No hotel promotions period is fully defined until Marriott weighs in with its perennially recurring MegaBonus.
We received Marriott's press release last month, but held off on reviewing the offer because the promotion didn't take effect until February 1.
With the start date fast approaching, the time is right to add this promotion to the list of hotel bonus options for travel in the new year.
Between February 1 and April 30, Marriott Rewards members can choose to earn a free night after two paid stays, up to two free nights (the MegaBonus offer), or triple airline miles for the second and subsequent stays (the MegaMiles offer).
The free night earned with the MegaBonus offer is at a Category 1 - 4 hotel, and must be taken by September 30.
Registration is required for both offers, by March 31, and members' earning preferences must be set to points for the MegaBonus offer and miles for the MegaMiles offer.
Deal or No Deal
The choice of two bonuses will be welcomed by those with a strong preference for one of the two options, miles or free nights. But for those who are bonus-agnostic, the choice may be more irritating than empowering, requiring as it does some compare-and-contrast calculations.
For perspective, Rewards members normally earn two miles per $1 spent at higher-priced hotels (Marriott, Renaissance, Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, Autograph Collection), and one mile per $1 at Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites and TownePlace Suites. With the bonus, then, the earning rates will be six miles per $1 and three miles per $1, respectively. So the second and subsequent $400 stays at more expensive properties would earn a solid 2,400 miles each, while a $200 stay at a cheaper hotel would net a less compelling 600 miles.
The free night, on the other hand, if earned after two stays at lower-priced properties, potentially represents a significant discount. But a free night at a Category 1 - 4 hotel after two longer stays at a JW Marriott is a much less generous proposition.
So if you plan stays at both higher- and lower-end hotels during the promotion period, it might behoove you to choose the MegaMiles for the former and the MegaBonus for the latter stays.
Of course, if you're a frequent traveler who earns the maximum of two free nights after four stays, you might want to change your earning preference to miles to earn the MegaMiles bonus for subsequent stays.
Reader Reality Check
Will one of the Marriott offers be your promotion of choice for winter hotel stays?
This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.