What started as a root beer stand in the 1920s—and, later, a venture into the hospitality business in 1957—has evolved into one of the world’s largest and most diverse hotel chains. Over time, Marriott International has positioned itself as a singular company with many brands, a strategy that took on a new meaning in 2016 when it acquired Starwood Hotels & Resorts.
The result? Marriott now has a reach of 30 brands and 1.1 million rooms globally. Travelers have nearly double the options when booking with Marriott than they did before. More properties means more travel destinations and, as we’ll explain later, more opportunities to beef up your rewards account. Here’s a guide on why booking with Marriott is worthwhile.
Marriott Hotel Brands
Armed with the most brands of any hotel chain, it’s easier than ever to find a Marriott hotel that suits your desired comfort level and needs. They make it simple by dividing their many brands into three categories: luxury, premium, and select. (Read about the main differences between luxury hotels, economy, and everything in between in our post, From Luxury to Economy: The Different Types of Hotels You Can Book.)
With Marriott, fancy, upscale hotels highlight the “luxury” category. Here, you pay for top-notch service, high-end amenities, and vibrant food and entertainment experiences. Marriott’s portfolio of luxury brands includes:
Marriott’s “Premium” hotels are sophisticated and provide quality amenities at a lower price point than the luxury properties. Consider this the middle tier of Marriott.
- Marriott Vacation Club
- Autograph Collection Hotels
- Delta Hotels
- Le MERIDIEN
- Gaylord Hotels
- Tribute Portfolio
- Design Hotels
You won’t have to sacrifice quality with “select” properties, but these hotels cater to various travelers with select amenities and services. For example, Courtyard targets business travelers, while AC Hotels are geared toward younger, more modern business travelers, and Aloft Hotels feature urban-inspired designs.
- Four Points
- Springhill Suites
- Protea Hotels
- Fairfield Inn & Suites
- AC Hotels
- Aloft Hotels
- Moxy Hotels
Marriott also offers a line of extended stay hotels for those who want suites or larger hotel rooms for longer trips:
- Marriott Executive Apartments
- Residence Inn
- TownePlace Suites
- Homes & Villas by Marriott International
You’re probably familiar with many of these hotels if you’ve stayed with Marriott in the past. Marriot’s loyalty program, now called Bonvoy, re-branded when Marriott acquired Starwood Hotels and Resorts. This is why you now see former notable Starwood brands (such as St Regis, W Hotels, Aloft, Westin, Sheraton, and The Luxury Collection) on this list.
After the merger, Marriott reclassified its brands even further, giving them either a “classic” or “distinctive” label. Classic properties include JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Sheraton, Courtyard, and Marriott Vacation Club, among others. W Hotels, Renaissance, Westin, AC Hotels, Aloft Hotels, and Moxy Hotels fall under the distinctive label.
What was once known as Marriott Rewards is now Marriott Bonvoy, following the merger with Starwood. For a brief period following the merger, both Starwood and Marriott programs operated under one umbrella with unified currency. Then, in early 2019, Starwood Preferred Guest, Marriott Rewards, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards combined to form a simplified interface called Bonvoy (a play on the French phrase bon voyage).
Beyond Marriott’s expansive portfolio and glamorous locales, the reward program is generous for travelers. And the best part is you don’t exclusively need a credit card to build up your base. Here’s how it works…
You earn 10 points for every $1 spent on stays at Marriott hotels, with one exception. You earn five points for every $1 spent at Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Element properties. That means, with just a handful of stays, you can rack up enough points for a free night. For example, staying five nights at a $150 property nets you 7,500 points, good enough for a standard redemption night at a Category 1 hotel (more on this later).
Depending on your membership tier, booking with a Marriott property provides certain perks. You’ll receive access to complimentary in-room internet, discounted member rates, and mobile check-in services just by signing up as a “member.” The tiers increase from there—based on the number of nights you stay per year—all the way up to “ambassador elite.” Platinum elite—considered the middle tier—provides a late 4 p.m. checkout, lounge access, room upgrades (including suites), and a hotel gift (points, breakfast, or other amenities).
