Bill Craigle, Marriott Rewards’ “50 to 50” sweepstakes winner, husband and father of two grown sons, has become the most popular person on his block. He is taking a group of 50 family and friends on an all expenses paid trip to the San Francisco Bay Area to watch Super Bowl 50 from a luxury stadium suite – a priceless and memorable gift. “The Craigle 50,”all handpicked by the sweepstakes winner, is a combination of 35 family members and 15 close friends including members of the medical team that helped treat a life-threatening illness facing Bill’s oldest son. To help share the news, Marriott Rewards surprised the Craigles and their extended family when their favorite football player of all time, Brian Urlacher, showed up unexpectedly at their front door to deliver their prize, all captured in this heartwarming video:
Watch out, Dubai. The Two Bellmen are back and they are ready to save the day (again)! Follow them over the sand dunes, through the Arabian Gulf, and down the legendary slopes of Ski Dubai as they chase a very important USB drive in their typical parkour fashion. Will they make it back in time to save the day? It’s time to find out.
I know you’re all excited about getting together in Houston this year, so I thought I’d share with you the meet-up that the community moderators had yesterday in Bethesda, MD! caratdeannadlindseyhKatieCmelissaerb and myself had a wonderful time spending the day together talking all things Insiders!
Let the magical city of Prague play a picturesque backdrop for your romance this February – and any time of the year. Celebrate your love with an indulgent romantic escape to Prague and discover the magic of the city of hundred spires. Prague looks particularly beautiful covered with a little snow that glistens in the soft light of the gas lamps. Explore the little narrow streets of the Old Town, stop at little cafés, wine bars and taste delicious Czech cuisine and wines while watching the world go by. When at the Old Town Square do not forget to watch the Astrological clock chime at full hour (every hour) and observe the saints making their round. Also at the Old Town Square, catch a horse carriage and let yourself be whisked away for a romantic tour around the city all wrapped up in cozy blankets. Should you prefer a faster mode of transport, hire one of the veteran cars that whizz around the famous historical sites in great comfort.
Let an evening walk take you to the Charles Bridge and bathe in the picturesque views of the lit up Prague Castle. Then make your way down to the Kampa Island where you can lock your love with a padlock on the railings of the Čertovka small bridge looking back towards the Charles Bridge. Prague, known as the city of culture, also offers a highly artistic feast. Catch your favorite opera or ballet in one of the three opera houses, visit a classical music concert in the Municipal house or opt for a chamber music performed in one of the numerous churches. Sample the rich jazz & blues scene in one of the local jazz clubs. Visiting Prague during the wintertime will have you strolling through one of the most romantic places in the world while having many of the famous sights to yourself. We would be happy to welcome you in Boscolo Prague with our Romantic Package.
We have a new team member joining us this week! I'm excited to introduceAndrewT. You'll start to see Andrew’s name on Insiders as he begins moderating. He is someone you can go to for help. carat, deannad, lindseyh, KatieC and melissaerb are all still here.
You can learn a little more about Andrew below:
The Tri-State has always served as my home base, but the time I’ve spent away while living in different places inspired my passion for travel. I spent four of my childhood years living in Waterloo, Belgium, where I attended the International School of Brussels. My family and I took advantage of this unique opportunity by exploring as much of Western Europe as we could. While each city offered something exciting and new, it was my trips to Florence, Venice, Sorrento, and the island of Crete that have stuck with me the most.
More recently, I spent another two years living in Miami. South Beach certainly lived up to its reputation, but I found that there is so much more to the “305”. I really enjoyed getting to know places like Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove, as well as cheering on the Hurricanes at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Still, I’ve learned that you don’t have to go very far to get away, and you don’t need to go somewhere new to find adventure. I’ve spent every summer of my life just a few hours north in Cape Cod and I love it more every year. The last couple of winters I’ve headed up to Vermont to try my hand at snowboarding. I’ve seen mixed results on the slopes, but the scenery alone is enough to keep me going back.
I feel extremely lucky to have had these experiences. Like most, I’ve found that the more I see, the longer my travel bucket list grows. Atop that list is California, where I look to take in the west coast for the first time. Wherever my travels take me, I am happy to be joining the Insiders community.
