Great Reward Value: Your Own Villa With Private Pool in the Desert for Very Little Points

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Last week when Rob Burgess flagged the amazing redemption value of Al Wadi resort — all villas with their own private pools that is part of Marriott — I went ahead and made a booking for an upcoming brief stay in the UAE.

The hotel is in Ras Al-Khaimah, less than an hour’s drive from Dubai and somewhat longer from Abu Dhabi where I’ll be flying in and out of. It used to be a Banyan Tree and now it’s part of Ritz-Carlton.

This hotel costs just 40,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. Starwood points transfer to Marriott. So I had about 48,000 Marriott points in my account. I transferred 24,000 Starwood points over (at 1-to-3), and that gave me 120,000 Marriott points which is enough for 3 nights.

You can even choose an enclosed pool villa for the same points.

Every room at the hotel is a villa with a private pool, starting at 1700 square feet. Paid rates seem to run about $600 or more per night.

The property is part of a 247 acre nature reserve. And it’s going to make me eat my words. When the news of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood broke, I told the New York Times that Marriott just didn’t offer properties of Starwood’s quality — there was no place that offered falconry. And that isn’t true anymore!

Here, you can begin the day with bird-watching, observe an Arabian Oryx basking in the sun, watch as a baby gazelle takes its unsteady steps and follow the tracks of geckos, beetles, hares and foxes with a guided nature walk. Whether it’s an introduction to falconry or archery, a fishing expedition or a seat within a camel caravan, our resort can create an itinerary that speaks to your interests and curiosities.

I’m looking forward to my booking for sure.

Generating the points for a stay here:

  • You can earn more than enough points for two nights here with the signup bonus from the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card. If a couple is traveling together, both could sign up for the card and earn four nights.

  • Alternatively, you could sign up for the Marriott Rewards® Premier Credit Card and the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express to earn enough points for four nights.

  • And you can always top off a Marriott Rewards account with points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card — and from the Chase Ink Business Preferred Card which offers a bonus that lets you earn 80,000 points.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of any advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.


  1. Quick, Gary! Get your hands on another 13,334 Starwood/ 40K Marriott to get 5 total nights! (B4G1.)
    BTW, I must agree with Pedant & Farnorth above that 40K is not ‘very little;’ the highest point price for non-Ritz Marriotts is 45K! Still a good deal though.

  2. @Gary sez: “And it’s going to make me eat my words. When the news of Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood broke, I told the New York Times that Marriott just didn’t offer properties of Starwood’s quality — there was no place that offered falconry.”

    Your and other travel bloggers’ words should have been fed to you a long time ago for peddling the notion that Marriott and Hilton were “weak” hotel chains because they “just didn’t offer properties of Starwood’s quality.” The notion is mindless because it completely ignores the fact that hospitality companies, like all for-profit companies, are in business to MAKE MONEY, and that large chains like Marriott and Hilton make most of their money from low- to mid-level hotels, which they seem to have on every block, and not from luxury hotels, which may, in fact, be money losers. The proof is on the putting: just like in this post, Starwood was placed on a pedestal and repeatedly touted by bloggers for their wealthy collection of luxury hotels that differentiated the chain from competitors, but now look at what’s happened to Starwood!!!

    There is a lesson in there about pushing the notion that having or offering a whole bunch of “luxury” hotels makes a chain strong 😉


  3. Oops! that should have been:
    “The proof is IN the putting:” 😉

    Note, however, that “putting” was not an error even though the usual phrase is “the proof is in the pudding”.

    From those who ought to know: “As the Oxford English Dictionary says, the proverbial phrase and its variants mean that “the efficacy, quality, etc., of something can only be shown by PUTTING it to its intended use.” But the saying often appears in shorthand as “the proof is in the pudding.”


  4. DCS once again has no idea how to read a P&L, and of course doesn’t realize that SPG had net income of a couple billion dollars the past three years, and a higher net margin that Marriott (or Hilton of course).

    Stick to your lab and leave financial analysis to those who actually know how to do it.

  5. “…and of course doesn’t realize that SPG had net income of a couple billion dollars the past three years, and a higher net margin that Marriott (or Hilton of course).”

    LOL. Can’t make up this stuff! Starwood (not SPG, btw) was in such a strong financial position that the company began losing properties to the competition, its growth got anemic at a time of a growth boom in the industry, stockholders bitched, its CEO got canned, and it found itself on the auction block, where it got put out of its misery by one of the companies it was supposedly outperforming?!

  6. Properties switch all the time. The property count was positive and only growing. Your ignorant statements and Hilton-is-the-best-rah-rah-all-the-time bloviating is getting quite nauseous.

    You rip all the bloggers yet state your opinions as facts. Go create a “Hilton Rulz!” blog and watch your (zero) traffic come.


  7. Thanks for the heads up … however, unless you have a planned trip there, who would want to travel halfway around the world to stay in the desert?

  8. Gary, thanks for posting this. I was completely unaware that Marriott had such a property in the UAE. I stayed at Al Maha, at Starwood property, in December. It was discounted to 39K SPG points. That included all meals and two activities a day. That makes this (assuming it is a comparable quality) a bargain at 13K SPG points/day (sans meals and activities). I’ve booked it for December. I know you’ve stayed at Al Maha, so hope you will compare the two.

    Marriott booking offered me a villa with an enclosed pool and one that said pool villa. I booked pool villa and it reverted to enclosed pool villa in my confirmation. The descriptions that Marriott provides are identical. Do you have any idea if they differ and if so, how?

  9. @Carol I *believe* the enclosed pool villas which go for more money on paid rates are more private but I haven’t investigated closely. This does seem a relative *value* on points, and certainly a better point-per-dollar ratio compared to paid rates than Al Maha. But I did REALLY enjoy the Al Maha stay. There’s still a chance that I keep a different reservation instead for while I’m in the area, since I’m flying in and out of Abu Dhabi and this is a bit more of a schlepp than I would like before and after long haul flights.

  10. ” Your ignorant statements….blah…blah….blah.”

    I was about to post the link to a WSJ article that would have shown yet again just who is ignorant, but then I remembered that I’d already provided the link to the article to none other than this same very unhinged poster. Why waste a perfectly good source material on someone would still spew garbage even if fed prime data?

  11. Go back to your InsideFlyer posts that you clearly spend an hour crafting yet get (literally) zero replies. It’s quite amusing. Funny that you create a post ripping SPG and not a single poster replies. Wonder why that is…LOL.

    I wonder if Hunter R. finds this amusing that you post this drivel during work hours.

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