What Are Ritz-Carlton Reserve Resorts?

What Are Ritz-Carlton Reserve Resorts?

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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.

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.

Ritz-Carlton Reserve doesn’t participate in Marriott Bonvoy

Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties (along with BVLGARI Luxury Hotels & Resorts) don’t in any way participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program. When staying at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties:

  • You can’t earn Bonvoy points
  • You can’t redeem Bonvoy points
  • You don’t receive any sort of elite recognition if you have Bonvoy status

For all practical purposes, think of Ritz-Carlton Reserve as hardly being part of Marriott, except the brand is bookable through Marriott booking channels. Ritz-Carlton Reserve does participate in Marriott STARS, meaning that when booking through an eligible travel agent you can receive perks like free breakfast, a $100 hotel credit, and a room upgrade subject to availability.

I’m sharing Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s lack of participation in Bonvoy upfront, because I don’t want people salivating over these properties, only to realize at the end of this post that these hotels don’t participate in the Bonvoy program.

Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

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.”

Phulay Bay, a 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. Based on the lack of Bonvoy participation, I’d assume Marriott is getting less of a cut with these properties, and it’s more about some great, small luxury hotels having access to Marriott’s global reach (someone please correct me if I’m wrong about the relationship here).

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, many 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.

Mandapa, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

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.

Zadun, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

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

A few things to note:

  • Many Marriott STARS travel advisors don’t charge any booking fees for Ritz-Carlton Reserve stays; Ford doesn’t, and can be reached at [email protected]
  • In order to be eligible for Marriott STARS perks, you’ll generally have to book the flexible/standard rate, which should be among the lowest rates available
  • You’re better off booking through Marriott STARS rather than programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts because upgrades are prioritized for Marriott STARS guests; that’s because this is Marriott’s own proprietary program
Higashiyama, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve

Bottom line

I know Ritz-Carlton Reserve causes some confusion among Bonvoy members — we see the hotels on marriott.com, only to realize that they don’t in any way participate in Marriott Bonvoy.

It’s still worth being aware of the properties, though — 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.

If you’ve ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, what was your experience like? And does anyone know how the financial relationship between Marriott and Ritz-Carlton Reserve works, in comparison to other brands?

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.
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  1. Aaron

    I just stayed at Dorado Beach and did receive some perks for having Titanium status, early check in, late checkout, and a complimentary snorkel tour for 2 ($250 value). Agreed that it's the best resort I have ever been to, but you are paying for it.

  2. Maria cirino

    The ritz carlton reserve in dorado beach is THE most spectacular Carribbean resort we've ever visited. The 2200 acre grounds are gorgeous, the golf courses are beautiful, tennis facilities are 1st class and the 5 on site restaurants and bars are superb! There's even a fabulous water park for kids (and adults) with a lazy river, bummer boats, awesome water slides, play areas etc. Etc. The service is world class and management's attention to detail...

    The ritz carlton reserve in dorado beach is THE most spectacular Carribbean resort we've ever visited. The 2200 acre grounds are gorgeous, the golf courses are beautiful, tennis facilities are 1st class and the 5 on site restaurants and bars are superb! There's even a fabulous water park for kids (and adults) with a lazy river, bummer boats, awesome water slides, play areas etc. Etc. The service is world class and management's attention to detail is why the place is so special. The recently reopened omikase bar is as amazing as our best Japanese omikase! Well done Ritz Dorado Beach!!

  3. Shana

    I read a review of the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Phulay Bay, I think) when it opened and the reviewer was able to use 50k points/night. After that I believe they stopped participating in the Marriott Rewards program.

  4. Kimjwajin

    Can you use a club upgrade at an RC Reserve property that you receive with the Chase Ritz Carlton Card?

  5. Anthony

    Agree with Andrew.
    We visited the Ritz-Carlton Bali. What a flop, what may have been at one time is not anymore.
    The local people's service was great. The other country management is ruining it.

    It seems like a facade. RC is no longer a destination.

    RC Bangkok, we had certain folks sitting in the restaurant with their bare feet up on the chairs, yelling to others over other people's tables as...

    Agree with Andrew.
    We visited the Ritz-Carlton Bali. What a flop, what may have been at one time is not anymore.
    The local people's service was great. The other country management is ruining it.

    It seems like a facade. RC is no longer a destination.

    RC Bangkok, we had certain folks sitting in the restaurant with their bare feet up on the chairs, yelling to others over other people's tables as if it was an open market in Guangchow, spitting their watermelons seeds. And the GM (outside country), and other top management are there (present) and they just overlooked it day after day. Absolutely disgusting.

    Recommend - Be selective. And don't feel restrained from complaining. Let them know and remind what type of business they are in.

  6. SullyofDoha

    Is the Ritz-Carlton Riyadh also a Reserve Property or just a Domestic Detention/Jail Facility? I'm sure no points were earned by the 'guests' there either! :-/

  7. Diego Dave

    Agree with DC-PHLyer flyer: I didn't have the privilege of overnighting at Dorado, but I spent an afternoon touring the property and had a fine dinner. It's a spectacular property and is definitely more special than the traditional RC properties in the Caribbean and Mexico. But the bill is quite dear.

