Category 1-4 Hotels/Award nights....
The Marriott Rewards program gives a member multiple ways to rack up free nights (megabonus, credit card free night, quarterly promotions, etc.) but these free nights are typically Category 1-4 stays. For example, I earned the max 3 free nights in Q4 2012, will do the same in Q1 2013, and have the credit card, giving me 7 free nights in Cat 1-4; I am guessing that anyone approaching Gold status or higher can easily claim the same. Woo hoo, you say....but not so fast....
Here's the question; Where do you use these rewards? I can't find a decent Cat 4 or lower hotel in San Fran, San Diego, really anywhere on the water or at any sort of 'destination'. I always like to use my reward points to take a special trip with my family; payback for all of my time away from them. Sure I can use points for that, but these 7 free nights seem mostly useless in that regard. Again, no 'destination' type properties at the Cat 1-4 level.
So here are my questions for the community:
1. Anyone experieincing the same frustration? I am thankful for the free nights, but can't exactly figure out how to use them.
2. Anyone have any hidden gem category 4 hotels they'd like to recommend?
3. Can I use these award nights to put up family and friends locally at a Courtyard, Springfield or Fairfield; e.g. HS graduation this summer, folks coming to town, can I use these free nights for them?
4. Any chance Marriott will offfer Cat 5-7+ rooms in their promotions, so that we can use them to travel to actual destination spots? I would happily take 1/2 the free nights at higher category properties.
I appreciate any inputs, thank you!