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Travel Report from Near and Far

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Earlier this year, I started a blog post dedicated to the journey to Marriott 500....Lifetime stays at 500 different Marriott branded properties. That original post (The Long Road To 500 ) included a couple of updates for 2017. Until I gathered the original data for a separate project, I never gave this 500 thing a thought. I had no idea how many different Marriott hotels had my head print on their pillows.


2016 ended with 624 stays at 342 different properties. Those totals represented 22 yrs worth of history in the Marriott Rewards program. Over this same 22 years, I would sprinkle in quite a few IHG stays....enough to gain Platinum status...and a couple of Hilton or one off chain stays, as well.


I did some quick math and figured it might take another 20 years to reach 500 properties. I thought it would be hard to find new (to me) properties in my normal travel pattern. I also decided to forego the IHG stays and concentrate whenever possible on Marriott alone. 


Now that the last three weeks are scheduled and ready for check-ins, I'll recap my progress for the year and Lifetime to date. My 20 year guess was way off. In 2017, I made a total of 80 stays for 193 nights, at Marriott properties. These stays were made at 80 different properties...70 of these properties were new to me. Finding new properties in my normal stomping grounds was easier than I originally thought. My past behavior to treat Courtyards like the plague meant there were plenty of those hotels right around the corner from some of my favorite properties. Yes, I know, giving Courtyards my business even though they don't treat Marriott Rewards members very well was tough...BUT, there are so many Courtyards out there!!!! I'm trying to get to 500!! I caved, I'm sorry fellow Insiders!!!


Don't worry, all 70 of the new hotels weren't Courtyards. I fact, the overall 80 stays were made at 15 different Marriott brands. Only EDITI0N, Marriott Apartments, and Protea failed to get my money.  Below, I have a chart with program to date followed by the 70 new properties added this year.


I know a few of you crazy Insiders have decided to track your's that coming along?

I happen to live in a State that offers quite a bit. We have mountains, big cities, open lands, quick rides to the beach, one hour from NYC, two hrs from Washington D.C. We also have a place called Longwood Gardens. Pierre du Pont, back in the early 1900's purchased what had been a farm and surrounding land. He created this botanical garden. It has indoor and outdoor wonders. There are over 1000 acres to stroll, hike, breathe in, contemplate, and enjoy. There also is an indoor conservatory that is amazing. The orchids are my favorite. A real photographer could spend weeks at this place. I added a few pics below.

I stayed at the new Residence Inn Philadelphia Glen Mills/Concordville. The hotel was almost as colorful as some of the nature exhibits!



The Residence Inn...just about brand new.














As has been my custom....I start a couple of blog posts and then get sidetracked and forget to post Part 2 or 3.

    When pluto77  started to report on her recent trip, I went looking for some pictures. I'm not looking to steal her thunder, so I'll post a few at a time and finish this up over the next few weeks.









A few years back I stumbled on the Insiders site to complain about Black Out dates. I hovered around, lurked for a bit, read lots of good info...and met lots of great people. Along with being enriched by the wonderful lessons taught here everyday, I've now picked up enough points for a Cat 4 free night!!! Through the years our communitymanagers have run contests,  tossed out some badges,  and pointed us toward social media connections. These have added up to a few points. There was a survey group, PULSE, a while back...more points. Here's how they've added up for me. I know of a few on here who have raked in BIG points..much more than this. So hang in there, post, lurk, and grab some points along with your new knowledge.




All Time Running Total


Note...Insiders Bonus contains all other misc. including Twitter points.

The second night near DC was spent in Old Town Alexandria, VA at a new Autograph Collection property. Old Town is a top ten favorite place. If you haven't spent time there, add it to your list.


The hotel isn't new, but the flag as a Marriott brand is.....The Alexandrian. It is about six months since the rebranding. It was the Hotel Monaco, and the old signs are still here but painted black. "The Alexandrian" appears on a temporary banner above the front door. I've walked past this property a hundred times and always felt it would make a wonderful Marriott location....well, now it is!


I took Amtrak from Philly for the weekend, loaded $15 on a DC Metro Smartcard, took the yellow line to King Street Station, then an easy 15minute bus ride to National Harbor. For the return and the night at The Alexandrian, I used the Water Taxi ($8) back to Old Town. The boat drops you but a 5 minute walk to the hotel.


