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Optimize Your Next Hotel Stay: How I Redeemed 2.1 Million Marriott Bonvoy Points to Save Over $35,000 on Family Travel in 2022

How I Redeemed 2.1 Million Marriott Bonvoy Points to Save over $35,000 on Family Travel Hotel Stays in 2022

There is no right or wrong way to go about traveling or trying to maximize and optimize your travel value, but there is always a better way.  One of the ways I try to maximize and optimize the value we get from traveling is utilizing points and miles to help save on family travel costs and stretch our budget a little further to explore more of the world.  

This is a look at how I redeemed 2,100,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points to save over $35,000 on my family travel trips at ten different hotels we had the pleasure of staying at in 2022.

I've discussed utilizing points and miles to help maximize value when traveling in many previous posts here on the blog and would say I am knowledgeable about all of the hotel programs, airlines programs and other travel related points and miles programs offered by credit cards, but have not spent enough time showing how to best utilize points and miles, which I plan on doing more of in 2023.  

One of the reasons I don't discuss more on how I exactly use points and miles to save on travel costs is because everyone accrues different types of points, miles or may prefer cash-back.

Another big reason why I haven't discussd this topic more is that "Your Mileage May Vary" (YMMV), meaning how I accrue and use points and miles may not be the best way for you to accrue them or use them.  Where I may find great benefit in using points for family hotel stays, you may find better value by using them for flights, getting cash-back, exchanging for gift cards, etc.  Plus there are many other bigger websites out there, like The Points Guy,  that exclusively discuss how to get the best value out of points and miles.

I've used miles to book flights for our family trips when it makes sense and I am getting good value for my miles, but over the years, I've found I personally get much better value out of points when redeeming them for hotel stays, especially at Marriott brands since we have Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status and get extra perks (breakfast, room upgrades, etc) when staying at Marriott brand hotels.  

I don't travel for work, so any airline status, hotel status o car rental status is gained from having the right mix of credit cards, flying a particular airline routinely and staying at the same hotel chain brands to elevate our status in the respective program that starts to unlock benefits like free breakfast, room upgrades, bonus points, free checked bags, airport lounge access and more.

One caveat is that while I was able to help my family save a lot of money on our 2022 hotel stays, there are many things to take into consideration that may include your own personal preferences, travel budget, travel style, what credit cards you have, what points/miles you may have, school schedules, along with many other considerations that can help determine how you can best maximize value for your trips.   

In other words, what works for me, may not work for you, or may not be the best way to utilize or maximize points/miles.

How I Accrued 2.1 Million Marriott Bonvoy Points  

Here are a few of the ways I accrued over two million Marriott Bonvoy Points over the past few years: 

  • Credit Card sign-up bonuses
  • Maximizing regular credit card spend
  • 2020 trip cancellations due to Covid and getting points back
  • Taking advantage of Amex transfer bonuses to Marriott Bonvoy
  • Attending Marriott Vacation Club presentations and getting points in exchange (as well as other perks)
  • Staying at Marriott hotel brands and getting 50-75% bonus points with our Marriott Bonvoy status
I know a lot of the recommendations from bigger websites is for people who collect points and miles to use for travel savings, recommend them to "Earn and Burn", meaning as soon as you have enough points/miles for a redemption you use them immediately.  While I do try to do that as much as possible due to many devaluations over the years, the Marriott Bonvoy points I saved up were from approximately 2018-2022, so I had been saving them for a while.  Also, due to Covid and cancelling a lot of trips, I was able to save up a lot of points over the past 4-5 years.  

Where we Stayed

From the hotels we stayed on points in 2022, you can see it is a good mix of luxury/upper midscale hotels and ranged from relaxing island destinations to the hustle and bustle of major cities. 

With our Marriott Bonvoy points, we were able to stay for free in Palm Springs, San Diego, Maui, Hawaii, Napa, New York City, London, Paris, Washington D.C. and Denver at the following hotels:

  • Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa 

  • JW Marriott Washington DC  

  • Hotel Clio, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Denver Cherry Creek  

Reviews of our stays at each of the hotels is linked above (three reviews are still pending, coming soon in December 2022).

We stayed a total of 40 nights using Marriott Bonvoy points and two nights using 50k Marriott Bonvoy certificates from having Marriott branded credit cards.

We stayed a few nights in Palm Desert in a 2 bedroom villa at the Marriott Desert Spring Villas II on a cash rate, before checking into the Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage for a birthday stay.  We also sprinkled in a few more stays at other Marriott brand hotels and other hotels that weren't booked using Marriott Bonvoy points in 2022.

Another thing to note is that most of our 2022 travel was booked in late 2021 and early 2022, before Marriott literally "blew up" their award chart for hotel stay redemptions and increased the nightly point cost for many hotels.  We also took advantage of the "5th night free" benefit when using points at the Renaissance New York Time Square HotelRenaissance Paris Arc De Triomphe HotelLondon Marriott Hotel County Hall HotelMarriott Wailea Beach Resort and Westin Hapuna Beach Resort.

I always highly recommend planning in advance (when possible) and wow is the time to start planning 2023 travel, if you haven’t done so already.  You can wait on last-minute weekend getaways or short trips you may take in 2023, but for any major vacations I can’t stress enough how important it is to plan ahead, especially for popular destinations to get access to better availability, better points/miles availability, better pricing, and many other benefits on hotels, flights, car rentals, tours, cruises and more.

Personally, I like to plan around the kids school/sports schedules and major holidays to avoid any major disruptions to everyone’s schedule and maximize my vacation time.  I discuss more here in my weekly email newsletter, The Family Travel Bulletin.

Hotel Cost Breakdown

Now I know you're probably thinking that even though you used all of those points to book your hotel stays, how did you determine you saved $35,000?  At the time of booking each stay, I always compared the points cost versus the actual cost in dollars and calculated if it would be a good value for the points.  The cost at time of booking is shown below and includes taxes and fees and how much I would have to pay for the hotel stay, if not using points.  The rate I used was the best possible price available at time of booking and since I tend to book trips well in advance, the price likely would have been much higher that what I show below if waiting to book closer to the travel dates. 

The other consideration to ponder is that I probably wouldn't be spending $35,000 on hotel stays for just a year, which is pretty high for most people.  If not for the use of points, I likely would have selected other hotels that wouldn't cost me as much, especially for Hawaii, London, Paris and New York.

The breakdown of each hotel stay in terms of points cost, actual dollar cost at time of booking (includes taxes/fees) and other insights such as the value we gained when using points for each stay is shown below.  

Hotel Cost Breakdown of how we used 2.1 Million Marriott Bonvoy Points in 2022 to save over $35,000

Some of the hotel stays were a very good value and good use of points and some came out on the lower end of the value we could have gained if used for a trip elsewhere.  At the end of the day, the hotel cost was "free" and overall I think we came out ahead for the year.  

Also, the table above doesn't include the value of other perks we received such as free breakfast, room upgrades we received, late checkouts and other value, all thanks to our Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status and benefits.

2023 Plan & Beyond

My main goal when traveling with my family is to travel better, travel smarter and optimize for value as much as possible.  Optimizing for value can include saving money on hotel stays, flights, rental cars or value that can come in the form of time savings.

For 2023, I have already started planning trips and doing my best to optimize our hotel stays, flights and tours we plan on doing in the countries we plan on visiting.  

Stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to my weekly email newsletter for updates and travel inspiration, information and insights on how to travel better, travel smarter and optimize for value along the way.