AC Hotels is a Spain-based chain acquired by Marriott International in 2011 and integrated into Marriott Rewards in 2011. There are currently AC Hotels in 40 cities across Spain. Several of the upper upscale AC Hotels were rebranded years ago as Autograph Collection properties by Marriott. What has always attracted me to the AC Hotels brand in Spain is the large number of category 1 hotels at 7,500 points per reward night with Marriott Rewards and now Marriott Bonvoy. Of 100 Marriott brand hotels in Spain, 20 are currently category 1 hotels.
One problem for me with Marriott Rewards over the years was their high qualification for elite status based on hotel nights meant that I generally focused my spend with other hotel chains, which also meant I never earned very many Marriott points. The other major issue with Marriott Rewards compared to most hotel loyalty programs is they did not offer promotions to buy points at a discount. The regular rate for points is $12.50 per 1,000 points. At that rate, a category 1 hotel for 7,500 points would cost $93.75 for a reward night. Most category 1 hotels in Spain are generally priced below $93 per night most of the time.
Marriott Bonvoy 2019 is a Spain game plan changer
Two changes with Marriott Bonvoy in the past six months has me looking again at AC Hotels and other Marriott brand properties across Spain.
1. Marriott Bonvoy Buy Points Promotion to Dec 22 drops price from $12.50 to $8.75 per 1,000 points. Members can buy up to 100,000 points in a calendar year.
A category 1 hotel standard reward night is 7,500 points = $65.63 per night. That can be a good deal for some of the AC Hotels in Spain, but might not be a better deal than paying the published rate and earning points for many of these category 1 hotels.
2. Marriott Bonvoy Off-Peak Rates drops the price of category 1 hotels from 7,500 points to 5,000 points. My rate checks for Spain in February 2020 show nearly all the category 1 hotels in Spain offer off-peak reward nights at 5,000 points per night some days of the week. Off peak category 1 reward rates for 5,000 points per night combined with the reduced purchase price for Marriott Bonvoy points means a reward night will only cost $43.75 per night. Paying in points will likely be the better deal than the cash rate for nearly any Marriott Bonvoy category 1 hotel in Spain. And the nightly rate can drop to $35 per night with a 5th night free reward stay during a week with off-peak 5,000 points rates.
Marriott Bonvoy Off-Peak rates are based on date and day of week with rates for any specific hotel potentially bouncing between off peak, standard and peak on different days of the same week.
For example, of 20 Marriott Bonvoy category 1 hotels in Spain, I examined the reward rates for 7 consecutive days from Saturday, February 1 to Friday, February 7, 2020.
Saturday, February 1
- 14 hotels at 5,000 points
- 3 hotels at 7,500 points
- 1 hotel at 10,000 points
Sunday, February 2, 2020
- 16 hotels at 5,000 points
- 4 hotels at 7,500 points
Monday, February 3
- 15 hotels at 5,000 points
- 5 hotels at 7,500 points
Tuesday, February 4
- 5 hotels at 5,000 points
- 11 hotels at 7,500 points
- 4 hotels at 10,000 points
Wednesday, February 5
- 3 hotels at 5,000 points
- 13 hotels at 7,500 points
- 4 hotels at 10,000 points
Thursday, February 6
- 12 hotels at 5,000 points
- 8 hotels at 7,500 points
Friday, February 7
- 18 hotels at 5,000 points
- 2 hotels at 7,500 points
Thu Feb 6 – Tue Feb 11 Fifth Night Free Reward Stay
- 3 hotels at 20,000 points ($175 to buy 20,000 points = $35 per night)
- 11 hotels at 22,500 points ($197 = $39 per night)
- 4 hotels at 25,000 points ($219 = $44 per night)
- 1 hotel at 27,500 points ($241= $48 per night)
- 1 hotel at 35,000 points ($306 = $61 per night)
Given there are 400 category 1 hotels around the world, there are plenty of places with potential 5,000 points per night hotels. Spain is one country where there are many category 1 hotels in relative close proximity to actually plan a trip around these AC Hotels in historic city centers. This is an idea I examined this morning as a potential trip plan across northern Spain centered on staying at cheap Marriott hotels.
I see great potential for budget travel across this region. One of the things I have learned over the years is a great value using hotel points will likely go away. For example, Portugal was a great deal five years ago using IHG points. Reward rates for some IHG hotels have increased three times in 5 years. Hilton had hotels with $25 hotel nights in Romania until a year ago before reward increases doubled rates. Right now, Spain is a sweet spot for Marriott Bonvoy points. Combine cheap airfare deals at $300 round trip from many cities across the USA to Spain with cheap Marriott reward nights and one could potentially stay 25 nights in Marriott hotels across Spain for as low as $875.
A closer look at AC Hotels in Spain will follow.