Sweet perfume lingered in the Washington, D.C., air this past weekend as the cherry trees erupted with blossoms of pastel whites and pinks, with the stately Jefferson Memorial as a backdrop. It was nice that Marriott selected this time to highlight its new Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program, which consolidates the group’s Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest programs at its 30 hotel brands.
Members can choose from some 120,000 experiences through Marriott Bonvoy Moments, with options that range from tours and activities in cities across the globe to bespoke experiences like access to private concerts, traveling with sports teams to high-profile games and cooking alongside celebrity chefs.
Just being in the capitol during cherry-blossom time is an experience itself. (The trees, a gift from Tokyo in 1912, were a gesture to advance relations between the two countries.) I was in town as a guest of Marriott Bonvoy for a 2019 Men’s NCAA Elite Eight game and watched No. 2 seed Michigan State slay the giants of college basketball, Duke, in the Capital One Arena. By bidding with points earned through hotel stays and purchases with Marriott co-branded credit cards from Chase and American Express, members can access such experiences.
Marriott International is the Official Hotel Partner across all 90 NCAA championships and thus has unique access to the games. Before Sunday’s match-up, an NCAA reception was held in the Grand Mezzanine Foyer of the Marriott Marquis, attached to the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Highlights included a basketball hoops gaming station and a photo booth with a green screen that made it seem like the images were taken on center court.
“March Madness and NCAA represent more than a collegiate competition, and we feel honored to be the meeting place for so many fans, students, alumni and athletes to continue the celebration after that final buzzer rings,” said Steve Heitzner, chief sales and marketing officer, Marriott International, Americas, who, as a Michigan State grad wearing a vintage letter jacket, was especially pleased with the outcome of Sunday night’s game.
Happy Michigan State fans continued the celebration at my host hotel, the 750-room JW Marriott. The hotel’s new lobby was filled with fans wearing Michigan State green, basking in their team’s victory.