Twenty-five years, thirty-two States, thirty-three countries, six continents, and finally hotels 498, 499, and 500!
”Go big or go home”..... “They have to be Epic Hotels”...... “The Most Memorable Stays”...
I heard from my Insider buddies that the finish line had to consist of Marriott properties that were worth the lofty status of “The One”. So...... I started to look for a place that I would really enjoy and a property that included Insider’s acclaim. Where best to find such a place but in the worldly travels of one fistuk. Our very own explorer of fine hotels at deep discounted prices. Even erc , the originator of the “Stick it to the Man” philosophy looks up to the mighty fistuk.
......Besides fistuk and erc, many Insiders have tipped me off to great hotels throughout the journey. Worldly travelers, pluto77, profchiara, jerrycoin, fschumpert, monisame, tker, brightlybob, iahflyr goalsetters… nationwide, bejacob, the up and comers.... seatexan , the luxury stayers... verysuiteboy, ssindc
I've taken the blog world up through hotel number 497. There was a delay for the last three due to verification concerns through Marriott data sources. I wanted to be sure that they could verify....more on that near the end.
So a little stroll through 25 years of history and then the final reveal....
The First Ten Years
My first Marriott Hotel from memory was at City Line Avenue bordering Philadelphia back in the early 1980s. There may have been a few here and there over the next ten years, but nothing memorable enough to hunker down for recall. 1994 was my first year in the Marriott Rewards program......This is when my second Official Marriott Hotel would occur.
Funny thing, I didn’t know much about hotels or chains back then. In fact, that 2nd Marriott started life as a Radisson. I was using that Radisson on Long Island New York as a sleep spot for a monthly staff meeting. In month three, that Radisson rebranded and has since been known as the Melville Marriott Long Island Hotel. Over the years, 27 times I would check into that hotel. Most stays were one to three nights. My corporate office moved to Pennsylvania around 1998, but I have revisited that hotel a handful of times throughout the last 25 years.
There were a few early years of work travel between 1994 and 1999. Not heavy, but enough, when combined with a vacation stay or two, allowed the Marriott Loyalty program to reel me in for a binding relationship in future years.
In 2000, I recorded zero, zilch, nada official Marriott stays. I say official, because who knows? Our favorite hotel chain has never been spotless when it comes to crediting all stays and activity.. . I wasn’t paying great attention to the quarterly mailings Marriott was sending out as a transaction history in those days. I did keep many, but didn’t really reconcile to actual activity. Rolling on to 2004, after ten years in the program, I was sitting at just 73 stays for 101 nights and 193,124 lifetime points. The big highlight of the first ten years was a redemption of 120,000 points that netted two round trip airline tickets, seven nights at the Marriott Mountain Shadows Resort and Country Club near Phoenix and a half price week for a Hertz rental car....all for that 120,000 points!
The first decade plus of Marriott concluded with four brands, 32 Marriott’s, 10 Courtyards, 4 Fairfield Inns and a single Residence Inn. A total of 47 unique Marriott properties for the first ten years.
The Next Ten Years....2005-2014...Things are Blowing Up!
In August of 2005, I switched careers.....moved away from Big Corporate America and decided to go at it alone. That lasted about 18 months then back into Little Corporate America! These career moves acted like rocket fuel for work travel. Increased work travel created more points, more points meant more leisure travel to spend the points!
New to me Marriott brands and new to me Marriott hotels were adding up. 2005 saw the first Renaissance, Springhill Suites and Towneplace Suites. The Renaissance New Orleans Pere Marquette in August was the greatest human refrigerator on Earth! That city was as hot and humid as could be, but walking into the Pere Marquette was cooling relief on the highest level. The Springhill Edgewood Aberdeen had the first swivel TV for the living and bedroom areas.. Not good! I wanted two TVs! The Towneplace in Bowie, Md was an early version with hallway locked doors, no breakfast to speak of with an institutional feel. The chain has come a long way since.
2006 was my second year (1995) with more than 20 stays. A total of 25 stays for 35 nights were both personal records. The second decade of Marriott peaked in 2010 with 53 stays, 139 nights, at 9 different brands.
This ten year period also included my first Ritz...fancy! The Ritz was big, but the single most lucrative stay was landing on Insiders and sticking around after my first posted rant. The tips that I learned allowed for points and experiences to add up at break neck speed. This place has been worth many thousands of dollars to me!
After twenty years, Lifetime program numbers at the end of 2014... 279 unique properties, 3,082,763 points earned, 448 stays, 970 nights
The Big Five... 2015-2019.... 500th Property Two Times Over.
My previous blog posts on this journey to 500 properties have covered this period pretty well. So, no need to go over the many highlights. BUT, two big things will wrap this up. Properties 498 through 500 of course, and the new math used for recording purposes. “New math you say? What’s up?”.....
Well prior to the big merge of 2018, back in 2012, I was able to get every stay that Marriott recorded for my account. I cross checked their recorded data with my info from 1994-2010. Since 2011, I “spreadsheeted” every stay, night, point, hotel, bonus, etc. There was a difference of 30 some hotels from the official Marriott record from Corporate and mine. Half of these were hotel stays that our friends forgot to record and the other half were stays while under a different rewards member’s account. My partner for example had a few stays under her name for our vacation travel. So, near the end of this 500 journey I started having second thoughts about the real 500th. Should it be what I know to be true or what Marriott has on their official records for my account?
I decided to cover all bases. I hit 500 early in 2019 ...... and as of August 1st I have now stayed at 534 unique Marriott properties of which Marriott can search their records and find 500.
Here are the final three for my journey..... numbers 498, 499, and 500.
Helsinki, Finland....No Marriott legacy properties but our Starwood friends came through.,
Hotel Katajanokka, Helsinki, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel
This place was like going to jail...literally..a converted prison. Very cool!!!
I’ll post some pictures of Helsinki in a separate blog post.
Domes Noruz Chania, Autograph Collection
A one night stay to acclimate prior to the 5 night stay at Elounda. This is an adults only property that sits astride the town of Chania. It's a must see waterfront village on any trip to Crete.
Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection
This was the big one!!! After fistuk posted his pictures from this resort, I knew that it would be # 500 !!! What a wonderful place. Crete is the largest island of Greece. Elounda was a great town for foodies, boaters, relaxers, daytrippers, and scenic viewers. This is the first property that I can recall that upgraded me twice. Once at check in to a million dollar view of the Mediterranean......and 2nd time to a two bedroom villa with private outdoor living space to include a pool.
The two bedroom villa had everything you would need for an exotic holiday...
And finally, what would a momentous occasion like my 500th property be without a mini Insiders meet up. There just happened to be a California Insider and her mom at Elounda! Say hello to Pluto77!