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Have you been saving your Marriott Bonvoy points, trying to figure out the best ways to use them?
Since many travelers are sticking close to home right now, it’s the perfect time to consider redeeming your points for a vacation within the U.S. In fact, you might have been overlooking fabulous properties right here at home in favor of far-flung destinations like the Maldives or Australia.
We’re not knocking those incredible places, but there are some phenomenal hotels right here where you can redeem your Marriott Bonvoy points. Whether it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience or just a spontaneous weekend getaway, we have some favorites — both iconic and underrated — you should consider for your next adventure.
And, if you need to boost your Marriott Bonvoy balance, take a look at the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card. The current offer is 75,000 points after spending $3,000 in the first three months of account opening. Cardmembers also receive a Free Night Certificate every year after the account anniversary. The Free Night Certificate is valued up to 35,000 points. Add to that automatic Silver status, a path to Gold status and 15 Elite Night Credits per calendar year, and you have a very valuable, perk-laden card.
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Fun in the sun
Moana Surfrider, a Westin Resort & Spa on Oahu
Hawaii is an iconic destination — and a perfect place to use points and miles. The Moana Surfrider has been welcoming guests to Waikiki for more than 100 years. Choose a standard room or upgrade to an oceanfront suite, and when it’s time to hit the beach, it’s only a short walk away. Hawaii can be an expensive destination and the Moana Surfrider is no exception. You can expect to pay extra for everything from omelets to beach umbrellas. Of course, that’s not unique to Moana Surfrider, and its location is one of the best in the archipelago.
Whether it’s hiking Diamond Head, catching a wave or paying your respects at Pearl Harbor, Waikiki is a perfect home base for a Hawaii vacation. With Marriott Bonvoy’s peak and off-peak pricing, a night at this Category 7 property will cost you between 50,000 and 70,000 points. And, with that long flight, this hotel is an excellent place to take advantage of Marriott’s fifth-night free offer on award stays.
The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Ka’anapali on Maui
If you plan to island-hop to Maui (or it’s your primary destination), head to The Westin Maui Resort and Spa, Ka’anapali (Category 7). Redemptions range from 50,000 to 70,000 points per night, though we did see some dates where you could save 5,000 points per night using Marriott’s PointSavers program. For a more exclusive experience, consider the new luxury “hotel within a hotel” — the Hokupa’a at The Westin Maui. We’re excited to visit The Lanai, its private lounge overlooking the ocean where guests can learn more about Hawaiian culture and traditions.
We found rooms at Hokupa’a for 60,000 points per night (5,000 points more than standard rooms at The Westin) plus $320 in cash. Or, you could pay 124,000 points without the cash, which values your points at about 0.5 cents each for the cash portion. If you’re thinking about the Hokupa’a upgrade, we recommend you pay the cash copay and save the rest of your points for a future vacation.
In addition to the new Hokupa’a experience, this hotel has 12 acres of pools (including an adults-only option and an interactive family pool), gardens, an award-winning spa and an outdoor luau dinner show. If that’s not enough, just walk a few feet past the pools to Ka’anapali Beach.
JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
The latest addition to the Marriott portfolio in Orlando is the most luxurious property near Disney World and as a Category 6 hotel, it’s a reasonable 40,000 to 60,000 points per night.
While the resort does offer a free shuttle to Disney World parks, you won’t get to take advantage of key Disney World benefits like Extra Magic Hours and extended FastPass+ availability. But for many travelers, the luxurious guest rooms (with a chance at a suite upgrade for elite members) are more than worth the tradeoff. The pool and spa amenities are what you’d expect from a JW Marriott. And, in keeping with the family theme of the destination, you’ll find an incredible kids club as well a miniature golf course and a climbing wall.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach in Miami
For travelers who want to take their vacation to the next level, South Beach is an obvious choice. The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach strikes a perfect balance, putting you in the heart of South Beach while still maintaining the privacy and prestige that only Ritz-Carlton can offer. The newly renovated guest room towers frame the pool and create a relaxing retreat just steps from bustling South Beach. Enjoy dinner alfresco, or choose from one of the many restaurants and bars that are a short walk away.
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach sits atop the Marriott Bonvoy award chart as a Category 8 property, meaning 70,000 to 100,000 points per night (standard rooms are 85,000 points per night).
Gallery: Photos: Swanky, social-distance-friendly Caribbean villas (USA TODAY)
You can also opt to spend fewer Bonvoy points per night on a South Beach stay. The Winter Haven (part of the Autograph Collection, Category 6) and Royal Palm South Beach (Category 6) are excellent alternatives. A Moxy (Category 5) will soon join the collection of properties on South Beach where you can redeem Marriott Bonvoy points. The Moxy Miami South Beach opens Jan. 31, 2021.
Hit the slopes
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
If you’re looking for ultimate luxury while skiing, The St. Regis Aspen Resort should be at the top of your list. In downtown Aspen just a short walk to the slopes, The St. Regis features Michelin-starred dining and exquisite guest rooms. Award nights at this Category 8 resort cost between 70,000 and 100,000 points.
Enjoy St. Regis’ signature butler service if you’re looking to stay in with a cup of tea, a hot bath or a glass of wine and a beautiful view of the mountain. Or, venture out into downtown Aspen for shopping and dining. Snowmass, the largest ski mountain in Aspen, is a 20-minute drive. When you’re done with your day, the hotel has an incredible spa facility.
Aspen isn’t what you would call a budget destination, and using points to enjoy The St. Regis means you can save your budget for the incredible restaurants in town (go to Matsuhisa for sushi — trust us). This property generally requires a three-day minimum for award stays, but consider Marriott Bonvoy’s fifth-night free benefit for big savings. If your heart is set on Aspen, you can also consider the W Aspen (Category 7) or The Westin Snowmass Resort (Category 6) as potential alternatives for fewer points per night.
