As we feel the economic strength of our favorite hotel chain squeeze our point value, here's a possible alternative to consider, courtesy of the fierce competiton between online travel sites. Orbitz is getting very aggressive toward wanting you to actually book travel through them and they are backing it up with rewards - take a glance
If you combine their new program with their no annual fee, no foreign transaction fee credit card, there appears to be real cost savings involved
Granted, you don't receive Rewards points booking through a third party (although occasionally, even as the article notes, sometimes points do slide through) but the economics may tip the scale in some circumstances towards a Marriott stay through the on line travel website.
ps- you do receive your elite benefits (like concierge lounge etc) thru on line travel website bookings - so if you're lifetime and elite nights are not relevant and the economics tilt the equation toward your favor ($$$ vs. points) this may be an option to consider.