Best Marriott resorts for domestic US summer travel

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This is a view of Lake Michigan at the Inn at Bay Harbor near Petoskey Michigan. I’ve stayed here many times and really enjoy it!

Recently I compiled a list of the best Hyatt resorts for domestic US summer travel.  At the end of the post I promised to do the same for Marriott and Hilton.  Well, here’s to fulfilling part 1 of that promise!  Without further ado, here are the best Marriott resorts for domestic US summer travel…

OK, wait.  We need a tiny bit of “ado”…

In this post I’ve looked exclusively at Marriott and aimed to answer this question:

Which Marriott resorts within the lower 48 states would be good candidates for a summer vacation?

To keep the list down to an almost manageable amount (there are tons of Marriotts out there!), I filtered to the properties that Marriott identifies as resorts.  I then removed from consideration any resorts located in places that are likely to be too hot for summer travel, such as: Southeast, Texas, Arizona, and parts of California that can get very hot in the summer (like Palm Springs).  Further, in most cases I removed resorts from consideration if the average review score was below 4.0.

With each resort, I looked at room rates and award availability for 5 nights (August 2 to August 7 2020). I figured that August is far enough into the summer to be pretty sure that we can travel domestically by then.

Here’s what I found….

Table of Contents

East Coast

Maryland

Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $280
  • Award Category 5 (35,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 140,000 points for entire stay
  • Resort fee: $22/night
  • Award value: 1 cent per point (good value)

New Jersey

Marriott’s Fairway Villas (Marriott Vacation Club)

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $489
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.8 cents per point (fair value)

Vermont

The Equinox, a Luxury Collection Golf Resort & Spa

Note that this resort has earned a very poor TripAdvisor rating.

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $177
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $39/night
  • Award value: 0.4 cents per point (very poor value)

Virginia

Four Points by Sheraton Virginia Beach Oceanfront

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $254
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 240,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

The Cavalier Virginia Beach, Autograph Collection

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $382
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 280,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $40/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony (Marriott Vacation Club)

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $135
  • Award Category 5 (35,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 130,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

Midwest

Illinois

Lincolnshire Marriott Resort

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $242
  • Award Category 4 (25,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 115,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 1 cent per point (good value)

Michigan

Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection

I’ve stayed at this resort many times.  The views are beautiful (especially if you manage to score an upgrade to a lake-view room) and the Petoskey area, in general, is great.  This resort tends to offer great value for your points.  And it helps that the resort fee is a percentage of the base rate (so there’s no resort fee on an award stay).  The bad thing is that award availability is slim in the summer months.

  • Aug 23-28 average room rate: $436.
  • Award Category 5 (35,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 23-28 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: 10% of nightly room rate
  • Award value: 1.4 cents per point (very good value)

Missouri

Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge (Marriott Vacation Club)

This look like a great choice for a cash stay in Branson Missouri.

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $140
  • Award Category 4 (25,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 105,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

Mountain States

Colorado

Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge (Marriott Vacation Club)

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $224
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $180
  • Award Category 5 (35,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 150,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.6 cents per point (poor value)

St Regis Aspen Resort

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $841
  • Award Category 8 (85,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 370,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 1.1 cents per point (good value)

The Westin Snowmass Resort

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $163
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 210,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $30/night
  • Award value: 0.4 cents per point (very poor value)

W Aspen

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $832
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 250,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $50/night
  • Award value: 1.7 cents per point (great value)

Vail / Avon / Beaver Creek Colorado Resorts

Sheraton Lakeside Terrace Villas at Mountain Vista in Avon, CO

There is such a large collection of Marriott properties in the Vail / Avon area that I decided to simply list them here.  Based on reviews, the best of them appear to be these:

And here are the rest:

New Mexico

La Posada De Santa Fe, A Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $259
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 230,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $35/night
  • Award value: 0.6 cents per point (poor value)

Utah

Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $487
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: $30/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

Marriott’s Mountainside Park City

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $216
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 230,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

Marriott’s Summits Watch Park City

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $211
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 230,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

The St. Regis Deer Valley

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $332
  • Award Category 8 (85,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 340,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $35/night
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

