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Best Marriott/SPG hotel resort anywhere?

Best Marriott/SPG hotel resort anywhere?

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Old Dec 21, 18, 9:10 pm
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Best Marriott/SPG hotel resort anywhere?

Kids going to college in two years — have points to fly / stay anywhere (travel loads so just accumulate them). I want to surprise the wife with a first class flight somewhere in the world, and go somewhere on the / by the water. We’re both active, so don’t just sit under the sun but love to swim, snorkel, exercise, explore, etc. We don’t do the spa. Great food is wonderful but elegant is not a requirement. Want it to be amazingly rememberable. Maybe a little reading and relaxing as well. I’m lifetime platinum. Thought about Maldives but all the resorts there just seem like you spa and hang out (though I may not be clear on these)? Any other ideas?
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Old Dec 21, 18, 9:27 pm
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I really rate the St Regis Bali for best resort. Iím also not so interested in the Maldives and Iíve never been to the St Regis Punta Mita, but I suspect is another candidate.

Non-resort Iíd say the St Regis Florence, but I guess not what youíre looking for.

Last edited by EuropeanPete; Dec 21, 18 at 9:34 pm
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Old Dec 22, 18, 6:32 am
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Assuming you want door to door first class service Iíd suggest you start backing into the places that you can you can reasonably get to with your airline points. Quite a few places that folks will suggest will be in places that arenít served with any first class cabin or a domestic (garbage) one. If you donít care about that the Ritz Grand Cayman sounds like it might be a good fit your you. Also remember that itís going to be near impossible to get that penthouse suite on points alone. Example, for my upcoming stay at Edition Miami, the only way to get an ocean view room is 60,000 points PLUS $239 (plus resort fees, tax, etc) which is absurd because the cash difference if I booked ocean view vs city is only $50.
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Old Dec 22, 18, 6:57 am
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Bali doesn't have great beaches.

How about the Great Barrier Reef? It's supurb for snorkeling as long as you avoid the months with the little stinging jellyfish problem. One can eat very well in Australia (and explore Australian wines, plus emu, ostrich, kangaroo, etc.), generally in rather casual restaurants. IIRC Hayman (large resort island) is Starriott, but I only know a different island with a smaller nonchain resort. If you're interested in wine, you could add on a trip to the Blue Mountains as well as Sydney. Sydney has SOTP and other Starriott choices (including the place on the wharf) and IIRC there's an amazing LC elegant inn in the Blue Mountains (which can also be done as a day trip from Sydney, but there's this amazing place there to eat and sleep.....)

Have you been to Hawaii? It would be enhanced domestic FC from the USA.

Last edited by MSPeconomist; Dec 22, 18 at 9:26 am Reason: correcting autocorrect
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Old Dec 22, 18, 8:26 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Bali doesn't have great beaches.

How about the Great Barrier Reef? It's suburb for snorkeling as long as you avoid the months with the little stinging jellyfish problem. One can eat very well in Australia (and explore Australian wines, plus emu, ostrich, kangaroo, etc.), generally in rather casual restaurants. IIRC Hayman (large resort island) is Starriott, but I only know a different island with a smaller nonchain resort. If you're interested in wine, you could add on a trip to the Blue Mountains as well as Sydney. Sydney has SOTP and other Starriott choices (including the place on the wharf) and IIRC there's an amazing LC elegant inn in the Blue Mountains (which can also be done as a day trip from Sydney, but there's this amazing place there to eat and sleep.....)

Have you been to Hawaii? It would be enhanced domestic FC from the USA.
Hadnít thought about Australia at all. We donít drink a lot, but love unique things and experiences. Thank you.
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Old Dec 22, 18, 8:27 am
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Originally Posted by ucfjoe View Post
Assuming you want door to door first class service Iíd suggest you start backing into the places that you can you can reasonably get to with your airline points. Quite a few places that folks will suggest will be in places that arenít served with any first class cabin or a domestic (garbage) one. If you donít care about that the Ritz Grand Cayman sounds like it might be a good fit your you. Also remember that itís going to be near impossible to get that penthouse suite on points alone. Example, for my upcoming stay at Edition Miami, the only way to get an ocean view room is 60,000 points PLUS $239 (plus resort fees, tax, etc) which is absurd because the cash difference if I booked ocean view vs city is only $50.
Its not the end of the world if we donít fly first but Iíd like to use my American points. Iíll check out the Ritz Grand Cayman thank you.
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Old Dec 22, 18, 10:01 am
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Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
I really rate the St Regis Bali for best resort. Iím also not so interested in the Maldives and Iíve never been to the St Regis Punta Mita, but I suspect is another candidate.

Non-resort Iíd say the St Regis Florence, but I guess not what youíre looking for.
St Regis PM looking pretty good this morning
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Old Dec 22, 18, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Bali doesn't have great beaches.
Thatís true, but the beach at the St Regis is hardly terrible:
https://www.agoda.com/the-st-regis-b....html?cid=-217
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Old Dec 22, 18, 11:07 am
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Originally Posted by EuropeanPete View Post
Thatís true, but the beach at the St Regis is hardly terrible:
https://www.agoda.com/the-st-regis-b....html?cid=-217
Looks pretty nice to me!
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Old Dec 22, 18, 11:14 am
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A few thoughts re SPG/Marriott properties and related matters, taking into account that it doesn't have to be super-elegant (though the hotels I mention here are all very nice and some might well consider them elegant) and that you folks like to be active.