  8. MKLDH

    Was excited to plan a visit to Higashiyama and see what Japanese service culture topped up with RC reserve would be like, but of course the plan is screwed by the pandemic. Hopefully I can make the trip in a not so distant future.

  9. DC-PHLyer

    Ritz Carlton Reserve has an interesting place in the company. It’s truly the only brand that corporate protects religiously (to some extent Bulgari as well though Marriott tries to push for more and The Bulgari brand pushes back). There are dozens of owners that have tried to franchise properties under the RC Reserve brand and they are consistently turned down. The economics are tough though. The costs of operating and construction are so high for...

    Ritz Carlton Reserve has an interesting place in the company. It’s truly the only brand that corporate protects religiously (to some extent Bulgari as well though Marriott tries to push for more and The Bulgari brand pushes back). There are dozens of owners that have tried to franchise properties under the RC Reserve brand and they are consistently turned down. The economics are tough though. The costs of operating and construction are so high for RC Reserve that they aren’t actually consistently as profitable as a standard RC, but some owners want to have one as a status symbol more than anything else. Financially they operate in the same way as the other brands. Brand standards, management contracts required from Marriott, marketing and sales expenses charged to owners, etc., just not the Bonvoy element, which is very very intentional.

    The RC Reserve properties are far above the quality of an average FS, more similar to a good Aman hotel. Dorado beach is one of the best hotels anywhere on US soil in every way.

  10. Gene

    Stayed at Ritz Carlton Reserve Dorado Beach. Best resort I have ever stayed at in my life and I have been all over the world including 19 trips to Hawaii. And to think it is just a little over 2 hours non-stop from South Florida from where I live!

  11. Bob

    @rdover1

    The Ritz in Paris has nothing to do with marriott for instance, so is it the case maybe for this hotel in Singapore?

    Note also that no Ritz-Carlton is authorised to open in Paris or even in all France because of that.

  12. Andrew

    My problem with all RC properties is that the photos are always beautiful, inviting and pristine. The reality is rich people with poor taste in expensive cars, poor volume control, poor alcohol consumption habits and zero concern for neighbors.

    Hate to generalize but that's been my experience at every property.

  13. Eric

    I wouldn’t stay at one of these - when I pay for a hotel knowing I won’t earn points, I want it to be a brand I don’t stay at all the time (Four Seasons, Peninsula, etc). As an Ambassador who stays at RC with some frequency, I have zero interest in staying at a RC Reserve if I’m not going to earn any points. I get that it’s basically two separate brands, but it still feels like I’m at a RC, just with fewer benefits.

  14. Bryant

    Ben- we were very impressed by our stay at RC Reserve Mandapa in Ubud. I would consider the Reserve brand to be more on par with the likes of Aman, Rosewood, Mandarin-Oriental and Four Seasons.

    Our experience with non Reserve Ritz properties (particularly stateside), have been a more commodified product impression. I think the Bonvoy influence over RC properties is pretty evident (ie your Laguna Niguel experience)- children and running around, service is lackluster...

    Ben- we were very impressed by our stay at RC Reserve Mandapa in Ubud. I would consider the Reserve brand to be more on par with the likes of Aman, Rosewood, Mandarin-Oriental and Four Seasons.

    Our experience with non Reserve Ritz properties (particularly stateside), have been a more commodified product impression. I think the Bonvoy influence over RC properties is pretty evident (ie your Laguna Niguel experience)- children and running around, service is lackluster and there’s clearly a ton of redemption usage which I think dilutes the experience.

    Back to Reserve- Mandapa was absolutely incredible in every way. Being a smaller property, with no elite benefits to manage, no points stayers etc. - we think makes for an overall more personal approach in the line with the brands mentioned above. I’d say Reserve has a more “special” quality to them- and it’s the small touches that make the difference.
    While off topic, I’d say Reserve is the “Hillstone” restaurants of Ritz Carltons- consistent, personalized and uniquely designed.

  15. rdover1

    What category do the odd-ball Ritz fit like Ritz Singapore Marina Bay that isn't a Reserve property and isn't part of Bonvoy?

  16. Ale

    I stayed at Mandapa and Phulay Bay. Both outstanding, definitely a step above classic Ritz Carltons. Great service, food, amenities. Booked with Virtuoso to get some extra perks, free breakfast etc

  17. Andre

    Sorry — what was the purpose of this post?

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Aaron

I just stayed at Dorado Beach and did receive some perks for having Titanium status, early check in, late checkout, and a complimentary snorkel tour for 2 ($250 value). Agreed that it's the best resort I have ever been to, but you are paying for it.

Maria cirino

The ritz carlton reserve in dorado beach is THE most spectacular Carribbean resort we've ever visited. The 2200 acre grounds are gorgeous, the golf courses are beautiful, tennis facilities are 1st class and the 5 on site restaurants and bars are superb! There's even a fabulous water park for kids (and adults) with a lazy river, bummer boats, awesome water slides, play areas etc. Etc. The service is world class and management's attention to detail is why the place is so special. The recently reopened omikase bar is as amazing as our best Japanese omikase! Well done Ritz Dorado Beach!!

Shana

I read a review of the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve (Phulay Bay, I think) when it opened and the reviewer was able to use 50k points/night. After that I believe they stopped participating in the Marriott Rewards program.

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