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The best ways to use a Marriott Bonvoy 85,000-point free night certificate — from extravagant tropical resorts to chic urban hotels

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The main pool at the St. Regis Langkawi overlooking the ocean.
You can redeem an 85,000-point Marriott free night certificate at the stunning St. Regis Langkawi.

  • The limited-time offer on the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card includes a free night certificate.
  • You can redeem the certificate at Marriott hotels that cost up to 85,000 points per night.
  • These include luxury brands like St. Regis, W, and JW Marriott.
  • Read Insider’s guide to the best hotel credit cards.

Inflation is on everyone’s mind these days, but it’s not just dollars and cents that are seeing their purchasing power diminish. Most travel rewards currencies lose value over time, and Marriott points (and free night certificates) are no exception.

Marriott recently began the long-dreaded transition to dynamic award pricing, moving away from a fixed award chart. The good news is that so far, most properties aren’t seeing drastic increases in prices (outside of some of the most expensive Category 8 hotels that are seeing rates climb by as much as 15,000 points per night). The bad news is that for customers looking to redeem a free night certificate, even a 1,000-point increase can put a hotel out of reach.

While Marriott just added the option to “top up” a free night certificate with up to 15,000 extra points, you may be short on points and only have certificates to redeem, or that still might not be enough to score a Category 8 hotel with dynamic pricing.

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card is easily the most compelling offer in Marriott’s co-branded credit card portfolio, with its $300 annual Marriott statement credit and automatic Gold elite status. For new travelers who are considering the card, the welcome offer makes it easy to justify the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card annual fee Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card – Rates & Fees.

Until May 18, 2022, the card is offering an elevated bonus of  Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card — and the free night is valid at hotels that cost up to 85,000 points. 

Here are some of my favorite ways to use the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card‘s 85,000-point free night certificate at hotels that will actually be available at that price. 

Best hotels for using a Marriott 85,000-point free night certificate

Previously, Marriott 85,000-point certificates would have been ideal for one free night at some of the chain’s most luxurious properties, like the Al Maha resort outside of Dubai, or Mystique, a Luxury Collection property in Santorini.

With the new dynamic pricing taking effect, these hotels are rarely going to be bookable for 85,000 points a night or less, so we’re forced to set our sights on something slightly more reasonable. In reality, this means focusing on Category 7 hotels instead of Category 8.

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach

JW Marriott Singapore South Beach Flow Sky Garden
Using a certificate at the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach will have you close to all the action.

To this day, the JW Marriott Singapore stands out in my mind as the most holistically excellent hotel I’ve ever stayed at. The design was modern and electric, fitting in seamlessly in one of Asia’s most iconic skylines without feeling too dark or clubby.

We enjoyed easy access to some of Singapore’s can’t-miss attractions, like The Raffles hotel and bar right across the street (where the Singapore Sling was invented!) and the Marina Bay Sands just a few blocks away. The breakfast spread was incredibly thorough; like the city itself, it effortlessly blended cuisines from all over Asia and the west.

We also loved the other food and beverage options on-site, including Tonic (the hotel bar with over 100 different types of gin) and Michelin-starred Akira Back for dinner. From the moment we checked in this hotel offered Category 8 luxury at Category 7 prices. 

JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District

JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District
The JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside opened in 2020.

With an unfortunately timed opening right at the start of the pandemic, the JW Marriott Savannah Plant Riverside District has revitalized Savannah’s waterfront. Rooms are spread out across a number of buildings, including The Atrium which has a whimsical “night at the museum” vibe (complete with a dinosaur statue in the lobby), and Three Muses, a smaller more boutique building with its own separate entrance.

Whether you’re drawn to Savannah for work or vacation, the JW Marriott is a great place to spend a free night.

St. Regis Dubai, The Palm Jumeirah

Exterior view of the St. Regis Palm Jumeirah in Dubai.
Luxury stays in Dubai can be very expensive, so using a free night certificate at the St. Regis on The Palm can save you a ton of money.

Marriott struggled in the past to establish a foothold for some of its luxury brands in Dubai, but over the last few years, we’ve seen two St. Regis properties open in the city. I had the chance to stay at the St. Regis on The Palm in December and thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

I’d stayed at the W on The Palm on my last trip to Dubai, but I didn’t love having to drive an extra 20 minutes just to get to the edge of the last palm frond. The St. Regis is more centrally located at the base of the palm, connected to the sprawling Nakheel mall complex (make sure you go up to the roof and check out the view!). Though we only stayed for two nights, the staff was incredibly attentive and detail-oriented when it came time to schedule our COVID tests before we left for the Maldives

St. Regis Washington, DC

Exterior front view of the St. Regis Washington, DC.
The St. Regis Washington, DC, is a perfect home base for exploring popular attractions.

Downtown DC can be frustrating to navigate, with limited parking and a comically unreliable public transit system, so location is even more important. The St. Regis Washington, DC has all the luxurious trappings you’d expect from the brad, including the nightly champagne sabering, but it’s also walking distance to the White House and the National Mall, Dupont Circle, Chinatown, and really most of downtown DC.

We stayed there during DC food week and enjoyed a set menu at Alhambra, the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant, and a few of the signature bloody marys (in this case the Capitol Mary served with a rim of Old Bay around the glass and a shrimp).

W Amsterdam 

The rooftop pool at the W Amsterdam with city buildings in the background.
The W Amsterdam features a unique rooftop pool.

Hotels in most major European cities have a reputation for offering small rooms at exorbitant rates. The W Amsterdam offers very decently sized rooms and a whole bunch of personality. The hotel comprises two historic buildings on opposite sides of the street — an old bank and an old telephone exchange, allowing you to pick between two different designs and aesthetics for your stay.

The hotel is conveniently located for both tourists and business travelers, with easy access to public transportation and walking distance of some delicious food.

St. Regis Langkawi

Exterior view of the St. Regis Langkawi.
For a luxury stay off the beaten path, the St. Regis Langkawi is an excellent choice.

Tucked away on Langkawi island in the northwest corner of Malaysia, the St. Regis Langkawi is the definition of a hidden gem. The sprawling resort offers a mix of standard hotel rooms, suites with direct beach access, and even a few overwater villas. Add in the hanging nets off the jetty by the bar and it felt like we were in the Maldives for a fraction of the cost.

After watching the sunset over the mountains we went to dinner at Kayuputi, where we enjoyed a tasting menu presented by one of the most memorable waiters we’ve ever encountered. Breakfast was an experience of its own, with a bottomless DIY mimosa station greeting you as you walked in. I went straight to the back though and helped myself to a heaping plate of freshly prepared nasi lemak.

Bottom line

Marriott’s switch to dynamic award pricing has put some of its most aspirational properties just out of the reach of an 85,000-point free night certificate. While that’s undeniably disappointing, there are plenty of luxurious hotels that are available at these rates.

This might mean that you only get $400 or $500 of value from the free night certificate if you apply for the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, instead of maybe $750 to $1,000, but the offer is still attractive enough that this shouldn’t deter you if you’re a frequent Marriott traveler.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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