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Everything You Need to Know About Marriott Bonvoy—and How to Take Advantage of the Perks

 
 
Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove in the Seychelles

The newly relaunched loyalty program is one of the most powerful ones around. Here’s what to know about the changes and how to figure out which brands best fit your travel personality.

Marriott Bonvoy, which officially launched in February, is one of the most comprehensive hotel loyalty programs in the world, covering more than 6,900 hotels in 130 countries and territories. It now combines Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards into one distinct program. If globetrotters can’t find a hotel that fits their needs within Marriott Bonvoy, chances are that few other programs will be much better. With 30 distinct brands, there is something for every type of traveler. This includes big luxury names like Ritz-Carlton and St. Regis, as well as smaller brands like Moxy and AC by Marriott. As with Hilton Honors, there are perks designed to appeal to a variety of budgets. This free program is worth exploring, whether you travel occasionally or all the time.

The benefits start with free wireless internet access at all Marriott Bonvoy–participating hotels, as well as discounted rates if you book through a Marriott channel, such as directly on the websites or via the app. Members earn 10 Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar spent at most hotels; a few exceptions include five points per dollar spent at Element, Residence Inn by Marriott, and TownePlace Suites hotels. If you’re staying at Marriott Executive Apartments or Execustay, members earn 2.5 points per dollar spent on the room rate.

Bonus points start to pile up if you earn elite status from frequent stays or hold one of the cobranded credit cards, like the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card. Plus, any new members who join and stay twice before June 28 can earn a free night. The program’s top level, Ambassador Elite (for those who spent 100 nights at Marriott hotels and spend $20,000), comes with 17.5 points per dollar spent and access to a personal concierge.

How to take advantage of the program

Marriott Bonvoy has a clear award chart listing the number of points needed for nightly redemption, with hotels divided into eight categories. While there are off-peak and peak pricing levels for each category (in addition to the standard level), the program makes it easy to know how many points are necessary for a free stay. PointSavers Awards offer additional discounts for stays across the Marriott portfolio; the best part is that if they are available, the discount gets automatically applied at Marriott.com or via the app.

Members can combine cash and points for stays (great for those with smaller points balances). Also, if you redeem points for four nights, the fifth night is free. Marriott has a special partnership with United through RewardsPlus. Register your United frequent flyer number to enjoy a bonus when transferring miles and points between programs, get the opportunity to earn miles while staying with the Marriott portfolio of brands, and receive reciprocal elite status between MileagePlus and Marriott Bonvoy programs.

Here is a mix of some of the newest Marriott Bonvoy brands to be aware of, as well as how the iconic names are evolving. Use this guide to figure out which hotels best suit your travel personality—and where you should book, whether you’re earning or spending points.

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Marriott Hotels

As the flagship brand, Marriott Hotels says it has been on a mission to “leave guests motivated and inspired with their travels” by adding new features like a partnership with TED Talks for exclusive content in the guest rooms. It is testing such innovations as streaming or on-demand video aerobics classes in hotel gyms and meeting spaces with kitchens decked out with LG appliances, so guests can socialize during breaks. Cities large and small are in the property portfolio, including the historic Marriott Mena House at the foot of the Egyptian pyramids near Cairo and the Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, the largest hotel in Thailand.

The Courtyard by Marriott in Guatemala City
Courtyard by Marriott

Among the fastest growing of Marriott’s brands, there are 1,000 Courtyard properties in 46 countries, and the company says more than 50 percent of the upcoming hotels are planned for overseas destinations. Designed for the business traveler, Courtyard by Marriott fits between full-service and value-focused properties. Regionally inspired decor, inventive grab-and-go dining with rotating menus, and touch-screen GoBoards in the lobby with local news and information are highlights of new Courtyard properties in cities like Hangzhou, China, and Guatemala City.

