My parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in August, 1992. My Dad, who was retired, was just finishing a stint as a FEMA employee in Southern Florida helping hurricane victims and setting up the Miami command center at Miami Airport.
My family and I decided that we'd send them on a great adventure, one which they could never have afforded to the Marriott in Ponte Vedra, Florida Sawgrass Golf Resort.
Using personal persuasion and a few calls to the hotel we were able to ensure that Mom and Dad got the royal treatment. The manager, a man whom I did not know, was kind enough to take their visit as a personal task, making sure they got the best of everything. A large suite, a bottle of champagne (and they rarely drank), a fantastic dinner. We paid the bill, which was very reasonable, so they could have a great time since we could not be there at that time. It was a good, no a great anniversary for them.
A year later, after Hurricane Andrew ravaged Florida, Dad was still with FEMA, working 12 hour days seven days a week, when he discovered that he had cancer, He was dead two years later, and Mom bravely carried on, as she still does, with great dignity at age 90. Her memory is being eroded by dementia, but when I talk with her the Sawgrass trip is among the first things that she mentions.
So, among the clatter and noise about hotels, loyalty programs, the hunt for status and benefits, there's ground truth: at times a stay is more than a few nights in a hotel, it's a special memory that lasts.