I had the opportunity to travel to Halifax at the end of August this year and I stayed at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront. The hotel itself is right on the water with gorgeous views of the waterfront and great access to the best restaurants and attractions that Halifax has to offer.

View from the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront

While the hotel is due for a refresh, the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront stands up well against the other hotels available in the city.

The stay was an award redemption, running a total of 70,000 Bonvoy points for 2 nights (35,000 points per night). When I checked in, I was in for a surprise … one that I had never experienced before in all my award stays.

A Check-In Surprise

As a current Ambassador level Marriott Bonvoy member, I am always hoping for a suite upgrade or other recognition as a top-tier member. About 10% of the time, I walk away with cash due to the check-in agent forgetting to offer me my Guaranteed Platinum Elite/Titanium Elite Welcome Gift. When that happens, I am compensated with $100 USD or the equivalent in the currency of the hotel.

$100 USD compensation from the Chicago Marriott Marquis

The check-in agent followed the script to the tee so I didn’t receive my $100 USD compensation, but she handed me a room key that I had never seen before.

Passport to Redemption

The agent that checked me in, welcomed me and said “Oh, I see that you are redeeming points for this stay”. That piqued my curiosity because, in my experience, the type of stay is rarely called out.

She then proceeded to hand me a room key that said “Your Passport to Redemption” and started to explain the benefits of the card. This card could be used at three locations throughout the hotel:

  • Harbourstone Sea Grill and Pour House
  • Balancing Rock Coffeehouse
  • Stone’s Throw Patio

Each location would provide a special complimentary treat every day of my stay. At the Balancing Rock Coffeehouse, I would receive a free brewed Starbucks drink, worth about $4-5 CAD per day, which was a nicety but not anything all that special.

The other two locations provided much better benefits. The Stone’s Throw Patio provided a free alcoholic beverage each evening (~$10 CAD) and the Harbourstone Sea Grill and Pour House provided free homemade kettle chips (~$10 CAD).

I’m not a big drinker and I was travelling with my daughter so I didn’t take advantage of the drink at Stone’s Throw but we picked up the kettle chips each evening. It was a nice treat and the price was definitely right.

As this was the first time that I had experienced this, I thought it was an interesting extra way of saying “thanks” from the hotel. I am unsure if this is a hotel led initiative or something that Marriott might be rolling out. A quick cursory check of the internet leads me to believe that this is a hotel-specific benefit but I will reach out to my Ambassador for comment.

If this is specific to the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront, I applaud the effort. I’ve always believed that the difference between a good hotel and a memorable one are the little things. Welcoming you back to the hotel by name, a handwritten note in your room, or a firm handshake from the general manager … those are the things that drive loyalty and memorable experiences. A little extra goes a long way.


Award stays are always a nice reminder of the hard work you put into earning enough points for a free stay but when a hotel also gives you additional benefits like free food and drink, it’s extra special.

I’m hopeful that other hotels within the Marriott chain follow suit because even those without status can be made to feel special, and that should be most prevalent during an award stay.

Jayce is the founder of PointsNerd, and avid traveller and a teacher by nature. He prides himself on flattening the learning curve through step-by-step guides because everyone needs to start somewhere.


  1. Sounds similar to Marriott’s “Surprise and Delight” campaign earlier this summer that mostly targeted Titaniums and up.

    Interesting use of the words Passport to Redemption – is that to refer to points redemption, or, given the multiple devaluations that Bonvoy points have experienced in the last 24 months, atonement of the Marriott program to the guest’s eyes?


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