoors is an especially popular choice for many family vacations. If your family is exploring Montana and the area around Yellowstone, then at least an overnight in the Livingston area isn’t a bad choice. Located about an hour’s drive from the park’s north entrance, Livingston is actually a lovely town with an Old West ambiance all its own.
On top of that, this new hotel gets high marks for being kept clean, having an indoor pool and free breakfast for all.
If Livingston, Montana isn’t in your travel plans, but you are looking for some hotels near national parks and outdoor-focused destinations. A few other options that accept Marriott 35k certificates include:
- Residence Inn Big Sky/The Wilson Hotel
- TownePlace Suites Whitefish Kalispell (near Glacier National Park)
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Gatlinburg Downtown (near Great Smoky Mountains National Park)
- Fairfield Inn & Suites Alamogordo (near White Sands National Park)
Marriott Harbour Lake Orlando
There’s just shy of a gazillion hotels of all shapes and sizes in the Orlando area. But if you are traveling with a family and looking to use a Marriott 35k certificate on your vacation, it’s hard to beat the Marriott Harbour Lake Orlando. It has guest rooms, one-bedroom and two-bedroom villas — and sometimes even the true one-bedroom villas are bookable with a Marriott 35k certificate.
When it comes time to cool off, the resort has a Discover Florida Falls, which it describes as an interactive water playground, including a slide pool (must be 42 inches). There’s also the Shipwreck Landing pool, which is a little-kid friendly pool area featuring a pirate ship, complete with water slides and water cannons.
New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
In recent years, the number of Category 5 Marriott properties in NYC has dwindled — dramatically. However, a few remain and the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge might be a compelling choice for families looking to book a stay with a 35k certificate.
The hotel gets pretty solid reviews, features an indoor pool and has rooms with two double beds at the standard 35,000-point rate. Not all hotels in NYC have rooms for four people available at the standard award rate, so this is a great option for just a 35k-point certificate.
Some other NYC Marriott properties where you can use your 35k certificates include:
- Residence Inn New York Downtown: Manhattan/World Trade Center Area
- Marriott New York Downtown
- Aloft Harlem
- Moxy NYC Downtown
Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa
This Mexican beachfront resort has multiple pools, a variety of restaurants, a spa and even a kids club for those ages 4–12. The Marriott Puerto Vallarta consistently receives above-average reviews and it’s hard to go wrong with a day at the pool next to the ocean.
The nearby Westin Puerto Vallarta is another good option for families looking to use a Marriott 35k certificate. Here are some tips for families who plan a trip to Puerto Vallarta.
SpringHill Suites at Anaheim Resort/Convention Center
The Springhill Suites Anaheim Resort Convention Center gives families plenty of space by offering standard rooms that are true suites plus free breakfast and easy access to Disneyland.
This is not the closest Marriott to the entrance of Disneyland, but it looks to be the nicest and newest in this price range. If you want to sleep even closer to Mickey Mouse, you can also use your Marriott 35k certificate to stay at SpringHill Suites Anaheim Maingate. I personally had a great stay with a 35k certificate at the Fairfield Inn by Anaheim Resort just a couple blocks from Disneyland.
If none of those meets your needs, here are other points hotels you can book near Disneyland.
JW Marriott Grand Rapids
Who said a Marriott 35k cert couldn’t score you at least a little touch of luxury? While most of this list is made up of the more budget-friendly Marriott brands, there are also brands like Autograph Collection, Westin and JW Marriott to be found at the 35k level if you look hard enough. This Grand Rapids JW Marriott has a swanky indoor pool, spa, on-site dining and is very close to tons of family-friendly activities. There’s a nearby zoo, children’s museum and family fun center.
But, arguably, the headlining attraction in the area — at least in the summer — is Lake Michigan.
Michigan is stuffed full with lakes that really look more like oceans with legitimate beaches than what you may think of when it comes to a lake.
Book a Category 6 hotel with a 35k certificate
File this bit under “chasing rainbows and unicorns,” but it is possible to book a Category 6 Marriott with a 35k point certificate if all the stars align.
For example, the beachfront Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa has some PointSaver dates available for just 35,000 points even though it is a Category 6 hotel that normally costs 40,000 – 60,000 points per night. Combine that PointSaver discount with off-peak dates and the standard 50k award price drops to 35k. That means you can snag the booking at a higher category hotel using just a 35k point certificate.
Marriott PointSaver availability is fluid, but head here to keep an eye on some available options. The key is finding a Category 6 hotel with PointSaver rates on an off-peak night.
If these 35k properties aren’t what you are after and you don’t want to cross your fingers for the chance to use your 35k certificate at a Category 6 property, look into the up to 50k annual award available at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy program (certain hotels have resort fees) with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card.
Featured image courtesy by author of the Sheraton Kona Resort
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