Is Marriott Running the Best Fall Hotel Promo for Families?

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In a previous post, I outlined the fall hotel promos that Starwood, Hyatt, and Priority Club are running.  I compared those three promos from the perspective of two different travel patterns (one frequent traveler and one low/moderate traveler) in order to attempt to determine which was the “best” promo.  Of course, it always depends on way too many variables to often declare a truly best promo, but the comparison did help me determine where to focus my stays this fall.  Which, for the record, was Hyatt in multiples of three until November 15th, and then Starwood (especially if it is a triple points night). 

In the comments section on that previous post, reader greek2me reminded me that the best promo for many families this fall might actually be the Marriott MegaBonus 2011 promotion.  This promo awards one free night after every two eligible stays in the Marriott family of hotels.  For frequent Marriott stayers, there are many different versions of the Fall MegaBonus, but this is the basic offer that is open to all.  There are, as always, some terms and conditions that I will get to in a minute, but on the whole this promo is currently the quickest way for many travelers to earn a couple of free hotel nights.  (At least outside of credit card sign-ups!)  Here’s how it works:

  • Register for the promotion before October 31, 2011.  It is a good idea to go ahead and register, even if you aren’t sure whether or not you will have any Marriott stays.  Better safe than sorry!
  • Ensure that your Marriott Rewards earning preference is set to points, not airline miles.  You cannot double dip, but you can always switch your earning preference back to miles at any point.
  • Earn one free night in a Category 1-4 hotel after every two stays in one of the following properties: JW Marriott®, EDITIONSM, Autograph Collection®, Renaissance® Hotels, Marriott® Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott®, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott®, SpringHill Suites by Marriott®, Residence Inn by Marriott®, TownePlace Suites by Marriott® and Marriott Vacation Club®.  The Ritz-Carlton® participates as the exclusive luxury partner to Marriott Rewards.  Remember, this promo is counting stays, not nights.  So, one stay of 8 nights counts the same as one stay of one night.  Plan your reservations accordingly!  For instance, if you will be traveling on a work trip for two nights, each night can count as one stay if you are willing to book a different qualifying hotel each night.
  • Pay for your reservation with a Visa card.  This is pretty simple and straight forward for most of us, but if you are traveling for business and are required to pay for the stay with a business credit card that is not a Visa, you may or may not have some luck if you are a little “creative” with paying for incidentals charged to your room.  You can read more about how to try to do this here.  I am not personally in a situation where I couldn’t use a Visa card, but I could see how it would be frustrating to be missing out on this promo if you were required by your employer to pay with a non-Visa card.  Get “creative” at your own risk.  🙂
  • Redeem your free nights by May 31, 2012.  Free nights earned are not transferable and cannot be given as gifts.  They should be deposited into your account within 3-5 days following your second and fourth qualifying stay.

Being able to acquire a free night after just two stays in pretty great in my book.  Traveler A from the previous promo review post would absolutely be best served by taking advantage of this Marriott MegaBonus promo with four of their stays.  While a Category 1-4 hotel isn’t going to be the most luxurious hotel on Earth, there are several very solid hotel options on that list.  For example, you could use your free nights at the Courtyard Washington DC Dupont Circle, the Fairfield Inn & Suites Lake Buena Vista in Orlando, the Heathrow/Windsor Marriott Hotel, or the Renaissance Austin Hotel.  I am now strongly considering moving a few stays this fall to Marriott in order to earn two free nights for my family to use while on vacation early next year.

Which fall hotel promo are you concentrating on?  Do you think this Marriott promo would work for you and your family?

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  1. First off, awesome job breaking these promos down, MP! I was pretty confused with all these promos.

    After planning my Q4 stays, I’m going to go with the Hyatt promo because it will yield more points than the SPG promo and those are the 2 programs that I focus on – SPG for flexibility and Hyatt for those luxurious Park Hyatts all over the world.

    Man I wish I made it to SMD3 to get that Diamond status!

  2. Odd… no matter what mode of earning I set in my profile I get a ‘not for you’ type response to the megabonus. Guess it’s time to call my Platinum service number. sigh!

  3. I noticed a lot of blogs are forgetting about the Amex fall promo of 1000 MR points per stay at 4 Points, Aloft, and Element hotels. When you factor this in with the double and triple miles promo (factoring in the extra points with SPG Amex vs 1000 MR) These two promos can be stacked and I really value MR points highly.

  4. Marriott does the same promo (Mega Bonus) several times a year, nothing fancy. If you travels a lot (most likely paid by biz), you can get up to 50k bonus points. But one free night (cat1-4) is best for infrequent traveler. Marriott’s cat 4 hotels are decent, again nothing fancy, but good enough for a family with kids. And the qualities of the rooms are pretty consistent. No surprises. Being a MR plat member (really for all elites), I can switch between different types of the mega bonus by calling the CSR. For example, if I plan for the 50k/25 nights, but fail to accomplish, I can call to change the promo, even after it expires. As long as you have four stays during the promo time, you will get the two free nights, even though you didn’t sign up for that. BTW, you can get the silver elite status by getting a MR premier VISA card. A free night every year pays the annual fee.

  5. infamousdx, no problem – they can get confusing. Wish you had been on SMD3 as well. Try to come next time!

    Curtis, definitely time for a phone call. 😉

    joedriver, very good reminder. I actually saw a post today on Loyalty Traveler about that very topic.

    Allen, you are right it isn’t “fancy”, but it is solid for many families. It is great that Marriott allows elites the flexibility of switching promotions and thanks for the reminder about the MR Premier Visa.

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