1. One of the most memorable and favorite trips my wife and I ever took was to SPG's Andaman Langkawi, in Malaysia. Located on a beautiful beach, though not really for snorkeling. What makes it unique, however, is its location on the edge of a tropical rain forest, so you'll see monkeys and sometimes other wildlife around the property everyday, there are hikes you can do on your own or with a guide, and farther afield on pleasant, easily drive-able Langkawi island you can do a mangrove water tour and other activities. Regular rooms ok, but if you want to go first class you'd want to secure an upgrade somehow.

2. There's also a St. Regis on Langkawi, which might well be even nicer, though it wasn't open back when we were there and I don't know how its location on the island and activities compare.

3. Another memorable and favorite adventure was to Peru, where we stayed in three very nice SPG hotels. In order of preference, though they were all great: Tambo del Inka, in the Sacred Valley, where Machu Picchu is also located; Hotel Paracas, by the sea (so you can get your seaside relaxation in - though again, not snorkeling); and Palacio del Inka, in Cusco. There is more to do in any of these places than I have time to detail now, in terms of exploring the culture, the history, the scenery, walking, etc.

4. You're right about the Maldives (and French Polynesia, for that matter), in that the big draws of hotels at these places is to be out relaxing in over-the-water bungalows rather than lots of activities - though easy and fun snorkeling. On the other hand, the OTWBs in both areas really are special experiences. Haven't stayed at Marriott/SPG properties at either place, so can't comment on them.

5. Since you're active and like beaches, I second the idea of Australia, though it's not as exotic as some other destinations and I don't know about how good any seaside SPG/Marriott resorts are. Sydney and Melbourne (which has a nice Westin) are great cities.

6. I noticed that you have AA status. If that's the airline with which you have your miles, the best way to spend them is on Etihad's unique first class apartments, which fly from JFK to Abu Dhabi (and then different flights to many other places, including Sydney). It's "regular" first class, from LAX, IAD, ORD and I believe DFW, is also very nice. Award availability can sometimes be great, though booking can be a hassle. (See the thread dedicated to this in the AA forum.) As with most airlines, your best chance of getting the F seats is nearly a year in advance, but EY is a bit better in that often they'll have such availability not as far from flight dates. And by the way, Abu Dhabi is worth stopping off in for a couple of nights in you're not in a rush, and there are nice SPG/Marriott hotels there, including a wonderful St. Regis.

7. If you have enough Marriott points to burn, or have points through Chase, Citi or Amex, you can transfer them to Singapore Airlines to get access to its fantastic first class flights...if you can find availability. In my limited experience, they usually open up F seats nearly a year in advance (can't recall the exact number of days) for SQ, but it's challenging to find them after that.

8. If you don't meet with initial success in scoring F seats, sites like awardnexus.com and expertflyer.com can sen you email alerts if they open up, though it also helps to just keep looking.

9. Of course, with any of these destinations, check a website for monthly weather and precipitation to ascertain the best times of year to go.

Hope this helps. Happy trails!

Last edited by Thunderroad; Dec 22, 18 at 1:19 pm
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Old Dec 22, 18, 11:21 am
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@thunderroad thanks so much — you rock. That was really helpful.
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Old Dec 22, 18, 4:35 pm
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Mauritius or Langkawi
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Old Dec 22, 18, 5:29 pm
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Originally Posted by azoomee View Post
@thunderroad thanks so much — you rock. That was really helpful.
You're welcome! A few more thoughts:

1. If in fact you do end up flying Etihad and thus passing through Abu Dhabi, I understand that the very upscale Al Maha resort desert resort, perhaps 90 minute (?) outside of AD, is well worth checking out. You'd need at least a couple of nights there, though.
2. As for AD itself, I wouldn't go out of my way to go there, as it's on the sterile side. But if you do transit through, there are a number of very good SPG/Marriot hotels there, with at least one on a beach (though the beach does not rival those of other parts of the world). And it's a very safe place with very reliable taxi service, a very big and beautiful newish mosque and a falconry veterinary center that offers tours.
3. Qatar is another very good AA partner that might have award possibilities and that you could use to transit on the way to other places. I recently checked, for instance, and there were some of its new and reportedly superb business class suites available to and from Chicago a few months from now. And even its old business class is excellent. Not sure of overall award availability, including for its first class flights.
4. This may go without saying, but the AA site does not show all partner airlines' available award flights. To find that, you might have to check the sites of One World partners BA and Qantas and/or call AA.

Originally Posted by SEA-Flyer View Post
Mauritius or Langkawi
Good suggestion re Mauritius. We were just at the St. Regis Mauritius last month and really loved it. And it has some quite decent snorkeling. It's a more luxurious resort than the Andaman Langkawi. Between the two, though, we found the Andaman setting even prettier and more interesting because of the wildlife, the nature walks and the other activities.

Last edited by Thunderroad; Dec 22, 18 at 11:25 pm
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Old Dec 22, 18, 6:06 pm
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Great for surfing. I love Bali Depending on season, it beats Hawaii. Costa Rica hotels also...


Originally Posted by MSPeconomist View Post
Bali doesn't have great beaches.
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Old Dec 22, 18, 6:34 pm
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Skip Bali, probably one of the most overrated places ever. It's overcrowded, overpriced, choked with traffic, built up and the beaches aren't that nice. Sure there are nice hotels but if you just want to sit at a hotel you don't need to fly halfway around the world, and even if you do want to travel that far there are countless islands within 2-3 hours of Bali that are superior. I'll never understand people's reverence for that place.
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