Best Uses of Marriott Suite Night Awards
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While complimentary suite upgrades are typically the most eye-catching benefit of hotel elite status, the expectation rarely matches the reality. People hear “suite upgrades” and start thinking about multi-level presidential penthouses with outdoor balconies and private plunge pools, but the reality is a lot less glamorous. The terms and conditions of most hotel loyalty programs explain that certain elite members are entitled to space-available upgrades to “standard suites,” which could even be a mere junior or studio suite, depending on the property. This is certainly a step up over the standard guest room you might have booked for yourself, but there are still several rungs of luxury tantalizingly out of reach.
Enter Marriott’s Suite Night Awards (SNAs). For all the valid complaints people have about Marriott’s rollout of the Bonvoy loyalty program, I’ve gotten incredible value out of the ~15 or so SNAs I’ve redeemed in the last couple of months. Marriott Platinum Elites have the ability to select 5 SNAs as a choice benefit after staying 50 nights in a year, and Titanium Elites can select another 5 after staying 75 nights in a year (note that these are only available to members who qualify the hard way, not Marriott’s lifetime elite members). Once you have them in your account, you select which reservations to apply your SNAs to in advance, and the hotel will start trying to clear your upgrade five days before arrival.
The beauty of the SNAs is that it’s up to each individual property to decide what category of suites to make available for SNAs. And if you use these upgrade certificates strategically, you might find yourself clearing into higher category suites than your complimentary upgrade benefit allows.
Here are a few of the best uses I’ve found for Marriott Suite Night Awards to help you relax in a high-category suite on your next stay.
Standard award room: King guest room
Best Suite Night Award option: Deluxe terrace suite
Sydney is one of my favorite cities in the world, so when I decided to make a quick trip last December (read: peak summer season), I wasn’t too confident I’d be able to score an upgrade at check-in. I decided to use three suite night awards, and I was shocked and delighted to see that the eligible list of rooms included the deluxe terrace suites at the Sheraton Grand Sydney Hyde Park. This 1,291-square-foot room was easily the largest I’d ever stayed in at the time, and it came with two separate balconies overlooking Hyde Park (one in the living room one in the bedroom). The suite was beautifully spacious and far more room than we needed for a three-night stay, but little features — from the Bose surround sound system and HDMI input in the living room to the Hermès toiletries in the bathroom — helped remind me that this room was several steps above a normal Sheraton experience.
Standard award room: Deluxe guest room
Best Suite Night Award option: Duplex three-bedroom, bi-level suite
I booked the Westin Xi’an because of the hotel’s prime location right across the street from the Wild Goose Pagoda, and I was prompted in the Marriott app to explore my Suite Night upgrade options. The hotel listed a “duplex three-bedroom, bi-level suite” as one of the options, but with no pictures on the hotel website, I decided to roll the dice and see what this room would look like.
My upgrade cleared exactly five days in advance, and I knew I was in a bit over my head when I got to the check in counter and the agent started laughing that I’d booked this room for just me and my girlfriend. The suite was in a separate building that housed the Westin Residences, and true to the name featured three, fully-stocked bedrooms spread across two floors and over 1,600 square feet. There was a small balcony in one of the upstairs bedrooms as well as a full kitchen. Most importantly — given that we were wrapping up a three week trip — the room also included a washing machine and dryer. The room wasn’t overly luxurious and was clearly geared at families traveling together, but the extra space sure was nice.
Standard award room: Wonderful room
Best Suite Night Award option: Marvelous suite
I had the good fortune to stay at the W Dubai Palm Jumeirah just a week after it opened, and while the hotel was still working through some of the growing pains, I was incredibly impressed with the property. Given how new the hotel was I wasn’t able to use my Suite Night Awards in advance, but I ended up still receiving an upgrade to a beautiful W Suite.
However, now that the property has been fully loaded into Marriott’s system, it’s possible to use your Suite Night Awards to upgrade to a Marvelous Suite. Covering a whopping 1,980 square feet, this room is a full four categories higher than the already generous upgrade I received when I checked in. There aren’t many pictures of this stunning, megasuite online, but the hotel’s website gives you a good idea of how this room takes the W design aesthetic to the next level.
Standard award room: Deluxe guest room
Best Suite Night Award option: One-bedroom villa
While suites offer much more space and privacy than standard guest rooms, they pale in comparison to the secluded luxury of detached villas. For Bonvoy elite members shelling out the cash or points (85,000 per night) to stay at the Category 8 St. Regis Punta Mita, there’s no better upgrade option available than the hotel’s one-bedroom villas. Measuring 1,800 square feet, these villas include a private whirlpool and full kitchen as well as a separate entrance, allowing your St. Regis butler to provide discrete and bespoke service. Guests will also enjoy an outdoor shower and direct access to the beach.
Standard award room: Superior guest room
Best Suite Night Award option: Ocean suite
Despite being just a short drive from downtown Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island feels like a world away. The St. Regis makes it easy to take in the relaxing beaches, and at a beach-front resort, there’s nothing more valuable than a good ocean view. The hotel is shaped like a U, with each end pointing directly out to sea. The ocean suites occupy the very tip of the U shape, providing unobstructed views of the ocean and the beautiful property itself. At 1,400 square feet, they’re plenty spacious, including at least two balconies and a separate living room.
Standard award room: Deluxe guest room
Best Suite Night Award option: Signature suite
Located just a block off the Champs-Élysées, the Hôtel de Berri is probably one of Marriott’s lesser-known Category 8 properties. Even the standard rooms here are relatively spacious by European standards, but the 1,000-square-foot Signature Suite is in a world of its own. While it’s not the largest room on this list, the vibrant color scheme, canopy bed and full-length mirror give it a luxurious feel.
Boosting Your Elite Status
As noted above, these Suite Night Awards are only available to members who spend 50 or 75 nights in Marriott properties in a calendar year. However, you could cut those amounts by adding a Marriott credit card to your wallet. Any of these cards offer 15 elite night credits every year — though sadly you can’t stack these by having more than one. If you’re not currently a cardholder, here are a couple of great options to consider:
- Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card: Earn 100,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases within the first three months. You’ll earn 6x points per dollar spent at Marriott properties and 2x points per dollar spent everywhere else. The card also includes a $300 annual Marriott credit, Priority Pass Select membership and a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit every four years. You’ll also get a free night certificate each year, valid at properties up to 50,000 points per night, all for a $450 annual fee (see Rates & Fees).
- Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card : Earn 75,000 Bonus Points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. You’ll earn 6x points per dollar spent at participating Marriott properties and 2x points per dollar spent everywhere else. The card also provides a free night certificate each year, valid at properties up to 35,000 points per night, all for a $95 annual fee.
For more details, check out our guide to choosing the best Marriott credit card.
Marriott’s Suite Night Awards can be a great perk of the program’s higher tiers of elite status, and some properties take this to another level by including premium suites in the list of eligible rooms. Unfortunately, there’s no rhyme or reason to finding these suite night gems. Since Marriott leaves it up to each hotel to decide what rooms to make available, you’ll find that some properties are incredibly stingy while others are more generous — even within a single brand. For what it’s worth, I’ve had much better success using my SNAs for aspirational upgrades outside of the US in smaller markets, though you may find examples in other areas.
For rates & fees of the Bonvoy Brilliant card, please click here.
Featured image of the St. Regis Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island by Ethan Steinberg/TPG
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