Gio, that is a very good question, and one that I was pondering just last week. I went to make a reservation at a renaissance, and there was something on the page to the effect that said, 'use points instantly' or something similar. I don't know if that appears on every hotel webpage, but here's the thing. Many hotels will let you book with points, but only if you do so way in advance. For instance, whenever we book the Marriott Champs-Elysees or Grand Flora, we must book one year in advance if we want to use points. Otherwise, no dice. In early February, I tried to book a June stay at the Boscolo Venezia on points, but they wouldn't let me; no rooms on points available. Someone else on the other hand, was able to do so at that property, but far in advance from when I tried to book my stay.
What I'm getting at is that it wouldn't make sense to me that MR members have to book so far in advance to reserve a stay on points, if they could just book a regular reservation and then opt to use points at check-in. So this makes me think that this can only be done at certain hotels, probably lower category hotels (ie. Cat 5 or less, eh - maybe Cat 6) who's room stays with points are not highly sought after (like Courtyards, etc.) I feel pretty certain that this cannot be done at flagship properties.
So to answer your question, it depends (sorry). Maybe someone else more saavy than I can weigh in. All the best.
You know I was thinking about that when I was at the REsidence Inn last week charging a bottle of gatorade to my room. So I looked it up and found the following:
Terms & Conditions
During their stay, Members may use Marriott Rewards Points to redeem an Instant Redemption Award, which they may apply as a credit against their folio upon check-out. Instant Redemption Awards must be ordered at the hotel during the hotel stay to which they will be applied; when a Member requests an Instant Redemption Award for a specific dollar amount or "up to" a specific dollar amount, Marriott Rewards will deduct those points from the Member's Account.
1. A request for an Instant Redemption Award may only be made by an individual customer who is a Member in good standing of the Marriott Rewards Program. As proof of eligibility, a membership number is required when redeeming an Instant Redemption Award.
2. Instant Redemption Awards must be ordered at the hotel during the hotel stay to which they will be applied; they cannot be booked in advance of the stay. Instant Redemption Awards must be applied to the Member's folio upon check-out. Any portion of the Instant Redemption Award not applied to the folio will be forfeited; if the amount requested for the Instant Redemption Award is more than the folio balance, cash will not be returned to the member.
3. Instant Redemption Awards are valid only when used toward the expenses charged to the Member's guest room, including but not limited to room charges, food and beverage, golf, spa services and incidental expenses. Awards cannot be redeemed for cash or gift cards. Awards are valid only for individual travel, and are not applicable to group travel, package tours, or conventions that have been charged to and/or paid by a third party. Award credits may be used by the Member only and may not be gifted, although if requested at the time of redemption, Awards may be credited against a third party’s room folio if the room was booked under the Member’s Marriott Rewards number.
4. The Member requesting the Award must have the total point value required to purchase the Award requested available in his or her Account at time of ordering. Once accrued points in the Member’s Account have been redeemed for an Award, the points cannot be returned to the Member’s Account.
5. Redeemed Awards are not refundable, exchangeable, replaceable or transferable for cash or credit.
6. Instant Redemption Awards are offered at participating hotels in the United States (except Hawaii) Canada and Europe (includes the United Kingdom, France and Germany); including Marriott® Hotels and Resorts, Renaissance® Hotels, JW Marriott® Hotels, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites. Instant Redemption Awards are not available at Marriott® Vacation Club International, The Ritz-Carlton, EDITION and the Autograph Collection.
Thank you all very much for such insightful responses. I appreciate it!
I called the Residence Inn in Tampa where I am staying at this coming weekend and want to do it with points, and they told me that, since the hotel is "sold out", there are no options to use points :-(. That really bothered me...as I will have to pay $159/night instead of using 10 or 15K points...which would be much much better.
Again, thank you all for your responses and feedback.