Getting Upgraded to a Villa — Reader Success Story

Dec 19, 2018

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Today I want to share a story from TPG reader Sarah, who got great value from her elite benefits on a recent trip:

Last month, my boyfriend and I traveled to Singapore and Malaysia (Langkawi, specifically). I’m pretty loyal to Marriott, and was keen to take advantage of my Platinum benefits and the number of points I’d accumulated, so we stayed at the JW Marriott South Beach in Singapore and The Ritz Carlton, Langkawi. The points requirement for both properties went up in the new Marriott award chart, so booking before the new price kicked in felt like a success in itself!

Upon check-in at the Ritz-Carlton, we were upgraded to a suite — an amazing room, but I knew there were also villas at the property. I asked whether any were available for an upgrade, hoping they weren’t excluded, and the agent at reception went to check. When she returned, she noted that as we were checking in on a Saturday, no villas were available for the weekend. However, it looked like one would be available on Monday, and she said they would move us if that was still the case after the weekend.

On Monday there was a villa available, and being willing to move rooms part way through our stay gave us three of the five nights (that we’d initially reserved in a queen room) in a huge ocean front villa. All for 40,000 points per night!

High-level hotel status generally entitles you to some kind of upgrade at check-in (provided space is available), but like many aspects of award travel, you can improve your odds of scoring the upgrade you want by staying flexible, informed and polite. Sarah’s willingness to switch rooms in the middle of her trip created an opportunity to get bumped up to a villa, which is normally not an option for Platinum members at Ritz-Carlton properties. I wouldn’t bank on that kind of accommodation, but you might as well see what’s available if you don’t mind breaking up your stay.

It might seem basic, but Sarah’s other success here was knowing that the villas existed in the first place. The term “upgrade” is used pretty loosely, and at some properties it amounts to nothing more than a room on a higher floor or with a slightly better view (with no difference in amenities). If you have something more in mind, it helps to be specific and clarify what you want at check-in (without being pushy, of course). To that end, it also helps to be familiar with the property. Your ideal room might not be available, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

I love this story and I want to hear more like it! In appreciation for sharing this experience (and for allowing me to post it online), I’m sending Sarah a $200 airline gift card to enjoy on future travels, and I’d like to do the same for you. Please email your own award travel success stories to; be sure to include details about how you earned and redeemed your rewards, and put “Reader Success Story” in the subject line. Feel free to also submit your most woeful travel mistakes, or to contribute to our new award redemption series. If your story is published in either case, I’ll send you a gift to jump-start your next adventure.

Safe and happy travels to all, and I look forward to hearing from you!

Featured image courtesy of Hotel The Ritz-Carlton, Langkawi.

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