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Italy trip with points

Latravel

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With all the bad feelings about the points program right now, I had to tell you about my Italy trip next June that I just finalized today with my points I received when I bought Shadow Ridge from Marriott. There is still some glimmer of hope! This definitely made me feel better about the points system.

I just bought 2 travel packages for 250,000 each (the amount I received from my developer purchase). I'm using 1 package for a one week stay in the Park Hotel in Rome. I reserved 3 nights in the JW Marriott Capri, 2 nights in the Marriott Courtyard in Venice, and 2 more nights at the Park Hotel in Rome. The nights in Rome are with the travel package and the other nights are purchased with points on a per night basis.

I'm still trying to reserve the Grand Flora but not all the nights were available so I have to keep checking. What is amazing to me is that I am able to orgainize this trip with one 40 minute call to my vacation advisor and rooms were available for next summer. :whoopie:

FYI: The advisor did say that the Grand Flora would be one of the few hotels that would still have blackout dates after Jan 15.
 
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LAX Mom

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Did you use a hopper pass for the hotels in Venice, Capri & Rome, 7 nights for 150,000?

What are you doing with the hotel cert from the second travel package? 7 nights in Rome and 7 nights at ?

Did it take 2 travel packages to get airfare to Europe?
 

Latravel

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The VA told me there was no vacation hopper for Italy so I had to reserve the second week as: 2 nights in Venice for 55,000, the 3 nights in Capri for 90,000, and the last 2 nights in Rome for 55,000. All these points were standard rewards. If I wanted the Grand Flora, they required stay anytime reward. I'm not sure i'll keep that last reservation in Rome and maybe pay out of pocket for 2 nights in Florence since there are no Marriotts in Florence. Not sure yet.

So far, I plan to keep the hotel certificate from the second package for a later date. I'm taking my 2 young children (don't want to put a 3 year old in 1st/BC) so I reserved 4 coach tickets. I just can't believe it was so easy and that I could find anything at this late date.
 
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KathyPet

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I hope you are not disapointed with the Venice Courtyard. this hotel is near the Venice airport which is a substantial distance from the parts of Venice that you are going to want to see. It appears as if there is no public transportation or shuttle service to the center of Venice. You are going to be outside the central city quite a distance and I am not even sure how you are going to be able to get back and forth.
 

Latravel

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I was really thinking carefully about Venice but the hotel provides a shuttle to the city center. I might just try to get more nights in Capri, forget about Venice, and then I could apply the second hotel certificate. That would be ideal but Capri wasn't available for the 7 nights. Did you see what that hotel looked like? Wow.

Does anyone know when Marriott updates it's system?
 

pwrshift

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I hope you are not disapointed with the Venice Courtyard. .
I agree ... you might see if you can change the Venice to Milan Marriott (Last Supper) for a few nights instead (taking the train) but Venice is best seen right in town where there's no Marriott so you have to pay (ouch!). Don't miss Venice -- you'll never forget it.

You'll have a great time - a wonderful country, great food, incredible history and things to see. Enjoy.

Brian
 

LAX Mom

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Heidi-

The Euro Hopper package should work for Italy. It allows for 3 stays anywhere in Europe that you find standard availability, 2 nights, 2 nights & 3 nights. Why would the VA say the Hopper doesn't work for Italy? They don't have a Hopper in the new "enhanced" program, but you can still order the Hopper certificates until Dec. 31, 2008 and they are good for 1 year.

Also, did the VA tell you that the hotel certificates have to be used in 2009 and can no longer be extended beyond the end of 2009? The Marriott Concierge on flyertalk has confirmed that, so if I were you I'd try to use them both for this trip. Maybe you have plans for another trip in 2009 so it won't be a problem for you.

Good luck with the planning! Sounds like a wonderful trip!

Edited to add quote from flyertalk (Marriott Concierge) about Euro Hopper certificates in 2009:
If you order a European Hooper reward prior to the change you will be able to use it at any European property regardless of when you book. As long as the expiration date has not expired on the reward and the stay is booked for reward redemption you will be able to use it. This includes all the properties that will become category 8.
 