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas is surprisingly affordable for a ski vacation. Use your 35,000-point award night certificate, a perk of the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ Credit Card, at this Category 5 property. You can find a villa here for 30,000 or 35,000 points during the low season that will include a kitchenette or even a full kitchen with a refrigerator, cooktop and dishwasher. That’s an easy way to save on meals.
This property gets even more valuable if you can find a two-bedroom villa from 43,000 points per night. These units sleep up to six people and come with a full-size kitchen and a balcony with views of the slopes. Did we mention it’s a ski-in, ski-out resort loved by Colorado locals? You’ll find great restaurants and shops nearby as well.
Steamboat Springs is three hours from Denver International Airport (DEN). The only airport closer is Yampa Valley Regional Airport (HDN). Historically, it’s been a bit tricky to get here with award flights, but new airlift from JetBlue and Southwest are making it easier than ever to reach Steamboat.
The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa
The Equinox (Category 6) in Manchester, Vermont, is so many perfect things wrapped up in one cozy resort.
It’s the ideal compromise if you love skiing but your traveling companion doesn’t. While you enjoy the nearby slopes, your significant other can try a spa treatment or even the Land Rover Experience Driving School. When you’re both back from your adventures, explore nearby shopping or just relax in front of the fireplace with a glass of wine or apple cider donuts.
When it’s time for dinner, choose between quintessential New England cuisine at Marsh Tavern or an incredible steak beside the massive stone fireplace at The Chop House. Dating back to the days of Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys, the Equinox has played host to more than one U.S. president, and Mary Todd Lincoln loved it so much she wanted to bring her husband for a return stay. The Equinox is timeless and elegant with impeccable service.
The indoor pool and outdoor hot tub, with views of the slopes, are favorites in winter. Stays will run between 40,000 and 60,000 points per night and are worth every last point you spend. Given the room rates during peak seasons, this hotel can be an ideal candidate for a cash and points redemption, which can still be combined with the fifth-night free benefit.
Explore the city
JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa
San Antonio is a classic destination to explore. Most folks book a hotel on the River Walk and plan day trips out of town, but we think there’s a better way. Situated less than 30 minutes from the River Walk, JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa (Category 6) is luxury hiding in plain sight. Families will especially appreciate the nine-acre water park. If that’s not your style, two championship golf courses and a spa offer some grownup alternatives. After a day of exploring the Alamo or other San Antonio-area attractions, you can relax in the adults-only pool.
When it’s time to satisfy your appetite, there’s an upscale steakhouse, tequila flights paired with regional cuisine and a fantastic Sunday brunch. You can also catch the end of the big game on a 120-foot video wall in the sports bar. At 40,000 to 60,000 points per night, the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa is affordable luxury. This is also a great place to take advantage of the Marriott Bonvoy fifth-night free program so you have more time to explore and unwind, without spending extra points.
New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge
Most travelers may flock to hotels in Manhattan, but we’ll let you in on a little secret: The view of the city is much better from Brooklyn. As a Category 5 hotel, this property can be booked for 30,000 to 40,000 points per night, and we did see it on the PointSavers list for some upcoming dates. That point range also makes it an excellent place to use a 35,000-point award night certificate. The hotel’s location near four subway stops gives you easy access to Manhattan via the 2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, D, F, N, R and W (that’s red, green, yellow and blue for folks less familiar with the city’s transit system).
When you’re at the hotel, you’ll find guest rooms larger than average Manhattan apartment (another plus of a Brooklyn hotel stay), with some standard rooms having both a desk and couch. The fitness center has Peloton bikes so you can keep up with your exercise routine, and families will enjoy the pool, an amenity that’s pretty rare at New York City hotels. Elite members of the Bonvoy program can also enjoy the M Club lounge during their stay.
The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa
California wine country is a fabulous region to explore. There are few locations in Sonoma or Napa that combine location, luxury and the ability to use points in the way that The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa does. Tucked away in downtown Sonoma, the charming shops and restaurants in town are an easy walk from the property. Plus, its location at the south end of the Sonoma Valley makes it a fairly easy drive to many great wineries in both Sonoma as well as Napa Valley. Your designated driver can drive between both towns using one of the cross-mountain roads that connect the two iconic wine regions.
Back at the resort (a Category 7), you’ll find an outdoor pool and cabanas, plus outdoor exercise and yoga classes. The rooms have a lodge-like feel, with a number featuring fireplaces for chilly fall days. Most visitors fly into San Francisco International Airport (SFO) but, if you’re lucky, you might find a flight into Sonoma County Airport (STS) where Snoopy will greet you in a much less hectic setting. (The airport is named after Charles Schulz, the creator of the iconic Peanuts cartoon.) Paid rates can get pricey at this property during peak season, but you can snag it for 60,000 to 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
W Chicago – Lakeshore
You’ll love the W Chicago – Lakeshore, a Category 5 property perfectly positioned for sightseeing where you can use a 35,000-point award night certificate when the hotel offers standard or off-peak pricing. This hotel is a short walk from both the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier and has impeccable guest rooms with plenty of space to relax, lake views — plus that unmistakable, quirky W feel.
While the W Chicago – Lakeshore has convenient on-site restaurants (order a steak at Gibson’s), we encourage you to get out of the hotel for meals. It’s hard to walk more than a few blocks in Downtown Chicago without finding an excellent place to eat. It’s easy enough to hail cabs or order an Uber or Lyft, and the “L” (Chicago’s subway system) is clean and safe. The city is also extremely walkable.
Featured image courtesy of The Westin Maui
SPONSORED: With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.
And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free.
These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
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