It seems everyone has chimed in on their experiences with Marriott, Marriott Rewards, and competitors, so I won't continue that conversation, everything has been said and repeated. I would like, however, and since you asked, to tell you about my point redemption experience.
I'm also interested in your point redemption experience.
I chose Marriott Rewards based on the value of the redeemed points. In my first ten years in the program I rarely used any points. Too busy staying 300-325+ nights a year on the job and it was too much fun watching the points add up. Another few years go by and I used a hundred thousand MR points here and there. Finally, one year ago, I cashed out (well, almost). Three million points for a whopper of a vacation. My girlfriend and I spent three weeks in Costa Rica. We used our flight miles to fly us down and our parents and siblings for the middle week of our stay (Christmas week). We treated our Mothers to a daily spa visit and our Dads to an open bar! The greatest part of using my MR points wasn't the room though, it was the cash equivalent redemption. I read all the fine print on what MR points uses were available beyond rooms or room upgrades. I couldn't believe that I could use 600K MR points in exchange for a 5000$ hotel credit! For us, it was the trip of a lifetime.
So what exactly does three million MR points buy these days you may ask? The answer is three weeks in Costa Rica at the Los Suenos Marriott over Christmas. It breaks down like this:
19 nights for my girlfriend and I in an ocean view suite
5 nights for my parents
5 nights for her parents
5 nights for her brother
5 nights for my sister and her boyfriend
5000$ cash equivalent of hotel credit which we consumed entirely on resto/bar tab and spa tab
Incidentally... In case anyone is curious, we used 260K of Air Canada Aeroplan miles to fly everyone there and back...which still seems like a very good deal! As for the rental car, Hertz does not offer point redemption outside of the US, Canada, and Europe, so we paid for a rental car. I wrote Hertz a stern letter telling them that it was silly to be able to earn points in Costa Rica by renting from Hertz, but not to be able to redeem points there. They agreed, but that's all. Ha!
I can't think of one complaint from that trip.
But the MR points redemption story doesn't stop there.
One month after returning from our trip, my employer downsized. I lost my job of 13 years with no warning. ****. What to do? I was very fortunate and received a generous severance. Fresh off of vacation and remembering how much I liked not working, I couldn't decide if I should bank the cash and get another job right away or should I take time off... you know... permanent vacation! I decided to take the severance and run. I still had 900K MR points left over, so I used them all over the map. SCUBA trips, cycling trips, I even visited some family! Finally, I used them for job hunting and interviewing. That paid off. Oddly enough I got a job doing the same thing, traveling the same amount, staying in Marriotts. Now I'm back on the earning side of MR points once again.
So anytime the kid at the front desk forgets to say, "Thank you for being Platinum Premier", I don't blow a fuse, I don't remind them of my status or my 2700+ nights stayed, I don't even ask for my bottle of water anymore . I am just thankful I made out like a bandit with all those points as a perk just for going to work all those years.
So those points served me very well, and for that, I say thank you. I hope you guys (and gals) are using those points, watching them accumulate doesn't taste nearly as good as all the margaritas they bought me down south!
Tro, That is really good to hear what you, your girlfriend, and so many family members did. That is awesome!
I really have to enjoy your breakdownof what you got and did with all of thse points. Fantastic!
IThe cash redemption option is one that I really do not hear about too often, but sounds like a great deal to me.
My qestion is: How does the credit appear on your folio/bill?
Do you get points back for your expendatures (how is the $5000 applied to your account?) I would assume you do not get more points for using points in teend in some fashion or another. Unless I hear differently from you or another member, I shall assume that the credit is not point eaning.
A wonderful story. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for the kind words.
The points for cash deal works in 50$ increments. When you apply for them, MR mails (USPS) the Gift Cheques to you. Basically they were like having 50$ bills. So as my hotel tab grew, I paid it down with the gift cheques. Yes, I earned points on those expenses since paying with the MR Marriott Gift Cheques is the same as cash.
It seems too good to be true, but I think I returned from that vacation earning something like 24,000 points!
And indeed, the gift cheque program did become too good to be true and has gone the way of the dinosaur, Tasmanian tiger, and BOGO, and no longer exists, put to death 12/31/12. The deal you got at 120,000 points for $1,000 was increased to 135,000 points per $1,000 and then terminated last month. There has been rumblings by/at Marriott that a new program offering gift cards for points is in the works with prices ranging from 190,000 to 205,000 points per $1,000.
Everytime we hear of Marriott dropping programs and offering as the explanation that the program was little used (I didn't use the cheques, but our good pal eb5147 was the in house expert and several other Insiders used them as effectively as your excellent example), we should keep in mind that using Marriott's own figures of more than 30 million rewards members, even a small number (let's use 1%) of those being platinum (eligible for the deal) and a small number of those (let's use the same 1%) using the cheques, still gives us a significant number (3,000) of disappointed loyalists. But hey, you now get 200 extra points at a CY check-in, so after only 300 stays you can purchase the upcoming gift card at the old rate value.