The beauty of miles and points is being able to experience and stay at some of most aspirational luxury properties around the world that we probably wouldn’t be able to afford otherwise. Thanks to points and miles, I am grateful for opportunities to stay at some incredible properties over the last few years, such as an out-water villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives, the Presidential Suite at the Grand Hyatt Istanbul, and even the best all-inclusive resort experiences at the Hyatt Ziva and Zilara properties in Cancun.
I’m sure you notice that the most talked about hotel award redemptions seem to be belong to the Hyatt portfolio, and certainly I agree that Hyatt points are insanely valuable; however, my most recent redemption deserves to be glorified as the next best thing in the miles & points because it was that good.My family and I just returned from an amazing vacation in Crete and had an unparalleled experience at one of Marriott’s top-tier category 9 properties. We spent 5 nights at the incredible Domes of Elounda Autograph Collection resort using a “nights and flights” certificate.
Booking The Award
Using 270,000 Marriott points, we got 120,000 Southwest points (and a companion pass valid for 2 years) and a certificate valid for 5-nights at a category 7 property. The typical nights & flights packages offer 7-night certificates, but there is a lesser-talked about 5-night option that is generally only available to Marriott Vacation Club timeshare owners; however, with the right agent, any Marriott Rewards member can redeem for it.
As I mentioned earlier, the Domes of Elounda is a category 9 resort, so it required an additional 60,000 point “up-charge” in conjunction with the certificate. The up-charge points can be deducted from any Marriott account, so if you’re traveling with family or friends, they can always “pitch in” their share ;).
The grand total for the 5 nights was 330,000 points, which breaks down to 66,000 points per night. Yes, it is more than the 45,000 points required per night for a category 9 property (with Marriott’s 5th night free option, it would work out to 36,000 points per night), but also keep in mind that we also got 120,000 airline miles and a Southwest companion pass, which I consider to be an exceptional redemption.So What’s The Hype About This Property?
What’s unique about this property is that everyone gets a villa, and the villas are amazing! Each reservation is good for up to 4 adults, and young children are free – so it was an absolutely perfect redemption for our party of 6!
There’s a large bedroom, a living room (with a couch that can be made up into two single beds), a huge bathroom with a tub that can easily fit a family of 4 (or a bubble bath party for the kids), and a balcony that goes on for days with a private hot tub. The view from the balcony is undisputedly the best I’ve seen. Some villas even come with a private swimming pool.It’s also worth noting that there is no resort fee, no parking fees, and breakfast is included daily regardless of your status with Marriott. The breakfast spread was extremely impressive, and comparable, if not better, than some of the nicest Hyatt properties I’ve stayed at.
The resort grounds were phenomenal and so vast (it’s very hilly, so golf carts are always available to take you to different spots on the resort). There’s a family pool area close to the kids club and a few smaller adults-only relaxation pools. The beach has small stretch of sand and is calm and wave-free. There are a number of restaurants on the resort with great food for standard pricing. There’s also daily events and “theme nights” such as a Greek Beach BBQ, Seafood night, etc. with food, music, and entertainment. The area nearby is also really lovely if you have a rental car.Luxury and Family-Friendly Done Right
First and foremost, this might sound like an oxymoron, but the Domes of Elounda was the most luxurious and family-friendly resort I’ve ever visited. Around 80% of the guests had one or two children under 4. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around luxury when traveling with children, but I later found out that the property was named one of the most family-friendly luxury and lifestyle resorts in Europe. All of the little details tailored to the children amazed me one after another.
From the time we checked in with my 2 toddlers, my kids were immediately each given a “welcome amenity” of their own, which included toys, play dough, stickers, and coloring books. Then, when we opened the door to the room, there were standard bathrobes and slippers waiting for us on the bed. I peaked into the crib and my son’s couch bed and there were… wait for it… bathrobes and slippers in toddler sizes!Even during turndown service, Mickey Mouse pillow chocolates were left for the kids, and we always had baby bath products restocked when our shower toiletries were refreshed. The awareness and acknowledgement of the younger travelers was incredible.There’s also a nice-sized kids pool, an on-site playground, and the beach is calm and perfect for young children to play. There’s a reasonably-priced kids club (and also private babysitting upon request) that’s impressive & separated into two groups: 4 months – 4 year olds, and 4-12 year olds. It was nice to see that there was a kids club option for younger kids, since most resorts tend to start at age 4. We personally did not leave our children in the kids club, but we were allowed to pop in and play here and there, and the staff always seemed caring and attentive.It’s also worth noting that the onsite photographer is far more reasonably priced than I had expected. During a theme night, we caught ourself in an impromptu family photoshoot and were shocked to see that the 4 shots we picked out only cost us 25 Euro total for the digital files!
15,000 Starpoints or 45,000 Marriott Points Per Night
As I mentioned above, a night at the Domes of Elounda costs 45,000 Marriott points per night (or 36,000 points per night if you stay 5 nights and factor in the 5th night free benefit). With the recent Starwood and Marriott merger, you’re now permitted to link your Starwood and Marriott accounts and transfer points freely between programs. The transfer ratio is 1 to 3 from Starwood to Marriott, meaning that this resort can be booked for only 15,000 Starpoints per night, which is an incredible sweet-spot redemption!
You can also do what I did and redeem for a nights and flights package – redeem for a 5 night, category 7 certificate, and “upgrade” it to category 9 with points, for a total of 330,000 Marriott points or 110,000 Starpoints (and get 120,000 Southwest points and a companion pass)!
If you need a boost in Marriott points, right now the Marriott Rewards credit card offers 87,500 Rewards points (transferable to ~29K Starpoints) after spending $3,000 within 3 months and adding an additional user card. Thanks for your support if you chose to apply by clicking below.
I’m still on Cloud 9 by how exceptional this resort was, and I’m in disbelief that I’ve never even heard about it previously on any of the blogs (we were also the only Americans there – there were predominantly English, German, and Russian families at the resort). I guess it’s an honor to be the first to be able to share this gem with others!
There’s exceptional value given that there are no hidden fees, rooms can fit up to 6 if traveling with children, and an amazing breakfast is included every single day. In all honesty, I’d choose this place over the Park Hyatt Maldives in a heartbeat!
Have you visited or considered the Domes of Elounda Marriott property before? It’s heaven on earth, and I can’t wait to return!