Booking and redeeming Marriott hotels (Europe Autumn 2020)

Image credit: Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic, Marriott.com

Nature seems to be winning this war, and looks like we’ll be cancelling our vacation plans this year and staying put in Singapore to ride out the storm. What started out in Asia has now spread globally, with cases in Europe, US and other parts of the world increasing exponentially by the day.

Image credit: TVBS News

Even though we’re no longer travelling, I wanted to note down the Marriott hotels that we initially booked (but have since cancelled) for future reference. I would most likely have lost my Marriott Platinum status by then, but that’s a small issue, all things considered.

All research was done online using Tripadvisor.com, the private Facebook “Marriott Bonvoy P&T&A Elite Group” with 11,000+ members and, as always, Google.

We start at Lucerne, which has a grand total of two hotels in the Marriott family, with another eight in nearby Zurich. The Hotel Lucerne was a bit too arty for me, with striking murals and photos on the room walls and ceiling, so I chose the Renaissance Lucerne instead.

It claims to be the world’s smallest Renaissance hotel, which didn’t influence my decision, as long as rooms were available. The Superior King room is a cozy 22 sqm, which is slightly smaller that what we’d prefer but still comfortable.

There is no executive lounge, and complimentary breakfast for Marriott Platinum elite members is provided in the hotel’s Pacifico Restaurant. The hotel’s location is quite central and only a 10 minute walk to the Lucerne train station, which makes getting into and out of the city quite convenient.

Choosing our hotel in Montreux was a no-brainer because: (i) there is only one Marriott hotel there, and (ii) the Grand Hotel Suisse Majestic just looks so pretty with the views of Lake Geneva.

The hotel is situated just across the road from the Montreux train station, making it super convenient to get around. There is no executive lounge (hmm… I’m beginning to see a trend here), with the Platinum breakfast amenity at the hotel’s Le 45 restaurant.

I was particularly looking forward to staying in this hotel and booked the Deluxe Queen with Lake View and Balcony room. Marriott’s website puts the room size at only 20 sqm, but photos seem to indicate a bigger room.

While hotel room photos always come with the usual “for illustrative purposes only” caveat, I’m willing to take the chance on this one. Because, what a view!

Like Lucerne, Geneva has two Marriott hotels, but unlike Lucerne, both of them are luxurious. One is the Ritz Carlton Hotel de la Paix and the other is the Hotel President Wilson.

Having had a wonderful stay at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo a couple of years back (on points!), I was sorely tempted to choose the Ritz again.

But this is Geneva, and everything is expensive, especially luxury hotels. So, we went with the Hotel President Wilson. But only for two nights, on off-peak weekend rates, in the entry-level city view room. Because this is Geneva.

The platinum breakfast amenity is again at the hotel restaurant because there is no executive lounge, but at least breakfast is included, unlike at the Ritz Carlton. The hotel is a 12 minute walk to Geneva train station, but that should be manageable because we travel light.

Choosing a Marriott hotel in Paris was challenging because there are 33 of them. Yes, 33. I planned to use my Marriott points to redeem four nights to get an additional night free.

While my stash stood at a respectable 220,000+ points, it wasn’t enough for Category 8 hotels like the Prince de Galles or Hôtel de Berri, which were highly recommended by members in the Facebook group.

Looking at the various Category 6 and 7 hotels and comparing their various merits, I decided on the Renaissance Paris Arc de Triomphe, but still had to juggle dates so that I hit enough off-peak dates to stay within budget.

Cash rates for those dates were around US$ 2,500 and I used 210,000 points on a Stand’R Queen Garden View room, for a redemption rate of about US 1.2¢ per point. Not huge value, but not too bad. Again, no executive lounge and breakfast amenity in the hotel restaurant.

For our final stop in Amsterdam, we wanted somewhere close to the central train station because our flight back to Singapore would be early, and we’d probably have to walk there in the pre-dawn darkness.

So, while there are 10 non-airport Marriott hotels, it was basically down to the W or Renaissance. The W looked too hip for my taste, so I settled on the Renaissance Amsterdam.

Which… (drum roll), finally has an executive lounge which serves breakfast in the morning and hor d’oeuvres, hot food and drinks in the evening. While I’m not expecting much, it would be nice to finally get lounge access. It does seem that Marriott hotels in Europe generally don’t have executive lounges, unlike those in Asia.

Entry-level rooms are typically small throughout Europe and there’s no exception here. The Deluxe King room stands at 22 sqm, which again is smaller that our preference, but would do fine. Though an upgrade on the last leg of our trip would be much appreciated.

The Wife and I were really looking forward to this trip, but unfortunately, things happen. I suppose the silver lining is that the outbreak could have happened while we were already travelling, which would have been too much drama. There will always be another time, once things go back to normal and life goes on.

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