Over the past year I have received many welcome recognitions, in addition to the mandated points or items from the "market."
These have included bottles of water (many times), bottles of wine (twice), complementary valet parking (once) and suite upgrades (4 times). On other occasions, all we received was the mandatory point award and on one occasion, in Wilmington NC (Courtyard) we got a room with a bathroom door that did not close.
Some hotels upon arrival have given me credit vouchers for restaurants nearby, credit vouchers for their own bar, sent "goodie bags" to my room including beer, chocolates, candies, slim jims, and additional vouchers, along with thank you cards for coming to their hotel. Others haven't been so generous.
My wife and I were celebrating her birthday in Baltimore last year and I requested a suite ahead of time by contacting the GM. Not only were we given an awesome corner Jr harborview suite, about 20 mins after check in they sent up champagne and strawberries! It was a very nice touch and was definitely not expected!!
I like being thanked for my loyalty. It happens more often than not (at least). In the states I don't generally receive much else (half the time some sort of upgrade, nothing completely outrageous, though still appreciated), but being only a gold elite member, I don't expect much. In Europe, I have always been treated to a bottle of wine or a plate of desserts along with a handwritten welcome note. In Germany we have been provided with vouchers for wine and even entire meals (in the hotel lounge), which was quite lovely, and for no good reason other than to make us feel welcomed. Hospitality it would seem, is not quite the same in America as it is in other countries.
The bottom line for me is being verbally thanked for loyalty. If even that is missed, I tend to feel that the loyalty in my relationship with Marriott is one-sided. The verbal recognition of my efforts toward brand loyalty gains ground with me by sort of certifying the relationship (and it costs nothing!) No acknowledgement whatsoever leaves me feeling a bit undervalued.