In conjunction with my participation in the SPG Amex Fall Challenge campaign, I received Marriott points to use for a 2-night stay at the Ritz Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach over Halloween weekend.
Fall Challenge Accepted
I’ve always been a huge fan of Starpoints (now Marriott Points post-merger), and I’ve been a Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express card member for years. With that being said, to say I was thrilled when American Express reached out and asked me to join this year’s SPG Stars and participate in the upcoming campaign, is an understatement!
As part of the SPG Stars Program, I was asked to take part in a “fall challenge” with a friend. I received 120,000 Marriott Points to book a 2-night stay at a Marriott hotel in select cities across the United States.
I’m a huge fan of the warm weather and a beach bum at heart, so right off the bat I knew I was headed someplace sunny with palm trees. My best friend had never been to Hawaii, so it was an easy decision to book a fun Hawaiian weekend getaway for the two of us.
I’ve stayed at many different hotel properties across Hawaii during many trips over the last five years, but for whatever reason, I haven’t had a chance to familiarize myself with many Marriott and Starwood properties on Waikiki Beach until this year.
In July, I spent two nights at the Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach and loved it, so ultimately decided to use 60,000 points per night to stay there again.
Using Marriott Points at the Ritz Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach
I visited Waikiki Beach this past Halloween weekend, and while a number of properties in Hawaii were experiencing a strike (but thankfully not the Ritz Carlton Residences), it was also busy travel time with the big Hallobaloo festival/Ja Rule concert in town; redeeming Marriott Points for a rewards night stay ended up being a great value compared to the nightly rate for a standard room.
The Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach is a category 7 property, so free night will cost 60,000 points per night, inclusive of all taxes and fees. I’ll be the first to say that’s a lot of points for a hotel night, considering how valuable and flexible Starpoints are for other redemptions, but since the total price for a 2 night stay was over $1,400 and the resort combines the amenities of a hotel with the conveniences of a residences, I felt it was a good value for a redemption.
The Value of Starpoints + A Few Words About the SPG Amex Credit Card
Like many frequent flyers, I considered Starpoints to be one of the most valuable points programs out there. I always loved and valued them because of their flexibility and ability to redeem for hotel nights without blackout dates, and their transferability into airline miles with a nice bonus. 20,000 Starpoints transferred into 25,000 airline miles.
As an example from last year I transferred 40,000 of my Starpoints into 50,000 Alaska Airlines miles and flew 15.5 hours in business class on Cathay Pacific between New York and Hong Kong, continuing onwards to Saigon – a fantastic redemption to say the least.
Luckily the opportunity and transfer bonus still exists post-merger. When you transfer 60,000 Marriott points into airline miles now, Marriott adds 15,000 bonus points towards your transfer. Preserving the 3:1 Marriott to Starwood transfer ratio, 75,000 Marriott points will still get you 25,000 airline miles in most programs (when you transfer to United miles, you’ll get a 10% bonus).
You can earn Marriott points by staying at any of the SPG/Marriott properties, shopping through shopping portals, or through a variety of credit cards such as the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. The SPG AmEx has a welcome bonus of 75,000 points after spending $3,000 during the first 3 months. Some attractive card benefits include a free annual night (up to 35,000 points), 15 elite night credits, the $95 annual fee is waived the first year, and automatic Marriott silver status (with the opportunity to achieve gold by spending $35,000 on the card beginning 2019). The card earns 6x for Marriott stays and 2x on all other purchases.
But now let’s get on with the property review…
First Impressions of the Property
The Ritz Carlton Residences Waikiki Beach is about a 20-minute ride from HNL in normal traffic. Upon arrival, we were greeted with leis and escorted up to the lobby where we checked in and received cold towels and an amazing passionfruit welcome drink.
There Ritz Carlton Residences is a little over two years old and just opened the new Diamond Head Tower on October 15.
The resort offers the largest number of hotel luxury suites on Oahu along with the two highest infinity pools in Waikiki. All of the units are ocean-facing and offer the amenities of a residence including a full kitchen and washer/dryer, which are all great for traveling families.
The lobby area was very large, open, and stylish, providing tons of ocean views. There is a bar and restaurant across from the welcome desk.
I was given a studio suite on the 20th floor. The room was cozy and modern featuring a king bed (which was honestly the most comfortable hotel bed I’ve truly ever slept in) and pullout couch. The unit features a fully-loaded and stocked kitchenette with a fridge, oven, sink, and electric stovetop. The bathroom had a large bath tub and separate shower stocked with plenty of Asprey toiletries.
Unfortunately since this property is classified as a residence, you can earn and redeem Marriott points as usual; however, a free upgrade to suite and guaranteed 4pm check-out is not available for Marriott Rewards members. There is no free breakfast benefit for Platinum members either. The only elite amenity I received was 500 bonus points and a small welcome amenity in my room.
Pool & Beach
There are two very nice infinity pools at the property that are quite and offer nice views of Waikiki. The Diamond Head Tower pool features a small slide that would certainly be a hit for little ones, and the other pool features a jacuzzi. Both pools were warm and refreshing to take a dip in.
While the hotel is not located directly on the beach, it’s only a few blocks away from paradise and the famed Duke Kahanamoku Statue. If you’re headed to the beach for the day, be sure to stop by the concierge desk on your way out for a complimentary beach tote bag to use for the day that’s loaded with water bottles and beach towels.
Another highlight of our trip was getting to experience a Marriott Moments catamaran sea turtles snorkeling excursion that I’d highly recommend.
What are Marriott Moments?
Marriott Moments is a collection of three sites – Marriott Moments, Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments, that collectively offer close to 120,000 experiences located in over 1,000 destinations globally. These moments range from 110,000+ evergreen, attraction tickets and tours, and can be purchased by anyone with a credit card, to around 8,000 exclusive moments available just for members for redemption with points. Members earn loyalty points on all purchases made with a credit card.
What is the difference between Marriott Moments and Marriott Rewards Moments and SPG Moments?
Marriott Moments offers travel experiences for Members and non-Members. Marriott Rewards Momentsand SPG Momentsoffer exclusive once-in-a-lifetime Member experiences to Rewards Members only, which can only be paid for using Rewards points.
While the Ritz Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach is not situated right on the beach, it truly is located in the best area of town and accessible to many popular attractions including high-end shopping, the beach, the Honolulu Zoo, and Diamond Head Crater (which is an absolute must to do for great exercise with stunning panoramic views as a reward).
At the end of the day, I’m happy that I was able to enjoy a girls’ getaway weekend in Hawaii, using points to revisit a property I really loved during a busy time. We got to celebrate Halloween with locals, snorkel, hike up Diamond Head, and soak up some sun.
Have you redeemed points at an exceptional value for a hotel night before?
Full disclosure: This experience was sponsored and made possible by the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express. As an Amex Ambassador, I received compensation for this blog post. I was provided with 120,000 Marriott Rewards points to book my stay, which I redeemed for two rewards night at Ritz Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. All opinions and stories are my own.