db32...I agree completely with you as most Marriott properties in any major city are well above the Cat 5 level and you can never use them as such. I have been able to use the Cat 5 Cert at some nice properties just outside of NYC but then you do have the commute in via train or drive if you want to enjoy the city. A combination of $$ or points to get us into a higher category hotel would make sense.
I'm with you phctourist. I've always found a place to use them. With frequent road trips to middle-of-nowhere places, there's usually a lower category Marriott property to be found.
To be fair, there is a good balance of cat 5I or less hotels, I think in range of greater than 60 %. The certs were moved up from 1 to 4 to 1 to 5 a little while ago. Yes you are not going to find a cat 5 or less in the core of NYC, but I think it is an exaggeration to say that they are difficult to use else ware. I am happy to get this benefit.
Tons of places to use certificates. Try just about anywhere in middle America. 60% is probably about right. If you exclude the expensive cities like NYC, SFO, Miami, Chicago you'd probably find that in the rest of the US, the number is probably closer to 80%. Smaller cities often top out around category 5 or 6 even for the nice downtown hotels.
I think most people would be surprised at how the low categories of some really nice hotels away from the prime tourist destinations. To say there are not places to use certificates means you haven't really looked. Of course NYC doesn't have any. Neither does Hawaii. Try thinking a bit farther outside the box.
Because it's easily quantified using marriott.com, I had to go look. The actual percentage of Cat 1-5 worldwide is actually very good, it's 3313 out of 4360, or about 76%:
If just the US, it's even better at closer to 78% (2749 of 3532):
Now how many of those are in places one would actually want to go on a leisure visit is a much more difficult question to answer, and obviously depends on the individual.
Exactly. Wonderful research.
The point is that there is no way to use certificates in high priced locations like NYC. Complaining about it is pointless. Last time folks complained about certificates during a MegaBonus, Marriott took them away for a couple years. So, we can't whine about how useless certificates are in big cities. That's just the way it is. Instead, head somewhere else where certificates can be used. Or don't use them. After all, if there worthless, you didn't lose anything of value, right?
Telling Marriott how much you hate certificates will just encourage their demise. Those of us who find them valuable will be most upset if that happens again.
Message was edited by: bejacob
Well put bejacob. It is a free certificate and we currently have a couple of places we can use them a few times each year. If they go away I'm using cash money or points to stay at these locations.
Agreed. Remember when they used to be cat 1-4?
Chances of seeing them jump another category are slim. LIke you said, we get the same value cert from the Visa card every year. I don't let those expire, so why would the MegaBonus ones be any different.
As IAHFLYR, points out, the certs save either points or cash. I'm all for that.
This is precisely the problem I have bejacob! Since I actually live in Hawaii, using them can be tricky... Unless I have plans to travel city with a Cat 5 or lower property I actually want to stay at. Because of this, I haven't used my certificate since 2013, and probably won't use them in the near future. I found the best use of them was a quick staycation on Oahu or on one of the neighbor islands, which is no longer possible. I can, however, use my Hyatt Visa certificate on Oahu...
But seriously, I'm not expecting them to be bumped up a cat or 2... why not allow us to pay cash and/or points to upgrade it? I think that would be an excellent thing to do. The use rules are far too strict.
Believe me, I get it. Your problem is a bit more difficult because of geography.
My objection is the annual complaint that certificates are useless because the only place I want to go is NYC.
How about the JW Houston Galleria which is dropping from category 6 to 5 this year? Anyone unable to find a better use for a cert should come to meet the Insiders on Sept 16 -17, 2016. There, problem solved (well, not for kharada46, sorry buddy ). For anyone who doesn't know what I'm talking about here are the details (what rock have you been hiding beneath? )
What bejacob said! The Southeast is chock-full of cat 1 - 5's, many of which are really nice properties. We've used certificates in Clearwater, Jacksonville, Orlando, Palm Coast, Pensacola, and Titusville and those are just Florida locations off the top of my head. We've also used them in NC, SC, VA, TN, and, of course, GA. Love the certs!
I'm agreeable to that bejacob, but you can't deny that perhaps Marriott ought to let us pay cash or points for higher cat properties. It only benefits them, as we'll likely pay for an additional night, we're burning points/paying cash on top of the certificate, and invariably we'll spend some money on something else on the property.
