Your Marriott national park hotel stay may have just gotten cheaper

Sep 19, 2020

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On September 17, 2020, Marriott and the National Park Foundation — the National Park Service’s nonprofit partner — announced a partnership that brings cheaper rates to hotels near national parks in the U.S. Additionally, this partnership lets Marriott Bonvoy members redeem points for “America the Beautiful” annual park passes and donate points to the National Park Foundation.

Brian King, Marriott’s global officer of digital, distribution, revenue strategy & global sales, said the following about the new partnership:

“We are thrilled to offer Marriott Bonvoy members a convenient way to plan road trips and explore historical sites and national wonders with their friends and families with this one-of-a-kind travel partnership. The opportunity to experience breathtaking scenery in pristine wilderness settings while giving back to the National Park Foundation is invaluable and will help preserve parks for future adventure seekers.”

This partnership is excellent for road trippers and travelers looking to experience the great outdoors during the coronavirus outbreak. It will help you save money and support the National Park Service to ensure a bright future for America’s most sacred lands.

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Rates now start at just $99 per night, but discounts are far and few between

The most interesting part of the promotion is access to discounted hotel rates near all of the country’s national parks. There are currently 419 national parks, with at least one in each of the 50 states. Marriott operates 406 hotels located close to these parks, and each is supposedly eligible for discounted rates through the partnership.

The partnership states that you can book nights at these hotels starting at $99 per night when you book through Marriott’s national parks page. Alternatively, you can book through the standard Marriott website and enter promo code “M96”. We recommend using the promo code as the landing page’s search function couldn’t find many of the locations we entered. We ran a handful of hotel searches and compared prices.

Related: The 19 national parks every traveler needs to see at least once

Some hotels received a significant discount with the code. Summer Hull, TPG’s director of travel content, booked three nights at the SpringHill Suites by Marriott Springdale Zion National Park. She saved over $100 with the code, which is an excellent deal.

Additionally, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Moab — located five minutes from Arches National Park — priced out to $87 per night with the partnership. This hotel was $98 per night without the promo code, giving you a nice 11% savings on an already low priced stay.

Fairfield Inn and Suites Moab
(Image courtesy of Marriott)

On the other hand, most hotels near a national park showed no change on most dates. This is extremely disappointing when compared to the press release. We’re hoping to see the national parks discount become more widespread over time.

Related: A beginner’s guide to visiting Acadia National Park

Redeem Marriott Bonvoy points for parks passes

Interested in redeeming points for an “America the Beautiful” parks pass? You can redeem 22,500 points for a one-year pass that grants access to all national parks in the U.S. The pass is valid for the cardmember and anyone else in their vehicle when entering the park. This pass normally costs $80 per year plus a $5 processing fee. This means you get just 0.37 cents per point in value.

Redeem Marriott for a Parks Pass
(Image courtesy of Marriott)

This is 0.43 cents per point lower than TPG’s most recent valuation, so we strongly advise against this redemption. You’re far better off paying cash for your parks pass and saving your points to cover a nearby hotel stay.

Related: TPG staffers share their favorite national parks

You can donate points to the National Park Foundation

This partnership allows Marriott Bonvoy members to donate up to $500 worth of points to the National Park Foundation. This is a great way to show your support for the National Park Service during these uncertain times. If you’re interested, the full $500 donation costs a whopping 125,000 points.

Make sure you don’t have an alternate use for your points before donating. Again, you could be better off giving a cash donation and using your points to cover an expensive stay. You could redeem 100,000+ Marriott Bonvoy points for nearly a week’s worth of stays near a national park.

Related: How you can donate your points and miles to charity

Earning Marriott Bonvoy points

While this partnership may not be the best deal, it will inspire many travelers to head to national parks in 2020 and 2021. If you’re planning a trip to one of America’s parks, you should consider earning Marriott Bonvoy points beforehand. You can redeem these points for stays at any Marriott property worldwide.

The fastest way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points is with a Marriott co-branded credit card. Here’s a look at their current offers:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Bold Credit Card:  Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. You’ll earn up to 14x points per $1 spent at participating Marriott hotels; 2 points per dollar spent travel purchases, and 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. No annual fee.
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card: Earn 5 Free Nights (each night valued up to 50,000 points) after you spend $5,000 in the first three months from account opening. You’ll earn up to 17x Bonvoy points per dollar spent at over 7,000 participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels; 3 points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent in combined purchases each year on gas stations, grocery stores and dining, and 2 points per dollar spent on all other purchases. You’ll enjoy the same free night award (up to 35,000 points) every year after your account anniversary. $95 annual fee.

You can also transfer American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy, but we don’t recommend doing this. You’ll generally lose value with these transfers given Marriott Bonvoy’s low points value.

Related: Marriott Bonvoy Boundless credit card review

Bottom line

It’s great to see Marriott and the National Park Foundation team-up. To us, this partnership makes a lot of sense too. More travelers are heading to national parks these days, and they’ll need a place to stay. Marriott and National Park Foundation both need extra revenue these days, and working together makes this easier to achieve.

That said, we do wish the hotel discount was more widespread. Our team ran several searches near major national parks for an assortment of dates in 2020 and 2021. We found very limited dates and locations that offered discounted rates. It’s always worth searching through Marriott’s national parks page, but don’t expect a huge discount every time you book.

Feature photo by CrackerClips Stock Media/Shutterstock

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