Le Méridien Maldives: Worth buying a travel package?

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Tabemasu Japanese Restaurant at Le Méridien Maldives.

It’s hard to believe that Marriott has launched a brand new Le Méridien resort in the Maldives (scheduled to open in August) and assigned it to category 5.  Among the other Marriott resorts in the Maldives, the Sheraton is category 6, the Westin is category 7, and all others (St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, and W) are category 8.  I doubt very much that the Le Méridien will stay category 5 past this coming winter, but it’s certainly a stellar deal for booking now.  Points rates are 30K off-peak, 35K standard, or 40K peak per night.  And, as we previously reported, nights priced at 35K or lower can be booked with the 35K free night certificates that you get annually with a number of Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.

Le Méridien Maldives includes their Sunrise Overwater Villas as standard rooms bookable with points or free night certificates!

Prior to the winter holidays, the resort is widely available for 35K points per night.  Here’s a view of November availability, for example:

In December, though, the resort is mostly peak priced at 40K per night:

The Le Méridien is currently only allowing reservations for the next 6 months, and so we can’t yet see very far into January, but it’s a good bet that most of the winter will be peak priced:

The Travel Package Alternative

There’s no question that if you have 35K free night certificates and if the resort is priced 35K or less when you want to go, then the Le Méridien is an awesome use of those certificates.  However, as you can see above, it is likely that on the dates you would most want to go to this new resort, it will be peak priced at 40K points per night.  That realization reminded me that while I generally think that Marriott’s travel packages are a bad value, they can actually offer good value when your target hotel is peak priced.  See this post for full details: Marriott travel packages in a Peak world: good value?

Here is Marriott’s award pricing for their 7 night travel packages:

If you want to buy a travel package for the Le Méridien, you would pay either 315,000 or 390,000 Marriott Bonvoy points and you would get a 7 night category 5 stay certificate, plus either 50,000 or 100,000 airline miles of your choice (or 55K or 110,000 United miles).  That 7-night stay certificate can be used to book the Le Méridien Maldives even if it is peak priced the whole time.

The reason the travel package can be worthwhile is that it provides a way to convert Marriott points to airline miles at a much better than usual rate.  Suppose you have lots of Marriott points, you want a 7 night stay, and you’re trying to decide whether to buy a travel package or just book with points the usual way.  Here are your options (assuming the hotel is peak priced for the entire stay):

  • Pay with points: 7 nights at 40K per night (after 5th night free) = 240,000 points
  • Travel package with 50K airline miles: 315,000 points (75K more than points alone)
  • Travel package with 100K airline miles: 390,000 points (150K more than points alone)

If you would have paid for 7 nights with points anyway, you can think of the travel packages as spending extra points in order to convert those extra points into airline miles at a favorable rate:

  • Travel package with 50K airline miles costs 75K more than points alone without getting airline miles, so this is like converting 75K Marriott points into 50K airline miles (or 55K United miles)
  • Travel package with 100K airline miles costs 150K more than points alone, so this is like converting 150K Marriott points into 100K airline miles (or 110K United miles)

Normally Marriott points convert to airline miles at a rate of 3 to 1 or with a bonus when you convert 60,000 points: 60K to 25K.  So, the usual best conversion rate is 2.4 Marriott points to 1 airline mile. Transfers to United get a 10% bump (2.2 Marriott to 1 United mile).  With the travel packages, the ratio is much better: 1.5 Marriott points to 1 airline mile.

One great way to get to the Maldives is to use AA miles to fly Qatar business class for 70K miles one-way.  If you need extra AA miles to make that happen, redeeming points for a Marriott travel package rather than paying points directly for your stay may be a good option.

Caution: Lot’s of Downsides

There are a lot of downsides to travel packages, so beware!

