I'm disappointed each time I see a post about having "those worthless Category 4 Certificates". C'mon Insiders, buck up. Now granted, if you're a Road Warrior knocking down 3 or 4 nights a week saving the world, then spending an overnight in your hometown, isn't necessarily a version of fun. But, of course, if you're traveling that much, you should be hauling down the big 50k points in the Mega Bonus and never messing with the certificates (and once again, MegaBonus 101, if by fluke you receive an offer you don't like - call and change it).
Now, to the Insider niche, like myself that collects all of those past due stays from friends, be it their homes or timeshares and who have therefore reduced Marriott nights to where the Certificate offer is a pretty sweet deal, a reminder, don't view them as the resort vacation getaway (do we really deserve that anyway, for only 4 or 6 stays?) view the lowly Cat. 4 Certificate (or the incrementally more useful Cat. 5) as an outing 'enhancer'. There are many SpringHills, Courtyards, Residence Inns, and Fairfields that fit the bill. Have a dinner, catch a show, and take it easy, but whatever you do, Don't Let Those Certificates Rot Use them, don't lose them. *
Often on the well placed overnight, you can either go during relatively low occupancy and get a nice upgrade or secure a mid-week high cost and zing the Marriott gang with your $200 or more night (yeah, baby!). Here's some highlights from a very nice CY (and you know my feelings about CYs) in Silver Spring, Md (the 11's are the wraparound corner rooms with pleasant views and more space - ask for them, 411-1011). Nice restaurants, many within walking distance, http://www.lamalinchetapas.com/ this weekend's tasty adventure with friends, that due to our Beltway locations, seldom hook up http://8407kb.com/ another fine selection, I've enjoyed, several others just as enjoyable, and an entire group of casual restaurants (including a Whole Foods across the street) within a half mile that make for a pleasant local 'getaway' when attending the nearby Round House, AFI Theaters or The Fillmore. And lastly, known to all, another benefit of the local overnight - you can take your own beverages (our Insiders train riders call it 'medicine').
La Malinche - as we learned from previous Insiders tips - half priced drinks (6 types of Sangria)
and appetizers at the bar before dinner - good stuff
Surviving multiple performances of daughter's college production of Medea (Euripides, not T. Perry)
I find virtually all performing arts entertaining.
Jazz, blues, rap, pop, all types of music for all types of target audiences
Old Town Alexandria, Reston Va, Crystal City and Arlington Va. and Bethesda, Md. same story; nice properties for an overnight out with the loved one. Work it Insiders, keep those certificates as contributors to your quality of life. We need you refreshed and fully charged to continue our strategy of travel experience optimization (with or without free coffee).
Any similar Certificate strategies to share?
Don't write Arne for points, there's low return in that, just ask ssindc ( http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/blogs/news-promotions/2013/09/24/follow-arne-sorensen-s-insights-and-perspective--receive-1000-points-if-he-addresses-your-topic#comment-18316), share instead with your traveling 'Band of Brothers'.
*yes, I know, some places like Hawaii and Alaska don't even have low Cat. properties - but life is fairly unfair - the rest of us spend big bucks to visit where you live. Use your certificates for airport stays that by changing your flight dates, allow you to book either cheaper airfares or use points, that otherwise wouldn't be available (or come visit me in DC).
The Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel is a category 4 hotel. This hotel is an alternative from staying in Downtown Chicago (about 15 miles west). The Renaissance is in close proximity to Woodfield Mall with an adjacent outdoor mall, Streets of Woodfield that includes restaurants, LegoLand and movie theaters (free trolley service). The hotel also offers a great upscale restaurant, Sam and Harry's. For the pizza lover Lou Malnati's (deep dish) delivers to the hotel and provides all utensils including a spatula. This really is a great hotel to use up all those free category 4 hotel certificates. I have stayed here many times using my certificates.
The East Rutherford Fairfield Cat.3 in your neck of the woods would be a good use for the Skins/Giants game if either team was going anywhere, which apparently is why it's still available at this late date (of course, 2/1 and 2/2 can't be touched). It's a closer walk to the stadium than the DC Metro to FedEx field. Another example of potential certificate value (although, I usually use points at less than 20k).
I have 2 category 4 certificates that are about to expire, but I'm using them at the Bristol City Centre on my trip to England which begins in a few days. Nice to be able to use them overseas. Plus, I'll earn my 2nd (and last) Megabonus category 1-5 certificate by completing 2 stays (London Maida Vale and Renaissance Heathrow).
