I have not stayed at the JW... was actually with a friend and she booked the Trump Tower and we stayed there which was pretty nice hotel. But anyway, I highly recommend you go up to central park and watch the balloons be blown up on Wednesday night. Take the A or C train to 86th Street, exit subway, and it puts you right into the walking line past the balloons. Any hotel along parade route is good.
dogmom, I haven't stayed at the Essex House, but I'm also in the midst of planning my family's trip to NYC for the 2015 Macy's Parade (my kids have watched it on TV for many years and now it's time). My first choice is also the Essex House because, among other fantastic reasons, it's on the 2015 parade route. Oddly though, nothing about this highly-sought-after location pops up anywhere on searches of the Marriott sites. I somehow ran across this Marriott page about the Essex House and its well-organized yet covertly-publicized participation. Now I can't even remember how I found it!:
I highly recommend just emailing directly to Ewa Kalinowska (Ewa.Kalinowska@marriott.com), the marketing director at the Essex House, regarding availability. Unfortunately, I am interested in a 7 day travel package point redemption for 4 and, after speaking directly with Ewa, the combination wasn't available (at least not to me and my budget!).
I am tentatively booked for points at both the Marriott Marquis and Marriott East Side - both of which would be great for our trip. However, I'm also waiting to find out more about a new Renaissance being built on 34th St., right next door to Macy's, due to open this summer! That could prove to be the best choice, for many reasons. So, I'll make a final decision once that property gets unveiled.
mybnj, thanks for the tip about the balloons on Wed. night. We'll definitely make that part of our plans!