I had a bit of a disappointing experience today. I am taking my wife this weekend to stay at a Renaissance location with a spa, and was hoping to use points to get her a spa gift certificate. Because of the late date I was hoping that I could simply call Marriott Rewards and have them electronically deliver the certificate to the hotel. Unfortunately, it appears that these rewards are presented as a physical gift certificate only and there's no way a physical certificate can be delivered in time. So, it's well over $200 bucks out of pocket, which is a bit of an ouch.
Hopefully Marriott can come up with some procedure that will allow members to issue these certificates via phone or electronically and communicate the credits to the hotel without having to send a physical certificate.
One of the things I do to avoid this situation --- I order the $1000 in Marriott gift certs from rewards (they cost alot less points if you do them in a 1K Block). They come as a set of 20 $50 certificates, so I always have them on hand for incidentals, spa, or those nights I'm traveling on personal and it doesn't make sense to use points. In many cases, the points it takes to get these certs is less than the points for a Category X hotel.