What are Ritz-Carlton Reserve hotels?
Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a brand that confuses some consumers, especially those who are Marriott Bonvoy members. What are the Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties? What makes them different from other Ritz-Carlton hotels? Do they participate in Marriott Bonvoy? In this article, I wanted to answer some of these questions.
What is Ritz-Carlton Reserve, anyway?
Ritz-Carlton Reserve is a small collection of intimate luxury resorts. Here is 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. This is the Ritz-Carlton reserve – a rare place reserved for those who appreciate an exotic sanctuary nestled in the most exquisite corners of the world.
Isolated places handpicked for their lush and unspoiled landscapes. Deeply personal experiences guided by genuine human connection. An abundance of the greatest luxury in the world: time. These are trademarks of Ritz-Carlton Reserve.
From my point of view, a few things stand out.
First of all, while I’m not familiar with the financial relationship between Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Marriott, I generally assume that Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s connection to Marriott is more about marketing and distribution than anything else.
I consider that a good thing, because Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties won’t feel like your regular Marriott (or even Ritz-Carlton). Ritz-Carlton Reserve’s connection to Marriott appears to be for several small luxury hotels with 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 range from 50 to 115 rooms, so they are truly intimate properties with personalized service. Meanwhile, many Ritz-Carlton resorts are essentially luxury factories, some with more than 300 rooms. So the properties are in completely different leagues, and I guess that branding exists to differentiate a Ritz-Carlton Reserve from the Ritz-Carlton Aruba, for example.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Locations
Currently, The Ritz-Carlton Reserve has five locations:
- Dorado Beach is a 115-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property located in Dorado, Puerto Rico.
- Higashiyama is a 50-room Ritz-Carlton Reserve property located 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 would go so far as to call some of these “remote places”, but each their own. I’ve stayed at a few 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 few other Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties in the pipeline, including in the Bahamas and Costa Rica. The opening schedule for either of these properties remains to be seen.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve and Marriott Bonvoy
Historically, Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties have not participated in the Marriott Bonvoy program, as has the BVLGARI brand. Thankfully, that changed in early 2022, and now Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties participate in Marriott Bonvoy. When staying at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties:
- You earn Marriott Bonvoy points — you earn 10x more points per eligible dollar spent, Elite members can earn 10-75% bonus points, and paying with a Marriott co-branded credit card entitles you to bonus points based on Marriott spending (cards offer up to 6x points per dollar spent)
- You can redeem Marriott Bonvoy points – these days Marriott Bonvoy has dynamic pricing, so expect these properties to be expensive, usually between 80,000 and 240,000 Bonvoy points per night (I rate Marriott Bonvoy points at 0.7 cents each)
- You receive elite benefits, although they differ from what you would get at other Marriott brands, and are more limited – below is a table showing the benefits by tier
A few specific points to note about Marriott Bonvoy elite recognition at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties:
- Unsurprisingly, elite members don’t get free breakfast, just like they do with Ritz-Carlton properties.
- There isn’t even a room upgrade benefit for Elite members, even for Platinum and Titanium members
- It is unique that Ambassador members receive a $150 resort credit at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties, as this is 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 Marriott STARS Affiliate Travel Advisor. By booking through a Marriott STARS Travel Consultant, you will receive the following additional benefits:
- Free full or continental breakfast daily for up to two people per room
- Resort credit worth $100 once per stay
- Room upgrade, subject to availability upon arrival
- Free basic Wi-Fi every day
- Welcome in person
- Personalized welcome amenities and note
Note that to be eligible for Marriott STARS benefits, you’ll usually need to book the flexible or standard rate, which should be among the lowest rates available. You are not eligible for Marriott STARS benefits when redeeming points.
You can still earn Marriott Bonvoy points and enjoy all Bonvoy Elite benefits by booking through the Marriott STARS program.
Finally, it’s generally better to book through the Marriott STARS program than through programs like Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or Virtuoso, as upgrades are prioritized for Marriott STARS guests. This is because it is Marriott’s exclusive program.
Ford and his team are happy to assist with Marriott STARS reservations for Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties, and can be reached at [email protected]
At the end of the line
Ritz-Carlton Reserve represents the best that Marriott has to offer. The Ritz-Carlton Reserve currently has a handful of properties, each with 50 to 115 rooms in some pretty impressive locations. These hotels offer a much more personalized experience than your average Ritz-Carlton, but they’re also priced accordingly.
Today, Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties participate in Marriott Bonvoy, allowing you to earn and redeem points for stays at these resorts. While there are elite perks, they’re extremely limited and don’t include free breakfast or even room upgrades.
The best way to book stays at The Ritz-Carlton Reserve is through Marriott STARS, so you can take advantage of free breakfast, room upgrades, property credit, and more.
If you have ever stayed at a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, what was your experience?