2015 was a very busy travel year for my wife and I, posting many of my videos on Marriotts Insiders of our travel including:
Myanmar (formerly Burma) – February 2015
Maldives – April 2015
Shroud of Turin, Turin Italy/French Open – May 2015
Maine Lobster Festival – July 2015
South Africa – Kruger Park – September 2015
Abu Dhabi U.A.E. – October 2015
It was difficult to pick two of the many videos I have posted on my 2015 travels on Insiders but finally decided on Myanmar, a country that only opened to Tourism a relatively short time ago (Hot Balloon Ride) and Kruger Park, South Africa Safari Where we had the opportunity to see up close an dpersonal two rare white Rhinos that are in danger of becoming extinct as well as many other wild animals.
Looking forward to begin my 2016 travel to the Australian Tennis Open in January (staying at the Melbourne Marriott for 6 nights) and Sydney (staying at the Sydney Harbour Marriott for 5 Nights) as well as going to Perth, Tasmania, Alice Springs and Ayers Rock. Other 2016 trips as of now are Japan (in May) and Uganda – Safari to see the Gorilla’s in September. Videos of these trips coming in 2016.
First, what a great idea by Marriott to encourage individuals sharing their travel photos and adventures, I enjoyed reading the posts and seeing people’s beautiful pictures, but especially someone their resilience.
My husband and I travel the world to find and appreciate the world’s amazing collection of birds. We loved Thailand. We have been across the globe and no matter where we go, we always stay at a Marriott and we never go anywhere without our Marriott Chase card. Knowing after the end of an amazing trip whether it is cycling 60 miles a day through the Alps or traversing the rainforest, we will be enjoying a stay at a Marriott is a luxury. The level of customer seevice and attention to detail is very appreciated. This October we ended a three week cycling tour across Europe in Amsterdam. An amazing city and an amazing experience. The Marriott provided us bicycles to tour the city, chauffeur service, and divine restaurant recommendations. We are very fortunate to be able to travel the world and we realize the Marriott Chase card makes it possible.
The one thing that I noticed more than in 2015 was…..The kindness of people. I traveled all over this year and the recurring theme was the compassion of others. I could point out the great service I received from the awesome staff at Residence Inn Vaughan or Towneplace Nazareth but that is the norm anytime I go to a Marriott property.
I was more fascinated by the open kindness I witnessed time and time again. I saw people in need, people who were ill or to something so basic as giving up a seat on a train. To often we hear about the negative but there is still so much positive out there we really need to highlight it. I’ve been involved in many charitable causes for year and have always tried to put others first. It’s great to see that feeling is contagious. Having had a few rough times this past year, it was gratifying and much appreciated to have family and friends there for me.
Whether you’re enjoying a great vacation at a Marriott or just chilling at home, always try to find the good in people. I’m sure 2016 will bring many ups and downs, but no matter what a helping hand will always be a there when needed.
This year I walked over 300km on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain. I met pilgrims from all over the world. Every day was a challenge to lace up the boots and set out, but once I got started, it was like a present from the gods. The scenery changes every few days and walking though small villages gives you a sense of what life is like for the locals. Madrid and Barcelona are wonderful, but spending 16 days walking is unforgettable. I finished my walk and spent a few days in Vigo at an AC Marriott. I felt like I had all the pampering that I had earned. Fresh squeezed orange juice and café con leche every morning for breakfast, as much as I could drink. A breakfast buffet that made ACs my top choice in Spain from now on (The AC in Madrid was equally as good). The view from the room was over the port and made for the perfect prize for my efforts. I’ll be back again next year.
After talking about it for years my wife and I finally made a trip to Israel in late May of this year. We touched down in Tel Aviv and checked into the Renaissance, which is on the best stretch of beach we’ve ever been to and hosts a fabulous Executive Lounge. I’m not a religious person and wasn’t sure what to expect from the trip and had gone there with no expectations. It didn’t take long for me to realize what all the hoopla about this tiny country was all about. It was the people, it was the food, it was the history and it was the attitude. And for the first time, I finally realized what the conficts were all about, seeing the sites firsthand.