If you’re a frequent business traveler or like to vacation, Marriott offers a Lifetime Elite status for those who spend countless nights on the road. You can reach Lifetime Silver Elite status with 250 nights (at least five years with elite status), Lifetime Gold Elite with 400 nights (at least seven years with gold elite status), and Lifetime Platinum Elite with 600 nights (at least 10 years with platinum elite status).
A full description of each of Bonvoy’s member levels can be found here: Marriott Bonvoy Member Benefits.
Why Book A Marriott Hotel
Right off the bat, Marriott has perks that make it easy to book. With their Best Rate Guarantee policy, Marriott will match lower rates you find for the same hotel, room type, and travel dates on another site and give you an additional 25% discount, or 5,000 points. Their flexible booking policy allows you to modify or cancel your reservation if something comes up, provided you do so by the designated date (generally 48 or 72 hours prior to check-in).
Whether booking online, over the phone, or through their mobile app, Marriott lets you personalize your stay. Not a fan of elevators? Choose a room on a low floor. Do you need feather pillows or something more firm? There’s an option for that. You can even request extra towels, sheets, or a mini-fridge.
Marriott is one of the latest hotel chains to eliminate the use of tiny toiletries in favor of dispensers or larger bottles that are more environmentally friendly. As part of a recent bill proposal in New York, State Senator Todd Kaminsky estimated the bill would help reduce the disposal of 27 million plastic bottles at more than 630 New York City hotels.
As part of Marriott’s ongoing “Sustain Responsible Operations” campaign goals, the company hopes to reduce water usage by 15%, carbon by 30%, waste to landfills by 45%, food waste by 50%, and achieve a minimum of 30% renewable electricity use by 2025.
The days of hotels offering only standard room rates are over, as you can enjoy one of Marriott’s many special package deals when booking. Choose from a wide variety of Marriott travel packages that range from culinary getaways where you select restaurant experiences, dining packages, and breakfast options to spa treatments and all-inclusive options at select resorts.
For families, certain properties have rates where kids eat free. Attraction and adventure options exist too, such as the Six Flags Fiesta Texas package at the Courtyard San Antonio Six Flags at the Rim in Texas. You’ll receive two tickets to Six Flags and a pair of breakfast vouchers.
Empty nesters can enjoy couples-only packages, and newlyweds can check out honeymoon packages. For golf enthusiasts, the Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club in St. Petersburg, Florida, has a rate with a round of golf included.
Through Marriott Bonvoy, you can sift through hundreds of tours and activities for purchase. The adventures cater to every type of traveler—sports fans, foodies, tourists, pop culture lovers, travelers on a budget, and romantic couples, to name a few.
Looking for a food and booze experience? Check out the Tequila, Tacos, and Tombstones culinary tour in San Diego for $60. Or what if you want to experience the clear waters in south Florida? Jump on a private sailing expedition in Miami for $600. If you’re in Punta Cana, grab the family and take them on a buggy adventure for just $44. As an added incentive, you’ll earn Marriott Bonvoy points for these excursions.
If spending points is more your thing, Marriott Bonvoy Moments allow you to redeem or bid on one-of-a-kind experiences, like seeing Phil Collins perform from a luxury box theater or dining at a Michelin-star restaurant.
More than 1,500 Marriott properties are pet-friendly, but Marriott takes it a step further with upscale amenities for your dog or cat. For example, a dog package at various Marriott locations includes pet bowls and a doggie treat welcome amenity. Rules and fees vary by location, but, in general, there is a daily rate charge along with a one-time cleaning fee.
- Aloft has an Animals Are Fun (ARF) program where you receive a kit with a food bowl, waste bags, treats, a dog tag, toys, and a signature bed.
- The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has one of the more over-the-top experiences. For $50 per night and a one-time $150 cleaning fee, your dog can enjoy a doggie bed, chew toy, waste bags, and the option to dine from a doggie menu with options such as meatloaf or ground chicken with rice. From May until December, the Laguna Niguel hosts a monthly Yappy Hour series overlooking the ocean. Spoil your dog with chicken-, beef-, or bacon-flavored water and house-made peanut butter biscuits.
