I redeemed MR points for a flight-hotel package a few months ago when UA had a bonus promotion going on. I called MR to book my certificate at Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay just now. I was a little worried as the website said that this hotel had no availability for points during the time I need. But the MR agent said it was no problem, and he booked my certificate right away with no questions asked. It's now showing up on my account as a reservation.
So far so good with the flight-hotel package. Rates during my week in Sydney run $499 AUD per night, so the certificate ended up saving us a lot of money on hotel costs. While the UA miles won't get us all the way to Australia, they helped build on miles I already had saved. Seems like a pretty great deal.
Now if Marriott only had a hotel or two in Cairns or near the Great Barrier Reef, I'd be set. Have to use SPG star points for those as the merger won't be completed yet when I travel.
Any tips for Sydney would be appreciated!