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applegirl

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Don't do away with Venice! I was there a few nights when I was 18 and it made a lasting impression. Haven't seen any other city that even comes close to it. It is completely unique. You will truly miss a neat experience if you skip Venice. I'd encourage you to go.

Janna
 

Bill4728

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The VA told me there was no vacation hopper for Italy so I had to reserve the second week as: 2 nights in Venice for 55,000, the 3 nights in Capri for 90,000, and the last 2 nights in Rome for 55,000. All these points were standard rewards. If I wanted the Grand Flora, they required stay anytime reward. I'm not sure i'll keep that last reservation in Rome and maybe pay out of pocket for 2 nights in Florence since there are no Marriotts in Florence. Not sure yet.
There is a vacation hopper for Europe which I'm sure includes Italy since we are using one this April for 4 days at the Grand Flora.
 

Latravel

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So, it seems I won't skip Venice. If you could stay anywhere in Venice, where would you stay?

You guys are great! I really appreciate all of your advice. I will call a different advisor and ask them to apply the Europe hopper. That would save me a lot of points.
 
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LAX Mom

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Heidi-
Here is the reward (Code 14EH) you want:

Hotel Samplers
Points: 150,000
Code: 14EH
For Elite Members Only
7 nights split between any 3 participating hotels in Europe.

Now you can embark on a whirlwind tour of Europe with this special opportunity.

You’ll receive three certificates: one valid for three nights; two valid for two nights...valid at ALL Marriott, Renaissance and Courtyard hotels throughout Europe.

Get hoppin’...this offer is valid through December 31, 2008.
It is for elite members, but if you don't have elite status it's easy to get with a Marriott VISA card.
 

Latravel

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Thanks again! I think we do have Elite status since we have the Visa. That's an amazing deal - too bad it ends in Dec.

On a side note, I can see why Marriott decided to increase the number of points needed for some stays after seeing how much some of these hotels cost. The Capri hotel alone shows the lowest nightly rate of over 650euro per night. On the contrary,the high cost of hotel stays has made points more valuable to me.
 
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m61376

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Venice is amazing! Esp. with two little ones, try to stay centrally located, because it is not easy to get from the outskirts with kids and their requisite stuff.

I don't know how old your older one is (you mentioned a 3 year old), but if he/she is only a year or two older, something which you may not have thought of is taking along a stroller that has a booster seat in the back. Even though they are past the age of strollers, the best way to see a lot of these sights is to do a lot of walking and even 5 year olds get tired (which means lots of whining) and a stroller that has a toddler seat can be your best friend.
 

KathyPet

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A stroller will be of limited use in Venice though because it is made up of a series of small islands all connected with bridges with lots and lots of stairs.
I admire your fortitude in taking small children with you but I hope you can keep your sanity.
 

Zac495

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Hotel Wildner - it's RIGHT by the Grand Canal. You'll get off the "bus" or "cab" and you're 2 steps to the door. Others will prefer being on San Marco Square - a longer walk, but also beautiful. I liked the water view myself. This hotel was inexpensive, clean, and came with free breakfast. Go here for pics;

http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/17508396

One tip that not everyone will agree with - when I reserve a hotel or car in Europe, I use my wonderful travel agent. I think she charges 40 bucks, but if there is ANY issue, you're covered. I wouldn't use her for air or for anything in the states, but I always do in Europe.

Her name is Vicki and her email is vicki@monarchetravel.com

No matter where you stay, you'll just love Venice. My picture trail also tells some great restaurants. Have fun!
 

Latravel

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Ellen, very nice pictures! It looks like you had a great time. Thanks for the recommendation.

My older son just turned 6 and he has been used to travel since he was a baby. Though it's definitely harder to travel with young children, I want them to see the world and have open minds to other cultures. Plus, I just can't be away from them for 2 weeks and since they are best friends, I could not leave one and take the older. I've taken a 2 year old to France so my expectations have been lowered. I like the idea of taking a stroller with a booster in the back. I didn't think of that - thanks for the advice!
 
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jimf41

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Heidi,
Just came back from a Paris/Rome trip mostly on points. The hotels in Paris run through their points allocations very early. I originally planned to stay in the Le Park in Paris about 11 months out. Rooms were available on standard rewards. I talked to the chief of staff and she said do it. Went back in and the only Marriott hotel in Paris available on points was the La Defence Renaissance. I kept checking right up until the day before but nothing opened up on points.

