It’s been almost two weeks since Marriott announced their program changes that will take effect on Aug 1, 2018. One of the uncertainties that still looms amongst us is the transfer ratio of American Express Membership Rewards to the new Marriott Rewards program, assuming there will be one after the Amex MR transfer option to SPG ends.
Personally I’m content with the current 2 Amex MR to 1 SPG transfer ratio, which is effectively 2 Amex MR to 3 Marriott Rewards points. I’m not confident the new ratio will be on par or better so I have been moving enough Amex MR to SPG for a couple more Marriott Flight and Hotel travel package redemptions which includes a 7 night hotel certificate.
I have also recently confirmed a couple of these 7 night hotel certificates and I have a pro tip to help you redeem yours.
Marriott 7 Night Certificates
If you haven’t tried already, redeeming the Marriott 7 Night Certificate can be quite difficult, especially at popular resorts where rooms and award redemptions are generally high in demand.
In order to redeem the certificate, the 7 nights must be consecutive which means the nights cannot be split into multiple stays. Even if you only plan on staying 5 out of 7 nights, the room must be bookable on points for all 7 nights to apply the certificate.
Luckily for us, I’ve found Marriott relatively consistent in releasing award space for the nights the hotel has basic and/or deluxe rooms available to book on cash. I can’t imagine the difficulty of redeeming a 7 night certificate at a popular resort with a hotel chain like Hyatt where award nights are easily blocked out for months.
Despite Marriott being relatively generous with award space, you may still encounter limited award availability if you are like me who plans no further than a few months ahead. So when you don’t find availability at first, be sure to use this pro tip that has worked for me.
Searching for Availability
For this post we’ll use the Marriott Maui – Wailea Beach Resort (Category 8) as our target hotel to redeem the 7 night certificate. We’ll look for availability in early June with a preference to reserve for specific dates June 4-11.
As we fill out the search criteria, Marriott has a handy Flexible dates selection where you can search by month and select how many nights for your stay. Just click “Flexible dates” when you are selecting dates and then set the search to “7 nights” before clicking “Find Hotels”.
Here are the extremely limited results for a 7 night redemption at the Marriott Maui. We want to reserve for early June but the only available option is June 22-29. This shouldn’t be too surprising as we are searching dates that are less than two months out and during peak season.
Now before you move to another property, let’s run the “Flexible dates” search again but this time with “1 night”.
Here you see there are actually plenty of award nights available in early June but there are no more than 5 nights available in a row. You would not see this if you strictly searched once for 7 nights.
Our target stay date is June 4-11 and by searching the calendar by “1 night”, we see that we are only one award night away (June 6) before we can redeem the 7 night stay. Reservation cancellations happen everyday so there is a high possibility June 6 will become available when you check back on another day.
But then on the day that June 6 night becomes available on points, you cannot guarantee the other days between June 4-11 will still be available … or can you?
The answer is yes you can, and here’s the tip.
Pro tip Step 1: Book first the nights that are available
Before you wait for June 6 (1 night) to become available on points, hold the reservation for June 4-6 (2 nights) and June 7-11 (4 nights). Remember you do not need the points at the time of booking to hold a Marriott reservation.
Pro tip Step 2: Wait to book the missing night(s), then merge reservations
Now you wait for the missing night(s) to become available with points. Depending on how far out the reservation is, you should check monthly, weekly or daily if you’re less than two weeks from the reservation date.
If you see the missing night(s) become available, reserve it asap. Then call Marriott Rewards and ask the representative to merge your reservations to complete the 7 night stay and apply your certificate. If your certificate is not the same category level as the hotel, make sure you upgrade the certificate before you request it to be applied to the reservation.
**EDIT** Additional Tips
You can attempt to call the hotel and ask if they would be able to open award availability for the specific missing night(s). Ask to speak with the in-house reservations team and mention you have existing reservations you’d like to merge but are currently split by the missing night(s). Having existing reservation numbers will shows you are keen to book if they are willing to provide the space. If applicable, you should also mention your Elite status which should help your odds for success.
If calling the hotel does not work or you don’t prefer to just wait for availability to show up, you can set availability alerts with Hotel Hustle by Wandering Aramean. You can set 5 active alerts with a free account.
The two times I have used this technique, the missing night(s) became available at a later date and I was able to secure a 7 night redemption. However, remember the tip doesn’t guarantee you the missing night(s) will become available, but it sets you up to guarantee a 7 night stay when the missing night(s) become available. Hope this helps!
Hi Chao, thanks for the post! I usually fly out of YVR like you, and was wondering what kind of airline points you prefer getting from the Marriott 7-night hotel packages and why?
If you are flying out of Vancouver, then Alaska Miles is best for you (and should get the Alaska MBNS MAsterCard for 25K bonus). I personally fly out of YYZ but still got Alaska Miles with the travel packages. It is simply the best. AA is a close second.
