What do you do when the place you're traveling to does not have a Marriott? what is your second option for hotels?
When I traveled to Athens almost 2 years ago I stayed 7 nights in 3 different hotels and none of them Marriott coz I didn't find any.
Now I am considering Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Fiji or Bora Bora, I am planning to visit them all one day but one at a time, strangely I cant find a Marriott in any one of them! as I am a Hilton Honor Gold member my 2nd option is Hilton and in each one of those beach destinations I have just mentioned a Hilton is available.
There are many cities, big ones sometimes where I assume I will find a Marriott and don't.
Usually just stay at one of the other majors like Hilton, Hyatt, or IHG if I am booking myself. However had a friend who is a travel agent book us for an independent driving tour in southern Ireland a few years ago and did not stay at any "international chain" properties. She found a number of independent or national chain properties that were wonderful. So you might do some research and come up with a real gem that you might have missed. The best was Hayfield Manor in Cork.
I selected Hilton as second choice a few years ago when I could not find Marriott in rural AZ or NM on biz trips. Got the Citi Hilton Reserve Visa since it gave Gold status. Earlier this year I did the Hilton status match and got Diamond until 2017 because I was Plat with Marriott. Hilton Diamond seems to provide as much benefit at Marriott Plat: not much.
It depends on the kind of trip that I'm planning. I sometimes will go for a Holiday Inn Express or a Hilton Garden Inn. Other times I stay at independent hotels that are unaffiliated. I don't travel enough to get any sort of status with a second chain, so there is no benefit to choosing a second chain.
Marriott has about 60 hotels around the UK and the coverage is pretty good, so I can usually find one nearby, but not always. There are gaps in Central and North Wales, the North West and East Midlands. Also Marriotts London pricing can be beyond my clients budget. When this happens I turn to my secondary chain, IHG which has approx 300 hotels scattered around the country. IHGs Reward scheme is also very strong, not for benefits which are parsimonious, no free breakfasts, no free lounge access, but for points, which are outstandingly generous. Carrying the excellent high earning (for UK) IHG card it is possible to maintain top tier Spire for around 20 paid nights costing a total of about $2,500 and making around 230,000 points pa with promos. Those points redeem for around $2,200! Alas, with few in stay benefits and fewer upper scale places to stay for leisure its best for business stays, using the copious points for family leisure. I virtually never pay for family leisure stays at IHG, my points pile takes care of it! That makes it an excellent secondary program...
Clearly most of us here have Hilton as our second option, I agree with some, Hilton has a night standard for redemptions it's ridiculou, but at least they you have many options to transfer points from credit cards such as Amex,Citibank and their own Hilton credit cards whereas Marriott your only option is Marriott rewards Visa which is only available in 2 countries only! I would have loved to apply for one.
few months back Citibank had an offer to transform points for 1=4 Which is double the normal 1=2, so converted 105 miles to Hilton.
if I booked SPG hotels when I can't find Marriott, can I merge accounyes when the merge between Marriott and SPG happen? I hope so.
Too right there, fistuk, but other favoured hotel groups are a scab we all love to have a pick at, and multiple threads allow us to pick away so more often
Yes, like you, I've a few places where I have a preferred independent, in the UK from my regular travels, that's Lincoln and Chesterfield. It offends my sensibilities to forego the points but I really love those properties, and so when work takes me there, I bite the non-pointearning bullet.
Since I am now lifetime platinum with Marriott and Gold with Hilton and Starwood (Amex card), Marriott properties aren't always my first choice. If hotel costs meet our corporate guidelines, here are my selection rankings:
FS Marriott or Renaissance almost always first choice, Westin over Hilton FS
Hilton Garden Inn over Springhill Suite or Newer FFI over Courtyard (only consider a few Courtyards ever)
Homewood Suite vs Residence Inn: Depends on property, lately prefer Homewood Suite due to downgrade of RI food
alammari, SPG has properties in all those locations, and presumably when MR and SPG merge, your points and status will somehow all end up in the same account. So I'd suggest getting the SPG Amex and use SPG properties. That's what we're doing on a South Pacific trip where MR has no properties. My backup if there are no Marriott or SPG properties is Hilton because I have a status match to Diamond with HHonors.