The brand new JW Marriott Maldives is now accepting reservations and you can book an Overwater Pool Villa for as little as 68,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
The options for redeeming points in the Maldives has improved greatly in recent years. I know a number of readers used our ‘75% off trick’ to book the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives earlier in the year and there’s now a further interesting option.
The JW Marriott Maldives is set to open on 15th September 2019 and is now accepting reservations. And there’s an interesting twist. Generally, a standard points redemption will book into a hotel’s base-level room category.
That’s the case at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives for example, where a points redemption books into a King Beach Villa with pool. And it’s a similar story at the St. Regis Maldives and the Conrad Maldives Rangali.
If you want to guarantee an Overwater Villa, you’ll usually have to pay a premium – using either a cash or points upgrade.
However, a quick look at the JW Marriott website reveals that you can book an Overwater Pool Villa as a standard redemption – costing 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night.
Don’t forget Marriott offers the ‘fifth night free’ on reward redemptions. That lowers the total per night to just 68,000 points per night on a five-night stay.
As you can see, nightly cash rates start at about £1,046 + taxes and fees. Using my sample dates above, you’d be looking at about £6,925 for a five-night stay. On that basis, redeeming 340,000 points is a great deal.
Book now, worry about earning the points later
One of the best features of Marriott Bonvoy is their Points Advance feature. This allows you to make a points reservation, but you then have until 14 days before your check-in date to accumulate the required number of points. If you don’t, the reservation will automatically be cancelled.
Marriott used to allow you to use Points Advance, even if you DID have enough points at the time of booking. This was useful if you wanted to lock in a number of bookings without tying up all of your points. That has changed. Marriott Points Advance is now only available to those without enough points at the booking of booking.
Tip: You can get around this restriction quite easily. First, make a random points reservation to temporarily empty your account, then use Points Advance for the reservation you actually want to make. You’re then free to cancel the first booking – receiving your points back immediately – while the Points Advance booking will remain intact.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points
Apart from actually staying at Marriott hotels, the best way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points in the UK is via the below credit cards:
- American Express Platinum Card (full review) – 30,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus (worth 45,000 Marriott points). Points convert to Marriott at a 2:3 ratio.
- Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Credit Card (full review) – 30,000 points sign-up bonus. Earns 3 Marriott points per £1.
- American Express Preferred Rewards Gold Card (full review) – 10,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus (worth 15,000 Marriott points). Points convert to Marriott at a 2:3 ratio.
There is also a Marriott Mastercard issued by Creation but that has been closed to new applicants for a number of years, with no information on if/when it will return.
Marriott does run occasional promotions that allow you to buy points at a discount. The most recent deal ran in May 2019 and offered a 25% discount.
There’s no telling how long this may last – it’s possible they may switch to offering Beach Villas as their standard room redemption category. However, in terms of cash rates, they do appear to be charging more for the Beach Villas rather than the Overwater Villas for the time being which suggests this is less of a mistake and more of a deliberate decision.
If you’ve got an overwater hotel stay on your bucket list, I’d recommend locking something in quickly, using Points Advance if necessary. You can then decide if/how you’re going to earn the points required.