The hotel is a boutique style.... lavish mid-sized lobby. Comfy seating everywhere. Jackson 20 is the attached restaurant. Like many in town, it doesn't open until 8AM for breakfast, so I missed out. I was there on a bargain rate, but was still upgraded to a large terrace view room complete with balcony...felt a bit like New Orleans.


Old Town is the perfect walking town with more fantastic restaurants than you can count.



















Checked into the Gaylord at National Harbor.....massive!  Second stay here. Both on bargain rates and both upgraded to a huge suite.










I'm finishing up a five night stay on Seneca Lake in Geneva, NY. The Fairfield Inn & Suites Geneva Finger Lakes is just about one year old. It's a bright, well staffed, clean, welcoming hotel. The location is tucked in behind a bank and next to a strip mall that includes a Tops grocery store. It sits just under a mile from the lake with no scenic views to speak of..


The breakfast was standard but is kept up throughout the morning. I'm not sure if this is a new trend, but instead of the tiny flavored creamers, the hotel has the tall silver pitchers with half and half for coffee. I like the French Vanilla creamers, but they are not available here.


This part of Upstate New York is beautiful country.













As a kid I remember singing a song about the Erie Canal during music class in elementary school...




I had the opportunity to revisit one of the magical places in the U.S...Fallingwater.  We did a mini family reunion with a long weekend in Pittsburgh. About 90 minutes southeast in Mill Run, PA, Frank Lloyd Wright built this beauty for the Kaufman family.







We used the Residence Inn Pittsburgh Airport Coraopolis as a home base. The two, 2 bedroom suites that we reserved were perfect for our trip. The big Suites with kitchens and seating areas allowed the group to gather like we were at home.

Down for the holiday weekend. Beautiful hotel. Have that famous obelisk out my window.


I was looking for a low priced weekend for fun AND to qualify for a birthday bonus promo offer. Washington D.C. Is always featuring great pricing if you keep your eyes open. Originally reserved a $112 rate at the Renaissance Arlington Capital View, but the Washington Marriott Wardman Park tossed out an $80, $130, $82 three day rate. Knocking $50 off the total gets me a metro weekly pass for free, plus a few cups of coffee! The Wardman Park also has the Woodley Park Metro stop right outside the door. That's always a plus if you leave your car at home by Amtraking in from Philly.


I am getting to be a big fan of the chat feature on the app. Aretha at the hotel was very helpful and apparently hooked me up with an Executive Suite upgrade. What a room! The lounge is on the 10th floor but the 9th is also labeled as concierge. 9022 looks out toward the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge going over the Potomac River.


The lounge is open for breakfast on the weekend. It was packed, but all were in a good mood. The staff kept everything stocked and fresh. They did a great job.


I took a walk up and then down Connecticut...from the zoo to The Mayflower. Well kept neighborhoods and plenty of great places to eat.






While reviewing the early days of erc and Bill Marriott, I asked the great one about the Chincoteague FFI & Suites. As per his way, he paused, glanced skyward, and turned to Mrs. Erc... "Have I ever been there?" No dear, not yet..she replied.


So, I then knew my mission in life was to beat the legendary erc to Chincoteague Island!!


Here I sit. Enjoying breakfast from the outdoor deck at the Fairfield Inn & Suites on Chincoteague Island, VA.


I have a quick one day trip to Pittsburgh. Airfares were outrageous from PHL so I started searching. Aha! SBY, Salisbury/Ocean City had one of those silly cheap fares if you didn't mind the connection. I decided to grab a Sunday in OC, MD to make the flight sensible. There are two new properties in OC. A Res Inn and FFI, but neither met their opening dates! Later this year maybe. That left the Courtyard...but pricing was prohibitive. Widening the search, up popped Chincoteague and Easton, MD. Both would be new properties for me (500 or bust). Chincoteague this time, Easton the next!


Chincoteague sits just over the Virginia line on the DelMarVa peninsula. Assateague National Seashore and the wild ponies are right here. The Eastern Shore is a treasure trove of small towns, great beaches and chicken farms.  Don't forget the TACOS!!















Back to to the hotel for sunset..  iahflyr, bejacob, nationwide, pluto77, seatexan, jsucool76, brightlybob... those tacos were the bomb!

I was recently reading an article that talked about the unknown future for the Key Bridge Marriott in Arlington,.  jerrycoin and erc (along with a few others), tell the story of the Key Bridge being the second Marriott Hotel. The first was Twin Bridges, not far from the Key Bridge, and it's been history for many years.


