May152008

Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Vacation Packages

JW Marriott, Camelback Inn, Phoenix, Arizona

Marriott Rewards Hotel and Air Vacation Packages favored by Freddies travelers.

I wrote a blog post March 13, 2008, Diners Club, American Express or Hotel Corporate Affinity Credit Card?

I discounted the benefits of the Marriott Rewards Visa card when compared to Diners Club and American Express Membership Rewards travel points.

Marriott won big at the 2008 Freddies for best loyalty program award with their vacation package for 7 free nights at any Marriott hotel + airline miles. I decided this Loyalty Traveler needed to take a closer look at these awards.

The Marriott Rewards hotel and airline miles packages start at 165,000 points for a 7-night stay at a Category 1 to 5 hotel and either 50,000 airline miles for most domestic airlines and a few international airlines or 35,000 airline miles (most international airline partners) and the award cost goes up to 270,000 points for a 7-night stay at a Category 7 hotel and up to 120,000 airline miles with selected partners.

By the Numbers:

A Marriott Category 7 hotel normally will cost 150,000 points for a 7-night reward stay. The single night stay is 40,000 points. The Marriott Rewards chart offers the largest per night discount using hotel points for longer stays at high category hotels, and approaches a 50% per night discount on a 7-night stay at a Category 7 hotel (think NYC, Paris, London, Rome).

The 7-night Category 7 hotel stay + 120,000 airline miles are essentially an exchange of 120,000 Marriott Rewards point for 120,000 airline miles. There are 13 airline partners participating in this travel package exchange that allows a Marriott Rewards members to exchange their hotel points for airline miles. This is the best exchange rate available for airline miles, next to Starwood Preferred Guest, however, Marriott Rewards are earned at a better rate per $1 spending with hotels and credit card purchases than SPG members earn.

Domestic Airlines:
Alaska, American Airlines, Continental, Delta, Frontier, Northwest, United, and US Airways

International Airlines:
Air Canada, British Airways, Mexicana, Varig Brasilia, Virgin Atlantic

There are a variety of other international airlines for the Marriott Rewards package award, however, fewer airline miles are exchanged with these airlines at amounts from 35,000 miles up to 85,000 airline miles.

International airlines for hotel and miles packages up to 85,000 airline miles:

Air China, Air France/KLM Flying Blue, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Southern, Emirates, Jet Airways, LAN, Lufthansa Miles & More (SWISS, LOT Polish, Austrian), Qantas, Singapore Airlines, SN Brussels, and TAP Portugal. (Emirates has some incredible cash and miles deals for highly discounted premium cabin flight awards).

Southwest is also an airline partner offering up to 80 credits with a 7-night award for 235,000 to 270,000 Marriott Rewards points.

The easy part of the Marriott Rewards Vacation Package is figuring out where to go stay with the hotel award. The challenge is transferring points to the right airline partner for a comparably valuable airline award to accompany the hotel stay.

I could go into the best value airline mileage awards, but I won’t delve into that angle that deeply in this post.

I want to look at this package from the point of view of a big spender who can potentially earn 270,000 Marriott Rewards points per year, primarily through credit card activity.

A person who spends lavishly and accumulates Marriott Rewards points can easily attain a First Class award ticket (value $10,000) from US to Europe and get a 7-night award stay ($4,000 value) by earning 270,000 points.

How to earn the big awards:

Marriott Rewards VISA card: Say $10,000/year spent with Marriott (5 points/$1 = 50,000 points); $30,000 spent on dining and airlines (2 points/$1 = 60,000 points); $60,000 spent on other = 60,000 points for 170,000 Marriott Rewards points on $100,000 annual VISA spending.

Hotel stays earn 10 points/$ + 20% bonus for silver status (up to 30% bonus if platinum) on $10,000 annual Marriott brands hotel spending = 120,000 points for Marriott hotels.

This Marriott Rewards member earns 290,000 points a year for $100,000 in travel and other purchases. The Marriott Rewards Vacation Package at 270,000 points can be a $14,000 rebate value on $100,000 annual spending ($10,000 with Marriott).

Sample Travel Package:

Marriott Rewards Vacation Package with Virgin Atlantic 100,000 miles and 7-night stay at Category 7 hotel will cost 250,000 Marriott Rewards points.

Virgin Atlantic roundtrip award ticket using 100,000 miles
San Francisco – London
Upper Class cabin (comparable to First Class with airlines like United and American)
July 1-15, 2008
Paid Ticket fare: $10,026 (fare check 5-15-08).
(Award ticket will likely cost around $400 altogether, after taxes and fuel fees)

7 nights at Renaissance Chancery Court, London (Marriott Rewards Category 7) starts at 305 GBP ($600+USD) per night. A 7-night stay July 1-July 8, 2008 using Marriott Rewards points is a $4,000 value.

Summary: 250,000 Marriott Rewards points can be exchanged for 100,000 Virgin Atlantic miles and a 7-night Marriott Hotel stay in a Category 7 hotel. An Upper Class ticket on Virgin Atlantic from San Francisco to London and 7 nights at the Renaissance Chancery Court, London will have a vacation package value of $14,000.

And with all the airline partners available for Rewards points redemption, the traveler can travel most anywhere in the world and have a Marriott hotel waiting for you at your destination.

Marriott Rewards Vacation Packages are a damn good travel reward for the rich.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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