Readers’ choice winners in hotels and travel at the 2021 TPG Awards
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Our first order of business here during Travel Week at the 2021 TPG Awards is to hand out some hardware — namely to those candidates our readers felt were worthy of honors this year. After five weeks of voting — which ran from Sept. 13 through Oct. 15 — the results are in for the readers’ choice awards, and we’re starting with the hotel and travel recipients (before moving onto cruise lines in our next announcement).
Read on for the winners of the first four awards for Travel Week.
Best Hotel Loyalty Program
Despite a summer surge in travel, operations are still not back to normal for many hotels — and many loyalty programs continue to tweak their offerings in recognition of the ongoing struggle. And TPG readers felt that one program stood above the others.
Winner: Marriott Bonvoy
The Marriott Bonvoy program took home honors as the best hotel loyalty program around, according to TPG readers. With a massive global footprint covering 7,000+ properties across 131 countries and territories, you’d be hard-pressed to visit a destination and not have a Marriott property within easy reach. Participating brands in the program run from high-end ones like St. Regis and Ritz-Carlton to budget options like Fairfield Inn and Towneplace Suites, providing an array of choices for all types of travelers.
Now, it’s worth noting that voting for this award wrapped up prior to the most recent announcements from the program — namely plans to move away from award charts (along with further extensions to point expiration, certificates and Suite Night Awards). It’s impossible to say how this would’ve affected readers’ opinions on the Marriott Bonvoy program — since voting took place before the news broke — but for now, it’s regaining the award that it won in both 2018 and 2019.
Best Hotel Elite Status
In prior years, the winner of the award for best hotel program also took home the honors for hotel elite status — and this year is no different.
Winner: Marriott Bonvoy Titanium
Marriott’s highest status (without a spending requirement) was voted as the best hotel elite status out there by TPG readers. While many travelers did take to the road again in 2021, options were still a bit limited — and Marriott chose to double down on the initial status extensions it announced in 2020.
First, existing elites were given a significant head start on requalification, and then last month’s announcement included yet another year-long extension to status. In short, Titanium is likely within reach for many who wouldn’t otherwise qualify — including a second set of Choice Benefits, along with suite upgrades at Ritz-Carlton properties and United Premier Silver status via the RewardsPlus partnership.
Best US National Park
For the first time, we added a destination-themed award to the lineup — and in a year where outdoor activities reigned supreme, it seemed fitting to give it to the best national park (at least, according to readers).
Winner: Grand Canyon National Park
The first-ever winner of this award is Grand Canyon National Park, one of the most spectacular sites in the country. It may not be the easiest park to reach, but once there, the array of hiking, viewpoints and natural beauty makes it all worthwhile. Lodging choices run the gamut from basic campsites to simple lodges all the way up to “glamping” options — but be sure to book far in advance to make sure you have enough of a selection.
Note that the park does have seasonal variations in the weather (and crowds), so you’ll want to plan your visit carefully — but clearly many TPG readers have already done so, pushing it to the top of the heap.
Best Luggage Brand
The final travel-related award was for the best luggage brand, an honor we gave out in 2019 but paused in 2020. It’s back this year, and a familiar name rose to the top.
Many TPG staffers have very strong opinions on which luggage is best, but readers showed a strong preference for the reliability and affordability of Samsonite, one of the most recognized brands out there. It may not carry the caché of a Rimowa or Tumi or Away suitcase, but with a nationwide network of outlets and authorized retailers, it’s easy to purchase the company’s wide variety of suitcases and accessories.
Some familiar names took home honors during Travel Week here at the 2021 TPG Awards — but we’re not done yet. Stay tuned for our next announcement (for cruise-related awards), and then tune in to our Facebook Live on Thursday at noon Eastern Time, as we break down whether readers got it right or dropped the ball in their selections.
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