And yes, I'd LOVE to attend the meet up, but the airfare is INSANE!! The cheapest I've found is $831 RT on AS. I could fly HNL-JFK for that price! Or I could fly the wife and I to PDX for that price. Well... that airfare isn't in our budget this year anyway
WOW, I that isn't much of a difference! That makes my airfare sound even more insane!! It's ok brightlybob, technically @misterchk is correct, and it is paradise. Even for us living here, when we play tourist that is. I never forget, though, "lucky live Hawaii," though at times (more frequently now days) the cons outweigh the pros. Of course, if more people came to visit, things could get better for us local
kharada46 this is probably a silly airfare question to an AV Geek, but did you check the fare through LAX or SFO on Virgin America and then into IAH on United or American from LAX? Virgin America might let you use a Cat 5 cert!
lol, silly indeed IAHFLYR! I checked again this morning and it came down a little on a combo of AA + AS with 2 stops. I use ITA Matrix search when looking with no limits
IAHFLYR, it does, it's just that they're really expensive. I was surprised that, at times, they're actually the most expensive option for travel to/from Hawaii. Of course, sometimes they're the cheapest too. I find that AS is often the cheapest... Them or Hawaiian.
ITA Matrix search is the one most often used by BoardingArea bloggers, etc. I love it and it usually works very well
II've managed to make use of all certs I've received, mainly because my kids are all travel junkies and will go anywhere to be away for a night or 2. Weve literally stayed at Leicester, Slough, Newcastle, Peterborough and Swindon simply because I've said over dinner I've got a cert running out, and away the teens go planning how theyll use it for me! Can't see any of them going to waste in our family!
Whoa, I have to say honestly, I don't think you're being very fair here, Brian. Not everyone travels like you. In fact, I would argue that you are a one-of-a-kind traveler, with your county collecting hobby, which takes you to the 4 corners of the USA, very unlike most people. Your's is just not everyone's cup of tea. We all have different travel needs and styles and interests. You ask folks to try thinking farther outside the box. Perhaps you (and others?) might step outside your own one-of-a-kind box and realize that there are other tastes, preferences and needs in travel besides your own. You mention excluding expensive cities, but that's where many people love to go. I happen to live in an expensive and in fact, quite large on top of that, state. It would not be cost effective (in both time and money) for me to travel the distance that I would have to travel just to use a cat. 5 certificate in many cases. Still, if I get creative and allow for a little bit of inconvenience, I can still make it happen, though not as well as in the days of yesteryear. As far as the Houston argument, how much does one have to spend to fly to a place to get a free night worth $100? My point is, not everyone is interested in Houston. Or Middle America. Or the South. Nor does everyone live there. Or want to collect counties. I can drive 160 miles and use my cat. 5 certificate at the SJC airport FFI. Um, not. (I'd rather stay home and watch the grass grow.) Okay so in a year from now, when I'm ready to head to/from Hawaii out of SJC, assuming the category won't increase, great! But for now, it's a miss. And let's be fair, I don't know anyone who only wants to go to NYC.
To be clear, I do certainly appreciate the encouragement you extend, for all of us to get creative and broaden our travel horizons, but I'm just saying that not all people see it the way you do or are in your circumstance. And I do also recognize the futility of whining about it. In the past, when I have whined, I have offered up an alternative solution (raise the certs. in accordance with the inflation rate in which categories have been raised. Marriott has done that, barely - a cat. 6 would be nice - but it's their scheme, I just play along as best I can.) I do appreciate your positive, can-do attitude. I'm just saying, the certs are hard for some people, and so please give them that.
WOW, who rattled her cage today?
pluto77, I get your point and it is valid, we all have our own specific travel plans and while I am very able to use those 1-5 certificates a few times each year for our Florida trips many do not have that type of travel portfolio. We are actually in pretty much the same boat when it come to living in a large state, but then it is not close to being as expensive as yours so we could find spots within 50-75 miles to use the certs if we did not have our Florida getaways!
I'm pretty sure the Houston comment was just made to put it back out there in case some missed, but I could be wrong.....if so first time today!! And I actually don't want everyone to be interested in Houston or the South except to have a wonderful turn out in September.....seems like too many already are living here period.
Um, our good man bejacob. (What, I can't disagree? How 'bout an arm wrestle? ) You know, I am feeling a little feisty today. I need a nap. I NEED TO RETIRE. Then I can go to Middle Amurehka whenever I want.
