I’ve Finally Booked A Big Ticket Marriott Redemption For Next Year

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Since Marriott introduced its new award chart in August it has been possible to book awards at numerous aspirational properties around the world for just 60,000 points per night but, sadly, that’s only going to be the pricing for a limited time.

The window to book these properties for 60,000 points per night will probably close on 1 January 2019 when Marriott is expected to introduce a Category 8 level into its award chart – a category into which all the aspirational properties will be placed.

Once this happens the halcyon days of 60,000 points per night will be over and the cost of an award night will rise to 85,000 points….and then on to a possible 100,000 points when Marriott introduces seasons into the award chart too (these award night changes are why you should be booking ALL your 2019 Marriott awards right now).

Because of this impending steep increase in award night cost a lot of miles and points enthusiast have been scrabbling to book the aspirational properties before the year is out (some with quite a bit of success) but I’ve been slow to join in…..and there has been a very good reason for that.

The Bar at St Regis Vommuli Maldives
The Bar at the St Regis Maldives Vommuli – Image Marriott

As I wrote back in July:

In all the excitement surrounding the possibility of visiting some amazing places “for free” some people seem to be forgetting a couple of things:

  • Some of the properties being discussed (St Regis Bora Bora, St Regis Maldives etc…) aren’t exactly on most people’s doorstep so there will be travel expenses to consider.
  • The aspirational resorts being discussed are true 5* luxury properties and, as such, on-property dining and activities come with 5* pricing – that’s not going to be cheap.Sure, if you’re US-based and you’d like to visit the Las Alcobas property in Napa (which looks beautiful by the way) you should be able to keep control of your costs….but that’s going to be a lot harder to do if you’re planning on visiting Bora Bora or the Maldives.

A much as I wanted to splurge out on another visit to Bora Bora (the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa is fantastic) or to finally check out the St Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort I was more than a little aware of how expensive it would be to get to these resorts in comfort (I’m not about to fly that far in cargo class) and, after having visited the IC Bora Bora, I also very aware of how much food, drinks and activities cost at these resorts when there’s no competition.

Breakfast at the InterContinental Bora Bora Thalasso Spa Resort

Joanna and I have done a number of very special trips in the past few years so now’s not the time to be splashing out on yet another wallet-buster.

The rooms may be “free” if we visit one of these amazing and idyllic properties but everything else about the trip would definitely not be (did you know that a roundtrip seaplane ride from Male to the St Regis costs $665 per person?)

Having said all that, I have been struggling to keep myself from window shopping some of the nicer properties on offer (the fear of missing out is a cruel thing) and I realised that I could actually book something very cool without bankrupting myself in the progress.

What I’ve Booked

I know that I’m going to back in Europe next fall and I also know that Joanna really wants to visit Venice (she’s been to Venice before but the closest I’ve ever been is the Venetian in Vegas).

Venice is home to the Gritti Palace which is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection portfolio. It’s also very expensive and it looks more than a little over-the-top.

The Gritti Palace – Image Marriott

This isn’t a property I’d ever consider booking with cash because I don’t consider €1,000+/night to be a particularly good use of money….

….but at 60,000 points/night it’s a different story.

I’ve booked Joanna and I into the Gritti Palace for 3 nights at a total cost of 180,000 points (there’s no cash element to this booking) and the roundtrip flights between the UK and Venice are costing a little over $160 for both of us.

We were already planning to be over in Europe in the fall so the flights between LA and the UK are a sunk cost and therefore not appropriate to include in the cost of the Venice trip.

Final Thoughts

When we first got wind of the fact that Starwood’s most aspirational hotels were going to be available for 60,000 Marriott Points (20,000 Starpoints) per night I was as excited as anyone and was quickly searching for dates that worked for us at some idyllic island paradise…..but reality quickly kicked in.

I soon realised that the free nights were going to lead to another incredibly expensive trip (which we don’t really need) and that’s not the point of being part of the miles & points game.

Image Marriott

Early fall should be a good time to visit Venice (not overly hot and not quite as full of tourists as in the summer months) and, with the Gritti Palace, we’re getting to try out a property that we probably wouldn’t try out otherwise.

Sure, we may not have an overwater bungalow or a view of an amazing lagoon overlooking the Indian Ocean but I don’t think those are things we need right now.

Had we not already visited Bora Bora and had we not recently had a few weeks in Hawaii we may have felt differently…but right now the Gritti Palace seems like the right booking for us.

The trip is genuinely not going to be expensive and we’re still getting to use some Marriott points to have an experience we wouldn’t otherwise have….and that’s what I really think our miles and points are for.

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  1. Planned my last trip to Italy around 5 nights (5th night free) at the Gritti Palace. Worth every single point. It is truly one of a kind. Enjoy your trip!!!

    • That’s great to know – I wasn’t too sure about the decor when I first saw the images but the building and surroundings look amazing.

  2. I’m curious as to .. is it mandatory to take seaplane ride from Male to the St Regis-Maldives or to any hotel in maldives as a matter of fact?

    Somebody told me that there are small boats from the airport you can take to your hotel and it costs $50 I believe .

    Has anyone taken anything other than seaplanes? Def. don’t want that expensive seaplane ride if it’s avoidable?
    Any suggestions will be soo much appreciated to avoid seaplanes and take a small boat or something from the airport to your hotel.

    • Caveat: I’ve never been to the Maldives so this response is based on what I’ve read.

      My understanding is that the transport options open to you depend on the distance your final destination is from Male.

      Some resorts offer both seaplane and boat transfers (I presume these are resorts close to Male) while others just offer a seaplane transfer.

      The St Regis is about 100 miles from Male and I’m pretty sure that’s way out of range of the boats.

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