Book a Safari with Points: JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge Wide-Open Award Availability Sept-June


Update 7/28/23: JW Marriott Masai Mara has just dropped a ton of award availability between September 2023 and June 2024. Additionally, there’s a smattering of dates between now and mid-October, the period of time generally considered to be high season. Prices are slightly higher than what we saw earlier this year: high season rates from July-October are hovering around 115-130k points per night, while October-June is ~100/night. Many dates are available for 5 night stays, allowing you to take advantage of Marriott’s 5th-night free on award bookings. Last time we posted this, availability was gone within a few days. If you’re interested, it’s worth booking sooner than later…especially if your dates aren’t flexible.

My original post follows…

I’ve had my eye on this new Marriott property since it opened in April 2023.  It’s an all-inclusive luxury safari lodge located in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Africa.  Since it opened for reservations, I’ve checked periodically for award availability but never found a single night… until now.  I’m currently seeing blocks of 3 nights or longer available from October to January, with the largest availability in December.  This lodge usually charges around $3,000 per night for a room with two adults, but award nights usually cost around 100,000 points or less (meaning that you’ll get insanely good value of over 3 cents per point with these awards!).

I’m looking forward to trying out this safari lodge!  So far, there aren’t many reviews but the few that exist are mostly glowing with praise.

Here’s info about the lodge from the hotel’s website:

JW Marriott Masai Mara Lodge marks the debut of the first luxury safari lodge in the brand portfolio. Overlooking the Talek River and the Masai Mara National Reserve, this lodge features 20 luxurious and expansive en-suite tents (including an interconnecting family suite and accessible suite), all with their own private outdoor Jacuzzi tub and deck. Your experience includes meals (breakfast, lunch, high-tea/ sundowner, and dinner), both on-property and bush meals, a selection of beverages, game drives, airstrip transfers, and many meaningful moments. Communal areas include a dining area, lounge bar, spa, gym, photographic studio, garden and a large outdoor viewing deck with a fire pit. The lodge is designed to inspire you to focus on the ‘whole you’ and nourish your soul. For the safety and comfort of our guests, we have age restrictions for children under six.

Also check out this glowing review by Nonstop Points who has already been to the lodge via a points booking: JW Marriott Masai Mara Review: Luxury in the Savannah, a Truly Unforgettable Safari.

There are downsides, though:

  1. Getting to the property isn’t easy.  From Nairobi, it looks like the best option is to take a bush plane.  If you book through the hotel, it costs $400 per person round trip.  Additionally, you can only bring 33 pounds of stuff with you on the plane (you can check bigger bags at the airport in Nairobi for free).
  2. You have to pay the park fee: $70 per person, per night of your stay.  So, two people for a 5 night stay would have to pay $700.
  3. Adding a child to a room with 2 adults costs an extra $1,000 per night.

Despite all that, I think it still looks like an incredible experience well worth the added cost and inconvenience.

Award Nights Available

Many individual nights are available for under 100,000 points per night.  As a result, it’s possible to book nights with 85K Free Night certificates (like those that come with the Bonvoy Brilliant and Ritz-Carlton cards) by topping off with up to 15,000 points.  Alternatively, if you have lots of points, the best deal is to book 5 nights in a row in order to get the cheapest night for free.  Unfortunately, you cannot get the 5th Night free if you use a free night certificate for any of the five nights.  Personally, I booked 6 nights: 5 nights with points (and paid for only 4 nights) plus I booked one night with an 85K certificate and 7,000 points.  Update: I may drop my reservation down to 2 or 3 nights and tack on another lodge in another part of the park.

Below you’ll find the awards that were available at the time of writing this post for a minimum of 3 nights at a time:

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Raghu Narayanan

Hi Greg
Somewhere you talked about splitting your time in Masai Mara between 2 different properties. How does that work. Do they have Bush planes that take you from 1 property to another or you arrange transport i.e. hire a SUV or something

Raghu Narayanan

Thanks. Getting 5 nithts in a row for family of 4 (2 rooms) will be a stretch in July/Aug/September. So maybe 3 nights at JW and aniother 2 or 3 at ankther location will be appropriate

[…] decks that overlook the river. Rates have been hovering in the ~$2000-3000/night range, making it a terrific deal on points.Since the property just opened up this year, there’s not a ton of reviews about it, outside […]