West Coast

California

Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $325
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $40/night
  • Award value: 0.8 cents per point (fair value)

Laguna Cliffs Marriott Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $332
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $29/night
  • Award value: 0.8 cents per point (fair value)

Las Alcobas, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Napa Valley

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $708
  • Award Category 8 (85,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

Marriott’s Newport Coast Villas

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $637
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: None
  • Award value: 0.9 cents per point (fair value)

Pier South Resort, Autograph Collection

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $264
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 200,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $20/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, a Tribute Portfolio Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $405
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No.
  • Resort fee: $30/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $322
  • Award Category 6 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 240,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $39/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $881
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 260,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $50/night
  • Award value: 1.7 cents per point (great value)

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $749
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No
  • Resort fee: $50/night
  • Award value: 1.1 cents per point (good value)

The Westin Carlsbad Resort & Spa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $276
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 240,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $25/night
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth Lake

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $230
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 260,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $25/night
  • Award value: 0.4 cents per point (very poor value)

The Westin Verasa Napa

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $336
  • Award Category 7 (60,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 240,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $25/night
  • Award value: 0.7 cents per point (poor value)

Lake Tahoe

Grand Residences by Marriott, Lake Tahoe

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $293
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

Marriott’s Timber Lodge (Marriott Vacation Club)

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $293
  • Award Category 6 (50,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? No.
  • Resort fee: None.
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe

  • Aug 2-7 average room rate: $391
  • Award Category 8 (85,000 points per night standard)
  • Aug 2-7 points rate available? Yes: 340,000 points for entire stay.
  • Resort fee: $50/night
  • Award value: 0.5 cents per point (very poor value)

Methodology

Using Marriott’s website, I filtered to Marriott properties in the lower 48 United States which were identified as resorts.  I then removed from consideration any resorts located in places that are likely to be too hot for summer travel, such as: Southeast, Texas, Arizona, and parts of California that can get very hot in the summer (like Palm Springs).  Further,  I removed resorts from consideration if the average review score on Marriott’s site was below 4.0 (in at least one occassion though I kept a property because the Tripadvisor ratings were much higher).

With each resort, I looked at room rates and award availability for 5 nights (August 2 to August 7 2020). I figured that August is far enough into the summer to be pretty sure that we can travel domestically by then.

Even though Marriott has an option to view the “all-in” rate, I didn’t select it.  The reason is that I wanted to calculate award point values and the all-in rate confuses things since it includes resort fees.  So, instead, I used the pre-tax and fee rate to compare to point prices.  The reason I think that’s fair is that the lack of taxes from the cash price largely balances out the fact that you don’t earn points on an award stay.

I always recorded the best available cash rate even if the rate was prepaid.  That said, I did not look for special rates such as AAA, senior, or government rates.

When a points booking was available for the dates of interest (August 2-7), I calculated the point value as (5 X [the daily rate]) / (# points required for the stay).  When a points booking wasn’t available, I compared the daily rate to the peak pricing for the hotel’s category.  For example, if it was a category 6 resort, I would divide the daily rate by 60,000 to get to the point value.

Finally, I described point values as poor to good based on this chart (which I made up for this purpose):

  • Point value <0.6: very poor value
  • Point value 0.6 to 0.8: poor value
  • Point value 0.8 to 0.9: fair value
  • Point value 1.0 to 1.2: good value
  • Point value 1.3 to 1.5: very good value
  • Point value > 1.5: great value

Conclusion

Unfortunately I didn’t find many hidden gems here.  In most cases the value you would get for your points is low.  And I didn’t find many places where the cash rates were all that great either.  Still, there are some worth checking out:

Overall, the best point values I found were:

  • Inn at Bay Harbor, Autograph Collection (35K points per night standard)
  • The Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay in California (60K points per night standard)
  • W Aspen in Colorado (60K points per night standard)

And those looking for cheap cash rates might find these of interest:

  • Marriott’s Manor Club at Ford’s Colony in Virginia ($135/night)
  • Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge (Marriott Vacation Club) in Branson Missouri ($140/night)
  • Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas in Steamboat Springs, Colorado ($180/night)

I recommend also checking AAA, senior, and government rates if you qualify.  In some cases these specialty rates can be considerably lower.

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