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Whenever there is an award given out for best hotel loyalty program it seems like Marriott Rewards often finds its way to the top of the pile. This was true with the recent US News and World Report rankings, it’s often true with the annual Freddie Awards, and it’s also anecdotally true when I strike up conversations with people about what hotels and hotel program they use most frequently. One big reason why this is the case is likely footprint. Marriott is a huge hotel program with literally thousands of hotels around the world. They are in cities big and small and almost everywhere in-between.
However, their popularity is likely not only because of their large footprint. They clearly must be doing other things right as well.
When looking at the Marriott Rewards award chart what jumped out at me was that in the Category 1 – 9 award chart, it is Categories 2 and 3 that have the highest number of properties in those groupings. Currently there are 739 Category 2 hotels and 948 Category 3 Marriott hotels around the world (contrast that with just 205 Category 8 properties and 55 Category 9 properties). I love that they didn’t just load the award chart with high end properties, but instead the award chart is actually skewed toward the lower end of the spectrum in terms of numbers of available properties.
Focusing on the lower end of the spectrum means that you can stretch your points further since those Category 2 and 3 properties are just 10,000 – 15,000 points per night instead of the Category 8 and 9 properties that are 40,000 – 45,000 points per night.
In the United States, there are Category 2 and 3 properties in Salt Lake City, Denver, Colorado Springs, Orange County, Cancun, Orlando, Houston, Dallas, Charlotte, and many, many more cities. While many of these properties will be your functional but not necessarily luxury properties such as Fairfield Inns, Courtyard, SpringHill Suites, TownePlace Suites, etc, you may be surprised by some of the Category 2 and 3 properties out there around the world.
Here are a few examples of Marriott Category 2 and 3 properties that go well beyond your standard Courtyard type rooms – all of which are bookable for 10,000 to 15,000 points per night (or less on longer stays).
This is the Category 2 Hurghada Marriott Beach Resort in Egypt.
Here is the Category 3 JW Marriott Beijing Central.
This is the Category 2 Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa in Malaysia.
Let’s say you wanted to spend 5 nights vacationing at the Mulu Marriott Resort & Spa in Malaysia on points and then later on spend 5 nights at a Category 2 property somewhere in the US such as the Courtyard Salt Lake City Layton. Since the 5th night is free on award reservations, each reservation would cost you just 40,000 points at 10,000 points per night with the 5th night free.
This means that from one 80,000 point credit card sign-up bonus you can have two different five night reservations at a Category 2 property ranging from a Courtyard property in the US to a nice resort property at some exotic locations around the world. Alternatively, you could have 5 nights at a Category 3 property with 20,000 points left over! That isn’t bad for a credit card with an $85 annual fe
Do you have any favorite Marriott Category 2 or 3 properties?
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.