Saturday, August 24, 2013

Marriott Denver West

Hotel Stay Details
Hotel: Marriott Denver West 
Dates: August 22-24, 2013
Wedding Rate Paid: $119/night
Points Earned: 4,500 Marriott Points
Gold Status Value Received: $151

This past Thursday and Friday nights, we stayed at the Marriott Denver West hotel. By "Denver West" they actually mean Golden, Colorado, which is about an easy 30 minute drive from Denver International Airport.

As I mentioned, my parents were attending their friends' wedding and were able to score a discounted Wedding Rate of $119/night (closer to $125/night after taxes). However, because my father's a nerd about his travel loyalty programs and promotional deals, he was able to extract additional value.

2x Chase Ultimate Rewards ($10-25 value)
First, back in March (yes, 5 months before) when the wedding hotel was selected, he booked his reservation by first going through the Chase Ultimate Rewards Shopping Portal. By doing so, he clicked through Marriott which was offering 2x points at the time. So for $119/night, he would earn a total of 476 Chase UR points for his two night stay, which are worth anywhere from $10-25. Not a huge haul, but free for an extra 30 seconds of internet clicking.

Two $100 Marriott Gift Cards for $80 each ($40 total savings)
Second, in June, American Express had a special promotion called Daily Getaways, where they would partner with leading travel companies to offer a variety of discounted packages. Some were just OK deals, but others were pretty significant. The catch was that the # of packages was limited to first come first serve and you had to log into the website at exactly 1PM Eastern to have a shot at these packages. (Hint: Start logging in at 12:57PM and keep hitting RELOAD until you get through).

One package was $100 Marriott Gift cards for just $80 each if you paid with your American Express. My father snagged 2 of them to cover $200 of his expected $250 hotel bill. He could have bought more speculating that he would spend more than the base rate and taxes, but he NEVER buys more than he 100% knows he's going to spend. Otherwise, he'd lose value or be forced to spend more just to recoup the value. He's not in the points/miles game to lose money or spend more, so stuck with just two gift cards.

Free Marriott Gold Status Match (estimated $56 value)
Third, on July 15th, United Airlines announced a strategic partnership with Marriott Hotels where elites in one program were matched to elite status in the other. In my father's case, United Platinum status gave him free Marriott Gold status which gave him the following benefits:
  • Lounge Access and breakfast
  • Room upgrades
  • Complimentary in-room internet
  • Priority late check out
  • 25% bonus points
As you may know, my father is a Starwood Hotels loyalist (having just made Platinum the other week) as well as a Hyatt Diamond member until February 2014, so he had no status whatsoever at Marriott. Since he wasn't looking forward to being "just a regular hotel guest" for this wedding, he was pleasantly surprised that United offered him a free status match just in time.

On the positive side, we received Lounge Access which came with free hot breakfast (scrambled eggs, cooked ham, pastries, fruit, cereals, etc) and free wifi in the room. Had we paid for both amenities, it would have run at least $10 per person for breakfast and another $12.95 per night for wifi, or about $43 for the first day. The hotel also gave us a pack & play and a mini fridge upon our request. Unclear if that was because we were Marriott Gold members or if we just asked. But either way, those came in super handy.

Unfortunately, there weren't many suites at the hotel and the few were taken by wedding party, so we just received a regular double bed room for the 4 of us (my parents and my grandmother and me). Additionally, the lounge was closed on weekends, so for the second morning, we could have taken gift certificates for free continental breakfasts in the lobby restaurant on Saturday morning. But the wedding party had a brunch for all the guests that second morning, so we ate breakfast there instead. But we did use the wifi for the second night, so another $13 of value.

Overall, we saved/received at least $106 in direct cash value, plus another 4,500 Marriott Reward points (estimated at $45 of value) for a total of $151. Given we spent $250 on two nights, that's really valuable. Perhaps it's my Asian-Jewish background, but I think getting 60% of your payment back is pretty great.

Rooms and Hotel
Of course, we also enjoyed our time at the Marriott Denver West as well. Location wise, it was very easy to find (right off I-70) and had a mega shopping complex across the highway called Colorado Mills Shopping Center which had a Whole Foods, a Super Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Barnes & Noble, and just about any restaurant chain you could imagine.

Check in was smooth and the hotel seemed very clean and well maintained. Despite having a Harley Davidson convention as well as other weddings, we didn't have to wait in line when we checked in, but that could have because it was 9PM Thursday night.

Our room was on the 6th floor (same floor as the lounge), but way down the long hallway. As you might be able to see on the hallway map here, we were right next to a much larger suite, but I would have felt bad taking a suite away from the wedding party.

So, my parents and I shared the single room with my grandmother instead. Despite having 4 of us in a regular room, we had plenty of space. In fact, the pack & play could have fit either between the beds or along the window as well. As it turned out, I liked sleeping next to my grandmother in her bed, so we ended up not really using the pack & play.

As I mentioned, the hotel also provided us with a mini-fridge to use (at no charge). It came in handy to store some of the milk and soft drinks we got from the lounge. This empty fridge setup was much better than trying to re-arrange a pre-packed mini-bar, because we usually can't find enough space for my things among the overpriced soda and mini-liquor bottles. Thank you, Marriott!

The bathroom was pretty standard and nothing to elaborate much on, but we did appreciate that it was very clean and functional. Sometimes, we had less than great experiences (such as finding sand/hair in the bathtub at the Hyatt Place Long Island).

However the best part of the Marriott Denver West was the swimming pool area (they had both a heated indoor and a heated outdoor). Fortunately, I had the chance to get two swimming sessions during our short 2 night stay (thanks to our late 3PM checkout). It was also nice that you could access the pool (1st floor) without having to walk through the lobby (2nd floor). I always feel awkward walking around in my wet baby bathing suit as business people are checking in.

We ended up ordering room service a few times during our stay, because it was easier than to get me "restaurant-ready," and we found the food to be pretty decent. Nothing amazing, but prices were moderate enough for a hotel ($14 for a burger and fries, $10 for buffalo wings, $7 for a kid's pizza, etc.). Plus, my parents enjoyed the convenience of having lunch in their bathrobes. But come wedding time, they cleaned up pretty nice. Well, at least my mom did.

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