I think, but am not certain, the third Marriott was the Marriott Motor Hotel on City Line Ave. in Bala-Cynwyd, PA. It is across the street from Philadelphia so most folks always knew it as a Philly hotel.


The Marriott Motor Hotel, opened in 1961. One of the largest hotels in the United States, the Marriott hosted conventions and meetings year round, bringing visitors from the world over to the Philly area. In 1979, the Marriott was listed as the principal employer in the area, with 1,140 employees. I'm pretty sure I visited this property for the first time in or around 1980.  I had dinner at a famous Tiki Bar on property, The Kona Kai. My research says the restaurant opened in 1967 and closed in 1985. Not too long after, the Marriott also closed. I joined Marriott Rewards in 1994 (officially), but a stay at this historic Marriott Motor Hotel predated 1994, obviously. I just don't recall the exact date. I know it was a business function..the old style business function .. where the booze flowed and people stayed the night. Back then, I knew very little about hotels. I stayed rarely, but I had a handful of early stays that if I can recall enough about the properties, I feel comfortable adding them to my quest for 500 list........


The Kona Kai was one of four restaurants in the Philadelphia region’s Tiki scene that were around for the rise and fall of the trend nationally. The earliest to open in the area, Cherry Hill’s Hawaiian Cottage, opened in 1938 and the last to close, Kona Kai did so in 1985. I'm guessing erc, prior to his craft beer and bourbon sipping days, appreciated the exotic Mai Tai. It sure looks good in pictures!!  Back in the day, restaurants at hotels like the Marriott could be "in places". Not so much anymore.


I found a few pictures on line of the old place....


Please add any old Marriott stories that come to mind OR start a new thread for our reading enjoyment!!!


marriott city line.jpg






The Long Road To 500

Posted by painedplatinum Mar 16, 2017

About a year ago, I decided to try and assemble my Marriott stay history from 1994 to present. I was able to find all but a handful of stays. Looking back through the history brought back a WHOLE LOT of good memories. This list turned out to be much more than just hotels. It allowed me to see and recall the people, the jobs, the vacations, the road trips and the adventures that have taken place over the last 23 plus years. Great memories with my family.


After getting the list of these hotels onto a spreadsheet that I could sort in any which way....I did a total. I totaled both the individual hotels and the numbers of stays at each of these hotels. It turned out that I had stayed at over 300 unique Marriott family hotels for close to 600 stays.


I'm a goal oriented person so looking at this list got me thinking.......maybe I can record stays at 500 different Marriott branded hotels? Hmmmm? How long would this take? Is it even possible?


Well, here we go. This road to 500 will probably take another 20 years. I may not make it, but I'm going for it!!


This week will see the total reach 350 hotels. I have another 5 new hotels that will get added by the end of April.

Every once in awhile, I'll pull into the parking lot at a Marriott property and get that Déjà vu feeling....

Have I been here before? Was it a stay? Was it a meeting?



So I decided to recreate my Marriott history since 1994. With a little help from communitymanagers, I was able to fill in a couple of my early years that happened BT (before tracking). I'm still missing about 100 nights (don't ask me why). I've STAYED in Marriott properties in 13 different countries. I've stayed in 31 States and the District of Columbia. So from stays that I can document with more than just memory, here it goes:


Total of all hotels is 320 different hotels for 586 separate stays.....over 1200 nights and counting


Full Services: 86 hotels for 150 stays ranging from 1 night to 22 nights.


Ritz  1 hotel for 1 stay

Gaylord 1 hotel for 1 stay

Autograph  3 hotels for 4 stays

JW Marr.   2 hotels for 3 stays

Renaissance  18 hotels for 22 stays

Marriott & CCs  61 hotels for 119 stays


I thought about our old friend lakersfan who last reported 154 different Marriott's & CCs...that's incredible.



Select Service: 172 hotels for 313 stays ranging from 1 night to 7 nights 


AC 2 hotels for 2 stays

CY 62 hotels for 88 stays

SHS 36 hotels for 66 stays

FFI  72 hotels for 157 stays



Long Term Stay: 61 hotels for 120 stays ranging from 1 night to 7 nights


ResInn 43 hotels for 74 stays

TPS   18 hotels for 46 stays



Vacation Clubs: 1 hotel for 3 stays.



