Marriott Bonvoy has launched a limited-time promotion known as “Week of Wonders” in an attempt to salvage what’s left of the Fall 2020 travel season. For bookings made between now and October 15, 2020, for stays until November 30, 2020, all of Marriott’s 7,000+ hotels around the world will be bookable using points at the off-peak rate.
Off-Peak Rates at All Hotels
As a reminder, redeeming Marriott Bonvoy points for free hotel nights is subject to the the following redemption chart:
Under this promotion, if any Marriott hotel has a room available to book on points, then it’ll be bookable at the off-peak rate in the first column of the chart.
(Back in the summer, we had seen a similar promotion in which Marriott Bonvoy had promised off-peak pricing on about 5,500 of the 7,000+ properties; this time around, the promotion is stronger as it extends to the entire portfolio.)
As I detailed a few weeks ago, while there many things I love about Marriott Bonvoy, the peak and off-peak dates is one of my greatest frustrations with the program. Before this promotion kicked in, I had seen several hotels charging peak rates on many dates throughout Fall 2020, despite the fact that it’s clearly incongruent with the actual current state of the travel industry.
Somehow, Marriott is acting like they’re doing us a favour with this promotion, when in fact, if we’re being honest here, off-peak rates should’ve been uniformly applied on every date since March 2020.
Anyway, we as members of the loyalty program can only make the most of what we’re given, so let’s take a look at some of the opportunities that present themselves with Marriott’s Week of Wonders.
Strategies to Redeem Bonvoy Points
I think it’s safe to assume that most Canadians still very much do not feel comfortable travelling internationally just yet, and I don’t think that’s likely to change by November 30. We’ll therefore restrict our focus to travel within Canada.
With off-peak rates across the board, I do think there a handful of good opportunities to redeem Marriott Bonvoy points a higher value than you might usually get – although the value proposition will mostly likely mirror the patterns when there’s no promotion in place, with the value being better at the higher and lower ends of the spectrum and more muddied in the middle.
I personally value Bonvoy points at 0.9 cents per point (CAD) apiece, so that’s the barometer against which I decide whether or not to redeem points. For example, The Ritz-Carlton, Montreal and the St. Regis Toronto are both bookable for 50,000 Bonvoy points per night at the Category 7 off-peak rate, which compares very favourably to the $500+ standard cash rates that these properties usually charge.
On the other hand, a Category 3 property like the Delta Bessborough, Saskatoon will be bookable for 15,000 Bonvoy points per night, which can also be a good deal compared to the $140–180 cash rate.
Moreover, if you’re able to find a hotel that’s also participating in PointSavers (Marriott’s saver deals available at select properties throughout the year) at the same time as the Week of Wonders off-peak promotion, then the pricing will be even cheaper, as seen in the first column of the below PointSavers chart:
That’s exactly how I myself had booked my recent stay at the Delta Bessborough for only 12,000 Bonvoy points, and in fact, the hotel remains part of PointSavers throughout October and November, ready for anyone wishing to explore this corner of our country.
Meanwhile, a hotel like the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre might be bookable for 40,000 Bonvoy points under this promotion, but its cash rates are sitting at the lower $200s, too, so the value in redeeming points still may not be very good. As always, be sure to compare to the next-best cash alternative before parting ways with your hard-earned points.
For those of you who might be keen to wander outside of Canada, one attractive sweet spot under this promotion is to book Marriott’s top-tier Category 8 hotels at the off-peak pricing of 70,000 Bonvoy points per night.
If you take advantage of the Fifth Night Free, then that becomes an effective 56,000 Bonvoy points per night, which is a spectacular deal for luxury resorts like Al Maha Desert Resort Dubai or the JW Marriott Maldives (noting, of course, that both Dubai and the Maldives are open to Canadian travellers at the moment).
Finally, if you’ve already made upcoming reservations for travel before November 30, don’t forget that you have the opportunity to cancel and rebook to take advantage of these off-peak rates where applicable, as long as the hotel still has rooms available and you’re outside of the cancellation window.
Use Up Your Free Night Certificates
It’s also worth noting that this promotion represents an excellent chance to use up any free night certificates sitting in your account, especially:
- The free night certificate worth up to 40,000 Bonvoy points that you get as an Annual Choice Benefit upon reaching 75 elite qualifying nights per year; this certificate is best redeemed on an off-peak Category 6 hotel.
