I'm disappointed each time I see a post about having "those worthless Category 4 Certificates". C'mon Insiders, buck up. Now granted, if you're a Road Warrior knocking down 3 or 4 nights a week saving the world, then spending an overnight in your hometown, isn't necessarily a version of fun. But, of course, if you're traveling that much, you should be hauling down the big 50k points in the Mega Bonus and never messing with the certificates (and once again, MegaBonus 101, if by fluke you receive an offer you don't like - call and change it).
Now, to the Insider niche, like myself that collects all of those past due stays from friends, be it their homes or timeshares and who have therefore reduced Marriott nights to where the Certificate offer is a pretty sweet deal, a reminder, don't view them as the resort vacation getaway (do we really deserve that anyway, for only 4 or 6 stays?) view the lowly Cat. 4 Certificate (or the incrementally more useful Cat. 5) as an outing 'enhancer'. There are many SpringHills, Courtyards, Residence Inns, and Fairfields that fit the bill. Have a dinner, catch a show, and take it easy, but whatever you do, Don't Let Those Certificates Rot Use them, don't lose them. *
Often on the well placed overnight, you can either go during relatively low occupancy and get a nice upgrade or secure a mid-week high cost and zing the Marriott gang with your $200 or more night (yeah, baby!). Here's some highlights from a very nice CY (and you know my feelings about CYs) in Silver Spring, Md (the 11's are the wraparound corner rooms with pleasant views and more space - ask for them, 411-1011). Nice restaurants, many within walking distance, http://www.lamalinchetapas.com/ this weekend's tasty adventure with friends, that due to our Beltway locations, seldom hook up http://8407kb.com/ another fine selection, I've enjoyed, several others just as enjoyable, and an entire group of casual restaurants (including a Whole Foods across the street) within a half mile that make for a pleasant local 'getaway' when attending the nearby Round House, AFI Theaters or The Fillmore. And lastly, known to all, another benefit of the local overnight - you can take your own beverages (our Insiders train riders call it 'medicine').
La Malinche - as we learned from previous Insiders tips - half priced drinks (6 types of Sangria)
and appetizers at the bar before dinner - good stuff
Surviving multiple performances of daughter's college production of Medea (Euripides, not T. Perry)
I find virtually all performing arts entertaining.
Jazz, blues, rap, pop, all types of music for all types of target audiences
Old Town Alexandria, Reston Va, Crystal City and Arlington Va. and Bethesda, Md. same story; nice properties for an overnight out with the loved one. Work it Insiders, keep those certificates as contributors to your quality of life. We need you refreshed and fully charged to continue our strategy of travel experience optimization (with or without free coffee).
Any similar Certificate strategies to share?
Don't write Arne for points, there's low return in that, just ask ssindc ( http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/blogs/news-promotions/2013/09/24/follow-arne-sorensen-s-insights-and-perspective--receive-1000-points-if-he-addresses-your-topic#comment-18316), share instead with your traveling 'Band of Brothers'.
*yes, I know, some places like Hawaii and Alaska don't even have low Cat. properties - but life is fairly unfair - the rest of us spend big bucks to visit where you live. Use your certificates for airport stays that by changing your flight dates, allow you to book either cheaper airfares or use points, that otherwise wouldn't be available (or come visit me in DC).