I'll add more specifics to remind me and my MRI friends of some very nice properties. I have some very special favorite hotels......I just booked a 10 night stay for the Courtyard in Bridgetown, Barbados!!



Now, let's hear some of the numbers out there. How many of my MRI friends have cracked 100 different hotels? Which were your favorites?

We'll cover the visit to the Petronas Twin Towers and the Putrajaya Marriott in this posting.


Let's start with the Towers. The three Marriott properties, The Ritz, JW, and the Renaissance are all within walking distance. Staying at the JW, I simply had to walk across the street and enter a covered pathway. This walkway takes you through shopping areas and the convention center. It's hard to describe other than it's a whistle clean air conditioned 20 minute stroll about 20 feet above the ground. Once at the Towers, you head down an escalator toward the ticket gate. The first tour starts at 9AM. The queue was twelve deep for my 8AM arrival. By 8:30AM, over 50 people were in line. The ticketing process goes quick once the gate opens (around 8:35). You can choose your tour time for any slot that day. I chose 9AM   .


The sharp looking tour guides break attendees up into groups of 12 or so with the use of color badges. No food, drink, or chewing gum is allowed on the tour. All bags, including my backpack, were stored in a coat check like booth.  After a short safety and behavior announcement, up you go! First stop is the Skybridge on the 41st level. You're now about 560 feet above the ground. This Skybridge is not hard fastened to the towers at this level. They did this to allow for a small amount of swing for earthquakes and such. It's a terrific view of the city from the midpoint of this 170 ft bridge. Can you spot the Renaissance in a picture below?


After a 20 minute or so stay, it's time to move up to the 86th level observation deck. You're now almost 1200 ft in the air. Very cool!! The first few pictures below are from the ticket area up to the observation deck. I've included a couple of shots looking up at the towers from outside in the mall for perspective .


Part two of this part two posting is about the Putrajaya Marriott. This is the fourth Marriott property in the area, but not in KL. Putrajaya is about 15 miles south of KL. The Marriott has a shuttle to the local train station or directly to the city, but it only goes once or twice per day. A short cab ride will also get you to the train station, but beware..if the hotel sets up the taxi, you'll pay the hotel directly and the jacked up service charge nearly doubles the fee. Without the hotel's help, the taxi fare is about $7. The train ticket was $3 each way.


The Marriott is part of a complex known as iOi Resort. There is a brand new upscale shopping mall, a golf course, condo village, and two tall buildings that are under construction. I believe the buildings will be mainly offices with some residential. This resort area sits somewhat alone. You'll need to rent a vehicle or take a cab to get about anywhere worth visiting. The hotel itself is impressive. Huge marble staircases off the lobby take you down to the restaurant area. I was upgraded to a junior suite on the 9th floor upon arrival. The executive lounge is on the 12th floor. I'll go into a bit more detail of the lounge in the next posting. The staff is 100% professional and loaded with guest pleasing smilers. I'll post some pics of the Marriott soon.


Not sure why some of the pics are on their side. They look good when I add them but turn after posting. Any help communitymanagers


Let's just say that I'm way, way behind with my blogging and leave it at that....... I'll get to a few of the other trips some day soon, but I have a little time here in KL to tap the keys.


I've been in country for eight days. The first two were spent fighting the jet lag of 12 time zones. The last six have been work all day...lay low all night. I started this trip in Putrajaya. The Marriott is my home for 19 days. The goal is to use some weekend time to experience Kuala Lumpur.


The Marriott in Putrajaya has a shuttle once per day to KL and twice per day to the train station. I was dead center on missing these shuttles so I rode a $12 taxi to the train station, 10 minutes. From the train station it's a straight 20 minute shoot to KL Sentral station. Impressive and modern is the best way to describe both the rail line and the station. The monorail from KL Sentral is five stops from Bukit Bintang....a two minute walk from the JW Marriott.


There are three properties in the each, Rennaissance, JW, and Ritz. I popped a $135 rate for the JW and was just escorted to my upgraded jr. suite on the 27th floor..woohoo! Since I'm here, I'll add pics from the JW on this first blog posting.


The check in experience was quite different for me. I was asked at the front desk if I would like to go to the lounge, I said sure, why The front desk associate had to clarify this was to allow me to check in IN THE LOUNGE.  I've read about other folks on here using the lounge as a check in base, but this was a first for me..and I've been a PP for the last four years. I was ushered in during high tea. Ooo la la. The two young men on duty upgraded me quickly and here I sit.