Several Travel Blogs are publishing that 5 Night Travel Packages are available to Marriott Elite Members who call and directly ask for them. These have been advertised for Vacation Club Members Only. This will be a great option for Reward Members who are seeking something less than a 7 night stay.
Ahh, the conundrum of travel blogs, vaboywnder. I will avoid going off on a tangent (especially about the blogs you reference above). The only thing I will say is that the three blogs above are responsible for killing lots of good deals because they publish them to the masses and they eventually get discontinued. Let's hope the 5 night travel packages don't face the same fate. However, as this is the "Insiders" site thank for sharing because this is the "inside" info that I think many members come to the site for.
As a Marriott owner for over 20 years, it upsets me to read this. That 5 night package is supposed to be a benefit that only we receive and we certainly paid a lot of money to have this perk. I agree that 5 nights has been more than useful and just got back from using this in Sydney.
mycatdixie, sorry I am bombarding you with replies, but I just did a 5-night package redemption (before the 25% United miles bonus expired) and plan to redeem in Sydney, just as you did. Did you have any trouble getting a reservation at the hotel in Sydney?
We are MCVI owners, and I did tell the customer service rep that we are, and I asked if he needed my MVCI account number. He said he did not need it because it shows up on my MR profile, and vice-versa. But I have heard that others are able to use this perk even if they aren't MVCI owners...don't know anyone who actually did this who wasn't an MVCI owner, though.
I am also an MCVI owner and more or less viewed the five night package as a perk of paying my yearly maintenance fee. My understanding is that acquiring the five night package may be a hit or miss deal for non MCVI owners. It is definitely an outstanding deal. The saving grace may be that many of the major travel bloggers are not big fans of Marriott and this may keep the masses heading in other directions.
jakeal, you make a good point. You'd think it would be easy enough for MR to police this better if people are abusing it, but I can still see Marriott killing it for being too good a deal! I just redeemed 300,000 MR points for a 5-night class 8 property certificate and 157,000 United miles. Just doing a straight redemption of MR for United miles would have cost me 304,000 MR point for the same number of miles without getting any hotel nights included. So it is a really great deal to redeem for a hotel + air package... really like getting the hotel stay for free.
Whilst it's good to have options it would be true to say that the 5-night option is worse value point-for-point than the 7. This is because the pricing of the 7-night package is based on the 7 night cert (240,000 points) and miles on most airline schemes at par, so 120,000 United/Delta/BA/VA etc, etc. So the total cost of a 7-night Cat 8 cert is 360,000 miles.
Your 157,000 miles is due to the fact youre redeeming with United and stacking 2 promos, the Marriott extra 10% adding 12,000 miles to your 120,000 miles purchased and the United extra 25,000 limited time promo for big transfers. A 7-night 120,000 mile TP will produce the same 157,000 United miles.
So taking your TP redemption with 120,000 miles (or 157,000 with United after taking into account the promos) you're paying 180,000 points (300,000-120,000) for 5 nights at a cat8 you could ordinarily buy for 160,000 points. In other words the 7 night cert TP costs only 60,000 points more for 2 extra nights which would otherwise cost 80,000 points!
If you're planning a 5-night stay this option is clearly your best choice but if it's a weeklong break you're looking for you're kissing goodbye to 20,000 points. Not such a great outcome!
brightlybob, very good analysis. Thank you! I will take it one step further and comment that the USD is strong against the AUD, so perhaps it is foolhardy to burn points for hotel stays in Australia when I could just pay cash. The cash price for a the cat 8 Circular Quay in Sydney is a bargain when converted to USD. But I have an embarrassing number of MR points that I've been hoarding, and what I was really after was airline points. We don't want to spend an entire week in Sydney, so the 5-night package worked better for us since we're also visiting other parts of Australia on this trip. So you can see we're going to be spending a small fortune on airfare as we've got to purchase flights to and from Australia as well as several additional flights within Australia. Being Americans, we are scared to attempt driving on the left-hand side! Plus, Australia, like the US, is not a place easily explored by cross country car trip unless you're staying for a couple of months!
I think one of the most important lessons in this game is not to hoard points, they're either being devalued by stealth via category creep or openly by the formation of new categories and the movement of hotels into those categories. When I joined MR in 2006 the top category was 7 and a week at one of them would cost 150,000 points. 10 years later a week at a top category 9 hotel costs 270,000 points!
Hoarding points for retirement or a mega-aspirational monthlong resort holiday is going to result in disappointment and frustration as repeated devaluations gnaw away at that hoard.
Of course we do to an extent have to hoard, earn as you burn taken literally is a poor mantra as you'll spend all your redemptions at Cat 1s! And of course swapping out hotel points into airline miles at par is almost always a great value redemption, and so even better at 1MR to 1.3UA!
Oh, and yes, I do get your wrong side of the road fears! I'm always nervous when I'm driving on the European continent or in America, and by that I mean the entire continent of America! I certainly look forward to the time my travels take me to Australia and Japan where I won't have to concentrate on avoiding my natural disposition to drift to the left!
I agree with you to some extent. However, before I became travel savy, I used to burn the points almost as fast as we got them. I've learned that this was a poor decision on my part. Very often you are much better off paying for your room and accumulating points for a travel package which offers much better return on your points. This is especially true when you are able to aquire enough airline points for business class international award tickets at the saver level. As an example, I just returned from New Zealand and Australia, flying through Seoul on my return trip. It took a lot of points and planning to insure I was getting good value for my redemption. I added up the round trip cost of my tickets for me and my husband and it came to over $25,000.00. Yes, we traveled in style, but at our age (mid 60's) it is too hard on us to do coach for 36 hours of flying. Using points and about $2,500.00, I was able to make this possible. That wouldn't happen if I'd continued to earn and burn!
You need a travel strategy and points diversification to be travel savy. Since my retirement at 60, I've spent a lot of time reading many different travel blogs in order to position myself ahead of time for for those "bucket list" trips. I shudder every time I hear somebody say they let points expire because they could never figure out how to use them. Hoarding with a strategy is not necessarily a bad idea.