Friends, today I’m going into a full-on “fancy pants” mode. Motel one week, booking overwater bungalow the next, that is how I roll. Alas, this particular redemption is not for me. As most of you know, in a few months, my family is planning a trip to South Pacific. It does depend on my father-in-law’s health, but we are hopeful that things will go as planned.
For complicated reasons, my in-laws are taking the kids with them for majority of the trip, and are planning to stop for three nights in Fiji on the way back to US. Originally, my sister-in-law booked a decent enough hotel with pool and other kid-friendly amenities. While browsing through Marriott site, I’ve noticed that there is a new fancy resort in Fiji that has overwater bungalows: Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay
It’s definitely not cheap, but my father-in-law has always wanted to stay in an overwater bungalow. Due to his health situation, I’m pretty sure this is his last chance to do so. So I had an idea. I told my sister-in-law that I would go half with her on an overwater bungalow for her parents, and would pay for a basic room for her and the kids. I could only splurge on one night due to crazy high price.
We went back and forth and decided to go for it. However, my sister-in-law refused to let me go half on an overwater bungalow and prepaid it without my knowledge.
I didn’t feel right about the whole thing, so I told her rather than a standard room, I would get her an overwater bungalow as well. As it turns out, they don’t let kids under 18 to stay overnight in those units, so instead, I booked a lagoon-front bure:
I figured the kids could swim up to my in-laws’ bungalow and hang out there during the day. With taxes, the total came up to $420 for one night. It is a lot of money, no question about it, but I felt good about this splurge because it would provide my in-laws with an opportunity to experience something truly unique.
A points alternative
Like many of you, I took advantage of Marriott giveaways on Twitter during football season. As a result, I ended up with 10,000 points in exchange for very little effort. I also got 2,000 points from Marriott shopping promo I wrote about few months ago. So, that meant I had a total of 12,000 Marriott points.
There was a small cash co-pay, plus an extra fee for a third person. As I’ve said earlier, the revenue rate was $420. If you deduct the cash portion ($67) from the points alternative, we are getting a return of 0.88 CPP (cents per point).
As some of you know, SPG is currently having a sale (ends May 31st) on points, which transfer to Marriott on 1:3 basis. If you go through Topcashback (my referral link, you will get $10 if it’s a new account) and search for Points.com, you can earn 1.5% cash back on your purchase. The price works out to be 0.75 cents per Marriott point.
Booking the overwater bungalow via points+copay rate will actually be a better alternative to revenue rate:
I did check Orbitz, Amex Offers etc, and couldn’t find a way to get a significant discount on lagoon unit. The thing is, I needed 28,000 Marriott points or 9,333 SPG points. You can only transfer in blocks of 1,000, which meant I would have to buy 10,000 SPG points for $227. It would still be worth it, since I already had 12,000 Marriott points in my possession.
Friends with points
Before pulling the trigger, I decided to try one more thing. I’ve reached out to Nancy and asked her if she had some Marriott points she could spare. You can transfer up to 50,000 points to anyone for a fee of only $10. To be clear, this wasn’t some sort of “Give me your points or else!” type deal. Nancy and I are friends, so I feel relatively comfortable doing something like that on very rare occasion. I definitely didn’t put any pressure on her.
Nancy said she had 25,000 Marriott points and that I could have them. She then transferred the stash to my account and Marriott rep didn’t even charge her a $10 fee. I asked her if she needed any Southwest points and at the time, she had no plans for them. Well, a few days ago, I booked a Southwest flight for her husband, so I’m very happy to have returned the favor. I feel like it was a win-win for both of us, at least I hope so.
So, now all I’m missing is 3,000 Marriott points. I’ve already made the award reservation and just need to attach the e-certificate once my account reaches 40,000 points. You have to do so 10 days before your check-in date. I can either purchase 1,000 SPG points for $35 or transfer 3,000 Membership Rewards points to SPG via 1,000:333 ratio. I’m hoping Amex will roll out a 50% bonus on transfers to SPG one last time, so for now, I wait. If nothing materializes, I will buy SPG points because I value 3,000 MR points higher than $35.
I could buy 5,000 SPG points for $114 in order to take advantage of 35% off sale, but I don’t think I’m going to. It would mean getting 4,000 points for $79. To me, the speculative price of 2 cents per SPG point is still too high. This was an exceptional circumstance and a special treat for my father-in-law. As a general rule, you won’t see me paying $420 per night, I will simply find another (cheaper) hotel.
Either way, this was a very happy outcome, and I have Nancy to thank for it. In this hobby it certainly pays to have friends with points!
P.S. If you are under 5/24 and are looking to stay at this Fiji resort or another Marriott hotel via points, you should consider Marriott Rewards Premier Plus card that currently offers 100,000 points bonus. Also, business version of Marriott card (not subject to 5/24 rule) is still available as well.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.