Part of the points and miles journey is staying in hotels for free. I have used many points to stay at Hilton’s, Hyatt’s, IHG Hotels, and Marriott Hotels. I would have to say that I have stayed at some pretty fabulous Marriott Hotels over the last 4 years of travel hacking. Today I want to share with you some of my favorite free Marriott Hotel stays.
Note: The stays in this report were done when Marriott had an award chart, they have now moved to dynamic pricing. Pricing has changed.
Have you ever traveled somewhere just to stay at a hotel? That is exactly what I did to stay at my favorite free Marriott Hotel stay, the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay, I had heard about this hotel on a couple of travel hacking blogs and I was just intrigued. It is touted as being an “almost Harry Potter-like” place. Indeed, at every turn, I was amazed at the creativity and imagination of the designer, not to mention the absolute beauty.
The staff is dressed in different period costumes and the décor of the different restaurants, buildings, and shops are unique and just unbelievable. This hotel is a destination in itself and I never tired of the creativity it offered us.
It is patterned after Lamarck University and there is quite a story told about it. To be honest, I was never sure if it was all true or not but it captivated me. Lam-U (the nickname of Lamarck University), is said to be a successful academic institute in its era — it housed wealthy locals and colonials from the early 1900s to the 1940s. The university had to be suddenly closed down due to WWII, leaving some of the remains of students and lecturers. You can read more about the hotel here.
Because I have Marriott Platinum Elite Status we had free breakfasts. The room this humongous buffet was offered in was gorgeous. It was undoubtedly the most delicious and largest breakfast buffet I have ever eaten at. If there is something you have eaten for breakfast anywhere in the world, you can find it there.
Paddleboarding, kayaking, and yoga were all free activities. Also included for free were bike rides to a bee farm and flower decorating. For a small fee, I decorated cupcakes, made pizza, and created bath scrubs.
There were several pools and a beautiful beach. The restaurants were delicious and the staff was so accommodating and kind.
We had a gorgeous room for 6 nights and the last night, they offered us a suite that was over the top! Again, thank you hotel status!
Vietnam is a long plane ride. I would do it again to stay at the JW Marriott Phu Quoc. It is a category 5 hotel so you can stay there on standard pricing for 35,000 points a night. Remember that the 5th night is free on award stays. 140,000 points for 5 nights here is a steal! You can even use your Marriott 35K annual free night certificates here! Go there. You will thank me later! I went with a friend but the children would love it and we saw many families there.
Another of my favorite free Marriott Hotel stays is the Rome Marriott Grand Flora Hotel. Of course, I absolutely love Italy and Rome is just so amazing. This was my second time staying in Rome and this hotel had me in their lobby. Simply gorgeous. I love black and white and green so I was smitten immediately.
The best part of this hotel was the location. We literally walked most of the time from our hotel to Trevi Fountain, the Spanish steps, quaint Rome streets, and the Pantheon. And we ate a LOT of gelatos – gotta keep fueled, you know!
So much to see and do in Rome.
Add all this history (I could wander around the streets for days) to delicious food and the gregarious and kind Italian people and it is my kind of place. After very busy days, we were happy to come back to our comfortable rooms.
This hotel is a category 7 hotel so it runs 50K per night if you can find an off-peak night. We only stayed 2 nights and three days and saw plenty of Rome.
My personal favorite Marriott hotel in Hawaii is this one. Located in Maui, in Wailea, the Marriott Wailea Beach Resort is the perfect combination of modern and updated. With several pools and a convenient location, I would love to return again and again here.
Alex and her husband have raved about it for some time and when I went with her to it last year, I became a convert – it is awesome! There are lots of walking paths around the hotel by other hotels, a nice beach, and plenty of good restaurants nearby.
It is a category 7 hotel so more expensive to stay at. However, if you can find some off-peak dates you can stay there for 50,000 points a night.
On this trip, we also stayed at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua??? And it is usually considered a better hotel, definitely costs more if you are paying cash but was so windy that we preferred this hotel.
Now, here is a Ritz Carlton I really enjoyed. My daughter from London and I decided to go to Istanbul, Turkey because it was on her bucket list. I had some 50K hotel annual certificates that I needed to use so we booked four nights here. It is located on the shores of the Bosphorus, a significant waterway in Istanbul.
The hotel was beautiful with a rooftop pool that had a view of the city. Spectacular at night. The restaurant in the hotel was lovely, the food was delicious, and the staff was very nice.
Istanbul is a fascinating place to visit – spice markets, mosques, hammams, and so many beautiful neighborhoods. We thoroughly enjoyed wandering through some colorful neighborhoods.
I traveled to Thailand with a friend of mine and we went to four areas – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, and Krabi Town. It was a dream trip filled with tons of massages! Almost every day we had one because they were only about $7 for an hour. Pure bliss!
I picked the Le Meridien Chiang Mai to stay in because it had a good review and I could use some of my Marriott Bonvoy Rewards there. The plus was that it was centrally located, something you don’t always know until you get there. We could walk to the night market, massage parlors, temples, and many other areas. If we didn’t want to walk it was easy to hail a tuk-tuk or a taxi that seemed like an old-time paddy wagon. Everyone would climb in the back of this covered small truck-like vehicle with an open back door. They would pick people up and drop people off continually depending on the room available.
The Le Meridien Chiang Mai had a beautiful foyer, nice rooms, a nice pool that overlooked areas of the city, and good food. I am not the best ethnic eater so being able to have a good hamburger or a Caesar salad is always a plus for me. The staff was the absolute best, always bowing to us and wanting to make our stay more enjoyable.
We went on a girl’s trip to Sarasota Florida in April. The Ritz Carlton there is a category 7 hotel and was the perfect choice for our trip. We had some 50K certificates and Marriott points that we used to book our stay.
One of the best features of this hotel is the beach club that the hotel takes you to on a shuttle. We would find nice beach chairs by the pool with a view of the ocean and relax, relax, relax. It was perfection!
The hotel normally runs $600+ a night but we paid about $74 for parking and resort fees combined. The company was perfect and the hotel divine!
Marriott Hotels are some of my favorite and I’ve stayed at some nice ones. Between using Marriott Bonvoy rewards and free night certificates, I’ve been lucky enough to travel hack my way to some pretty nice stays. Remember, that Marriott award stays aren’t completely free if they have a resort fee. Even with paying the fee though, it is worth using points for a stay at a hotel that is worth as much as $900/night at times. With hotel status, I often get suite upgrades and free breakfast that offsets that fee. What is your favorite Marriott hotel?
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