Hi Alvin! I agree with Rachel, you cant go wrong with Alaska Airlines which is my default. However, if I have travel plans to Europe I would consider AA (YVR-JFK on Cathay then JFK-Europe) or United Airlines for no YQ on AC/Lufthansa (much more direct from YVR). If you plan to visit Japan I would consider Virgin Atlantic miles to fly ANA (YVR-HND for 90k RT in J)
Thanks Chao and Rachel!
From YVR, how do you utilize your Alaska miles? Is it mostly to HKG using Cathay and Japan using JAL? Any other good redemptions from YVR?
Yep that’s how I mostly use my Alaska miles. Also look to throw in a YVR stopover on Cathay Asia-YVR-JFK and vice versa.
I believe you could also pay for the missing night if there was availability on either end for points making it an 8 night stay with 1 paid night.
That’s very interesting because the 7 night certificate should only be applied to 7 consecutive award nights. I might give this a try if I can’t piece together 7 award nights!
I always encourage people to book what they can find as a backup (with Marriott since points aren’t required). In your case, I would have held that block of 7 nights later in the month until that one night became available.
As an aside, we recently spent a week here over spring break using a certificate and had no issue getting a room about 3 months out. The property ended up being fully booked while we were there, so I agree Marriott is quite liberal with award space (I’m sure the revenue management team could have predicted a sell-out scenario over spring break).
Not a bad property, but certainly not worth the price if paying cash. Typical resort factory with hardly any service, designed to separate you with money at every turn. First room we were assigned had brown splatter around the toilet and on the walls in the bathroom, to which they said ‘sorry’ and moved us. Power went out one day (not their fault, I get it), but nothing was working – no wifi, no tv, no elevators, no dining, etc. It was out for about 8 hours, and they wouldn’t even waive the resort fee that day – really pathetic.
Follow-up email to manager was answered with a copy and paste robotic response promising to do better in the future.
All issues aside, best location in Wailea, in my opinion.
Wow that’s surprising! A half day power outage seems like a legit reason to have the day’s resort fee waived.
I also stayed here on points during a period it was fully booked, it’s quite rare to do so unless you book a year out and I booked only 3 weeks prior. Kudos Marriott Rewards.
All points equal, I’d take the Andaz Maui as the best location in Wailea, however we stopped staying there after the Marriott was renovated and was a phenomenal value for 40,000 points a night.
During my stay, their parking gate was broken, so at the 2nd day I told them I no longer have a car or need parking so don’t charge me parking fee for following days. Luckily, and as I hoped, he parking gate remained broken and open for everyone during the whole stay 😉
Does it make sense to specifically buy 90K SPG points (3 accounts at same residence) right now for about 2700 CAD (682.5 USD is approx. 900 CAD) and transfer to MR to buy a TP crediting to AS and getting a 7 night cat 5 cert? Looking to redeem the cat 5 in Asia.
I’d say it makes sense if you have a target hotel for the Cat 5 cert that can yield $200+/night value.
So Interested to get your thoughts. I recently purchased a Flights and Nights package for Cat 1-5 I always intended to stay in a Tier 5 hotel but did not have the points at the time, however, I needed to get the Air Miles to organise flights. I thought I could upgrade the package anytime. I have now been told that a Cat Package cannot be upgraded to a Tier Package. So wondering, do I hold off until the merge and hope upgrades to Tier 5 become available under the new structure? The risk is that not only will upgrade to Tier 5 not be possible but upgrading the packages are no longer available at all. So other option is I suck it up and upgrade/stay at a Cat 9. I have reservations for both options on hold. Worst case, if I hold off I have enough points for the Cat 9 outright and then I just have Cat 1-5 7 Night to use another time. Will be staying early September
Does anyone know if the 7 night certificate can be used for 7 consecutive nights in 2 different hotels? I’m planning a trip to the Oregon coast but would like to stay a few nights in Portland as well.
The 7 consecutive nights cannot be split amongst multiple hotels. Hope you can still make it to the Oregon coast!
I have three split reservations for 7 continues nights. When trying to call in and ask to “merge” them into one, I was told they can’t do it. The lady told me she can only try to book a new 7 night reward stay and since there’s no reward nights available anymore, there’s nothing she can do. And she can only apply the 7-night certificate to one of the three reservations. I asked her if she can cancel my existing reservations and re-book them as one long stay. She said it’s not guaranteed that she can book them back. Now I have to call hotel to see if they can do anything for me…
Basically the book separate reservations and merge later tip doesn’t work.
That’s new. I just recently merged my reservations to apply the 7 night certificate on May 3 2018.
You may have gotten a misinformed agent, try calling back for another agent.
I will be applying another 7 night certificate this month so I’ll also report back.
Just want to provide an update. I called back and another agent was able to help me. It took her 1 hour (she has to call the hotel to change the booking) but at the end she was able to merge them for me!!! I guess you’re right, just keep calling until you find a agent which is willing to help. 🙂
That’s great news! Thanks for the update and glad the merge trick is still working 🙂