Today, news is spreading across the miles and points community that Starwood's SPG points can be converted at a rate of 1:3 to Marriott rewards points as a result of the merger passing Chinese regulations. This means that if you've got a stockpile of SPG points, you have a good shot at maximizing their value by purchasing a Marriott Travel Package (Hotel + Air Package).
Marriott Hotel + Air Package Strategies
These packages allow you to convert Marriott rewards points into 7 nights in a Marriott hotel plus the airline miles you might need to get there. In practice, miles and points hobbyists have used these packages to earn the Southwest Companion Pass, which is granted to those who earn 110,000 or more Southwest miles in a single year. After nearly two years with the Companion Pass I have saved over $3,000 on Southwest flights and here's how I redeemed the Marriott Travel Package.
I believed the best value for these packages would always be triggering the Companion Pass by taking Southwest Rapid Rewards miles, but now, with a second opportunity to cash in Marriott points for a Hotel + Air Package, I'm having trouble deciding between three options:
- Redeem 270,000 Marriott points for 120,000 Southwest Rapid Rewards (which essentially becomes 240,000 miles because my companion will always fly free) and a 7-night stay at a Cat 1-5 Marriott.
- Redeem 270,000 Marriott points for 132,000 United Mileage Plus points (enough to fly internationally to a place where higher quality Marriott Cat 1-5's exist) and a 7-night stay at a Cat 1-5 Marriott.
- Redeem 270,000 Marriott points for 120,000 Alaska Air Miles (because I find them to be easier to use for flights I actually want) and a 7-night stay at a Cat 1-5 Marriott.
Another variation of these options I'm considering is adding 30,000 more Marriott points to stay at a Category Six Marriott instead, which opens up more luxurious options. In the next sections, I will provide some samples of what's available in these two categories of redemption, including starting prices as a means of estimating savings (most of the time these hotels will cost much more, resulting in even greater savings).
Category Five Marriott Hotels
Most Cat 1-5 Marriotts in the US are nothing to write home about and even abroad, only the Cat 5 properties really have any appeal to me. Here are some of the best finds I've made for my needs at the Cat 5 redemption level:
Renaissance Curacao Resort & Casino - From $151 per night and a great option for a Caribbean getaway outside the hurricane belt.
Sortis Hotel, Spa & Casino Panama City - From $130 per night in a gateway city with lots of cheap flights. The hotel is very modern and gets phenomenal reviews.
JW Marriott Hotel Bogota - From $180 per night. One of Bogota's leading hotels, the second-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor, and central to all the city attractions.
AC Hotel Cuitat de Palma - From $140 per night on the Spanish Island of Mallorca. Located right in the city center.
Category Six Marriott Hotels
In addition to a number of good international redemption options, Cat 6 on the Marriott hotel chart opens up some excellent domestic redemptions as well:
JW Marriott Hotel Mexico City - From $170 per night, well-located, and extremely highly reviewed. Mexico City has tons of tourist opportunities and is also a gateway to Central and South America as part of a longer trip.
AC Hotel Diagonal L'Illa Barcelona - From $160 per night and centrally located, although it does appear to be more of a business hotel.
Renaissance Barcelona Fira Hotel - From $150 per night with a stunning rooftop pool and easy metro access.
Courtyard Paris Boulogne - From $125 per night and very highly reviewed.
Renaissance Tuscany Il Cioccio Resort & Spa - From $145 per night, the perfect launch-point for a week of bike training in Tuscany and in day-trip proximity to Pisa and Florence.
Denver Marriott City Center - From $180 per night and well-located. An excellent value for a major US city with plenty to do for a week.
Renaissance Austin Hotel - From $185 per night and stunning. Austin has plenty to do and this represents another excellent redemption value.