2019, big year for me and big year for Marriott Milestones. It marked the quarter century for me as a Marriott Rewards/Bonvoy Member.
January set the table with eight stays over eight different brands. Six of those hotels were new to me including my first St Regis stay. That New York City hotel was a one night, 60,000 points extravaganza. I had never blown that many points on one night in my 25 yr Marriott history. Realizing the new categories would kick in later in the year, I felt it was probably my first, last and best chance to see what all the fuss was about. It is a fantastic hotel. Room rates were in the $600/700 range for the cheapest, up to well over $1800 for the big suites. I used my first SNA and the hotel popped the Madison Suite. If you get a chance, and the insane idea to blow a lot of cash or points, the The St. Regis New York will be a memorable stay.
February had six stays over five brands with all six hotels new to me. The first two Marriott Flagship Hotels near O'Hare airport brought a couple of long term goals into view. In 1994, I started my relationship with Marriott at the Melville Marriott Long Island Hotel. Those first few years featured mainly the full service namesakes with a couple of Courtyards for good measure. I had an eight year run of very little travel or Marriott activity. When I started traveling again in 2006, my stays were predominantly select service and long term stay brands. The Flagship Marriotts were becoming a rare treat. BUT, these two Chicago hotels brought my program to date total to 88 and suddenly 100 was within reach.
March was six hotels over four brands with four new to me. A Mid Atlantic barrier island trip was the highlight in Maryland and Virginia. The early spring weather worked out just right.
April was kick it into high travel to far away places time. Nine stays over six brands, all new hotels....and three European countries mixed in. My first Marriott Moment to a Man U game with a brightlybob kicker was priceless. Then off for our first trip to Finland that found us staying in a converted jail that is now a Tribute Portfolio. Helsinki was a too short stay and needs a return. Greece..more specifically Crete and the two Domes, Noruz Chania and Elounda. The Domes of Elounda, Autograph Collection was marked as my 500th Marriott property. The management of the hotel went all out with two, yes two upgrades during the stay. The first was the best view of the Mediterranean in a two room suite. Halfway through the stay, the rooms manager called and asked if we would like to finish up in a two bedroom villa with private everything...pool, outdoor space, you name it.
May...five hotels over four brands, three new.
June/July..I was falling behind Ambassador pace through the first five months. But then came June!! June brought eight stays over seven brands..all new and the eighth stay was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. That Le Meridien stay set me up for an excellent July. I love Malaysia, by the way. This was my third trip in five years and they get better each time. A weekend trip to Phuket and a lovely JW Marriott added to the July six KL stays at four brands. If you've never been to Asia and experienced these concierge lounges, you are missing out. Our North American lounges are like White Castles compared to Asia.
August...Back to the US and eight stays at six brands. Seven were new hotels.
September.... CRAZY time. Let's start off at home in the lone Autograph Collection in Philadelphia. The Notary has location, history, class, and swank. Unfortunately, they also were having a bad day and check-in was delayed until 7PM!! All was made well with free dinner, almost fully comped suite, and 10,000 sorry points. Big kudos to the GM. Then off to Qatar. Doha had eight available Bonvoy properties. So why not try them all if you're going to be there for a month? Marriott Marquis, W, JW, Westin, Ritz, St. Regis, Sheraton, and a 2nd Ritz property...whew!!! All were outstanding. That Sheraton was the best of that brand I've ever experienced. It holds rates as high as any of the other lux brands..it's that nice.
October....Six stays over five brands. Four newbies. Early October was a seven night travel package stay in Ocean City, MD. Great time for the Eastern Shore. The other highlight for the month was Maui.... Vacation Club. Ahhhhhhhh!
November...Seven stays, three brands, all new. Canton, OH in November..brrrr. So let's head to Fort Lauderdale!! Off to TIPPLE planning in Houston. Then our first visit to Quebec in Montreal. Our Canadian Insider friends came through with great suggestions. French speakers all over and our first Montreal Canadians game. Great food, great city. Four big Flagship Marriotts during November to reach 99.
December... five stays, five brands, four newbies. Many Insiders long to visit Scranton, PA in December, right? A storm calling for 18 inches of snow narrowly missed the city. That was enough to convince us of another Florida trip before we got frostbit. The Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort and Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach is an early winter haven. AND it was number 100 for Flagship Marriotts!!!!!
Overall, checked-in 86 times. 67 new to me hotels. 195 nights in eight countries covering 22 brands.
What a year...we're travel weary with so many fond memories..
Okay, now for the fun. I'm going to post the "12 Days of Travel" Game. Each day I'll post pictures of a hotel or location from 2019 and see who can guess it first.... Stay Tuned!!!!