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The Best Marriott Hotel Brands for Families

If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll notice that we often focus on the Marriott hotel chain and Marriott Bonvoy, its loyalty program.

And it’s not without good reason: Marriott has 31 brands under its umbrella and at the end of 2021, its global footprint had grown to nearly 8,000 properties in over 139 countries. For Canadians, it’s also one of the easiest loyalty programs to attain elite status with. 

When you travel, how do you go about choosing which Marriott hotel to stay at? For families, it usually comes down to location and price, but other features can be equally important.

In this post, let’s take a look at how Marriott categorizes its brands, and more importantly, how certain features of popular brands may tip the scale for you when it comes to deciding where to stay with your family.

How Marriott Categorizes Hotel Brands

To help guests choose hotels based on their preferences, Marriott categorizes its hotel brands into Luxury, Premium, and Select categories.

Within each category, they are further classified as being a Classic or Distinctive brand. Confused yet? 

Classic brands encompass traditional, flagship brands that most guests have come to know the Marriott label by. Distinctive brands are the newer kids on the block that carry a hip vibe and try to cater to millennials.

Luxury brands are Marriott’s top-of-the-line properties, known for having the highest standards of service and hospitality, while providing guests with exceptional experiences. Not surprisingly, these brands tend to come with a big price tag. 

Select brands deliver convenient and consistent service without all the bells and whistles, and are typically more budget-friendly.

Premium brands fit somewhere in between the two, where you will find thoughtful amenities and services throughout. 

Le Meridien Lav

Now that we have a general understanding of Marriott’s brands, let’s go through some of the more popular brands, based on common family travel preferences. Keep in mind that the summaries given below are generalizations, as what’s envisioned for a particular brand may not always be what’s delivered.  

The Frugal Family

Top Choices:

  • Element
  • Fairfield
  • Residence Inn
  • SpringHill Suites
  • TownePlace Suites

Most brands in the Select category are budget-friendly. However, what tips the scales are those that offer complimentary breakfast for all, regardless of elite status, and that’s a common theme for my top choices.

Element hotels offer eco-conscious, modern, and functional rooms that feature spa-like bathrooms and full kitchens, which makes dining-in an option.

Select properties even offer a common living room shared between four bedrooms if you have large families. 

Element Vancouver Metrotown

Amenities include on-site laundry facilities and a 24/7 “Restore” pantry that offers healthy beverages and snacks for purchase. Most evenings feature a “Relax” reception, where you can enjoy a glass of complimentary wine or beer. This hotel is also great option for those inclined to stay fit and healthy while they travel (more on this later). 

If you want to be guaranteed a good stay, then go with Fairfield Inn & Suites for its Fairfield Guarantee — if you aren’t satisfied, they will make it right.

Rooms vary from a traditional room to a suite, giving families a few options. Amenities, like a 24/7 gym, make working out after the kids are in bed a possibility. The Corner Market (for snacks) is great for a case of the midnight munchies.

Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and SpringHill Suites are other popular choices that we’ll discuss below in the next family category.

The Big Family

Top Choices:

  • Residence Inn
  • SpringHill Suites
  • TownePlace Suites

The larger the family you have, the harder it is to find a hotel that can accommodate you all. This becomes more of an issue when you have more than four guests. Or, perhaps you just like to have space to spread out when you’re on vacation.

Luckily, Marriott has some brands that specifically meet this need.

Residence Inn offers suites with 50% more space than a typical hotel room, which allows for separate sleeping, working, cooking, and dining areas. These spacious suites feature full kitchens and outdoor patios with grills and fire pits, as well as a small market pantry and free grocery delivery service. 

TownePlace Suites is quite similar to Residence Inn, albeit with slightly smaller suites that are estimated to be 25% larger than a typical hotel room. They also provide kitchens and outdoor grills.

Unique to this brand is the “Something Borrowed” lending program, where you can borrow anything from games, to gadgets, to their Suite Eats™ cookbook during your stay. 

Lastly, SpringHill Suites offers spacious suites and spa-like bathrooms, although without the convenience of a full kitchen. Interestingly, their furniture is also co-designed by West Elm. Most have outdoor spaces for fire pits and a market pantry that offers beverages and snacks. 

The Extended Stay or Home-Away-from-Home Family

Top Choices:

  • Marriott Vacation Club
  • Marriott Executive Apartments
  • Residence Inn
  • TownePlace Suites

If you have an extended stay with the kids, then you’ll want a hotel that has all the amenities and conveniences you have at home. Residence Inn and TownePlace Suites are once again great options, which we have already covered above. 

Marriott Executive Apartments was initially marketed for expatriates and people who were relocating, but they’re also great for the travelling family who enjoys living in an apartment-style accommodation with hotel services, including 24/7 security.

Units resemble a typical apartment, with bedrooms separated from living and dining spaces, and are furnished with fully-equipped kitchens and in-room laundry machines. 

Marriott Vacation Club are properties that belong to Marriott’s timeshare company. You do not need to be part of their Marriott Vacation Club program to stay here, but you may be lured into a timeshare talk while you’re here.

These have all the conveniences of a Marriott Executive Apartment, but with the added amenities of a resort, including pools, gyms, playground equipment, a kids club, and multiple dining venues, grab-and-go options, and even a convenience store. 

