If you travel, you know the importance of status within airline and hotel loyalty programs. You also know those points earned are another currency you can spend on vacations. For years, my wife and I have been enjoying our “Marriott Nights” on a monthly basis.
The logic is simple. Weekend rates at hotels catering to business travelers can be pretty inexpensive. Once a month on average, we would book a one night stay in a Marriott in New York, Philadelphia or a nearby suburb. We spend the night, checking out the next morning.
Here’s what makes it attractive:
- We earn nights and points. Each stay brings us closer to our desired threshold in the Marriott Rewards program. After years of staying at Marriott properties, we are now Lifetime Titanium in the Bonvoy program. It doesn’t get much better than that.
- We pack a picnic. We travel in style. When we check in, out luggage includes a hard sided fabric covered box that’s about 1x1x2 feet. It contains flatware, china, crystal and linens. We usually pack a bottle of champagne and a grazing dinner. Antipasto is a favorite.
- We pack a picnic. We try to align our Marriott nights with a shopping excursion. From our home in Bucks County, PA there are a few Marriotts near the King of Prussia mall, which for years was the highest grossing mall by square foot dollar volume in the US. There are hotels in Philadelphia. Plenty in New York City too. Our favorite shopping areas have hotels nearby, because there are Marriotts everywhere.
- Shop late or shop early. Since shopping is a big draw, we either shop before checking into the hotel or save it for the next morning, after we have checked out. If we’ve bought cheeses or other food, the rooms often have a refrigerator.
- Fine dining. When we choose a shopping destination, it must have a fine dining restaurant nearby. Although we often pack a picnic, it’s not a requirement. It’s prudent to enjoy a good meal at a great restaurant, without needing to drive a long distance home after having a few glasses of wine. The big city overnight trips often include the fine dining experience.
- Swimming anyone? Our home has great air conditioning, but no pool. When you check into a hotel on the weekend, there’s often a pool plus a whirlpool. It’s usually empty too. You get the convenience of a pool without the maintenance issues.
- Different local news. In our area, we are in the Philadelphia catchment area. We get Philly news. Drive into New York and it’s a totally different story. You get the feeling you’ve travelled someplace else. The newspapers are different too.
- Museums and local landmarks. These road trips provide the opportunity to go to the theater or catch a museum show while staying in the center of the action. It allows us to play tourist.
- Parking isn’t a big deal. Hotels in suburban areas usually have free parking. Hotel parking in big cities is expensive, but in places like New York, websites like ParkWhiz give you a range of garages and prices radiating out from your hotel. We’ve gotten pretty good deals.
- You have more choices than you imagine. Most people take their own area for granted. Draw a driving radius around your house. Since NYC is 70 miles from our home, it’s about a two hour trip. You would be surprised at the towns, cities and resorts that are within a day’s drive. You might not be cruising, but you have lots of options for getaways.
We are all getting stir crazy, but you can plan some pretty nice trips in great hotels in enjoyable surroundings for little money. That’s the logic behind or Marriott nights.
Cover photo: Viscaya Museum and Gardens in Miami ©Dennis Cox/WorldViews