Cautionary Tale: Book Your Bucket List Before It’s Too Late – Marriott Devalues My #1 Aspiration: Al Maha (Dubai)

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Did you make an award redemption to stay at the ultra-luxurious Al Maha resort before last week? I hope so because Marriott just gutted the redemption.

The luxury, desert resort just outside Dubai is, arguably, one of the most sought-after redemptions because of it’s uniqueness. The all-suite property, literally, sits alone in the middle of the desert and offers a phenomenal view that is impossible to obtain in any big city, beach, or mountain resort.

In the past, the SPG resort required an obscene amount of points to book a redemption. However, Marriott recently bought SPG and the redemption rate became much more appealing (just 60,000 points / night or 45,000 points if booked in conjunction with the 4th night free).  

Prior to last week, it was also a special redemption because it included breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two activities. However, in the last week, it looks like Marriott made a negative change. You are still able to book for 60,000 points per night but the redemption is “room only.”

It should be worth noting that this only applies to new reservations and previous reservations should be honored under the old terms and conditions. However, I would check your individual reservation to ensure that it doesn’t say “room only.” I would be extremely disappointed and would find it difficult to enjoy my vacation if I approached hotel check-in and received this surprise “ Yes, welcome, we are glad that you are here. However, according to your reservation, you will have to pay additional fees including…”  

It’s like a resort fee and I think we all know how I feel about resort fees.

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If you want to experience the original, all-inclusive Al Maha, you can now expect to pay the following amounts:
– Breakfast (per person): 168 AED (~$45)
– Lunch (per person): 273 AED (~$ 74)
– Dinner (per person): 515 AED (~$140)
– Activity (per person): 270 AED (~$73)

That’s over 2900 AED (roughly ~$800) that used to be included. And as you can also surmise, for two people…this can get expensive REALLY FAST!!


Obviously, this a major change to consider if you are planning on staying at Al Maha.

My wife and I were planning to book an award redemption. The only detail that we were trying to determine our options for round-trip transportation from Dubai to Al Maha given that it is not located near anything. This hits hard for me because the resort has been on my bucket list for a few years and now the combination of the prices and my lack of urgency to book the “all-inclusive rate” while I could may have cost us a great redemption.

Did anyone else miss out on the redemption? Does anyone plan to still book it and just pay for meals and activities?

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