Being a private pilot for the past 35 years I’ve made friends all over the world and I used this to my advantage in Israel. When I mentioned to a close friend of mine that I was headed to Israel he got in touch with a friend of his who own a small Cessna that he keeps at a regional airport within the city of Tel Aviv. After a few introductions we arranged to meet at the airport on a Monday at 10:00am. After going through some rather intense security screening, we made it onto the ramp, buckled up and took off. We flew north to Haifa, through the central desert and on the way back from the south passed within eight miles of the Gaza strip. After two hours in the air we covered most of the country, and boy was it a real eye opener and something like 99.999% of visitors to the country never get to do.
After our stay in Tel Aviv we headed to the northern part of the country and stayed on a kibbutz for a few days. The exact location was seven miles from the Lebanese border. During the next few days we toured around in our rental and even pulled up to the fence on the Syrian border.
The summer of ice. 2015 had some great adventures including our trip to the great state of Alaska. We took a 10 day cruise which began in Seattle. Which meant we needed a place to stay in Washington. And where did we turn? We chose a hotel and resort chain called Marriott. For this trip we went with a courtyard in northern Seattle. It had everything we needed for our 1 night. As a platinum member I love all the options available through Marriott. From the pinnacle of luxury to a comfortable budget freindly choice, they have everything we need for each and every trip. Maybe that's the new tag line. "Marriott, we are everything you need."
More of our Alaskan Adventure
To read more of the stories from the “What You’ve Seen in 2015” contest, click here:
Yorkshire, probably one of the most romantic places on earth …. At least that’s what we think here at the Hollins Hall Marriott Hotel and Country Club. It's the simple things in life that are the most special, and what could be lovelier than a romantic stroll through the charming Yorkshire landscape with your loved one on Valentine’s Day? Yorkshire has something for everyone, from beautiful wooded walks, nature trails, tumbling streams and cascading waterfalls – and it’s all on our doorstep. So wrap up warm this February and take a romantic walk in our great outdoors and discover why we think Yorkshire is one of the most romantic places on earth!
Here are a few of our most beautiful, romance-inspiring, sweep-them-off-their-feet walks within easy reach of Hollins Hall:
Malham – why not try the short walk to Malham Cove, or the picturesque walk to the waterfall, Janet's Foss, from the center of Malham. A couple of miles from the village you’ll find Malham Tarn, the highest glacial lake in England, set amid rolling hills and rugged moorland.
Bolton Abbey - Explore the ruins of the Priory and discover a landscape full of history and legend. Take a walk over the stepping stones and wander along the woodland and riverside paths.
Haworth – follow in the footsteps of the Bronte family and take a walk up to Top Withins, the supposed setting of Wuthering Heights. Follow the pathways the Brontes walked, through the moorland that inspired them.
And the best bit? It’s cozying up back at Hollins Hall with a well-deserved glass of something sparkling and a romantic dinner in Heathcliff’s Restaurant. There are so many places to visit within an hour’s drive of Hollins Hall, I am sure you are bound to find your bit of romantic Yorkshire with or without your walking boots!
A Platinum member has discovered an error in the “I’m On the Go” feature in our Elite brochure. We appreciate that savvy traveler’s help and want you to have the correct details.
The New York EDITION is listed as “across from Madison Square Garden.” Its actual location is across from Madison Square Park in the heart of New York’s Flatiron District. Apologies for the mix up. We hope you have a chance to check out this awesome hotel — in Madison Square Park!
Traveling is always better when you have someone to share it with. It’s even better when you share it with your family. Whether it be a trip that took years of planning or an unexpected event that brought you closer, family travel is always something to celebrate. This group of What You’ve Seen winners have shared some great stories!
Our travels this year are not classified as "leisure", they can't even be under "vacation". More along the lines of "health and wellness". You see, we spent the last three months At the Towneplace Suites due to the fact that our medical team are located here.
In July of 2015, me and my fiancé were involved in a head on crash. Long story short, together we were not going anywhere. But, we were one step closer to being the bionic couple! We spent a little over a month in hospitals for treatment and rehab. Our daughter, while not in the car and therefore safe and unharmed (thank everything!), but trying to explain to a 4 year old and a 6 month old that mommy and daddy can't come home, let alone hold them and play, just isn't possible.
