Marriott Rewards member Hunter Swift took his wife to Hawaii when he received 1 million points for using Marriott’s mobile app. (Photos courtesy of Hunter Swift)
With three kids—the youngest is three and the oldest seven—Hunter Swift and his wife were not accustomed to going out much, let alone spending the night away from their family.
So when the couple drove up to Los Angeles from their home in the Orange County community of Las Flores to see comedian Brian Regan in Hollywood, they booked a room at the JW Marriott Los Angeles at LA LIVE and looked forward to a quiet sushi dinner before the show.
Or so they thought.
Plans would change considerably when Hunter checked into the hotel through Marriott’s app, making him Marriott’s first millionth guest to do so, and awarding him 1 million Marriott Rewards points.
Marriott didn’t let the event go unnoticed, with confetti, balloons, a DJ, dancers and other entertainers at the ready for Hunter’s arrival.
Of course, all of this was set up to be a surprise for the Swifts. The lobby was crowded but little did they know they were the literal guests of honor.
“We went up to the mobile check-in and the person behind the counter said, ‘Mr. Swift we’ve been expecting you,'” Swift recalls. “Out of the corner of my eye I saw this DJ, which I thought, ‘Oh, this must be an L.A. thing.’ As we were being escorted to our room I swear I saw a bellhop do a somersault. And my first thought was, ‘Oh, it’s one of those flash mobs, which is also a very L.A. thing, you know?”
What Just Happened?
By the time the confetti started falling from the rafters and the Swifts were given a key commemorating their big prize, the Swifts still hadn’t processed what happened. Their confusion can be seen in the video below.
It wasn’t until later that evening that they realized they had won the equivalent of the lottery. That’s when the planning began.
“At dinner we were looking at the (Marriott) web site and figured we could go to Hawaii for like 200,000 points,” Swift says. “We had five weeks of vacation that we had planned to take so we decided right there we wanted to go to Hawaii.”
In July 2015, the couple spent seven days exploring the Big Island and Maui without their kids.
“We had the time of our lives,” Swift says.
Where to Next?
The points have wound up being a gift that keeps on giving.
Hunter Swift is often on the road training new hires and speaking at trade shows for DealerSocket, a software company that helps car dealers manage their customers. As a result, he continues to accrue points by staying at Marriotts as a businessman.
“Because I travel for work, we’ve probably used about 600,000 points but I’m already back up to 750,000 points,” Swift says. ” And that’s even after spending another 210,000 points on Marriott for Costa Rica. So this will last forever.”
Travel can turn anyone into a storyteller, and with its You Are Here campaign, Marriott Traveler and Marriott Rewards are exploring how being a member has enabled individuals like Hunter to enrich their lives with memorable experiences and live in the moment.
In addition to visiting Costa Rica for seven days, Hunter and his family have taken their children to Disneyland, where they stayed at the nearby Courtyard Anaheim—popular with the Swift kids for its waterslides since they don’t have a pool at home. The pool actually ended up being even more popular for Hunter’s three year old than the theme park, Hunter says.
The Swifts, who have never been to Europe, plan on booking their next trip there sometime soon. They also wouldn’t mind visiting another tropical destination like Bora Bora.
It’s worth noting that Swift had just signed up for a Marriott Rewards card last spring, so that fateful trip to L.A. in April of 2015 was his first reservation as a member and his first use of the company’s mobile app.
Some people have all the luck.
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