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I’ve read so much from Frequent Miler and Dan’s Deals on the Marriott Travel Packages that I figured I had to do something to convince myself all the reading was worthwhile. August 17, 2018 is the last day to book these at current prices.
Greg has made me feel like I am in algebra class with theories with names such as, “New Residual Value: Map N to N-1.”
Dan has made me think seriously about booking a week at Calgary Airport at a small risk of having to stay there.
The creativity and detective work in theories of how this will play out has been a marvel. Directed to other pursuits, perhaps we could already be landing humans on Mars and bringing them back alive.
Most useful to me is to hear what people who care about this are doing with their own points.
I’ve only now come to a decision.
Here’s my situation:
- My 704,000 Marriott points can buy 2 low/mid-level packages or one high-level
- I don’t mind emptying out my Marriott account
- I won’t be earning Marriott points much in the future
- I have Marriott Gold via United status, which will give me the new Platinum through January 2019 (free breakfast/lounge)
- My wife in interested in a week in Hong Kong and a week in Japan
- I am only interested in properties that we will get breakfast and lounge
Here’s what my wife wants:
- One week in Hong Kong
- One week in Japan
- Stay between November-January (before my Platinum runs out)
- City location, quiet area, near lots of local eats
- Not a remote resort location like the hotels in Okinawa
- Prefer not too cold
All These Theories:
I’ve been through all the theories, such as booking current Category 9 Domes of Elounda in Crete. Since that hotel is increasing to the new max Category 8, it might be possible to then flexibly change among other Category 8 hotels.
Crete in January isn’t appealing to my wife for the weather. A secluded resort isn’t appealing to us without Marriott Platinum. Greece has plenty of charming mom and pop hotels 30-50 euros a night, anyway.
News that certificates will not be able to be upgraded/downgraded has discouraged us from gambling like this on a high category. Since we leave the hotel club lounge from time to time, it is not essential for us to spend more to be in a higher-end place like a JW Marriott Hong Kong.
Our Hong Kong Pick:
Courtyard Hong Kong is a current Category 6 that will drop to new Category 4. The new Travel Package pricing lowest tier is Category 1-4, so we should be safe buying a current Category 1-5 package, then attaching it when the new pricing takes effect.
The area is convenient to the metro while being a more neighborhood feel near Hong Kong University than some of the other options.
There are reliable reports that the Courtyard grants club access even though not required by Marriott terms.
The next category up has the Renaissance which is near heavy construction. No thanks.
Our Japan Pick:
Japan is tricky. Only one hotel will be Category 4 in the new program. Up in Hokkaido, it may be buried under snow in January.
Plenty of new Category 5 hotels will work for us to be in a city with plenty to eat and shop. The Sheraton Grand Hiroshima interests me for being a bit less cold and in the heart of the city, unlike the few options in Kyushu and Okinawa. I rather like Hiroshima, too.
We don’t know what the category mapping for travel packages will be. Will a Category 6 cert booked now work for new Category 5? Or do I need to book a Category 7?
The points difference is 30,000. I don’t want to throw away 30,000 points. I also don’t want to tell my wife we are spending a week in frigid Hokadate.
I’ll gamble on the Category 6 and hope it works out to book a new Category 5.
Except Marriott Systems are Down:
Being a travel hacker in the Pacific time zone has many disadvantages. Mistake fares are gone before I wake up in the morning.
By the time tonight that I decided and called Marriott to book, their systems were down for the night.
In the morning I’ll join the hold queue to book one Category 5 and one Category 6.
On, and as much as I love United miles, I do have solid ways to earn them. I don’t get as much actual value out of Alaska miles as perceived value, though I am going for them with these packages. Cathay Pacific Seattle-Hong Kong flights starting in March 2019 decided it for Alaska.
Update: I called 8/17 at 9:30 am PDT. I got connected in 22 minutes by following Greg’s instructions: call 1-800-321-7396. Listen to the new program info then when asked “How can I help you today?” say: “Transfer rewards points.” Then interrupt the computer to say “Something else.” Then wait for an agent. Once with the friendly agent, booking my 2 packages took just a few minutes.