It's summer, and weekend hotel stays are part of many travelers' vacation plans. With the economy still in a funk, however, consumers are still keeping a close eye on their spending.
That seems to be the thinking behind Marriott's new offer for weekend stays this summer.
Between May 28 and September 6, guests at participating JW Marriott and Marriott hotels in the continental U.S. and Canada will receive a $25 Visa gift card for each weekend night (Friday or Saturday night) charged to a Visa card, up to a maximum of two gift cards for two nights.
Gift cards can be used wherever Visa debit cards are accepted.
Qualifying stays must be booked at least 14 days in advance and by July 16, using promo code V12.
Deal or No Deal
What amounts to a $50 rebate for two nights' stay is a meaningful incentive. And the offer is combinable with Marriott's free-night promotion.
But before taking advantage of this or similar offers, it's always wise to check rates both with and without the promo code, to be sure you're not paying extra to earn the bonus.
With that in mind, I compared rates for a Friday-night stay in mid-June at three Los Angeles-area Marriott hotels, test-booking at the V12 rate and the rate offered to Auto Club members.
Using the V12 promo code on Marriott's website, the rate at the L.A. Airport Marriott was $129, the L.A. Marriott Downtown rate was $169, and the Marina del Rey Marriott was $199.
Booking at the Auto Club rate as a reality check, the prices quoted were $123, $161, and $208 for the Airport, Downtown, and Marina del Rey Marriotts, respectively.
So in two cases, the V12 rate was slightly higher, while in a third case, it was slightly lower.
Conclusion: This can be a good deal, but you'll have to check to confirm that the offer-related room rate is, if not the lowest available, at least low enough that the rebate isn't obviated by a higher price.
Reader Reality Check
Given the room rates at most JW Marriott and Marriott hotels, the gift card is effectively a rebate of between 10 and 20 percent. Is that enough?
How do you feel about gift cards, versus cash or bonus points?