After we left, We were told we needed even more therapy, and even further away from home. Our doctor told us about Towneplace suites. We set up the reservations, and our last big step of our healing journey.
This step was the easiest and best.
WE were able to bring our girls and mom (his mother in law), and everyone made things feel like home. The staff and our family have become great friends, we celebrated our improvements, watched as I learned to walk again, as my fiancé learned to walk, as we learned to ay with our girls. They cheered us through our therapies, our tests. They listened to our realizations that nothing will be same again, but they will be great. Some even cried with us when we were told bad news. They treated us like family. our girls are back to being happy little balls of energy, laughing with us.
This christmas, we were told the greatest news. We had graduated out of physical and occupational therapy. We were going to go home! The staff cheered, though we were all sad that we would be leaving soon. But before we left, we were able to celebrate Christmas together. We had dinner in the lobby, we all laughed and joked, and the girls had a blast.
even if this wasn't a leisurely vacation, it was fun, it was comforting, it was happy, sad, exciting. It was amazing, and awesome. Our travels were not planned, but they were exciting, and we couldn't be happier with this expireance.
Maybe next time we come up, it will be planned for pure relaxation! I can't wait!
The picture is of my two girls with one of the staff members, our friend.
My Dad traveled for a living and visited all of the states of the United States with the exception of Hawaii, Alaska, and New Mexico. He passed away early last year and in honor of him I plan to spread some of his ashes in those three states whenever I get a chance to visit them. This year I was lucky enough to go to Hawaii. On one of our adventures on the island, I found the best place to spread his ashes... The Manoa Falls. It was absolutely perfect. I look forward to making more special memories in Alaska and New Mexico.
2015 was a year for the books. My brother and I were able to take my father on a trip he has been dreaming about for years. On this "boys" trip we ventured all the way down to Argentina to go hiking in Patagonia. This place instantly impressed us with its magnitude and beauty. Patagonia is going to get a second spot on my bucket list. We made our way to Iguazu water falls on the border of Brazil to see 10,000 cubic meters of water gushing over the cliffs. You can't explain or capture on a photo the size of Iguazu. Our last stop was Rio de Janeiro, Brazil were we stayed in the amazing JWMarriott right across from the beach where we extinguished our thirst for the delicious Brazilian cocktail - the caipirinha. All in all, it was a trip of a life time with our father. In fact he can't stop talking about it.
Our travels this year were quite varied yet all special and memorable; it’s too difficult to pick just one. We started the year with our first Ritz-Carlton experience booking the American Girl package at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner just outside Washington, DC in early March. While not quite as spectacular as the American Girl store in New York City, the area was much more comfortable for us suburbanites to spend a couple days treating our daughter to a special 7th birthday weekend. We were greeted in our room upon check-in with a lovely presentation of milk and cookies:
The following day brought us to the American Girl store, a treat for any young girl who loves dolls:
We wrapped up the visit taking the train into the city the following day to visit some of the many wonderful museums open to the public before returning to our car and driving home.
Our next vacation was a longer trip, first for our son by airplane, to visit family for 5 days in April in Durham, NC. The SpringHill Suites was booked on points+cash for our family of 4 to have space to spread out across 2 beds and a sleep-sofa, and the included breakfast was nice to get the days started without wasting time at a restaurant. The highlight of this trip was a visit to the Conservator’s Center in Mebane to see all the magnificent animals they care for:
The final trip of note was another weekend birthday treat for our son’s 4th birthday to the new Thomas Land at Edaville USA, in Carver, MA in early September. This marked our first time visiting a Residence Inn, with a 2 bedroom suite. Nothing fancy, but it did the job for 2 nights. Thomas Land was a big hit with both kids:
We’re putting together some exciting new travel tips & ideas for your Marriott Rewards emails. We want your input – what sorts of travel inspiration and information are you most interested in seeing more of in your inbox?