Just booked 7 nights in January, cost about 650k Bonvoy. For my wife and I Flights over on points on emirates from Toronto with Aeroplan with a stopover in Dubai. Coming back on points with Ethiopian with Aeroplan with a stopover in London. Cheap Dream trip. Thanks FM

[…] JW Marriott Masai Mara has had quite some buzz around it lately. It’s Marriott’s first entry into the world of luxury game lodges/safaris and is located just outside the renowned Masai Mara Reserve in Kenya. The property is all-inclusive, including game drives, and offers lodging in luxury tents with jacuzzi-topped decks that overlook the river. Rates have been hovering in the ~$2000-3000/night range, making it a terrific deal on points. […]


thanks for this great overview and the updates. Re this JW Marriott Lodge being “all inclusive”: Are there any insights of that this actually means? What is included and what not? E.g. is it food only and food and drinks and what about activities/safari trips? Or in other words, how much cash (in addition to booking the property with points) would one spend for a day about per person?


Price included food, drinks and 2 game drive per day. There is no additional expense except tips to staff. But you have to pay $80 per person per day for park fee. If you stay 5 nights you will pay 6 days of the park fee.

Gerald Rebitzer

Thanks, very helpful!


Come on, Greg. Kenya, Africa? Really? Do you ever write Japan, Asia, or France, Europe?


Who has that many points to burn


With the incredible current Bilt Status/Virgin Atlantic transfer promo, Mahali Mzuri & Ulusaba for 540k VA points/3-nt stay; 860k/5-nt stay might also present a good opportunity


it looks like there is nothing available at all, at least for 3 days plus. Do you expect them to add availability for July 24-December 24?


Did I really miss out on this? How much is it normally with points for a night? This is my dream trip and I CANNOT believe i missed it lol



[…] the hotel wasn’t bookable with Marriott Bonvoy points, though that has changed, as flagged by Frequent Miler. This hotel is a spectacular value with points, given how much cash stays would be, and given all […]


I just went to play around with this and adding a child to the room resulted in a $10,000 per night fee. So that’s a no-go for most families. Still a great deal for couple or single travelers though!


We were in The Mara August 2022 for four nights in a mid-tier camp, Aruba Mara, and enjoyed an outstanding one of a kind experience. It certainly will be a pleasure to be in the Marriott Mara, but you will be spending much time outdoors in the Mara for morning and/or afternoon game drives – we loved the all-day game drive we did one day. Your guides will be supplied by the hotel and will be Masai, who live and work in the region. There are other options and variations of things to do, such as a foot hike in the Mara or a visit to the Masai town, all worthwhile to add to the game drive experiences, which are some of the best in the world. I would recommend at least four nights given the first day is a traveling day. However, you do have transportation options: plane or car. There are several airlines to choose that will fly there and the Marriott should offer a car service to pick you up in Nairobi and then also take you wherever you want to go afterwards. You can compare rates with Get your Guide and Suntransfer, if you want. The Park fees are like a Disney fee that goes to the park municipalities or government depending on the park and, though expensive, support the upkeep of the park and allows your experience. There is no discount for cash but it pays to have some or the ability to get it from a nearby ATM if the credit card network is down when you are there. If you are now finding more available nights using points, it may be because it is not prime season. Our summer is their winter which is generally the better time for animal viewing since there is less flora. That may be less important in the more arid Mara but you got the The Great Migration happening in the Mara in July/ August. All-in-all, anytime you can get to see the Mara, in all its animal glory, would be golden opportunity.
P.S. Would recommend the Aruba Mara. Food, guides, location were great.


Just to add a bit to this excellent information, if you book with a safari tour company they will typically provide your guide who also serves as your host and driver throughout your trip. If you drive between multiple parks within Kenya you will usually have the same guide throughout.

It is definitely worth checking out more than one park. My favorite is Samburu, although I don’t know what the security situation is like these days that far north.

Kenya is on the equator so temperatures are similar throughout the year. But it is a few degrees cooler during our summer and there is a wet and dry season.

If you cross the equator near Mt. Kenya you can stop to get your photo taken at the equator marker and see a dubious “science” presentation on the Coriolis effect, which is completely rigged but still entertaining.


