Chasing Marriott / Starwood/SPG Status? Might want to book some cheap timeshare weeks to boost your night credits
Despite highly preferring timeshares to hotels, I still end up staying in plenty of hotels over the course of the year. Some trips only require a few nights which is not ideal for timeshares and some destinations simply do not have timeshares or timeshares that meet my high standards.
In other posts, I discussed that chasing hotel status for personal travel was not ideal as it takes a lot, and I mean a lot, of nights in hotels to achieve top tier status in the various hotel chains. If and when you achieve these status levels, they can provide you with some meaningful benefits but I still believe that timeshares provide more space and comfort than hotels.
For those of you who do not follow the various merger and acquisition activity in the hotel / timeshare world, Starwood, who owns various brands such as the Westin, the W, St. Regis, Aloft, Element and so agreed to purchase Marriott who owns such brands as Marriott, Ritz Carlton, Courtyard, JW Marriott and more.
The merger has closed but their loyalty programs continue to operate separately at the moment. This has created some unique opportunities to leverage each program. One of the biggest advantages is that Marriott and Starwood each matched each other status levels so if you held status with Marriott, you would now hold status with Starwood and vice-a-versa.
Unfortunately, since both programs operate independently for now, stay and night credits must be posted to each program and do not count for both. Marriott brands each Marriott stay/night credits and Starwood brands earn Starwood stay/night credits. Once you hit status in either program, it is then matched to the other.
One of the benefits of the Marriott program is that Marriott gives you night credits for those nights spent at Marriott Vacation Club properties even if those stays were booked using Marriott Vacation Club points or if you exchanged into a Marriott property using a unrelated timeshare. The other benefit is that you are generally given credit for 7 nights even if you stay less than that amount.
Since most weeks are booked for 7 nights, the key to get all 7 nights credit is to have the property check you in on the first day and check you out on the 7th night even if you only need to use the room for a few nights in between. Since you have the reservation for all 7 nights, most, if not all properties, will accommodate you.
If you already have a Marriott Vacation Club property vacation lined up, make sure to get Marriott night credits for it. It can't hurt and its free. If you are chasing Marriott status, a potential option to obtain top tier status could be through renting inexpensive timeshare weeks.
It currently takes 75 nights to get Marriott Platinum status which will also get you SPG Platinum status. If you are close to 75, it could make sense to reserve a few cheap weeks at Marriott properties in order to get the night credits. These would likely be in very low demand locations.
Here are a few good options that I found on Interval International. Interval International is the exchange company that Marriott uses and the following are available Marriott weeks using their Getaways options where you use cash to purchase the weeks.
MARRIOTT CANYON VILLAS AT DESSERT RIDGE PHOENIX, ARIZONA
MARRIOTT'S STEAMSIDE AT VAIL, VAIL, CO
MARRIOTT SHADOW RIDGE VILLAS, PALM DESERT, CA
As you can see from above, there are some weeks that are as low as $38 per night with a platinum discount. If you are chasing hotel status, booking a few of these low demand, low cost weeks, can be a great deal to get you closer to status. There are very few, if any, Marriott properties that are less than $38 per night. This could be an easy "mattress run" for those looking to get Marriott and Starwood status.
In my opinion, hotel status is generally overrated but free breakfast and access to various club lounges can be worthwhile especially in very expensive locations.
Have you done a timeshare / mattress run for status before?