Comment on this post with the topics you’d like us to cover! Below are some ideas, but tell us if you have other suggestions:
Thanks again to everyone for sharing their stories. Enjoy!
chango71This was my first trip to Europe. Picture was taken in September 2015 in Bruges, Belgium. The trip started off as me travelling alone, having purchased a great travel deal back in January 2015. Luckily, 3 friends were able to join me on this adventure traveling from Stockholm, Amsterdam, Brussels, Bruges, Cologne and finally to Munich (Oktoberfest!!! Prost!!!!). In the picture is a lifelong friend who I have known for close to 30 years. I am blessed to have such wonderful friends and to have had the opportunity to travel to these parts of the world with them. Bruges is truly a like a fairy tale town. Travel is truly enriching and I look forward to many more travel adventures with friends and family.
jd007 My favourite travel memory of 2015 was at the Great Barrier Reef, where I got up close and personal with Australia's beautiful marine life. I'm generally afraid of water so snorkeling was never an option. Instead, I chose Seawalker, where they drop a ladder in the middle of the sea, and you take one step at a time until you're on the seabed. The best part was that my face remained dry all throughout. Walking on the seabed with those beautiful creatures surrounding me was a marvelous experience! ( P.S. That's me right there in the video with the glasses & the wife clinging onto me )
sterb I just got back from a trip to China yesterday. It was so amazing getting to experience their culture. (Fried silkworm cocoons anyone?!) I think one of the highlights for me (I almost got emotional!) was seeing the Great Wall. I have always wanted to see the 7 Wonders of the World and I marked one off my list! We took a chairlift up to the wall (terrifying if you hate heights like me) and then hiked around a section for about an hour. It is one of the most amazing and breathtaking views I have ever seen, especially with the snow capped Yin Mountains in the background. Perhaps my favorite part was riding a toboggan back down. You know the song by OneRepublic that goes "with every broken bone I swear I lived"...that was in my mind the entire time. But I've never had more fun in my life. That is why we travel...for moments like that. Amazing times that you will never, ever forget.
droma: Earlier this year I was lucky enough to take a vacation to Rome with my girlfriend (her first trip to Italy) at the time. We were both so excited that as soon as we got into our apartment we changed our clothes and went exploring.
I took her to climb Aventine Hill and look through the Knights of Malta Keyhole to an amazing view of St. Peter's. We then took a short walk over to Giardino degli Aranci (The Orange Garden) and overlooked the city, which is where I got down on a knee and proposed.
She said Yes!
And here is a picture from the next day:
I get to travel a lot for pleasure and work, but this will always be my favorite trip.
travelagent16Hey Insiders, My name is Justin and I am from Canada. Today I am going to share with you guys some highlights from my best travel experience from 2015 last May in New York City! Being a Travel and Hospitality graduate, I am obviously passionate about travel and pay very close attention to details. Choosing a hotel was no easy task as New York & New Jersey have endless choices, however the Marriott Newark Liberty Airport had great rates and had easily accessible public transportation to the big apple only a few minutes and dollars away. The hotel was very modern and cozy, and the service exceeded my expectations for an airport hotel.
I expected to have moderate temperatures given the fact it was going to be in May, however I was surprised with record high’s from 69 to 89 degrees.
First highlight: I rented a bike for approximately 10$ and took a nice ride around Central Park, I am not much of a fitness fanatic, but I definitely would do it again!
Second highlight: I visited the “Pier A Park’ in Hoboken NJ, which was very relaxing and had magnificent views of the Manhattan Skyline.
Third highlight: I visited the United Nations Headquarters; it was a fully guided tour that helped me understand better the role and functions of the UN and also permitted me to visit inside the General Assembly Hall! I also got my passport stamped to say I had been to the UN and felt so accomplished!
Fourth Highlight: I ate at many restaurants throughout my trip, such as Applebee’s, TGI Fridays, Ellen’s Stardust Dinner... but one night I wanted to kick it up a notch so I ate at “The View” on top of the Marriott Marquis in Times Square and it was definitely a dining experience to remember! The restaurant rotates and has exceptional views of the city’s most famous skyscrapers.
Fifth highlight: I visited “Top of the Rock” where I had breathtaking views of the Manhattan skyline and could not resist taking a selfie.
