A few years ago I spent some time as a Marriott Gold Elite member. I liked the benefits that came with Gold status, and frankly, I liked Marriott Rewards. As my knowledge of other hotel frequency programs increased, I branched out to Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest. SPG quickly became my favorite hotel program. That said, changes in my travel patterns came and I found myself staying at Hilton properties more frequently, ultimately reaching HHonors Diamond status and SPG Platinum status while seeing my Marriott elite status drop to dirt. I always missed Marriott. I don’t think of myself as a creature of habit, but perhaps I am. While I love the whimsical differences of the various W Hotels I’ve had the pleasure of staying at, I have to admit that there was always something that I missed about the familiarity of Marriott hotels.

Like all things, my stay patterns again shifted and I found myself booking an increasing number of Marriott family hotels. I had Silver Elite status by virtue of my Marriott Rewards Premier Visa. But having experienced Gold Elite status in the past, I knew that was what I wanted. OK…I really wanted Platinum Elite, but the fact is that I knew I would probably be able to maintain Gold for the longer term so that is what I went for. I knew from reviews of Flyertalk and Milepoint that Marriott would frequently offer a status challenge if you inquired, so I wrote a brief email and sent it to elite.member at marriott.com stating the following:

Hello. I would like to request a challenge to Marriott Rewards Gold status. I believe that my upcoming travel patterns and plans should allow me to obtain and maintain this status going forward and would appreciate the opportunity to challenge up to Gold. My Marriott Rewards # is XXXXXXXXX, and my address is XXXX Street, Atlanta, GA XXXXX.

Marshall Jackson

I received a reply from Marriott the same day offering to upgrade my status to Gold immediately. I would keep the status until the end of January 2013. During that time, I would need to complete 6 paid stays at Marriott family hotels. The email asked for a reply if I accepted the challenge, which I sent. The next day when I logged into my Marriott account, I was Gold Elite.

I completed my 6th stay before Christmas, and in retrospect, I could have easily completed a Platinum challenge as well based on current bookings for January. But like I said, I expect I can maintain Gold Elite for the long term, and I find the benefits it offers mesh well with my travel needs. My favorite benefits are complimentary internet, lounge access, and free breakfast. Room upgrades are nice, and I enjoy them when I get them as well. You can review all the benefits of Marriott Rewards Gold Elite status here.