- The free night certificate worth up to 50,000 Bonvoy points that you get from the Amex US Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card; this certificate is best redeemed on an off-peak Category 7 hotel.
Meanwhile, it’s arguably best to hold off on redeeming the free night certificate worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points that you get from any of the Canadian-issued Amex Bonvoy cards, or the US-issued cards other than the Bonvoy Brilliant, for now.
That’s because any Category 5 redemption would only be worth 30,000 Bonvoy points during this promotion, meaning that you’re kind of leaving 5,000 points on the table here.
But of course, if it’s a hotel stay you’re absolutely certain of making, and you don’t have any concrete plans for other uses of the certificate before it expires, then by all means go ahead and burn it up.
Need Elite Nights? Time to Mattress Run!
One of the best avenues for finessing your way to Marriott Platinum Elite and unlocking special benefits such as free breakfast, lounge access, and suite upgrades is to make “mattress runs”: booking and checking into hotel stays for the sole purpose of earning elite qualifying nights.
Now, Marriott Bonvoy has already extended everyone’s 2020 status until February 2022, but there are still several reasons why you might want to do a mattress run to earn extra elite qualifying nights:
- You had only earned Gold Elite in 2020, but with the generous boost in elite qualifying nights that Marriott handed out this year, you’re considering making a play for Platinum Elite for next year.
- You’ve earned Platinum Elite in 2020, and you’re just short of reaching 50 elite nights again this year to unlock an Annual Choice Benefit of five Suite Night Awards.
- You’ve earned Platinum Elite in 2020, but with the generous boost in elite qualifying nights, you’re considering making a play for Titanium Elite for next year and unlocking an Annual Choice Benefit of a free night certificate worth up to 40,000 points.
In any case, you might wish to mattress-run your way to a few extra elite nights, and the objective is always to book your mattress run as cheaply as possible. And with off-peak rates across the board until November 30, that becomes pretty effortless.
The following Marriott hotels in Canada are given a Category 1 designation:
As you can see, the off-peak rate is only 5,000 points per night, so if you book a reservation for five nights and take advantage of the Fifth Night Free, you’ll only pay 20,000 points to earn five elite qualifying nights.
And if you can find PointSavers rates at one of these hotels, that brings it down to only 4,000 points per night, or 16,000 points for five elite qualifying nights!
While I myself won’t need to mattress-run this year, I’ve been meaning to help my dad earn Platinum Elite status as well, so who knows – you just might find me camped out in Medicine Hat for a couple of weeks or something like that. 😉
Also: 30% Off Marriott Stuff, and More
There are a couple of less-interesting promotions taking place under Week of Wonders as well.
First up, Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques is having a 30% off sale, in case you wanted to pick up any St. Regis bathrobes, W scented candles, or JW Marriott fragrances.
After staying at many of these brands a few times, I’ve come to realize that each one does indeed have a different signature scent when you first walk into the lobby, so perhaps these could be a good fit for your home if you’ve been missing the feeling of being on the road and staying in your favourite hotels.
Next, Marriott is offering a free night certificate worth up to 35,000 Bonvoy points when you book and stay with Homes & Villas by Marriott between October 8 and December 31. Homes & Villas is Marriott’s relatively new product designed to compete with Airbnb, although there are very few properties in Canada at the moment, and they tend to be quite expensive.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to book one of these purely for the free night certificate, but if you were going to splurge on one of these anyway, then it’s a nice bonus on the side.
Finally, Marriott Bonvoy Escapes provides a 25% discount on member rates at select properties, while the program is also offering a 50% bonus on points purchases through October 22. As always, I’d only approach buy-points promotions like these with a specific and immediate high-value redemption in mind.
Marriott’s Week of Wonders promotion gives us plenty of potentially attractive opportunities to mull over, whether you’re planning to use up some Bonvoy points or free night certificates on upcoming trips this fall, or you’re interested in padding your balance of elite qualifying nights with a cheap mattress run or two.
However, I still feel that Marriott could be adding even more of a wow-factor to its new promotions in order to tempt travellers during these tough times, and I’ll be intrigued to see whether they ramp up their incentives even more if the prospects for global travel continue to stagnate throughout the winter.