Back in January, I wrote about the Al Wadi desert resort in Ral Al-Khaimah, a short drive from Dubai. This is now a luxury The Ritz-Carlton resort, having been taken over from Banyan Tree.
The resort consists of 101 individual pool villas. Yes, every villa has its own private pool. The smallest villas are a modest 1,700 square feet. Despite this you can currently book it for just 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night, the equivalent of 13,333 Starwood Preferred Guest points if you transfer from there.
Cash rates are above £600 per night at peak season. To save you doing the maths, that is 1.5p per Marriott Rewards point of value which is triple my normal 0.5p valuation.
I am there for three nights in October – using my own points, not on a freebie – and will report on how it goes.
That is not the point of this article though. What I wanted to cover was another excellent value Marriott Rewards redemption if you have a family.
I thought I had written about this before but I haven’t. All of the discussion was actually in the HfP comments section, which proves how this site has a life of its own beyond what Anika and I write.
Domes of Elounda is a luxury ‘all suite’ hotel in Crete. It is unbranded but is part of Marriott’s Autograph collection. Autograph is a group of independent hotels who use Marriott’s sales and marketing system, including their website, and in return agree to give and redeem Marriott Rewards points and respect elite benefits.
The standard redemption is a suite which sleeps four people (1 king bed, 2 x sofa beds) which is why this is great if you have kids.
As a Marriott Rewards redemption, Domes is as expensive as a non- The Ritz-Carlton can get – Category 9 or 45,000 Marriott Rewards points per night.
Marriott offers five nights for the points of four on reward nights, so five nights would only be 180,000 points.
It is also hugely expensive for cash, however. For 28th to 31st August, a one bedroom suite to sleep four is €676 (£617) per night. Alternatively, you can use 45,000 Marriott Rewards points.
That works out at 1.37p per Marriott point, compared to my usual 0.5p value. If you stay five nights and only pay for four, the value is even higher.
Domes of Elounda is even better value when you book a Marriott Travel Package. I outlined how Marriott Travel Packages work in this article. You can find details on the Marriott website here.
Marriott Travel Packages are a way of getting extra value from a large pot of Marriott points. Historically it was hard to earn a lot of Marriott points in the UK without staying in their hotels. Since Marriott bought Starwood ….. and Starwood points became convertible to Marriott points at a 1:3 ratio …. and whilst Starwood remains an Amex Membership Rewards partner at 2:1 and also has its own SPG Amex card ….. it is possible to run up a decent amount.
Domes of Elounda is a Category 9 Marriott property. As far as a travel package goes, it would cost:
320,000 points = 7 nights plus 50,000 Avios or other airline miles, or
340,000 points = 7 nights plus 70,000 Avios or other airline miles, or
370,000 points = 7 nights plus 100,000 Avios or other airline miles, or
390,000 points = 7 nights plus 120,000 Avios or other airline miles
Assuming you value an Avios point at 1p, the 390,000 point package would get you £1,200 of Avios points plus (£617 per night x 7 nights) £4,300 of Domes of Elounda stay at peak season. That works out at £5,500 of value for 390,000 Marriott Rewards points, or 1.41p per Marriott point.
The value is even higher if you value an Avios at more than 1p, or if you take a different airline currency which you value at more than 1p, or if you redeem when BA is running one its regular ‘35% bonus for transferring hotel points to Avios’ offers.
But is the hotel any good?
Three HfP readers have contacted me in recent weeks to say that they booked Domes of Elounda after reading about it on the site. Remember, this was in the comments and not in any article.
Reader 1 wrote:
Domes of Elounda was simply amazing. Obviously, very upmarket and the clientele generally reflects that but on top of that the service and location are also major plus points.
The accommodation and food was great with lots of kids options. On points the best room you can get officially is the 1 bed sea facing suite which is what we got. Breakfast was included as we are Marriott Gold and they had a 70 m long family pool. This was if you like the social hub but it never felt crowded and kids mixed and made friends easily. There is also a decent private beach which is not the most amazing beach in the world but they have made it into a good space with atmosphere.
All in all we had a great time and it was probably the best redemption we have done as it was a Marriott Travel Package booked during the ‘35% bonus Avios for transferring from a hotel scheme’ period. My advice would be to go. You won’t regret it!
Reader 2 wrote:
Just wanted to mention that I recently stayed at Domes of Elounda using a Marriott Travel Package. Was wonderful, and certainly the best family holiday I’ve ever had. I booked a “family suite with sea view” using my points (which itself is a few rungs up) and was lucky enough to be upgraded (as Marriott Gold) to a 2-bed luxury residence. Beautifully appointed 2 bed/2 bath suite with its own swimming pool (which was large enough to do laps in!).
Given the cash price of around €800 per night, the travel package was a true bargain – I can’t imagine there would be a better use for the package (for a family at least) in Europe, and breakfast is included to boot. Highly recommended and have already booked up for another week next year.
Reader 3 wrote:
What a spot Domes and Elounda itself was, treated very well as a Gold with some pre-arrival email back and forth. Upgrade to a villa with Haute Lounge access, which they are starting to limit now as they don’t have to give it being a resort.
These are all long-term HfP readers who I know. For clarity, I haven’t been to Domes of Elounda myself but if you have a family it does seem to be working well as an excellent use of Marriott Rewards points.
How to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and status from UK credit cards (September 2021)
There are various ways of earning Marriott Bonvoy points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
The official Marriott Bonvoy American Express card usually comes with 20,000 points for signing up, 2 points for every £1 you spend and 15 elite night credits per year.
You can apply here.
You can also earn Marriott Bonvoy points by converting American Express Membership Rewards points at the rate of 2:3.
Do you know that holders of The Platinum Card from American Express receive FREE Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as they hold the card? It also comes with Hilton Honors Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold and MeliaRewards Gold status. We reviewed American Express Platinum in detail here and you can apply here.
Until 2nd November 2021, The Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Amex points. This converts into 90,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
You can also earn American Express Membership Rewards points with American Express Gold (30,000 bonus points – special offer to 9th November 2021), the American Express Rewards Credit Card (5,000 bonus points) and – for small business owners – American Express Business Gold (20,000 bonus points) and Business Platinum (40,000 bonus points).
(Want to earn more hotel points? Click here to see our complete list of promotions from the major hotel chains or use the ‘Hotel Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)