We just finished our first stay at a Courtyard by Marriott as newly minted Marriott Bonvoy Platinum members. Not being accustomed to having any type of status, I checked the Marriott website to see what type of welcome amenity we should be offered upon check-in. They sure don’t make it easy to figure out, as each Marriott hotel chain, all 36 of them, have different options. To confuse things even more, the amenity varies depending on where in the world you are. If you’re interested, here’s a list of all of the options:
Marriott Platinum Check-In Amenity
Since we were staying at a Courtyard by Marriott in North America, I had two options:
- 500 points per stay
- $10 Food & Beverage credit per day (for member and one guest)
When we checked in, I was hoping the front desk agent would forget to ask which amenity we wanted so I could get my $50, but after thanking us for our loyalty, he asked if we wanted the points of the F&B Credit. Which one to choose?
There are several things to consider when making your choice. If you choose the points, you only get 500 points, no matter how long you’re staying, be it one night or seven nights.
Even under the best of circumstances, Marriott points aren’t worth that much. When we used points for an overpriced room over Thanksgiving weekend in New York, we received a value of 2.25 CPP (Cents Per Point) but it’s more common to get around 0.8 to 1 cent of value for each point. If you take the points, you’ll get between $5 and $11 of value when you redeem them in the future.
If you choose the food and beverage credit, you’ll get $10 per person, per day. In this instance, we were both staying for four nights. That’s a total possible value of $80. I say possible value because you’d have to eat at the hotel restaurant every day to use the full credit.
We decided there would be at least one day of our stay when we’d want to catch a quick breakfast at the hotel. Using the credit just once would be more valuable than taking the points.
It does kinda stink that Marriott Platinums don’t get a free breakfast when staying at Courtyard properties. You need to use your credit towards the bill for food every day and when you’re staying in Manhattan, breakfast and coffee at the hotel restaurant costs more than $10, so you’re not really getting a “free” breakfast
The Courtyard we were staying at had a different setup for food than I’m accustomed to seeing elsewhere. You ordered from the coffee bar/bar island and are given a number on a stand to place on the table where you chose to sit down. Non-espresso coffees were self serve behind the ordering counter. They proudly served Starbucks drip coffee, which, while not as good as getting it from a Starbucks store, wasn’t that bad.
Our bill for breakfast ended up being $28. We figured we couldn’t eat breakfast in New York for two people for $8 so it wasn’t a horrible deal. I did notice vouchers were mentioned on the menu board, which we hadn’t received when checking in.
I charged the bill to the room and when we were leaving the hotel that morning, I stopped by the front desk. I asked about the procedure to use our credit at the restaurant and if I needed a voucher. I was told that I should have told the restaurant when I was paying about the platinum amenity and they would remove the $20 from the check. Since I already charged the full amount to the room, she said she would take care of it for today. I was expecting to see a $20 reversal but she just removed the entire amount from the bill, which was nice.
We ate breakfast at the hotel for two days of our stay. The other day, we left the hotel to get a proper NYC bagel. Sharon got a lox and schmear on an egg bagel. Being from N.J., I had a need for bacon, egg and cheese on a garlic bagel. Pity they didn’t have any Taylor Ham.
One day of our stay, I stopped in during the afternoon and had a drink at the bar. After checking out, I noticed that the hotel amended the bill and removed the charge for my drink since we hadn’t used our credit for that day – another nice touch.
Since we had two people in the room and were staying for four nights, taking the food and beverage credit was a no-brainer decision for us on this trip. If you’re staying alone for only one night and don’t plan on getting any food during your stay, you’d be better off taking the points. Figure out what’s best for you each time and remember that Your Mileage May Vary.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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Now, I stopped staying at Marriott properties after their support of Proposition 208 in California, but have run into this same dilemma back in the day when I had diamond status as a Hilton Honors member. We usually broke it out depending on the property – Hampton Inns, we’d take points because the amenity was 2 free bottles of water. Hilton Garden Inns – food credit. Doubletree – points, since our status got us the VIP access. Embassy Suites – food credit. Homewood – points. Hilton – free parking and wifi, since that saved $35 per day and the status level got us VIP floor room and happy hour. Basically, we broke it down by what the normal amenities were offered by which flavor of hotel. I used to love the folks at the Hampton Inn Knotts Berry Farm – as soon as my reservation went in, I knew they’d save us room 401; a two room suite with two bathrooms. They’d even make sure the in-room coffeemaker was upgraded to the 12 cup one I had bought on a past visit and triple the size of the coffee service in the suite.
So to add further confusion, I stayed for the first time at a Courtyard in Valencia CA. I’m an SPG/Bonvoy Ambassador level. The nice front desk agent asked me the same thing for my one-night stay: 500 points or $10 f&b credit. I chose the points. Then when he presented my room key – there were two vouchers for breakfast! I asked what that was for and he said now that we are one program, you get complimentary breakfast. So I understand that I’m addition to the welcome amenity…my level gets breakfast…
SMH. If I could be sure the website was correct, I’d go check but I doubt that would help clarify anything.
YMMV, I believe the property just went above the minimum and extended you breakfast on top of points. We stayed at a Tribute Portfolio in Chicago, and we went for the obvious option of bfast for both days as our Plat gift choice as it was worth more than 1k Marriott points. I was surprised after checking out and looking at my folio that the property attached the Plat gift of 1k points into my account as well. We are Plat Premier (Titanium) with Marriott.
I also read the T&C for Plat gifts, all plats receive the same gift amenity. No differentiation in levels..
Marriott initially promised free breakfast for elites during the merger, then Bonvoyed over the customers by backing out on the promise. I’m Titanium this year, but feel like Marriott is playing games to kill off value wherever possible, so my stays are pretty much going elsewhere.