The 6 Most Valuable Marriott Travel Packages
Back before Marriott went and Bonvoyed itself, their travel package deals were some of the best in the business. Starwood had its “Nights & Flights”, but Marriott’s 7-day travel packages represented very good value for those looking for a longer stay.
But with the advent of the new Bonvoy combined program, much of that value was lost. However, that is not to say that Marriott Travel packages don’t hold any value. They certainly do, but it depends on the situation. With Marriott’s new peak and off-peak award pricing upon us this month, I want to take a look at the 6 most valuable Marriott travel packages available.
Marriott Travel Package Award Basics
Much of the variability was removed from Marriott’s travel packages when they rolled out the new pricing structure. Previously, the number of miles varied depending on the airline you chose. Now these have all been standardized at two different levels: 50,000 airline miles and 100,000 airline miles. In both cases, you still receive a 7-night award certificate for whichever category you select. Here are the prices for each package:
The only exception to this is the “Rewards Plus” Hotel + Air package, which only applies to United Airlines. The pricing is the same as above, but you receive 10% more miles. The cheaper packages therefore provide 55,000 United miles and the more expensive 110,000 miles.
Delving into Airline Award Value
The bulk of the Marriott travel package value comes down to your choice of airline. Airline miles vary wildly in value, so picking the right carrier can really make your travel package excellent or tank much of its value. No matter which airline you choose, you will receive either 50,000 or 100,000 miles, depending on the package you choose (again, the only exception being United Airlines).
Cherry-picking the highest value airline miles (if you know how to use them well), here are my top choices:
- Aegean Miles & Bonus
- Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan
- Asiana Airlines Asiana Club
- Etihad Guest
- Korean Air SkyPass
- Turkish Airlines Miles & Smiles
- JAL Mileage Bank
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
One of the cool possibilities of redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for travel packages is that you can accrue miles in programs that don’t have many other options for accruing points (i.e. no bank transfer partners). These include the programs of Aegean, Alaska, Asiana, and Korean airlines.
One of the problems with Marriott Bonvoy travel packages is the ridiculous amount of time it can take to transfer points into miles. When I requested one of the previous packages, it took a full week to receive the Alaska miles. Now I’ve heard reports of miles taking much longer, and people have even had to call Marriott multiple times to get things resolved. This sounds like a nightmare. But there are success stories as well.
However, the value of the airline miles is only part of the equation. Given that all packages (except United) yield the same number of miles, this variation is no longer a necessary part of the analysis. Now let’s take a look at the award options themselves to find the best value Marriott travel packages.
Marriott Travel Packages By the Numbers
With the launch of peak and off-peak pricing, we run into an interesting wrinkle with Marriott travel packages. As far as I am aware, the travel package certificates are good for whichever category you pick, regardless of the peak or off-peak dates. This is different than annual and single night certificates gained from various Marriott Bonvoy credit cards. The latter are tied to specific point values. As long as travel packages are tied to category, this analysis is valid.
It should be obvious, but travel packages are a better value if you redeem during peak dates and worse value if you redeem during off-peak dates. The hard numbers illustrate this extremely well.
Here are the savings you’ll see ordering each 50,000-mile package in each category:
|Certificate||Off Peak Savings||Standard Savings||Peak Savings|
The Category 1-4 savings assumes you redeem for Category 4. As you can see, every 50,000-miles package is a loser if you redeem at a property during off-peak dates. Some are even losers if you redeem during standard dates, and every package offers the same savings if you redeem during peak dates. If the savings are negative, you’re better off redeeming points separately for airline miles.
This blows my mind. I have no idea what Marriott was thinking. Why would you create pricing where literally half of the travel packages aren’t a good deal?! Maybe the 100,000-mile packages are better.
Here are the savings you’ll see ordering each 100,000-mile package in each category:
|Certificate||Off Peak Savings||Standard Savings||Peak Savings|
The pattern is similar for the 100,000-mile packages. Minor savings for the lowest categories, followed by reasonable standard and peak value for categories 6 and 7. Category 8 is pointless unless you can guarantee you’re redeeming for a stay during peak pricing.
It’s kinda a shame that literally 33% of the time you are worse off redeeming a travel package than transferring points to airline miles (always in increments of 60,000 Bonvoy points and booking award nights separately.
Best Value Marriott Travel Packages
What I found odd was how consistent the packages savings are for peak dates. This makes me suspect Marriott used this pricing to create the package prices and then let the chips fall where they will for the standard and off-peak prices. All of the packages are winners when redeemed for peak pricing. In a few situations, they are worth redeeming for standard rates.
If using them during more common standard dates, here are the most valuable Marriott travel packages in order of savings:
- Category 1-4 package with 100,000 airline miles (saves 60,000 points)
- Category 5 package with 100,000 airline miles (saves 60,000 points)
- Category 6 package with 100,000 airline miles (saves 30,000 points)
- Category 7 package with 100,000 airline miles (saves 30,000 points)
- Category 1-4 package with 50,000 airline miles (saves 15,000 points)
- Category 5 package with 50,000 airline miles (saves 15,000 points)
I’m not sure I would consider ordering any of the travel packages beyond these, unless I have an immediate use where I know it will result in savings. If this is even in question, I would be way more likely to order the airline miles and wait to book the hotel.
A frustrating issue is how Marriott is rolling out their peak and off-peak award pricing. Rather than assign static dates for each property that are peak and others that are off-peak, prices will change across the entire portfolio every month. You’ll need to re-evaluate your reservations every month to assess whether you’re getting the value you expected when you booked.
The upside of this is that certain properties may consistently have a large number of peak nights, based on how Marriott is going to allocate these. If this is the case, ordering a travel package may make a lot of sense.
In a Nutshell
Our analysis of the most valuable Marriott travel packages boils down to the following takeaways:
- Don’t order any of the 50,000-mile packages if there is a likelihood you will redeem during off-peak dates. You always lose (can you say Bonvoyed?).
- The Category 1-4 and Category 5 packages with 50,000 miles are the only ones worth ordering at this level. With higher categories, you lose at standard rates.
- Category 1-4 and Category 5 packages with 100,000 miles offer the best savings of all.
- Category 8 certificates are only worth ordering if you can ensure you redeem them during peak dates.
- Marriott Bonvoy is stupid.
I hope this can help you make a decision whether to order a Marriott travel package and which one to get!