(Okay, back to work.)
Well said pluto77 . I rarely have a problem using my certs, but you make an excellent point in favor of making these certs upgradable with cash and/or points.
Good post. I find these worthless. I earn all of my points through business travel and there is no need to redeem them on business. When I travel for pleasure I would rather stay at a nice property and be rewarded for being brand loyal. These won't even work if I wanted to stay in my local downtown for a weekend night.
I would be ok if we needed to use a second certificate for any property rated over a level 5.
greenosu, I am in the same boat as you are. I once had to burn a cat 4 cert at a local SHS because it was expiring. I let the kids swim in the tiny pool awhile, then I used the fitness center (which was the size of a closet), then we were very tempted to just go home and sleep there and maybe return for the breakfast buffet. We stuck it out, but it wasn't really a very enjoyable experience. Spouse stayed home. But these certs do sometimes come in handy when there are no FS properties anywhere nearby, such as when we visit relatives or got to weddings, etc., in smaller cities or the suburbs. And we've used them at the Marriott near ATL (not the one connected by the plane train because of course that one is cat 6) and at various properties by small airports such as PIE or SFB. So, I can't complain too much.
The Renaissance in Harrison, NY near White Plains is also a catagory 5 from what I remember and ive stayed there a number of times. Really nice property. The Westchester Marriott is also a great property and stay there often. If I want to spend time in the city, I don't want to take the train in. I do that enough traveling there on business.
The old Cat1-4 certs were getting pretty useless here in the UK as they were only valid in about 10 of our 70 hotels, however as a cat1-5 they're valid in 20 which is far more useful.
As it happens, I'm arriving at TIPPLE 1 day earlier than originally planned and am going to use that cert for the $350 Wednesday night following the implementation of this years annual recategorisation when the Houston JW becomes a Cat 5. That's a pretty nice use of the certificate!
db32, a certificate plus cash option would be nice. I've got a cat 5 cert. to burn by August, and my only Miami options are FFI, CY and SHS nowhere near the beach But I am glad to see the certs return to the MegaBonus as they do come in useful sometimes when I'm traveling to less expensive cities, like Minneapolis (i.e., what bejacob said about the Midwest).
You are absolutely correct hassmh the whole point is to drive the traffic to the lower places (and great analysis on your part a bit higher.). bejacob is taking some heat on here suggesting to think out of the box. I completely agree with him. This cert is an opportunity to do some research and find a nice place albeit not on south beach or Manhattan, it is not useless, it is an opportunity. hassmh has identified 80 % of the hotels that are in this category in USA. No one can tell me that this Cert is "Useless". I understand the UK situation where most hotels in the system are full service, yet brightlybob has found an opportunity to get 300USD value in return for his cert, are you folks south of the border saying that you can not do likewise?
How do these certs work for the hotels? How about MR point redemptions? Are the hotels paid a certain dollar amount and if so, by whom? I always wonder if I'll get second class treatment when using points or certs, but most of the properties don't seem to be annoyed that I'm using points.
I guess that I look at these certificates differently than others here. I look at these certificates as a "PERK" to me for my loyalty to the Marriott Brand and the amount of business that I do with Marriott. You shouldn't be afraid that you will lose these certificates because you suggest they change the way you can use them. I really have no complaints about the Marriott Rewards Program and really enjoy staying at most of their brands (I refuse to stay at Fairfield Inns and Towneplace Suites...as based on my experience, they tend to be real fleabags. I have never had a good experience at either of those brands and I avoid them at all times.) and will certainly use the certificates that they give me. I just have to look hard for a destination that I would really like to go to in order for me to use them.
There may be many cat-5 places but no place I want to stay in California. One place I used to stay went from a cat-3 when it was new to a cat-7 now! Completely ridiculous. I would much rather have points since I cant really use a cat-5 anyplace of significance. And I have two right now! The only way a cat-5 is a good deal is if they were to never expire. Then I may be able to use them when traveling about the country. But as far as staying local to where I live, never going to happen. So they will probably go to waste that's why I would rather have points
I'm not sure this discussion has been linked with the partial list of hotels where certificates can be used. Time to remedy that.
Many of us were surprised to find out how many places are out there to use certificates. This list certainly won't solve everyone's issue with certs., With luck, it will help more of us find hotels where we can redeem our certificates.