Residence Inn by Marriott

While designed for long-stay guests (defined as more than five nights), the brand is popular with families looking for extra space or kitchenettes. Its third largest property is the Residence Inn London Kensington, an ideal example of the brand’s expansion into dual business and leisure markets. For business travelers across the globe, a third of the room nights are in the extended stay category, according to Janis Milham, the global brand leader for Marriott’s Classic Select brands, and Residence Inn is among the largest brands in the extended stay sector. Hotels tack on amenities like free breakfast and laundry facilities, plus free wine and appetizer hours many evenings of the week.

Sheraton

This is one of Marriott’s biggest brands, and according to senior vice president Julius Robinson, Sheraton has the largest international footprint, with properties close to well-known locations like New York’s Times Square and Edinburgh Castle. Sheraton is undergoing a brand overhaul, and the updated ones will have lobbies with a “town square” atmosphere, including the popular Link@Sheraton coworking spaces with access to computers and printers. Sheraton will soon add more high-tech services where guests can order drinks or make special requests from staff via the iPads or apps.

The W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal
W Hotels

Credited with being the first design and lifestyle hotel brand, W Hotels have expanded to over 50 cities, and each one has cutting-edge decor and an eye on fashion trends, making the hotels destinations in their own right. What differentiates W further is the onsite programming events, including Fuel Weekends focused on healthy cuisine, intense workouts, and “killer parties,” as the brand likes to call its events, in places such as the W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal and Koh Samui, Thailand. Most of the lobbies feature DJs spinning both local and international tunes, while guests can create their own music in Bali and Seattle, where the hotels have in-house recording studios.

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Tribute Portfolio

Known as a “soft brand,” Tribute Portfolio pulls together 30 independent hotels from around the world. To qualify, each hotel must tell a story about its location through decor and architecture. As part of a soft brand, the hotels maintain their own identity while benefiting from the affiliation with a global company like Marriott. Hotels like The Slaak in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and The Guild in San Diego, both set to open this spring, are great for travelers who want to immerse themselves in local culture and history. Whether you want to stay at a historic hotel in New Mexico like La Posada de Santa Fe or get the unique chance to use the sauna of a former prison at the revitalized Hotel Katajanokka near Helsinki, Tribute Portfolio mixes local character with the perks of Marriott Bonvoy.

Autograph Collection

Like Tribute Portfolio, this group of boutique hotels retains touches of local history and culture at each location while giving travelers the benefits of being part of Marriott’s network. A perfect example is University Arms in Cambridge, England, a property within walking distance of the university and many art galleries along Regent Street. It’s the kind of hotel that brings out the studious and adventurous side of guests. Suites are named for famous Cambridge alums, including Charles Darwin and Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with their literary masterpieces on the bookshelves. The hotel’s library and fireplace were salvaged from a neighboring mansion and added to the hotel. Back in LondonThe Dixon was once the Tower Bridge Magistrates Court and is now historically protected for its magnificent Edwardian facade.

The Moxy in New York City’s Times Square
Moxy

Marriott’s new millennial-focused brand is named Moxy, and indeed, the hotels have plenty of moxie. Appealing to the young and young at heart, these midrange-priced hotels have smaller guest rooms and communal workspaces with ample power outlets, as well as a staff that’s empowered to interact with guests through social media. Guests check in at the bar, which doubles as the front desk and reduces staff count while emphasizing the social aspect of the hotels. The list of properties is growing, with a focus on travel hubs like the Moxy NYC Times Square and Moxy London Excel.

Le Meridien

This chic, unabashedly European brand has more than 100 properties. It celebrates art, design, cuisine, and coffee culture. Where else can you find a global éclair program that highlights the famous French pastry with specific local versions from each hotel? Bathrooms sport Malin+Goetz toiletries. Lobbies have curated music playlists, and master baristas prepare seasonal Illy creations like affogato with dried strawberry flakes and salted caramel cortados. You’ll find Le Meridien hotels everywhere, including business cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, and resorts like the Seychelles.

 

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