  • Travel packages cannot be refunded.  Once you spend the Marriott points, you get a 7 night certificate plus a bunch of airline miles. If you change your mind, later, you can use the certificate for a different hotel than you originally intended but you can’t get back your points.
  • Travel package stay certificates expire after 1 year.
  • Travel package stay certificates can’t be upgraded or downgraded.  Suppose, for example that the Le Méridien becomes a category 6 property before you get a chance to book it.  In that case, you’ll have to find a different use for your certificate altogether.

Conclusion

There are situations where Marriott’s travel packages are a good deal.  The Le Méridien appears to be ideal for them because it is likely if you go all the way to the Maldives that you’d want to stay 7 nights, and it is likely to be peak priced during your stay.  That said, there are simply too many downsides to travel packages for me to recommend them.  Personally, I’d rather book my stay with points, 40K certs, and even with 50K free night certificates rather than spend my points on a non-refundable travel package.  For those with lots of points and a few 40K or 50K free night certificates, I think that the ideal approach is to book 5 nights with points in order to get the 5th night free and then add on additional nights with certificates.  If you’re really lucky, there will be a 35K night or two during your stay and you can then use your 35K certificates for those nights.  As long as you still have 5 nights booked with points on the same stay as where you used certificates, you’ll get the 5th night free even if those points nights are not contiguous.

See also: Marriott Bonvoy Complete Guide (including details about Travel Packages)

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Jeff

This resort does not have standard rooms and therefore the free night certificates cannot be used here. I was told by the Marriot reservations line that I would be able to make a reservation using this deal, then I purchased the deal, then I was told it cannot be attached because this resort does not have category five standard rooms and free night certificates of any kind cannot be attached. Further, I cannot receive a refund because they already transferred points to the airline. Several years of points savings out the window. So overwhelmingly upset at Marriott for telling me to purchase something that is unpurchasable and nonrefundable.

John

Just got booked for 5 nights in March. Overwater villas are mostly gone, but was able to get 5 nights.

However, I can find on no blog, when the seaplane comes and goes from this resort. Hard to book something into or out of a resort without knowing that.

Maybe this is something you guys could find out????

Jenna

@greg
If I have 5 free certificate (max at 35K). Do you recommend using that? or should I use points (5th night free)? My certificates has expiration date in mid 2022.
Thanks.

John

Nothing next March or April

Ben

No more 5 consecutive days in November.
I should have acted faster

Jules

Is it possible to book a stay longer than 5 nights by using points to get 5th night free plus one or more certificates for the remaining nights? For example, can I book a 7 night stay using points for 5 nights and two certificates for the remaining 2 nights?

Tony

COVID cases are sky-rocketing in Maldives right now. It’s probably a bad time to visit.

Joe Scmho

Another great post, Greg.

But yeah, I agree that the travel packages aren’t ideal. You definitely trade away a lot of flexibility. I had one under the old program and luckily Marriott extended the expiration a couple times. I was happy to be rid of it in March.

Billy Bob

Just returned from a locale that imposes masks everywhere when outside of doors and imposes social distancing, limited hours, et al.
It sucked. It was hot and breathing air through that mask on a hot day just plain sucked.
I’m curtailing much of my leisure travel until it’s more comfortable, and, as I expected, I’ve already had (and recovered from) the virus and my doctor told me that I should be immune to variants because he says they are something like 99.7% similar. He told me no vaccine either. I am also in wait-and-see mode regarding whether I’ll need to show my antibody test result everywhere I go too. Plus 11 hours on a plane in a mask also sucks. Hope that doesn’t become permanent.

Last edited 1 year ago by Billy Bob
Bill

Unless you are getting your medical examinations from Dr. Pepper, your doctor did not tell you ‘no vaccine either.’ Sorry your mask wearing sucked.

Träger

These packages are a terrible deal. Even in this case, it is only a good deal if you are ready to book right away. You’re sacrificing a lot of flexibility.

le5524

So if you make a reservation with 5 free certificates which mean you still get 5th night free? or it has to be mix with point & free certificate?