Award Booking Adventures: An Expiring Marriott Free Night

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My wife and I had already tentatively planned to visit Hyatt’s Miraval Arizona this coming January.  I’ve read great things about this all-inclusive wellness resort and I’ve been itching to go.  I had it on my to-do list to book the resort when news broke that Hyatt was once again offering a Miraval BOGO (Buy One, Get One) deal on award stays.  Yes!  But, this time, weekends aren’t included in the deal.  Boo.

Actually, the weekend restriction for Miraval’s BOGO deal wasn’t really a problem.  Nearby is the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain where we would happily spend a weekend.  So, we could book the Miraval for 4 nights during the week and book the Ritz for the two days before or after to make an excellent 6 night visit to the Tucson area.  We previously stayed at the Ritz for 7 nights in April 2021, and loved it.  See this post for details: Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Tucson. Bottom Line Review.  For the upcoming trip, we had two Marriott 50k free night certificates that could hopefully be used for the Ritz if it was available at standard pricing (this category 6 property costs 50K points per night standard, 40K off-peak, or 60K peak).  In my opinion, this is probably one of the best uses of Marriott 50K free night certificates in the U.S. (see: Best uses for Marriott free night certificates, 35K and 50K).

View from the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain

I searched for Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain award availability on Marriott’s website.  On the weekend after our planned Miraval stay, the Ritz was priced at 60K points per night.  We wouldn’t be able to use our certificates for that weekend.  But on the weekend before our Miraval stay, the Ritz was available for 50K points per night!  Sweet!

When I went to book the Ritz with our free night certificates, I discovered the problem.  One of the certificates was set to expire January 3rd, 2022.  Our planned stay was later in the month.  Ouch.  So close, yet so far.

In the past, Marriott has been willing to extend the validity of these certificates in situations like these.  But, when they automatically extended the validity due to Covid a few times, I vaguely remember that part of the deal was that they claimed that the certificates could not be extended again.  I’m not even sure that I’m remembering that correctly, but that’s what was in my head and so I wasn’t at all sure that I could get it done.  But, I’d certainly try…

Online Chat

My first attempt to extend the free night certificate was through online chat.  Sadly, I didn’t think to record the session and so I’m left with my hazy memory of the conversation…

This is a FAKE representation of the online chat conversation.  In the real conversation, the rep was courteous, but still said no.

I remember that the rep was courteous, but told me something like “we’ve already extended your certificates at least once and so we can’t do so again.  I’m very sorry.”  Somehow, despite the real agent being very nice about it, the experience felt more like the fake conversation shown in the image above.

Phone Call

My next step was to call Marriott Bonvoy.  In the past it has taken a long time to get a rep on the phone, but this time it was quick. To get the agent into the helping mood, I first asked for something that I knew she could do: I wanted to move points from one family member’s account to another.  After a few minutes, that was done and she asked if she could help with anything else.  Why yes…

I told the super nice agent that I had a free night certificate that was set to expire very shortly before my planned stay.  Was there anything she could do to help?  She replied, “let me take a look, hold on a minute…”

A short time later, she said “I’ve extended your certificate to October 2022.  You should be able to use it for your stay now.”  Is there anything else I can help you with?”  No, but thank you!

Sweet!

Conclusion

Marriott apparently has a soft policy against extending free night certificates that have been extended before.  If you find a nice phone-rep who wants to help, though, they’re still able to extend the validity of certificates.  That’s actually no different from the way things have been for years with Marriott, but it’s great to find that it still holds true!

Note that if you do have success extending a certificate, it will then be valid for a year from the date you call.  For that reason, it can make sense to wait until closer to the certificate’s expiry date to make the call.  On the other hand, if you wait until the last minute to call, then you won’t have time to use the certificate for some other purpose if they deny your request.  So, I’d recommend calling no closer than 3 weeks before your certificate is set to expire.

After my free night certificate was extended, I booked the Ritz with no problem whatsoever.  The Miraval resort was much tougher.  Miraval awards have to be booked over the phone, but phone wait times were crazy.  Last Friday, I missed their callback and they didn’t call back again all weekend.  Finally I tried again Monday afternoon and got through after a long wait.  Without incident, I finally booked 4 nights for the price of 2 and applied a Hyatt suite upgrade for the stay!  I expect that we’re going to have a fantastic 6 nights in the Tucson area!

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