That's great that you found some in Europe. The Cat. 5's will give you even more flexibility, I'm using a 5 for the Malmo Sweden Renaissance because the Copenhagen Marriott is > $700 ! For your county searches, the Residence Inn Bethesda (Cat. 5) is right in the middle of all the activity in Bethesda, and gets you the Montgomery county Md. stamp, on the other coast, the Irvinve Marriott puts you in Orange Co. Ca. with great access to the freeways going north and south. A terrific Cat.4 in Arlington County is the Residence Inn in Pentagon City.
Continued best wishes toward your county collection.
And, remember, anyone who just can't figure out what to do with a Category 4 (or 5) coupon, I'd be more than willing to burn it for you!
Jump in your car, drive away from any major metropolitan center (OK, except in Hawaii or Alaska), and find someplace interesting to stop. There are an incredible number of fascinating places in the U.S. (and around the world).... Or look here for some ideas (and don't be distracted by the clutter as you scroll through): What's your favorite Category 4 hotel?
p.s. just burnt one of my coupons for an upcoming stay at the Albany Residence Inn....
Often during the winter months, I use a Cat 4 reward & book a room @ a nearby & very nice FI with an indoor swimming pool. Our nephews have a grand time in the pool, usually followed by a picnic poolside. It is a great way to visit/relax on a cold, rainy day! It is a pretty quiet hotel, so the pool area is almost always empty - a nice plus!
That sounds really neat, 77paris. And they've had excursions that they'll remember forever, as well as your connecting.
I just realized which FI you stay at. I've read nothing but good reviews about that FI. Salt water pool, isn't it? Nice!! I've thought I'd like to stay there sometime.
We're going to Gatlinburg, TN tomorrow when my husband gets off work. Since it's about 7 to 8 hours from here going the scenic route through Atlanta, we were thinking of staying at the Gateway Marriott at the Atlanta, GA airport so we don't have to drive through the Atlanta Friday night traffic.
It's crazy enough to drive through anyway. (15 miles over the speed limit on I-285 and one still nearly gets run over.) We haven't figured out how fast anyone has to go over the speed limit to get pulled over yet, and that's with GA having a extra fine of $500 on top of a speeding ticket for excessive speeding.
I've been wanting to stay at that hotel anyway, but it's only $99 on Friday nights. That might be for sr. rates, but it's been a few days since I looked it up. (Atlanta Ren. Concourse was $69 for tomorrow night. I'd never seen it that low before.)
eb5147 so true about Atlanta traffic....but, I will wish for you the traffic we experienced through there to Gatlinburg a month ago. We literally did not have to touch the brakes, travelled close to the speed limit (maybe a tad over) from the outskirts of downtown all the way to I-985 to Gainesville. We typically bypass I-285 altogether. It was a first, true, but really great!!
Is there a Cat 4 Marriott in Gatlinburg now?
Have a great & safe trip....I heard from someone early last week that the leaves had not changed yet...I hope you get some beautiful colors!!
I don't know. They have some Marriotts in the area, but we're going to Mtn. Loft. It looks really nice and we've never been there. We'd always stayed at the IHG resort there after IHG bought it. We owned there before they bought the Crown Mtn. Resort.
My husband is going to try to get off about 12:30 since he's already worked 52 hrs. this week, so then we might go through Birmingham and Chattanooga. It's 50 miles farther but estimated on Mapquest to be almost an hr. less time.
985? That's interesting. I'll have to ck. that out. I'm so used to going 285 to get to SC. My husband worked in north Atlanta for about a year in '91, so he knows Atlanta better than I.
"I will wish for you the traffic we experienced through there to Gatlinburg a month ago. We literally did not have to touch the brakes,"
What day of the week was that? I like traveling on Thursday or Saturday rather than Friday or Sunday. The latter 2 days usually have people in a hurry to get somewhere, while Thursday and Sat. are usually more laid back.
We went through B'ham to Chattanooga. At the Nashville - Chattanooga split on 24, the traffic became a parking lot at about 6:15 pm central, 7:15 ET. It took 1/2 hour to go about 4 miles so we got to Chattanooga and got off at the first exit. There was a FFI and we were able to use my cat. 5 cert. there. They had one of the best breakfasts I've seen at a FFI and it felt good that I was able to get a cert. with 2 stays on my own.
Gas at Sam's Club in Hoover, AL was $2.989 when we stopped yesterday. It had been $3.119 in Montgomery, AL a few day ago when we gassed up. In Chattanooga at the Sam's Club, it was $2.889 which was the cheapest we saw. Then a BP station in Sevierville, TN was $2.999, which looks to be the cheapest in this area.
eb5147, Sorry about the traffic snafu, but I'm glad the breakfast was such a pleasant surprise & you earned a certificate. Enjoy Gatlinburg! Let us know how the fall colors were.