The world’s best use of Marriott Bonvoy points, a cruise “subscription” and do we love Hyatt too much? (Saturday Selection)

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Marriott partners with BetMGM, Virgin Voyages is testing a new subscription service and how much Hyatt love is too much? All that and more in this week’s Saturday Selection, our weekly round-up of interesting tidbits from around the interwebs (links to each article are embedded in the titles).

Do we love Hyatt too much (and is that even possible)?

Oh yes, we do love us some Hyatt here at Frequent Miler. Greg, Nick, Stephen and I are all Hyatt Globalists and I’m currently writing this in the middle of the North American night from the rooftop pool area of a Hyatt property in India. The complimentary upgrades, dependable breakfasts, free parking and terrific award values make World of Hyatt the #1 hotel program for the majority of us who make a living writing about points and miles. But not everyone. Benji over at Miles to Memories thinks that it’s time for award travelers and Hyatt to spend some time apart. There’s too many hotel breakfasts, sub-optimal stay locations and overvalued properties out there and spending our days looking deep into our favorite program’s brilliant, blue logo is only blinding us to the reality of our situation: Hyatt’s just not all that.

Marriott partners with BetMGM

Speaking of Hyatt, many folks involved with the program were dealt a gut punch last year when MGM ended its longstanding mattress run partnership with the program. It had been a rich playground, with waived award fees, status match merry-go-rounds and cheap elite nights galore. When MGM announced that Marriott was waiting in the wings to take Hyatt’s place, there was some cautious optimism that something might be salvaged. It wasn’t. Still, Marriott Bonvoy and MGM are now more or less integrated, with MGM properties around the country bookable at poor-ish value with Bonvoy points. In addition, the companies recently announced that the sportsbook BetMGM is Bonvoyaged as well, and members can convert up to 100,000 BetMGM points to Bonvoy at a 1:1 ratio each calendar year. This is essentially like paying one penny apiece for Bonvoy points, which isn’t the worst value in the world, but isn’t a particularly good one, either.

JW Marriott Masai Lodge – “The best use of Bonvoy points in the world”

An African safari is high on the bucket list for many of us, both frequent travelers and once-a-year sojourners alike. So, when Marriott opened the JW Marriott Masai Mara in early 2023, it became a hot item among those with their hands in the points and miles cookie jar. An all-inclusive, luxury, $2-3K/night safari lodge that’s bookable with Bonvoy Points and includes twice-daily game drives? Yes, please. There was some early skeptisicm from regular “safari-ers” based on the resort’s location, and the first reviews were a bit up and down. That said, things seem to have stabilized as the resort’s gotten it’s feet underneath it; an FM reader visited the lodge last July and came away positively glowing. Monkey Miles had a chance to visit last October and posted his detailed report a couple of weeks ago. The verdict? “The JW Marriott Masai Mara is the very best use of Marriott Bonvoy points in the world.”

Virgin Voyages starting a subscription service…for cruises?

a room with a couch and a desk
Sea View Terrace cabin (Image courtesy of Virgin Voyages)

Cruising always seems like an aquired taste. For some folks, like me, the idea of spending several days on a floating, all-inclusive resort doesn’t exactly get the juices flowing. For others, cruising is more than just a vacation, it’s a way of life (see our own Nick Reyes, who’s seemingly spent much of the last year cruising for free with his family of four). Virgin Voyages has a new scheme meant for folks in that second group, as well as digital nomads curious about life at sea. They call it a “season pass,” and it effectively strings together four, one-week cruises into a month-long jamboree of all-you-can-eat buffets, casinos and waterslides. They’re even throwing in freebees like high-speed wireless, daily coffee credits and free laundry service…all starting at $10K for 2 people/month. In contrast, West Virginia is currently paying FM team member Carrie $10K to live there for a year. She doesn’t get free laundry, though.

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Jan W

My only issue about the constant love given to Hyatt is that it’s only relevant if one has Globalist status. I assume many readers do; I don’t. Without the free breakfast perk, my net “cost” at a Hyatt stay is higher than a similar stay at, say, a Holiday Inn Express. I imagine there are many FM readers who do not travel enough for status and who just want a clean place to sleep and a free breakfast of some sort to get their day started.

Sandi

Check your facts before you disparage cruising. Virgin caters to adults (and no kids are allowed) and has no water slides. not all cruises are Carnival or msc.

Brent

I’m currently in the Hyatt Regency Boston/Cambridge. There’s a lot to say about Hyatt service (it is pretty much universally good), but this property is not exactly an attraction. It is a conference hotel surrounded by MIT and Boston University, making it a little cut off from the fabric of the city. And Hyatt bedding is not as strong/consistent as some of the other chains. It is really hard to argue with the value of the program, but they are not always the best properties.

Lee

Do we remember the old Visa tagline: It’s Everywhere You Want To Be?

Hyatt isn’t everywhere I want to be. And, if it is somewhere I want to be, the property typically only has entry-level room award inventory and nothing more.

For many, Hyatt works. And, that’s great. For others, Hyatt doesn’t . . . unless one “settles” for something less than ideal. I think the author is saying that we need to be honest about and true to our desires. And, not be slavishly devoted to a particular brand.

I’m affiliated with a different hotel network and I get a redemption rate quite close to the 2 cents per point you seek from Hyatt. Admittedly, mine are not your average redemptions.

Larry

What other hotel loyalty program provides you close to 2 cents per point on redemptions?

JamesSchilling

My guess is Wyndham.

Lee

Are you sitting down? Marriott.

I have had Hyatt Globalist *gratis* for a few years. I can receive Globalist perks or I can receive Ambassador perks. Based on my specific travel, I can obtain 2cpp in either program. But, based on my specific travel, Hyatt is not a fit for the reasons stated above. If my specific travel was different, Hyatt might be the winner. So, truly, my position is in no way dogmatic.

(On a side note, if someone is able to redeem Marriott at 2cpp, wouldn’t you say that it puts a different perspective on 2X for “all other” Marriott credit card spending?)

Last edited 19 days ago by Lee
Brutus

If

Lee

Exactly. For most, it’s absolutely a non-starter. No argument.

Zach "Monkey Miles"

Appreciate the love!