Booked! thanks guys!!!


Are the redemption rates also all-inclusive with food and drinks? Or do we need to top-up a daily amount for those? Thanks!


The property was actually bookable back in February, at a very favorable rate too ;).


For less than a day 🙂


Indeed, only a few hrs. Glad they are honoring the rate 🙂


Every single night points has gone down from 110K to 74.5K per night from when Nick post. The whole month from Feb to May 12 is available for award booking. I booked executive suite for 5 nights after I read the post. I called Marriott this morning and got 144K points refunded. I paid 298k for 5 nights for executive suite.


Greg, you may want to update the downsides in your post with this info

Dear James,

Greetings from JW Marriott Mara and hope this email finds you well,

We are able to accommodate you in one tent, However the children will have to be charged at usd 1,000 per child per night on all-inclusive package. The redemption points covers for only 2 people.

Let me know if I can be of further assistance.

Kind Regards,


Wow, that’s a bit pricey to add a child.


I searched using the flexible date option. Prices have updated to over 800,000 points for 4 nights for 2 guests. For 3 guests, it’s over 1,300,000 points


Wanted to update my comment and say that I mistakenly added extra rooms and not adults


If you already booked please check your reservation. A lot of date has been reduced in points. I got 144K points back on my 5 nights reservation.


They don’t allow more than 3 people in the same room despite having 2 queen beds. Bummer. Pass for our family.

Nonstop Points

The park fees are $70 or $80 because technically the JW “Isn’t in Masai Mara” it is across the river. So it depends on the day it seems for the price you get. Also might make a difference if you pay cash… may get the cheaper rate.


If you are going for the wildlife one thing to keep in mind is that the quality of your guide might be more important than the room. When we went a number of years ago we got lucky with a guide who was clearly much more knowledgable than the average. As a result we consistently were in the best spots for game and always had the longest list of sightings every evening. If you have the points to burn then go for it, although if I was paying out of pocket I would save the super luxury room for a different trip. You will be out of your room on game drives quite a lot and even the cheaper lodges are very nice.

J.M. Hoffman

Also: Have you flown Ethiopian yet? Give it a shot! The hard product is nothing special, but the service is amazing, and I liked the food so much that I would go to a restaurant to get more.

J.M. Hoffman

Now I’m jealous… Bring a good camera!


What would be the nightly points rate for 2 adults and 2 children sharing a room?


they don’t allow more than 3 in a room


I was worried about the weight limits on luggage but the resort includes daily laundry service of up to 5 items per person.


Where did Nick go when he booked his on safari? He talked about it on the podcast a year or two ago.

Nick Knight

Paul Kruger Gate Marriott. We went there a few years back for a few days. It was a nice place and a 3 minute drive to the park entrance gate. In hindsight, we would have saved time at the entrance by booking inside the park … but the chosen hotel had great food and was convenient otherwise.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nick Knight

Unfortunately that hotel is no longer with Marriott.

Ian Gough

6 nights in Masai Mara is about 4 nights too many. 2 days were plenty for me. There are so many beautiful places in Kenya, why waste your time in a luxury resort? Go tour the slums of Nairobi and see how the real people live there. You’ll meet some of the happiest and friendliest people in the world!


Lol wut



Ian Gough

Why would I be a troll? I spent a year traveling in Africa and no way more about it than most people in this group who seem to think you can’t do anything unless it’s with points. Luxury travel is not always the best way to see a country but I’m glad people like you stick to your bubble and leave the real experiences for the cool people.


I invest all over Africa and I happen to agree with Ian’s sentiment; although the truth often rubs people the wrong way. lol


We are going soon and the resort is telling us that the park fee is $80 per person per day. They are letting us pay for the bush flight and park fees through Marriott so that is nice for earning more points.

Ivan Y

What are best times of the year to visit that location? Definitely won’t be able to make it there this year but can start planning for 2024.


The great migration starts at the end of July.

Ivan Y

Thank you!


We were in Masai Mara in the last week of June 2019 and were amazed by the abundance of wild life. I agree with Jimmy in that the quality of your guide will determine your overall Safari experience. Trip Advisor has several reviews of excellent outfits. Do the research on the Safari outfit to set your expectations. Most will recommend & book lodging for you and their guide, who stay with other guides at the same lodging facility.