Want to take advantage of Marriott STARS benefits, including a space available room upgrade, complimentary breakfast, a hotel credit, and more? Contact Ford ([email protected]) for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked. This is valid for paid stays at BVLGARI, EDITION, Ritz-Carlton, Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and St. Regis.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a brand that causes confusion among some consumers, especially among those who are Marriott Bonvoy members. What are Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties? What makes them different from other Ritz-Carlton resorts? Do they participate in Marriott Bonvoy? In this post I wanted to answer some of those questions.
What is Ritz-Carlton Reserve, anyway?
Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a small collection of intimate luxury resorts. Here’s how the Ritz-Carlton Reserve brand describes itself:
“Time stands still as the joy of discovery is anticipated, embraced and savored. An exploration of an unusual place, the excitement of an unexpected adventure, an indulgence in uncommon luxury. It is Ritz-Carlton Reserve – a rare place set aside for those who appreciate an exotic sanctuary tucked away in the most exquisite corners of the world.
Remote locations handpicked for their lush, unspoiled landscapes. Deeply personal experiences guided by true human connection. An abundance of the world’s greatest luxury: time. These are marks of Ritz-Carlton Reserve.”
From my perspective, a few things stand out.
First of all, while I don’t know the financial relationship between Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Marriott, my assumption is generally that Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s connection to Marriott is more about marketing and distribution than anything else.
I’d consider that to be a good thing, since Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties won’t feel like your run-of-the-mill Marriott (or even Ritz-Carlton). Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s connection to Marriott seems to be about several small luxury hotels having access to Marriott’s global reach.
So, what’s the difference between Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties and standard Ritz-Carlton resorts?
Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties have anywhere from 50 to 115 rooms, so they’re truly intimate properties with personalized service. Meanwhile many of Ritz-Carlton’s resorts are basically luxury factories, some with 300+ rooms. So the properties are in completely different leagues, and I’m guessing this branding exists to differentiate a Ritz-Carlton Reserve from the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, for example.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve locations
Currently Ritz-Carlton Reserve has five locations:
- Dorado Beach is a 115-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Dorado, Puerto Rico
- Higashiyama is a 50-room room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Niseko, Japan
- Mandapa is a 60-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Bali, Indonesia
- Phulay Bay is a 54-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Krabi, Thailand
- Zadun is a 115-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property in Los Cabos, Mexico
I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call some of these “remote locations,” but to each their own. I’ve stayed at a couple of Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties — read my review of Zadun, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, and read my review of Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
There are a couple more Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties in the pipeline, including in the Bahamas and Costa Rica. The timeline for either of these properties opening remains to be seen.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve & Marriott Bonvoy
Historically Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties haven’t participated in the Marriott Bonvoy program, much like the BVLGARI brand. Fortunately that changed as of early 2022, and now Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties do participate in Marriott Bonvoy. When staying at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties:
- You earn Marriott Bonvoy points — you earn 10x points per eligible dollar spent, elite members can earn 10-75% bonus points, and paying with a Marriott co-branded credit card makes you eligible for bonus points based on Marriott spending (cards offer up to 6x points per dollar spent)
- You can redeem Marriott Bonvoy points — nowadays Marriott Bonvoy has dynamic award pricing, so expect these properties to be expensive, generally around 80,000 to 240,000 Bonvoy points per night (I value Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each)
- You receive elite perks, though they differ from what you’d get at other Marriott brands, and are more limited — below is a chart showing perks by tier
A few specific things to note about Marriott Bonvoy elite recognition at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties:
- Not surprisingly, elite members don’t receive complimentary breakfast, just as is the case with Ritz-Carlton properties
- There’s not even any sort of a room upgrade perk for elite members, even for Platinum and Titanium members
- It’s unique that Ambassador members receive a $150 resort credit at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties, as that’s the only brand where this is offered
The best way to book a Ritz-Carlton Reserve
The best way to book a stay at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property is through a travel advisor who is affiliated with the Marriott STARS program. When booking through a Marriott STARS travel advisor, you’ll receive the following additional perks:
- Complimentary full or continental breakfast daily for up to two people per room
- Hotel credit valued at 100USD once per stay
- Room upgrade, subject to availability at check-in
- Complimentary basic Wi-Fi daily
- In-person welcome
- Personalized welcome amenity and note
Note that in order to be eligible for Marriott STARS perks, you’ll generally have to book the flexible or standard rate, which should be among the lowest rates available. You can’t get Marriott STARS benefits when redeeming points.
You can still earn Marriott Bonvoy points and take advantage of any Bonvoy elite benefits when booking through the Marriott STARS program.
Lastly, you’re generally better off booking through the Marriott STARS program than through programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or Virtuoso, because upgrades are prioritized for Marriott STARS guests. That’s because this is Marriott’s own proprietary program.
Ford and his team are happy to help with Marriott STARS bookings for Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties, and can be reached at [email protected]
Ritz-Carlton Reserve represents the best that Marriott has to offer. Ritz-Carlton Reserve currently has a handful of properties, each featuring 50-115 rooms in some pretty awesome locations. These hotels offer a much more personalized experience than your average Ritz-Carlton, but they’re also priced accordingly.
Nowadays Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties participate in Marriott Bonvoy, allowing you to earn and redeem points for stays at these resorts. While there are some elite perks, they’re extremely limited, and don’t include complimentary breakfast, or even room upgrades.
The best way to book Ritz-Carlton Reserve stays is through Marriott STARS, so you can take advantage of complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, a property credit, and more.
If you’ve ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, what was your experience like?
|Want to take advantage of the Marriott STARS program to receive extra perks (like breakfast and upgrades) at Ritz-Carlton Reserve? Contact [email protected] for more details. He may even be able to help if you already have a stay booked.|
FYI- your link above for your Zadun review links to your Dorado review, and your dorado link links to your Zadun review
My wife and I stayed at Phulay bay in 2013 for our 10th anniversary and had an amazing time (side note: it's featured in The Hangover 2). The property was massive, requiring golf carts to move around, which could be summoned with a phone call to your dedicated butler. The rooms were spectacular with probably the largest bathrooms I'd ever seen, and the service was incredible. They also had a large, well-equipped gym, which is...
My wife and I stayed at Phulay bay in 2013 for our 10th anniversary and had an amazing time (side note: it's featured in The Hangover 2). The property was massive, requiring golf carts to move around, which could be summoned with a phone call to your dedicated butler. The rooms were spectacular with probably the largest bathrooms I'd ever seen, and the service was incredible. They also had a large, well-equipped gym, which is important to both of us. I arranged for an intimate dinner with a cake and flowers for my wife, and our butler had it all set up in advance for us. We're thinking of going back for our 20th anniversary in January!
I had Dorado tee’d up with 200k points/nt & then got Covid & had to cancel outside the cancel window. Thankfully they were cool about it & my points were redeposited. It looks just gorgeous.
Just a heads up that your links out to your previous reviews are switched.
50-115 rooms is not intimate. Even Al Maha was not intimate and it only has 42 rooms (even though you get recognized/greeted each day). I think you only get that at <20 rooms / <50 guests.
Everything is relative. I'd agree that 50 rooms is intimate, while 115 is pushing it. IMO, it's a very subjective term.
Definitely agree. 50 rooms is already a bit much for 'intimate' when talking about luxury but 115 is just a resort. It might feel small compared to your typical Marriotts, but it isn't what I would call intimate.
But to me, Ritz Carlton is just an overpriced Marriott. I have never been fond of the brand, and so I wouldn't really expect much from these hotels which make an effort to attach themselves to that brand.