Marriott Vacation Club at Los Sueños, Costa Rica

The Living It Large Family

Top Choices:

  • St. Regis
  • Ritz-Carlton
  • JW Marriott

Any of the luxury brands would fit the bill here, but not all are family-friendly or have rooms that can accommodate more than two or three guests.

JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka – Indoor/outdoor pool
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka

The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott and St. Regis would be at the top of my list if you’re bringing the kids. They typically have family-friendly facilities, many room options to accommodate families, and on-site dining venues (in addition to in-room dining). 

The founder of the St. Regis portfolio, John Jacob Astor IV, built this luxury hotel chain to be a luxury residence in a foreign destination for its guests. Its standout feature includes a butler service, in addition to its detail-oriented service and refined experiences.

Some larger resort properties tend to have a supervised kids club, but it’s not a universal feature.

JW Marriott is marketed as the place to unwind and relax. These resorts in particular tend to have family-friendly facilities, including pools and a kids club at some destinations.

The Ritz-Carlton often has a kids’ club, Ritz Kids, where they have kid-friendly activities supervised programming for a fee.

The Ritz-Carlton, Penha Longa

The Wellness Family

Top Choices:

  • Westin Hotels & Resorts
  • Element

Westin Hotels & Resorts strive to help their guests maintain their well-being while traveling. They have a broad range of wellness offerings, from nutritious food options from their Eat Well Menu (including a menu designed just for kids!) to their award-winning Heavenly beds for a good night’s rest. 

Westin Perth – Westin Suite master bedroom
Westin Perth

To help maintain fitness, they offer 24/7 gyms that feature Peloton and TRX equipment and running programs like RunWESTIN jogging routes or group runs organized by an in-house Run Concierge.

If you forgot to pack your shoes and workout clothes, don’t worry, because their “Gear Lending” program has you covered. 

Westin Whistler

A few properties also look after the well-being the kids too, featuring Westin Family programs and onsite Westin Family Kids Club facilities. Hopefully they will expand this to more properties in the future.

Element is also a great option for athletically-inclined families, with their 24/7 gyms, saltwater pools, and a “Bikes to Borrow” program that provides complimentary bicycles and helmets for guests to use. They also offer healthy food and snack options in their pantry. 

The Fun-Seeking Family

Top Choice: Gaylord Hotels

Though an argument can be made that fun can be had anywhere, some hotels and resorts will help facilitate this better than others. Any hotel that has a kids’ club gets a thumbs up here, but unfortunately no brand consistently offers this, or consistent onsite activities – with one exception.

Gaylord Hotels isn’t a brand you hear of often, and that’s likely because there are only five of them and they’re all located in the US (Denver, Orlando, Nashville, Dallas, and Washington, DC). 

If you happen to visit any of these destinations and are looking for a one-stop shop for fun, then you’ll definitely want to check out one of these properties. 

Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center

These massive resorts feature year-round activities including water parks with slides, lazy rivers, pools, surf simulators, and outdoor snow tubing in the winter.

Catering to families, the list of activities includes rides, crafts, scavenger hunts, escape rooms, and bingo. You’ll also find live entertainment, award-winning restaurants, shops, and acres of indoor gardens all under a glass atrium. 

Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center

The Elite Status Family

One of the biggest perks of having Marriott Platinum or Titanium status is the possibility of room upgrades and complimentary breakfast. Breakfast can come with part of a hotel chain’s base offering, a hotel’s lounge access, a welcome amenity, or as a food and beverage credit (that can be used towards breakfast). 

Unless I have a compelling reason to do otherwise, I usually choose properties that offer breakfast in some way and avoid others that don’t. Good upgrade options will also sway my decision. 

St. Regis Toronto – Pastrami hash skillet with peameal bacon
Breakfast at the St. Regis Toronto

Lounge access is available at most hotels under the brands listed below, unless designated as a resort property, in which case certain brands won’t guarantee it.

  • JW Marriott
  • Marriott
  • Sheraton
  • Delta Hotels
  • Westin
  • Renaissance
  • Le Meridien 
  • Autograph Collection
  • Courtyard (if located outside of the Canada/USA)

The following brands offer complimentary breakfast as a welcome amenity:

  • St. Regis
  • Luxury Collection
  • W
  • Sheraton
  • Four Points By Sheraton
  • Le Meridien
  • Westin
  • Tribute Portfolio
  • Aloft
  • Protea

Marriott Brands Not Mentioned

There are quite a few brands that I haven’t touched on. This isn’t because these brands are bad for families, but just that they don’t have any unique features that make them stand out.

For example, Four Points by Sheraton often has rooms that can accommodate families and may even have a swimming pool, but there’s nothing else that makes it stand out from any other standard hotel.

Then there are some brands aren’t always the best suited for the typical family. For example, the Luxury Collection are boutique properties that offer spaces that reflect the local culture and destination with well-appointed hotel rooms and high-quality amenities.

Unfortunately, most Luxury Collection properties have rooms that only accommodate two guests. 

Mystique Santorini – Daytime view
Mystique Santorini, Luxury Collection

Conclusion

Marriott has a large global presence and a variety of brands under its umbrella, allowing it to cater to almost any type of traveller. Different brands will appeal to different families depending on their preferences and travel style.

Hopefully, this article encourages you to look beyond just the location of a hotel and helps you narrow down the accommodation choices when planning your next family trip.

There will always be hotels that buck the trend, so if you know of any notable exceptions to what has been discussed above, or if you’ve been at a brand that has been great for your family, please feel free to share it in the comments below.

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