- At the W Fort Lauderdale, you can pay a $25 nightly fee and a $100 deposit for amenities that include a BarkBox with toys and treats. The hotel provides a dog bed, picker-upper bags, access to a special dog menu, and in-room food and water bowls.
- Better yet, fork up a $150 pet fee and take your feline friend to the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa, where you can book a pet package with pet-friendly beach access at a private beach club, a dog toy, and a “best friend” ceramic water bowl.
Family and Children Programs
JW Marriott recently launched Family by JW, which offers experiences under three distinct umbrellas: 1) Culinary experiences offer cooking classes and competitions, 2) Creativity offers painting classes and touring art museums, and 3) Activeness offers moving together and increased flexibility through bending and stretching.
Booking Marriott Hotels with Points
There is something so satisfying about booking a hotel free of charge. This is where the endless Marriott brand options come into play.
When it comes to redeeming points for free stays, Marriott breaks their hotel portfolio into eight categories. You’ll redeem 5,000-10,000 points for a Category 1 hotel or 70,000-100,000 points for a Category 8 property. Redemption value also varies by off-peak, standard, and peak seasons, depending on when you plan to travel. For example, a standard Category 5 hotel will cost you 35,000 points, but an off-peak rate could save you 5,000 points or a peak rate could tack on an additional 5,000.
Additionally, you should consider how much, or how little, to extend your points. You can book a one-night stay at a Category 8 hotel for 85,000 points, or you can turn those points into a five-day trip at a Category 3 hotel. In the event you plan a longer trip, take advantage of Marriott’s fifth night free: Pay for four nights with points and receive an extra night free. This is an easy way to save several hundred dollars while extending your vacation in the process.
Pro tip: You don’t have to have the exact amount of points at the time when you book. Just make sure you earn the necessary amount two weeks prior to your stay so that you can redeem the right amount. This is convenient if you have a special event coming up (such as a wedding, vacation, or concert) and you want to book your hotel well ahead of time.
Some of Our Favorite Marriott Properties
With Ritz Carlton and St. Regis now in the portfolio, Marriott is home to some of the swankiest hotels around the world. Here are some of our favorites:
- Ritz-Carlton Central Park: This AAA Five Diamond Hotel provides stunning views of Central Park and is centrally located near Midtown Manhattan, Times Square, and the theater district.
- The Chatwal, A Luxury Collection Hotel: Not to be outdone by the Ritz Carlton, The Chatwal is one of the top boutique hotels in the country. Dine at The Lambs Club, a stylish eatery by Food Network’s Geoffrey Zakarian.
- W New Orleans French Quarter: Grab a private balcony at this French Quarter hot spot. Location and amenities are draws here, as it’s close to Canal and Bourbon Street, two iconic spots in New Orleans.
- Ritz Carlton Amelia Island: Enjoy coastal views and private balconies in north Florida just outside of Jacksonville. This luxury spot has upscale restaurants and an 18-hole golf course.
- St. Regis Maldives: This is as postcard-worthy as a vacation gets. Send the children to their grandparents and splurge at one of the 44 over-water villas.
- Marriott Irvine Spectrum: Designed for millennials, Marriott dolled out $120 million for this new hotel in 2018. Enjoy the chic hotel designs with views that overlook the Southern California hill country.
- St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort: South Beach gleans all the popularity in Miami. Instead, head north to Bal Harbour to relax at one of the many oceanfront villas.
Let’s Explore Together
We’ve already detailed the five benefits of booking directly with a hotel. Now that you’re armed with that knowledge, let us help you find your next dream vacation or destination at any of Marriott’s thousands of properties around the globe.
Start your hotel search with us today. We rolled up our sleeves and did the grunt work for you, providing a stress-free environment that allows you to find your ideal hotel and maximize your booking experience in the process. We put everything in one place and compare loyalty rates from our hotel partners around the globe so you don’t have to search with 15 browsers open. If you see something you like, we’ll guide you to book directly with the hotel and get you on with your travels. Enjoy your adventure—and your loyalty points—with no tricks. Just travel.
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