It seems everyone has chimed in on their experiences with Marriott, Marriott Rewards, and competitors, so I won't continue that conversation, everything has been said and repeated. I would like, however, and since you asked, to tell you about my point redemption experience.
I'm also interested in your point redemption experience.
I chose Marriott Rewards based on the value of the redeemed points. In my first ten years in the program I rarely used any points. Too busy staying 300-325+ nights a year on the job and it was too much fun watching the points add up. Another few years go by and I used a hundred thousand MR points here and there. Finally, one year ago, I cashed out (well, almost). Three million points for a whopper of a vacation. My girlfriend and I spent three weeks in Costa Rica. We used our flight miles to fly us down and our parents and siblings for the middle week of our stay (Christmas week). We treated our Mothers to a daily spa visit and our Dads to an open bar! The greatest part of using my MR points wasn't the room though, it was the cash equivalent redemption. I read all the fine print on what MR points uses were available beyond rooms or room upgrades. I couldn't believe that I could use 600K MR points in exchange for a 5000$ hotel credit! For us, it was the trip of a lifetime.
So what exactly does three million MR points buy these days you may ask? The answer is three weeks in Costa Rica at the Los Suenos Marriott over Christmas. It breaks down like this:
19 nights for my girlfriend and I in an ocean view suite
5 nights for my parents
5 nights for her parents
5 nights for her brother
5 nights for my sister and her boyfriend
5000$ cash equivalent of hotel credit which we consumed entirely on resto/bar tab and spa tab
Incidentally... In case anyone is curious, we used 260K of Air Canada Aeroplan miles to fly everyone there and back...which still seems like a very good deal! As for the rental car, Hertz does not offer point redemption outside of the US, Canada, and Europe, so we paid for a rental car. I wrote Hertz a stern letter telling them that it was silly to be able to earn points in Costa Rica by renting from Hertz, but not to be able to redeem points there. They agreed, but that's all. Ha!
I can't think of one complaint from that trip.
But the MR points redemption story doesn't stop there.
One month after returning from our trip, my employer downsized. I lost my job of 13 years with no warning. ****. What to do? I was very fortunate and received a generous severance. Fresh off of vacation and remembering how much I liked not working, I couldn't decide if I should bank the cash and get another job right away or should I take time off... you know... permanent vacation! I decided to take the severance and run. I still had 900K MR points left over, so I used them all over the map. SCUBA trips, cycling trips, I even visited some family! Finally, I used them for job hunting and interviewing. That paid off. Oddly enough I got a job doing the same thing, traveling the same amount, staying in Marriotts. Now I'm back on the earning side of MR points once again.
So anytime the kid at the front desk forgets to say, "Thank you for being Platinum Premier", I don't blow a fuse, I don't remind them of my status or my 2700+ nights stayed, I don't even ask for my bottle of water anymore . I am just thankful I made out like a bandit with all those points as a perk just for going to work all those years.
So those points served me very well, and for that, I say thank you. I hope you guys (and gals) are using those points, watching them accumulate doesn't taste nearly as good as all the margaritas they bought me down south!