Orange County

Oyster Decodes Hotel Points Programs is a new series where we break down hotel rewards programs and give you the inside scoop on how they can save you money.
 
Hotel point programs are not always easy to decipher, and sometimes even we (travel experts, after all) feel we need a guide to understand how they work. But it’s worth the effort it takes to decode: All are free to join, and more often than not, end up saving travelers a significant amount of cash. This week, we’re biting the bullet and starting with cracking the Marriott rewards program, which is one of the most difficult to navigate as guests can redeem their points at over 3,600 locations worldwide across 12 distinctive brands.
 
Marriott properties are divided into eight categories — depending on the hotel brand, location and type — and five tiers.  Members can earn up to 10 points for every dollar spent at Marriott hotels, as well as at Marriott’s partner airlines and rental car companies, which include Hertz, Delta, and Virgin Atlantic. They can then redeem the points earned on hotels, airlines and other services. While advantages of joining the program are numerous, the system is not always straightforward, so we’ve selected some of our favorite hotels in each category and tier where, for a certain number of points (starting at 70,000), you can enjoy a one night stay in a standard room. Start redeeming those points!

Tier 5: 70,000 points

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong - Hong Kong, China

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

The gorgeous indoor pool has great views and a Jacuzzi

Only a few hotels in Hong Kong deliver the Ritz-Carlton’s level of luxury. Large rooms feature decadent touches, such as plush beds with 400- to 600-thread count linens, iPods and iPod docks, Nespresso coffeemakers, and high-end toiletries. The hotel is set on floors 102 to 118 of Hong Kong’s tallest building, and while acrophobes may not appreciate being this far from the ground, the height does make for breathtaking views — that is, when the sky is clear. Highlights include a stylish indoor pool, sleek gym, and top-notch spa. The Ritz-Carlton is connected to a great shopping mall and corporate offices, and also offers easy access to the airport train and the MTR. However, its location in an up-and-coming business area west of Tsim Sha Tsui is a bit out of the way for leisure travelers.

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We love when hotels feature one-of-kind amenities — many of which tread the line between amazing and ridiculous (not that they can’t be both). While W hotels are known for  their Whatever/Whenever service – which promises to accommodate any (legal) guest requests at any time, and the Sound Your Stay rock star treatment at Hard Rock Hotels — complete with free Fender guitars rentals — is pretty awesome, it’s the wildly decadent, completely over-the-top amenities we love best when visiting our favorite hotels. Here’s just a taste of some of the creative ways hotels are keeping guests happy with some unnecessary [Ed. note: Or are they?] but incredible hotel indulgences.

What: Surf Butler

Why carry your surf board when the St. Regis surf butler can?

 

Where: The St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort, Orange County

St. Regis hotels are known for their top-notch butler service, which even uses eButlers to receive requests via e-mail. With such attentive service throughout the luxury chain, it’s no wonder that oceanfront St. Regis hotels, like the Monarch Beach Resort in Orange County, offer surf butlers. Before your lesson in hanging ten, the surf butler will take your measurements for your wetsuit and bring all necessary equipment right down to the sand so you won’t have to lift a finger — your focus should be on catching some gnarly waves anyways, dude! Read More »

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The Best Road Trips is a weekly summer series highlighting our favorite getaways from major cities all over the United States.

Los Angeles is awesome whichever way you look at it. Despite its reputation of having few attractions for tourists and huge distances to cover to get to any of them, L.A. has plenty to offer with top-notch restaurants, world-class museums, a vibrant nightlife scene, and wonderful beaches that attract millions of visitors every year. But it’s good to take a break from all the buzz sometimes and head somewhere new, be it a more relaxed spot for some serious R&R, or the perfect stretch of sand for surfing. So whether you’re in town visiting and want to mix it up a bit, or you’re a resident and want to get away from it all, start packing and hit the road! We’ve got the perfect nearby spots that are just a short drive away.

Road Trip #1: Los Angeles to Orange County, CA

  • Total Driving Time:1 hour
  • Distance Covered:51 miles
  • Take This Trip If: You’re ready for some pampering
It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

It'a all about fun in the sun and easy living here in the O.C.

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Don't you just want to take a dip in the Coliseum Pool at the Pelican Hill?

Lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Have lunch with a view at the Montage Laguna Beach

Orange County is known for its well-heeled residents and high prices, but if you want to get some serious R&R, it’s the place to be. This string of uncrowded beaches is a good pick for families, but the area is popular among couples as well for its bucolic landscape and unparalleled sunsets. The beaches (and the waves) are definitely the main draw. If you’re planning a trip with the family, the ultra-luxe Pelican Hill is a wonderful choice. The property boasts two great golf courses, along with a plethora of other amenities, such as two gorgeous pools, a world-class spa, a fitness center, and a top-notch kids’ club. If it’s just you and your significant other, the Montage Laguna Beach is great for spending some quality time together. It offers an excellent spa, impeccable grounds, and beautiful rooms with breathtaking views.

  • Top Driving Tip: The fastest and shortest way to get there is the Santa Ana Freeway, but if you’ve got some time to spare, Cabrillo Highway (SR 1) is the most scenic. Along the way you’ll see gorgeous beaches and rolling hills.

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Penthouse at the Villa La Estancia; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Penthouse at the Villa La Estancia; Cabo San Lucas, Baja California Sur, Mexico

There’s nothing like a beautiful ocean view to make you take a deep breath and relax. In fact, a balcony with an ocean view is often a prerequisite for travelers looking for some serious R&R in sunny destinations. (Us included.) Regardless of your budget, location, or taste, we’ve found the perfect room with a view. Check out our ten favorite now!

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