I put a hotel in Dream Destination and then promptly ignored it.
I currently have the Ko Olina Beach Club on Oahu and the Waiohia Beach Club on Kauai there with a goal of 5 nights at each place. With over half a million points, it's currently showing that I have enough points to make this dream come true (for both properties).
Not sure why I use it, but it's nice see the picture of the hotel each time I log into my account.
bejacob, what are you waiting for? I have 0 points. I was so stupid turning down all the emails to join for years. Our family travels quite a bit even if its just weekend baseball tourneys and we have always stayed in Marriot properties. I would get the emails to join but ignored them until I realized our family was going to be in hotels almost ALL summer. My oldest son wants to go to Maui in 3 years for Graduation, so that caught my eye. I hope we can accumulate enough to pay for a good portion of the hotel stay but we'll see..500,000??? Geez.
I dropped 250k last September in Hawaii. My big 5-0 birthday is coming up in about a year. I'll probably use around 400k in Hawaii again to celebrate in style.
No worries. I have great plans for those points. As soon as I can book for early March 2017 (which will be very soon), I'll be looking to book those properties on points. It may be almost a year away, but I'm already planning.
If you haven't already, I highly recommend signing up for the Marriott Rewards Premier credit card. It gives you instant Silver Elite status (good for 20% bonus points per stay) via the 15 elite night credits, and 5 points/$ at Marriott properties in addition to the points already earned for your stay via the regular Marriott Rewards program (i.e. you can get 10 points/$ at most properties + Elite bonus, + 5 points/$ via credit card). You can see how it can quickly add up. You also get 1 elite night credit for each $3000 spent on the card, which can boost your Elite status rather quickly depending how much you spend. This helps get to Lifetime status much more quickly if you need nights (as you do, starting at 0).
If points are your only goal, there is also the Ritz-Carlton card which awards Gold status with $10k annual spend (Platinum for $75k if you're a big spender!), and 10% bonus points annually for points earned on the card. It does not give the elite night credit for each $3000 spent. Other than that, the cards are fairly similar.
They're both a good way to boost points earnings, and there's more in depth discussions on the merits of each on this site, but I'd highly recommend one or both to anyone investing in the Marriott Rewards program.
If you go with the credit cards, be aware that the promotional sign up bonus varies. I have seen it as high as 80000 point in the states.
As hassmh, point out, the card is very useful particularly if you stay for a concentrated time. I have got rid of all of my regular cards now and just keep it and the AMEX.
Also as soon as you reach silver, ask for the gold challenge. if I understand you are staying quite a few times, so you may be able to make the challenge. Being gold makes the world of difference and gives you a higher multiplier on stay points.
Depending how many stays/nights, I would agree with the Gold challenge. Better if you can get Taste of Gold (many formerly Silver Elites on here recently received, myself included), which gives you Gold status while completing the stays required to keep it. The regular challenges require you to make the stays before getting the status, but I believe they are easier to get.
The benefits of Gold over Silver are very nice, except the bonus is only 25% versus 20% for Silver; not a big jump. A Platinum challenge may provide better points for you, but requires you get to Gold first. You may get the nights you need to get from Gold to Platinum in the 9 stays required anyway, so that might not even make sense depending on your situation.
Check in here as you progress, ask questions like you have been, and you'll get great answers and advice from the knowledgable folks here to try to guide you in your Marriott Rewards experience. You'll get the points for Maui if you really want them. 3 years is a long time to build them up!
No, you must be Silver before you can start a Gold challenge. Silver challenge, if it exists, would likely not make any sense; you can do only one challenge in a calendar year, and getting to Silver only requires 10 elite night credits. Better to get to Silver and then do a Gold challenge; if like you said will be in hotels much of the summer, it should not be hard to get to 6 stays after you've reached 10 nights.
Plus, the latest promotion for the Marriott card that I've seen was for 80,000 points after spending $3000 in first 3 months, and another 7500 points for adding an authorized user, so that gets you started off with a nice chunk of points!
There may be some better cards out there for general travel, but for Marriott-specific travel these are the best. I only have the Marriott card at the moment, but have considered the Ritz card when they had 140,000 point bonus. I might bite if they offer a similar bonus again.
The dream tracking feature is fun! I use it as a challenge and an enjoyable way to see my progress.
As bejacob said, it is also nice to see a fun hotel you like when you log in!
I haven't cashed in yet. I have big plans for my points in 2017. And you bet I am tracking using the Dream Tracker.
For the cards, I waited until I saw the 80,000 points offer. Let me tell you, the Marriott Card is worth the annual payment. I find it pays for itself with the Silver Status and the Free Night at a category 1-5 hotel. If you travel and stay at Marriotts, then getting the card is very beneficial. You can get to Maui! and the card will help earn points.