10 Best Uses of the Marriott 50,000-Point Certificates for Family Vacations

Feb 22, 2019

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The Marriott loyalty program features multiple cobranded credit cards that offer a free award night worth a variety of points for each annual card renewal after the first year. These certificates really help offset the cost of the annual fee — assuming you put them to good use. The following cards offer a certificate worth up to 35,000 Marriott points each year (some legacy SPG/Marriott card products also issues a 35k certificate):

  • Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card
  • Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card

A 35,000-point Marriott certificate is nice, but what’s even nicer is the up to 50,000-point certificate you get at each renewal with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. (The Ritz-Carlton Rewards card also offers the same 50,000-point certificate, but that card is no longer available to new applicants).

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex has a $450 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) but the annual 50,000-point award night, combined with the annual up to $300 statement credit to use at participating Marriott properties, helps recoup that cost. If you value the $300 statement credit at roughly face value and you can get more than $150 from your annual free night award, then the card quickly becomes a long-term keeper.

Currently, you can use these 50,000-point certificates at any Category 1–6 Marriott hotel with standard award availability. However, when peak and off-peak pricing is later introduced, the certificates won’t be valid during peak Category 6 dates, but will be valid during off-peak Category 7 dates. Marriott has not yet announced the parameters of peak and off-peak times, but here’s the complete chart:

TPG has a story on “7 Great Ways to Redeem the SPG Luxury 50,000-Point Free Night Certificates,” and they’re fabulous uses of these annual free nights. But they aren’t all practical for families, so with spring breaks, winter breaks and long weekends in mind, here are 10 of the best uses of the Marriott 50,000-point certificates for families.

Note: Be aware that many of these resorts do charge resort fees in addition to the annual award certificate.

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa, Cancun

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Westin Lagunamar Ocean Resort Villas & Spa is beachfront in Cancun and walking distance to many bars, restaurants and shops. The rooms at the Westin Lagunamar are also ideal for a family as every single room offers either a kitchenette or a full kitchen, a washer and dryer, and a balcony. Note that the standard rooms bookable for a 50k certificate sleep four, but with one bed and one pull-out sofa.

The Westin Lagunamar Resort in Cancun
The Westin Lagunamar Resort in Cancun (Image courtesy of the hotel)

The property offers many family-friendly activities, such as arts and crafts, sea turtle release programs, iguana feeding, board games, miniature putt-putt course and beach volleyball. You’ll also find a playground on the resort and a kids club. There are other Marriott properties in Cancun available for a 50k certificate, but note that the standard rooms at both the JW Marriott Cancun and the Ritz-Carlton typically only have one bed and may not work for a family.

Atlantis, Royal Towers, Autograph Collection

Photo courtesy of Atlantis
The Atlantis resort complex. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

While Atlantis isn’t my own personal favorite destination, my girls love it. There’s a 141-acre Aquaventure water park, 11 pools, 5 miles of beaches, a casino and lots of (expensive) dining options. The less-expensive Atlantis Coral Towers is a Category 5 property that costs 35,000 points a night, meaning you can use a Marriott 35k certificate to stay there. But the nicer Royal Towers will require a 50k Marriott certificate, and cash rates for this particular tower can reach $400+ per night. (If you want to get Atlantis wristbands without actually staying there, here’s my #1 tip.) Note that in some recent searches, the Atlantis properties are requiring more points than the standard award would indicate.

Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin

Photo courtesy of the Walt Disney World Swan
The Walt Disney World Swan. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin have skyrocketed in the number of points per night required in recent years and now cost 50k Marriott points per night, though paid rates can hit $300+ on peak nights. There are many less expensive award options in the Disney area, but if you want to actually be on Walt Disney World property while still using hotel points, these resorts may be your best bet. From the Disney Swan and Dolphin, you can walk (or take a boat) to EPCOT or Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (If this property doesn’t work for your Disney vacation, here are some other nearby spots you can use your hotel points and still get some Disney perks.)

Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance

Photo courtesy of Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Main Gate
The Courtyard by Marriott Anaheim Theme Park Entrance. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

You might be confused why a Courtyard by Marriott property is on my list of recommended places to use an annual award night worth 50k Marriott Rewards points. The short answer is that this hotel is just across from the gates of Disneyland, gets great reviews, sells for over $300+ on peak dates, features a waterpark/pool area that kids would love and has rooms with bunkbeds that sleep six. If you’re looking for Disneyland convenience for your family, I don’t think there’s a better use of a 50,000-point Marriott certificate.

SpringHill Suites Springdale Zion National Park

The Springhill Suites Zion National Park (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

In what may be another surprising inclusion on this list is the Springhill Suites Marriott Zion National Park. Whether you’re on a cross-country family road trip visiting national parks or just visiting Zion, this property looks like a winner. It’s very close to the entrance of Zion National Park, has rooms that sleep five, features free breakfast, gets rave reviews and paid rates during peak season can be over $300+ per night for this very modern-looking SpringHill Suites.

A room at the Springhill Suites Zion National Park. (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Sheraton Lakeside Villas at Mountain Vista Avon

Image courtesy of hotel
Image courtesy of hotel

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Many of the Marriott ski properties around the Vail and Beaver Creek area are 60,000 points per night, but one great exception for families are the 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom villas that can be booked at the Sheraton Lakeside Villas in Avon, Colorado (near both Beaver Creek and Vail ski areas). These villas sleep up to eight people and have a fully stocked kitchen so you can keep food costs under control.

While you aren’t right on the slopes, this is a great compromise between having many conveniences of a ski home rental while still using hotel points or an annual award night certificate.

Mauna Kea Beach Hotel Autograph Collection

Image courtesy of hotel
Image courtesy of hotel

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

First opened in 1965, this oceanfront resort can be found on the soft white sand beach at Kauna’oa Bay on the Big Island. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the Kona Airport and would make for an amazing place to basecamp for family adventures on the western side of the island. During peak times, paid rates can shoot upward to $500 to $700 per night.

Other Marriott hotel options on the Big Island include the Westin Hapuna Beach Resort and the Sheraton Kona Resort and Spa, both bookable for 35k Marriott points per night.

The Westin New York Grand Central

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

New York City hotels can be very, very expensive — $300 to $400 per night is far from unheard of for midrange hotels in Manhattan. The Westin Grand Central isn’t anything particularly special, but it’s consistent and can meet the needs of a family visiting the Big Apple. The hotel is located close to Grand Central and has rooms with two double-beds that can sleep a family of four. Some other 50k Marriott Rewards properties in NYC include…

Believe it or not, there are also some decent options in Manhattan if you want to use a 35k Marriott certificate.

The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island

Photo courtesy of the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island
The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

This list of the best places for families to use the Marriott 50,000-point certificate from the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is not all SpringHill Suites and Courtyard-level properties. There’s also The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island, which you can book with your free night certificate instead of paying rates that can creep close to $500 per night!

This Northern Florida beachfront resort has a kids club, family pool and even a pirate-themed tent for “camping” in the room! Ritz-Carlton resorts also usually have fabulous Ritz Kids programs that allow them to make family getaways extra special for the little travelers.

Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino

The Marriott Aruba Resort & Stellaris Casino (Photo courtesy of the hotel)

Standard points rate: Category 6 — 50,000 points per night

Last but far from least on the list of the best places for families to use 50,000-point Marriott certificates is the Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino. Aruba’s Palm Beach is picture-perfect for families, and this Marriott resort has pools and kid-friendly activities to help take things up to the next level. If you want a few minutes away from the kids, there’s also an adults-only pool area and, of course, the casino.

Bottom Line

Remember, if you and/or your partner both have a Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card, you could string together a multi-night stay using one certificate for each night of your vacation. Personally, the Sheraton Waikiki is on our short-list of choices for a night on Waikiki during our next Hawaiian adventure, but I’d love to hear where your family plans to use your Marriott 50,000 point annual credit card certificates!

For rates and fees of the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Amex, please click here.

Featured image of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

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