We stayed in La Defence 5 nights (110k points) and loved it. The Paris subway system is very good. No problem getting around at all. No matter which hotel you stay in you are going to be outside walking distance of some of the places you'll want to see so you'll have to use the subway or a taxi. I recommend the subway as the taxi's are pretty expensive and not as quick as the subway. We visited the Vendome and the Park while we were there. The Vendome is very small, about 80 rooms, not suited to young children. The Park, while some what larger is very expensive. The Park has an outside courtyard that is beautiful but two drinks for $60 is a little pricey, for me at least. The cafe's in the neighborhood are about half that.

In Rome we stayed at the Grand Flora. We stayed 6 nights. The first and last two on points and the middle two I paid for. Used 130k points and about $1200 US for the paid nights. Not much to say about the Flora other than it's probably the best hotel I ever stayed in. Our room was on the 6th floor, which is the top and looked out on the Via Veneto. There is a rooftop restaurant the they use for breakfast and events. The buffet is not great but sitting on a rooftop lookiing out at the Vatican and the Villa Borhgese was quite romantic and spectacular. We didn't eat at the hotel as the concierge kept sending us to one great restaurant after another. We did grab a cheeseburger in the lobby bar and it was better than any burger I've had in the states. For $25 I'd expect nothing less. In Rome the subway system is not as good and the taxi's are even more expensive. Pick a hotel in the city rather than on the outskirts. The Grand Flora is a great location but no other Marriott's are worth staying in due to the distance from the city center. Keep your hand on your wallet on the subway/rail system, the pickpockets are legendary.

My wife refers to it as the vacation of a lifetime. It was pretty neat I'll have to admit. It was her 40th anniversary present. She dragged me to a cooking school. I can make pasta and Tiramisu from scratch. I can also tell the difference between a Monet and a Manet. Monet liked water lilly's. It wasn't a vacation though. It was a trip. A vacation comes in a week or so when we go lie on the beach at Ocean Pointe for a couple of weeks.
 

Latravel

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Now that is a trip of a lifetime. It sounds wonderful! I go to La Defense to see the new Arc which is in a direct line to the original in Paris central. If anyone has questions on Paris, let me know as I grew up living there every summer.

It looks like to get the really good hotels in Europe, you have to book at least 10 months in advance at minimum. The Grand Flora is available right now for late August so I missed reserving it by 2 months.
 

Latravel

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Just to follow up- when I called another vacation advisor, she told me the same thing, that the European hopper is only good for England, Wales, etc, not Italy. I read to her what LAX mom wrote so she asked a supervisor. It turns out you CAN use the European hopper in Italy, so thanks to everyone for your advice. They are starting to not offer this anymore so if you want it for use next year, call soon.
 

LAX Mom

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Heidi-
There is a UK Hopper (code 564) and a Euro Hopper (code 14EH). The Euro is an elite award (for elite members only), but the UK Hopper is not. Maybe that's what confused the Marriott rep.

From the Marriott site:
Elite - 3 properties in Europe
Reward Points View Details & Order Reward
Elite Only: 7 nights split between any 3 participating hotels in Europe. 150,000

3 properties in the UK or Ireland
Reward Points View Details & Order Reward
7 nights split between any 3 participating hotels in the UK or Ireland. 150,000
 

LAX Mom

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Heidi-
There is a UK Hopper (code 564) and a Euro Hopper (code 14EH). The Euro is an elite award (for elite members only), but the UK Hopper is not. Maybe that's what confused the Marriott rep.

From the Marriott site:
Edited to add: It's my understanding that this package can be ordered until Dec. 31, 2008 and then the certificates are valid for 1 year.

Also, on flyertalk Marriott Concierge stated that if you order a Euro Hopper package and don't use any of the 3 certificates, you can turn it back in for 150,000 points. However, if you use any of the 3, the point values drop for others you turn back in. I can't find the exact amount but I recall reading that you'll receive the full 150,000 if you return all certificates, but less than 150,000/7 per night if you return only one or two.
 
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