I am definitely looking forward to lots of travel in 2016 with my upcoming Marriott Rewards gold status only a few stays away! - Justin
About Me: I spent most of my professional career in the aerospace and defense business. I was head of many divisions / locations which caused me to move a few times. Grew up and started in Boston area but went to Bay area, Denver, NYC and a long time in Phoenix. About ten years ago I joined a friend as a senior executive in a public identity management and biometric company in CT which as you can imagine between these jobs caused me to travel a lot and get lifetime in about 12 years. About five years ago I decided to slow down and joined a private equity company in Scottsdale as well as sitting on a few boards. This helped me to reduce my travel and I am thankful to Marriott for lifetime status.
I am married with three children and nine grandchildren which to you mathematicians is geometric progression. I live most of the year in Phoenix but spend the summers on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.
Interests: I also like to have a garden in the summer as I view it as therapeutic. Also enjoy watching sports especially March madness. I have been able for the last ten years to have at least one big trip per year and have seen a lot of Europe leisurely vs a business in and out. I look forward to meeting in person many of the insiders at our annual get together in Houston in September.
Can you believe jerryl is coming up on his 7 year Insider-anniversary? We're so happy to have him as one of our longest-tenured Insiders!
Where do you go after saving the JW Marriott® L.A. LIVE from a band of art thieves? If you’re Christian and Gage, you head to Dubai, home to a world of luxury, the world’s tallest hotel and this year’s Global Luxury Travel forum where Leila Patel (Freida Pinto) is the keynote speaker. When the USB with Leila’s presentation gets left in the car, the bellmen spring into their signature parkour action, skateboarding and snowboarding across the desert and dodging bio-bots along the way. Will they make it back in time to save the day?
Share your Insider tips about travel to New Brunswick, Canada by commenting on this post and you could earn points.
The Algonquin Resort is one of many varied reasons to bring a group to St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. History, adventure, art, nature, & luxury are all wrapped up in St. Andrews-by-the-Sea. For your next meeting or conference think outside the city and think town, small seaside town to be exact. St. Andrews was made for groups as well as other travelers – here are a few highlights:
Ministers Island: Cross the ocean floor while the Bay of Fundy’s high tides are at their lowest. You only have six hours to explore the island and estate of William Van Horne before fourteen feet of water flood back into Passamaquoddy Bay.
Tee off from the 12thhole: Revered as one of two holes on the Algonquin Golf Course listed in the top 1000 golf holes to play before you die. Don’t be distracted by the view of Maine across the bay. Stop for a photo op by Canada’s first golf clubhouse. Originally opened in 1895, the Algonquin Golf Course was situated steps away from the resort’s front door. The original course had only three holes and a clubhouse with separate entrances for men & women (who reconvened once inside the doors!).
Fine dining at the Rossmount Inn: Enjoy a private group dinner or join other guests just minutes from the resort. Fresh local ingredients are always on the menu, which changes based on the seasonality and availability of fish, seafood, vegetables and berries.
Relax in the Gallery at the Algonquin: Listen to local singer-songwriter Chambers McLean play the baby grand. Conversation nooks and board games make networking and catching up a natural occurrence here. Sit outside on the Veranda or by the fire pits and watch the sun rise and set over Passamaquoddy Bay. Local music abounds, and your groups will find endless entertainment here at the resort or local pubs.
Enjoy culinary masterpieces from our Executive Chefs: each menu at our resort is hand-crafted by one of our Executive Chefs. Our Executive Sous Chef, Keith McMeekin, creates delectable masterpieces, using only local and fresh ingredients. Chef McMeekin says, “Located right on the Bay of Fundy, I have the freshest seafood available at my fingertips. There's nothing I love to do more than combine my love for cooking and supporting local! This wouldn't have been possible without our amazing local seafood and produce vendors! Please check out a sample menu of what we can offer…”
- Oyster Caviar with Fried Beausoleil - ingredients provided by North Market Seafood, Acadian Sturgeon and Caviar.
- Lobster and Cider Bisque – local fisherman provided ingredients for this mouth-watering second course, namely Red Rover Cider and Spears Fishing and Charter.
- Red Tail Venison paired with Bay of Fundy Scallops and Foraged Chanterelles - for an incredible Algonquin Surf and Turf, Real Food Connections and Spears Fishing and Charter.
Hope to see you at the Algonquin Resort St. Andrews by-the-Sea soon!